SDG 18 Cambodia mine/ERW free

Cambodia has added an 18th goal to its localized version of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – “End the negative impact of mines/ERW and promote victim assistance”.1 The SDGs were adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. All the 17 SDGs are integrated, acknowledging that action in one area will affect outcomes in others, and thus development must balance social, economic and environmental sustainability.2

Following the endorsement of the SDGs at the UN General Assembly in late 2015, the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) worked to adapt the goals to the national context and has crafted a fully localized framework – the Cambodian SDGs (CSDGs).3 All 17 SDGs were selected, and one additional goal, CSDG 18, related to clearance of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) was added. This reflects the national priority of de-mining in Cambodia. As a result, the final version comprises 18 Cambodian Sustainable Development Goals with 88 nationally relevant targets and 148 (global and locally-defined) indicators with 96 national indicators.4

 

Why does Cambodia have SDG18?

Cambodia faces very serious challenges around the landmines and ERW left behind after a protracted sequence of internal conflicts that affected the nation from the 1960s to late 1998.5 This has left Cambodia one of the world’s most heavily mine and ERW-contaminated nations.6 The characteristics of mine/ERW contamination in Cambodia are highly complex due to the civil war, the extensive period of open and secret armed conflicts and US bombardment, and a lack of information records of where landmines were laid.7

From 1979 to 2019, 64,843 people were killed or maimed as a result of mines/ERW, livelihoods and activities of communities were restricted and many infrastructure reconstructions and developments were hindered.8 For example, poor Cambodian households faced the dilemma of starvation or mine accident-led death. They were forced to take risks with mines/ERW because of economic necessity or they faced starvation if they were not willing to take risks, farming on the land and/or gathering forest produce in areas that may be contaminated by landmines. Government-sponsored research found that by 2005 approximately 2,300 villages had reported restricted access to neighboring communities, while significant numbers of villages reported restricted access to pagodas (1,487 villages), markets (1,334), health centers (1,312), and schools (affecting about 44,000 students).9 As a result, Cambodia has suffered severe socio-economic losses and the country has seen disastrous humanitarian consequences.10

Two landmine survivors putting on their prosthetic limbs at the Cambodia Trust Phnom Penh rehabilitation centre. Photo by Roseanne Pennella, 20 July 2007. License under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Acknowledging that one major constraint to development is the continued landmine/ERW contamination, the RGC added “De-mining, ERW and victim assistance” as the ninth Millennium Development Goal (CMDG9). It has now added a similar goal to the SDGs for Cambodia, CSDG18. Mine action is considered by the RGC as one of the top priorities for the rehabilitation and development of the country.11 The RGC adapted CSDG18 and managed the inclusion of mine action within its national development program, for instance, the Poverty Reduction Strategy (NPRS).12

Transition of CMDGs to CSDGs 18 in Cambodia

With the addition of CMDG 9, the Royal Government of Cambodia committed itself to end the blight of landmines and unexploded ordnance on local communities. Two targets were outlined under this goal which was to reduce the number of resulting causalities and to progress the elimination of mine and ordnance contaminated land.13

Table 1 Indicators for CMDG 9

No.

Indicators

Unit

2000

2005

2010

2015 actual

1

Number of casualties caused by landmines and ERW (killed and injured)

Target

Person

575

357

220

130

Achievement

Person

858

875

286

79

2

Landmine and ERW contaminated land cleared/released

Target

Ha

1,562

4,466

5,374

5,909

Achievement

Ha

3,208

4,065

11,950

16,104

Source: Cambodia Sustainable Development Goals Framework (CSDGs) 2016-2030

With the transition of CMDG9 to CSDG18, Cambodia adopted 3 targets and 6 indicators to be achieved by 2030 in its sustainable development framework.14 CSDG18 does not only aim to clear land mines and EWR but also to promote victim assistance as Table 2 indicates.15

Table 2 Targets and indicators for CSDG 18

CSDG18 Targets

Indicators

Unit

Baseline (2015)

2020

2025

2030

18.1 To completely clear the identified mine and Explosive remnants of war (ERW) areas by the year 2030.

The annual report of cleared mine and Explosive remnants of war (ERW) areas.

