APPG on the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development
The Sustainable Development Goals: Covid-19 and the Decade of Action and Delivery’ Inquiry

Evidence Submitted by the Mines Advisory Group (MAG)

3 July 2020


1.    The UK has shown strong commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development since its negotiation and has sought to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at home and around the world. The commitment to invest 0.7% of GNI in Official Development Assistance has helped advance the SDGs in many of the world’s poorest countries, maintaining the UK’s position as a world leader in development. Through integrated approaches to the SDGs, progress can become more effective and efficient, and the UK can better support global implementation. Mine action is an example of how development activities cannot happen in silos. Landmine clearance is often a pre-requisite for further development in affected communities, removing barriers to progress and enabling safe access to land and essential services. 

Introduction to the Mines Advisory Group

2.  MAG is a charitable, non-governmental organisation founded in 1989 and headquartered in Manchester with more than 5,000 staff worldwide. Our mission is to create safe futures for women, men and children affected by violence, conflict, and insecurity by destroying landmines, unexploded ordnance, and surplus weapons in 26 countries around the world. In 2019, MAG personnel removed and/or destroyed more than 100,000 explosive items found in conflict-affected communities, each of which could have destroyed a life or limb. In the process, they made safe more than 93 million square meters of land and property, putting hundreds of communities on the path to post-conflict recovery and sustainable development. Our risk education teams delivered more than 46,000 sessions for vulnerable people, helping them avoid accidents until their land can be made safe. And our arms management specialists worked with authorities in nearly 15 countries to destroy more than 640 metric tonnes of surplus small arms and ammunition.

3.  Alongside our field operations, MAG is committed to advocacy that prevents future harm caused by conflict. Our work in support of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, for which we were co-recipients of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize, continues to this day with our campaign for a Landmine Free 2025. We also support governments around the world to meet their obligations under other instruments of international humanitarian law, such as the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and the United Nations Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons. 

4.     MAG’s work has been generously supported by the UK government since our earliest field operations. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, this support amounted to more than £18.7 million, the majority of which was provided by the DFID as part of its Global Mine Action Programme (GMAP). 

5.     Now in its seventh year, the GMAP funds a consortium of three non-governmental organisations (MAG, the HALO Trust, and Norwegian People’s Aid) to conduct humanitarian mine action in 11 countries, along with activities in a further four countries through the United Nations. A DFID review in 2019 awarded the GMAP a score of ‘A+’ and described it as providing good value for money[1].

Mine Action: Paving the Way for Sustainable Development

6.     Mine action includes survey and destruction of explosive ordnance (which yields safe land), risk education to help affected communities avoid accidents, victim assistance, destruction of stockpiled weapons, capacity building of national authorities, and advocacy. Together, these activities aim to reduce the social, economic and environmental impact of landmines and unexploded ordnance. By making dangerous land safe, mine action enables a wide range of interventions in conflict-affected communities – from emergency response through to reconstruction, development, return of displaced people, peacebuilding and peacekeeping operations. Mine action activities cannot be performed in isolation, but must be aligned and integrated with broader efforts to achieve sustainable development and post-conflict recovery. 

7.     The interconnected nature of mine action means that it contributes to achieving almost all the SDGs. A 2017 study by the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) concluded that “there is much potential for the work of mine action in fragile contexts to prepare the foundations on which sustainable peace and development can be built.” [2] The study found that mine action was directly relevant to twelve of the seventeen SDGs, and indirectly contributed to achieving four more. The strongest links can be found between mine action and the following: SDG1 (no poverty), SDG2 (zero hunger), SDG 3 (good health and wellbeing), SDG5 (gender equality), SDG8 (decent work and economic growth), SDG9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG10 (reduced inequalities) and SDG16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). 

8.     The clearance and release of safe land facilitates immediate access to water and sanitation, education, transport and other critical infrastructure in the immediate aftermath of conflict. It also enables the safe delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need. For example, during the conflict with the Islamic State in Iraq, MAG conducted emergency clearance of land allocated for displaced persons camps, provided risk education to keep camp residents safe, and then removed dangerous items from their areas of origin so families could return.

