EU research helps root out landmines across the world

September 17, 2003

Brussels, 16 September 2003

There are still between 15,000 and 20,000 new landmine casualties each year. To present EU research initiatives in this field, yesterday in Brussels Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin participated in the international conference for the Detection, Removal and Neutralization of Landmines, organised by the Free University of Brussels (VUB). Over the last ten years the European Commission spent more than €200 million on de-mining, including at least €33 million to develop new de-mining technologies. More funds will be allocated to this priority within the next four years. EU research projects focus on the development and testing of new detection tools to improve de-mining techniques. EU mine experts have worked all over the world and particularly in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Iraq and South-East Europe.

Commissioner Busquin said: "We cannot accept the ongoing but forgotten bloodshed provoked by landmines. During the last seven years the EU has become a major donor in international research efforts in support of humanitarian mine clearance. Significant technological progress has been made during this period, but more needs to be done to turn knowledge into new de-mining tools. This requires concerted action between international donors, developers and researchers and especially de-mining specialists working in the field."

EU de-mining research initiatives

The Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) has launched the Test and Evaluation of Technologies for Humanitarian De-mining project, which is key to allow the prediction of the performances and weaknesses of certain types of de-mining equipment in certain conditions.

The challenge is to make the de-mining equipment safer and more effective through standardised tests and evaluations. The JRC is providing test and evaluation (T&E) facilities, is promoting the establishment of T&E standards and is running T&E of de-mining equipment. The prime focus is on the assessment of metal detectors, one of the few widely commercially available tools used by de-miners for manual de-mining activities.

Making metal detectors smarter and more reliable

The Commission participated in the establishment of an Agreement for Test and Evaluation of metal detectors according to the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) rules and mandated by CEN. This "CEN Workshop Agreement CWA 14747:2003" provides for principles, guidelines and procedures for detector testing.

Using the developed standard test protocol, the Commission will run test campaigns together with other international partners to assess the capabilities of off-the-shelf and new detectors. In particular, it will monitor:

  • The immunity & performance under environmental stresses

  • The logistics & ergonomics aspects

  • The detection capability with specific soils and mines
The Commission will also gather and analyse local environmental information from mine-affected countries where these detectors will be used. It will present the results from both T&E campaigns and collected data using a geographical information system and maps showing the areas where specific de-mining equipment is best suited.

The conference

The international Conference on Requirements and Technologies for the Detection, Removal and Neutralization of Landmines and Unexploded Ordnance, organised by the Free University of Brussels (VUB), Belgium from 15 to 18 September in Brussels, is an international event bringing together researchers and developers of de-mining technology and end-users of that technology working in the field. This conference is co-sponsored by the European Commission's Joint Research Centre.

The international framework

There are now 136 countries that have ratified the 1997 Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty, which prohibits use, production, trade and stockpiling of antipersonnel mines, and requires destruction of mines in the ground within ten years. In addition to the 136, another 12 countries have signed but not yet ratified the treaty.

For further information please visit:

The conference:

http://www.eudem.vub.ac.be/eudem2-scot/

JRC de-mining projects:

http://humanitarian-security.jrc.it/index.html

The Ottawa Convention:

http://www.icbl.org/

DN: IP/03/1253 Date: 16/09/2003

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