Ha

18,531

21,482

24,904

28,870

18.2 To reduce the number of mine / ERW casualties to less than 10 persons/year by 2030.

18.2.1 The number of mine / ERW casualties (killed and injured annually).

 

Person

111

66

39

23

18.2.2 The number of villages contaminated by mines / ERW to receive mine risk education messages.

Village

300

382

140

46

18.3 Promote the rights and improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities by landmine/ERW.

18.3.1 The number of mine and ERW casualties received rights promotion.

 

Person

280

357

457

583

18.3.2 The number of mine and ERW casualties received rehabilitation service.

 

Person

1,500

3,785

4,189

4,536

18.3.3 The number of mine and ERW casualties received emergency and rapid response from CMAA

Person

101

144

154

169

Source: Cambodia Sustainable Development Goals Framework (CSDGs) 2016-2030

Means of implementation

Cambodia began its mine-clearance activities during the period of the United Nations Transitional Authority of Cambodia (UNTAC).16 Between 1991–1992, the UN Advance Mission for Cambodia (UNAMIC) contracted the HALO Trust to survey 700 km² of land in Battambang province. In March 1992, UNTAC took over UNAMIC’s mission and functions, including assisting mine clearance and mine awareness activities. Later in July 1992, UNTAC set up the Mine Clearance Training Unit (MCTU) and started to teach Cambodian nationals to identify, locate and destroy landmines, and to mark minefields.17

The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) was also established in 1992, with a mandate to conduct mine clearance and mine risk education. United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and United Nations Office for Project Services began to provide technical and financial support to CMAC through a UN Trust Fund for Demining in Cambodia following UNTAC’s withdrawal in 1993. In 1995, CMAC had become an efficient, autonomous organization whose coordination role encouraged healthy competition between operators and a high level of cooperation between all organizations involved in mine action. However, CMAC’s management model—both mine action center and a mine action authority – was eventually found to be too clumsy and unmanageable. Several allegations of corruption, mismanagement and nepotism surfaced in 1999. As a result, a large number of CMAC managers and staff were demoted, moved to other positions or simply resigned.18

CMAC landmine team at work. Photo taken by Kevin Evans, 03 September 2005. License under CC BY 2.0.

To ensure effective management and accountability of the mine action sector, the RGC established the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) under Royal Decree No. 177 on 6 September 2000.19 The role of CMAA is to regulate, coordinate and monitor mine action activities throughout Cambodia. The sector consists of two national operators namely CMAC and NPMEC (National Center for Peacekeeping Forces, Mines and ERW Clearance), and international operators including MAG (Mines Advisory Group), HALO Trust, NPA (Norwegian People’s Aid), JMAS (Japan Mine Action Service), APOPO (a Dutch organization) and CSHD (Cambodia Self Help Demining), along with other mine risk education and victims assistance actors. Cambodia has also sent its de-miners to affected countries as part of United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and has assisted other mine/ERW affected countries.20

Cambodia has achieved progress on mine and ERW clearance although the actual achievements are lower than planned. Table 3 shows the progress made between 2015 and 2019.21

Table 3 CSDG 18 targets and actual figures

Targets & Indicators

Unit

2015

CSDG Targets

Actual

Progress

2016

2017

2018

2019

2016

2017

2018

2019

18.1. To completely clear the identified mine and ERW areas by the year 2030

Below

18.1.1. The annual report of cleared mine and ERW areas.

Ha

18,531

19,087

19,659

20,049

20,857

13,228

14,672

12,432

13,008

Below

18.2. To reduce the number of mine/ERW casualties to less than 10 persons/year by 2030

On-track

18.2.1. The number of mine/ERW casualties (killed and injured annually).

Person

111

100

90

81

73

83

58

58

77

On-track

18.2.2. The number of villages contaminated by mines/ERW to receive Mine Risk Education messages follow the annual work plan.

Village

300

315

330

347

364

315

330

347

364

On-track

18.3. Promote the rights and improve the quality of life of persons who have disabilities due to landmine/ERW accidents

On-track

18.3.1. The number of mine and ERW casualties received rights promotion.

Person

280

296

309

324

340

296

314

320

337

On-track

18.3.2. The number of mine and ERW casualties received rehabilitation service.

Person

1,500

2,300

3,577

3,648

3,731

2,300

3,246

3,582

3,409

On-track

18.3.3. The number of mine and ERW casualties received emergency and rapid response from CMAA.

Person

101

123

137

139

142

123

128

124

156

On-track

Source: Progress Report 2019 of Achieving Cambodia’s Sustainable Development Goals 2016-2030, Ministry of Planning (12 October 2020)