9.     In the longer term, the clearance of land yields economic benefits by enabling more (and more productive) livelihood opportunities that alleviate poverty and propel development. For example, a study by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Lebanon Mine Action Center found that in Lebanon, every dollar spent on mine action generated an economic return of $4.15.[3] It also concluded that mine action contributed to almost all of the SDGs in Lebanon.

Landmine Free 2025: The State of Play

10.  There are 58 states and territories with confirmed landmine contamination. Of these, 17 are classified as fragile and conflict affected[4], and 29 are classified as low income or lower middle income according to the World Bank[5]. Fourteen are considered by DFID to be of high or moderate fragility[6]. Unfortunately, just five states are believed to be on track to be free of landmines by 2025[7] – the deadline established in the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. A lack of international funding is one of the main impediments for completing clearance elsewhere. 

11.  The Covid-19 pandemic has hindered the progress of landmine clearance. In most countries where MAG operates, governments ordered the suspension of clearance for two months to help slow the spread of the virus and keep staff and communities safe. Since May, all but one such country has allowed clearance to resume. However, new social distancing requirements make the work of mine clearance teams less efficient and more time-consuming. Limits to in-person interaction with affected communities also make it more difficult to deliver life-saving risk education and collect information about possible mined areas. 

12.  The financial impacts of Covid-19 may also slow the work of mine action as economies contract, public budgets shrink, and governments’ priorities shift. While many donor governments have maintained their support to mine action in the near-term, not all have committed to doing so. Moreover, many low- and middle-income countries affected by mines already struggle to allocate domestic resources to mine action, which limits their ability to conduct mine action themselves or coordinate the efforts of others. Covid-19 will likely worsen this situation. 

13.  Given the wide-ranging positive social and economic impacts of mine action, it should remain a humanitarian and development priority for the UK in the long-term regardless of changes to government structure, integrated into wider development plans and with increased funding to low- and middle-income countries at risk of being left behind. MAG supports the Landmine Free 2025 campaign’s call for 0.7% of all official development assistance to be allocated to mine action[8].

14.  It is crucial that global mine action efforts are increased and coordinated effectively over the next decade to achieve a landmine free 2025 in as many countries as possible, and to fully realise the 2030 Agenda. This is especially important for so-called ‘legacy contamination’ countries, where landmines planted decades ago still pose a deadly threat to communities. Many such countries have seen funding for mine action stagnate or decline in recent years. For example, Angola, one of the most heavily contaminated countries, receives just 1.5% of annual global funding despite its strong national commitment to become free of landmines, while 55% of total funding is split between just five other countries[9]. The UK can support achievement of the SDGs in countries with ‘legacy contamination’ by ensuring they receive a fair share of mine action funding over the next decade, particularly when they possess a strategic, costed plan for completion. 

15.  As a leader in the mine action and disarmament sector, the UK should continue to promote universalisation of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, strengthening the norm against these weapons. It should also help partner countries establish capable mine action centres whose work is aligned to broader SDG frameworks and national plans. Finally, the UK should extend and expand the Global Mine Action Programme, which is clearing a path to safer, more sustainable futures for communities around the world. 

16.   The Mines Advisory Group thanks the APPG on the UN Global Goals for considering this evidence and welcomes further questions.

    [1] Department for International Development, “Project Completion Review: Global Mine Action Programme (GMAP),” 2019,

    [2] Mine Action and the Sustainable Development Goals, 7 July 2017

    [3] Socio-Economic Benefits of Mine Action in Lebanon, 6 February 2019

    [4] FY20 List of Fragile and Conflict-affected Situations

    [5] The World Bank Data – Low & middle income

    [6] Eligible countries for UK Aid Match funding

    [7] Mine Action Review: Clearing the Mines 2019, 1 October 2019

    [8] Mine Action’s Fair Share: An Agenda for Change, November 2019

    [9] Mine Action’s Fair Share: An Agenda for Change, November 2019