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DS Launches Pioneering Report: “Land Rights and Mine Action in Myanmar”

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Vast areas of land in Myanmar are currently contaminated by landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) as a legacy of decades of armed conflict between the national government and a wide range of ethnic armed groups. However, the political climate in Myanmar has been rapidly changing, peace talks have been progressing, and plans are being developed to commence demining of contaminated lands. Programme and policy formulation by mine action related organisations in Myanmar is currently underway, and landmine and ERW survey and clearance operations are expected to commence in the near future. In addition, the Myanmar Mine Action Center (MMAC) is about to be established under the Myanmar Peace Centre (MPC) and, once it has been activated, will be expected to play the key governmental role in mine action efforts.

Mine action is a vital component of broader strategies to secure sustainable peace in countries emerging from conflict and instability. At the same time, mine action is inextricably linked to broader land rights questions because demining frees land that was previously unusable and/or difficult and dangerous to access. If managed poorly or if carried out purely on a technical basis without taking land rights questions into account, de-mining can re-ignite or create new land conflicts, facilitate land grabbing for resource extraction or other large-scale business activities, lead to forced displacement, serve to reinforce or exacerbate economic inequalities, and trigger a range of other undesirable outcomes. It is thus vital that demining efforts in Myanmar be subject to policies and agreements that can prevent such outcomes. It is essential, in other words, that the landmine survey and clearance efforts Do No Harm.

Towards this end, with support from Norwegian People’s Action (NPA), Displacement Solutions (DS) carried out an extensive stakeholder consultation process within Myanmar and in Thailand in mid-2013 to gauge sentiments about the land rights-landmines nexus and to elicit the widest possible cross-section of views on principles and processes that should be applied to effectuate a Do No Harm approach.

Based on these inputs, as well as examination of the experiences of other countries and extensive additional research, this report sets forth two key sets of proposals for generating land rights-sensitive mine action in Myanmar. The first set of proposals identifies eight overarching humanitarian, democratic and community-sensitive principles that should inform mine action as it impacts upon land rights. The second set of proposals outlines a 14 step sequence, set forth step by step, that are intended to provide guidance for operationalizing the overarching principles as mine action proceeds.

To read the report, click here here.

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