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ICBL Comments on Chile's Article 5 Deadline Extension Request

Article 5 deadline: 1 March 2012
Extension period requested: 8 years (1 March 2020)

Clarification sought on the Extension Request

Estimated contaminated areas

A total amount of remaining suspected areas is not clearly indicated in the request (see comments on past progress below) and should therefore be provided. The data should be broken down by region with the number of mined areas and "danger areas" (DAs) remaining, the number of mines remaining and the amount of area remaining compared with the original estimates.

In addition, the amount of estimated contaminated areas seems very high given the number of the mines and the fact that the Chilean armed forces laid them all, knows the number of mines, and kept good documentation on the original locations. The explanations for the expansion of estimated contaminated areas beyond the known mined area should be explained more. For example, Chile should clarify why they do not assume the known mined area is correct, and then only expand those areas if and when some of the mines are not accounted for. Chile should also make clear what happens if they do find all the known mines. Do they continue searching the expanded suspected area or release it all immediately? How did this procedure affect productivity in the past, and has there been significant improvements since the adoption of a land release policy? What happens if even despite the large buffer area not all mines are accounted for? What was the GICHD's recommendation in this regard?

The suspected hazardous areas (SHAs) called "Danger Areas," which are areas previously cleared to less than international mine action standards, do not have an estimated area attached to them. Are they part of the 23.2km2 of original estimated contaminated areas?

Past progress

Chile should present a total amount of land cleared, broken down by year, not just giving a total per region over a multi-year period as is currently provided. In addition, the request presents amounts of area per region where work has taken place ("intervenida"), but it should be asked to clarify if this means that all such areas have been released. Since Chile notes on page 21 that only 8 of 19 "campos minados intervenidos" in Arica and Parinacota have been certified and released, it appears that the total amount of land listed as "intervenida" (9.34km2) does not equate to cleared areas.

Technical survey reduced area by 3km2 in 2010 in 4 dangerous areas. Has such survey also been applied to mined areas in order to reduce the conservative estimate of contaminated land around known minefields? Has non-technical survey been undertaken to reduce suspected areas in either dangerous areas or minefields? Have the national standards been revised to incorporate the recommendations from GICHD in 2009 on land release?
Why does the request say on page 62 that only 18.6% of mines and 35% of the mined areas have been cleared, whereas on page 60 the numbers are 22.87% and 40.23%, respectively?

Work plan

Chile provides very little information on its work plan for the extension period, apart the number of mines and mined areas it plans to clear. It does not appear to provide the estimated amounts of land to be released, either through clearance or through survey. It should be asked to provide such information, along with an assessment of what effect non-technical and technical survey will have on productivity. Such information would make it easier to assess the budget predictions, which vary quite substantially between certain years.

Conclusions and recommendations

Chile got off to a slow start in tackling its demining obligations, starting only two years after joining the treaty and only creating one unit a year for the first few years. On the other hand, its reliance on mostly national resources shows clear national ownership. It also admits it has taken a conservative approach to identifying mined areas and clearing them, which has certainly slowed overall progress. Chile should provide a clear estimate of the total amount of remaining suspected hazardous areas, as well as a more detailed rationale on why they consistently overestimate mined areas despite having reliable information on their location and size. Chile should be asked to present a total amount of land cleared, broken down by year. If Chile could make the full version of the GICHD evaluation public, this would also help States Parties make a better assessment of the request.
Although the request provides only limited information on past and planned productivity, the apparent sharp increase in land released using new land release techniques makes it seem that the 8-year time period requested is too high. Much more information should be provided on how Chile plans to increase efficiency over the extension period, and Chile should consider reducing the amount of time requested based on a more ambitious clearance plan.

Please click on the PDF icon above to download a copy of the ICBL's response to Chile's extension request

Click here to visit the official website for the Intersessionals and read the full text of Chile's extension request