Mines and un-exploded ordnance (UXO) continue to pose the threat of death or injury long after conflict is over. Their presence also obstructs emergency assistance, impedes the free movement of people and trade and limits the amount of land that can be used for agriculture and development projects. In 2013, the research group Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor recorded 111 civilian deaths by mines in Somalia and South Sudan alone, 62 of which were children. This is in addition to countless others disabled survivors who continue to live in poverty, stigma and social isolation. Therefore the early introduction of mine action programmes in post conflict situations provides major benefits and enables humanitarian responses, return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs), peace building and post conflict reconstruction and development.
Since 1995, the African Union and its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity, launched a number of initiatives aimed at addressing the scourge of anti-personnel landmines and other explosive remnants of war. These initiatives include the Kempton Park Plan of Action adopted by the First Continental Conference of African Experts on Landmines, held from 19 to 21 May 1997. This was followed by the African Common Position on anti-personnel mines, adopted in preparation to the First Review Conference of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) which took place in late 2004.
In April 2014 the Commission launched the Mine Action and Explosive Remnants of War Strategic Framework project Document for the period 2014 to 2017. The objective of the Strategic Framework is to support AU Member States in reducing the threat posed by conventional weapons, mines, explosive remnants of war, cluster munitions and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in accordance with the relevant international instruments and best practices. The Strategic Framework promotes the concept of national ownership and recognizes that while substantial regional and international support and assistance is required national governments hold the primary responsibility for developing and implementing mine action and explosive hazard management programs. The Strategic Framework consists of three components:
- Advocacy for universal compliance with the international conventions on explosive hazards;
- Support to Member States in de-mining and explosive hazard management related programs and activities;
- Support to AU Peace Support Operations in explosive hazard management and threat reduction.
In implementing the Strategic Framework the Commission will work in close collaboration with a range of actors including RECs, specialized UN agencies and international bodies, training institutes and donor countries.