Table 4 shows the National Mine Action Strategy clearance projection to be achieved by 2025. However, on top of the existing 2,500 de-miners, Cambodia needs another 2,000 de-miners to achieve its target of releasing contaminated landmine/ERW by 2025. 22 The Cambodian Government has permitted the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) to access funds to deploy 2,000 Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) personnel in the humanitarian demining operation from 2020–2025.23 In terms of financing, the total financial requirement for the 2018–2025 landmine clearance plan is US$ 406 million for the remaining contaminated land.24

Table 4 Clearance targets 2018–2025

Hazardous area

2017 Assumption

Total area (after deduction 2017 assumption)

Prioritization (8-Yr)

Total area to be​released (2018-2025)

Planned released (2018-2025)

2018

2019

2020

2021

2022

2023

2024

2025

km2

km2

%

km2

km2

km2

km2

km2

km2

km2

km2

km2

Landmines

69

877

100

877

109.6

109.6

109.6

109.6

109.6

109.6

109.6

109.6

Cluster munitions

21

624

80

499

62

62

62

62

62

62

62

62

Other exxplosive remnant of wars

46

333

100

333

42

42

42

42

42

42

42

42

Source: National mine action strategy clearance projection to be achieved by 2025

Beyond mine clearance

As stated in the National Strategic Development Plan (2019–2013), education about mines and ERW is one of the five pillars of action in this field.25 Mine education awareness activities started in Cambodia in 1993. Initial activities mainly focused on returnees and internally displaced persons who often settled in heavily contaminated areas. The purpose was that a community-based and multi-disciplinary approach to mine action would decrease the number of mine and ERW casualties by enabling people to live more safely in contaminated environments. CMAC implemented the project in October 2001 with technical assistance from HI (Handicap International) and funding from UNICEF.26 Mine victim assistance is also part of the large disability and rehabilitation program. It has been delegated to the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY), which is supposed to provide physical rehabilitation and socio-reintegration services to all people with disabilities (PWD) in Cambodia. Meanwhile, the landmines/ERW Victim Information Surveillance (VIS) system is managed by the Cambodia Mine/ERW Victim Information System (CMVIS) under CMAA.27

Related legal frameworks

  • Rectangular Strategy Phase IV and National Strategic Development Plan (2019–2023): Continue to promote the clearance of landmines and unexploded ordnance, and continue to provide social concession land, especially to poor households for family-based farming.28 29
  • National Mine Action Strategy (2018–2025): The RGC established a new National Mine Action Strategy 2018–2025 (NMAS 2018–25) aiming to achieve the vision “to release all known landmine and prioritized cluster munitions contaminated areas, and to minimize the residual risks caused by explosive remnants of war in Cambodia by 2025; and to advocate the rights and services for landmine and ERW survivors and indirect victims”.30
  • Cambodia Sustainable Development Goals (2016–2030): Royal Government of Cambodia’s commitment to clear landmines and unexploded ordnance involves local communities and is integrated into all its CSDGs.31
  • Cambodia National’s Volunteer Review on the implementation of SDGs: The process underpinning Cambodia’s first Voluntary National Review (VNR) began in late 2018 with the task to review CSDG18 following RGC’s endorsement of the SDGs at the UN. The review is undertaken by the Ministry of Planning.32
  • Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW): Cambodia acceded to the convention on 25 March 1997.33
  • Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC): Cambodia signed in December 1997 and ratified it in July 1999 and it entered into force on 1 January 2000.34 Cambodia requested and secured a ten-year extension of the Mine Ban Treaty Article 5 deadline. The request was granted at the Second Review Conference and a new deadline was set for 1 January 2020.35
  • Royal Decree No. 177 dated on 06 September 2000 on the establishment of Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA): It is mandated to regulate, monitor and coordinate the mine action sector in Cambodia. CMAA is under the direct leadership of the Prime Minister and the CMAA Vice President while the CMAA Secretary General manages operations related to its mandate.36
  • The Law on the Protection and Promotion of Rights of Persons with Disability (2009): It implements the provision of the CRPD and promotes the rights of PWD, prevents discrimination and plans for the provision of free of charge rehabilitation services.37
  • The National Plan of Action for Persons with Disabilities 2008–2011 (NPA-PWD): It is developed by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) in partnership with the Disability Action Council (DAC). It covers all components of PWD assistance from emergency medical care, physical rehabilitation psychological support and social reintegration to economic reintegration and inclusiveness in laws and public policies.38
  • The National Disability Strategic Plan, 2014–2018 (NDSP): It outlines ten key strategic objectives and focuses on the reduction of poverty for persons with disabilities.39

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References

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