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ICBL Comments on the Democratic Republic of Congo's Article 5 Deadline Extension Request

Article 5 deadline: 1 November 2012
Extension period requested: 4 years (1 November 2016)

Clarification sought on the Extension Request

Level of contamination

The Democratic Republic of Congo's (DRC) extension request notes that one of the main reasons for the need for an Article 5 deadline extension was the poor quality of data received from operators and the management of such data until recently. The DRC has therefore begun two types of general surveys, called the General Mine Action Survey (GMAS) and the General Mine Action Assessment (GMAA), based on which they expect to develop a reliable picture of the remaining level of contamination and a mine action plan to address these areas. But the information provided on the surveys, including on the difference between the GMAS and the GMAA, is not clearly set out in the request. In particular, it would be useful to know the difference between the areas being treated by each survey, the need for two different techniques, and the relationship between them.
In terms of timing, why was the GMAS' completion date set back by one year to the end of 2012? The GMAA was to be completed in mid-May 2011. Did it finish on time, and if so, will it give the DRC sufficient information to develop a more reliable mine action plan? What more will be learned by the GMAS? Why does the request note in the conclusion that the GMAS will finish at the end of the extension period, which is 2016, instead of 2012 as specified elsewhere?

The request notes that the GMAS has already led to the closing of a number of records and the addition of new suspected hazardous areas. Can details on what has been learned to date be included in an amended version of the request?
The request refers to massive use of, and major socio-economic impact from, antipersonnel mines but cites relatively little evidence (and much of it dating back to 2002 and 2003) to support these assertions. It would be useful to see the results of recent impact surveys that justify these claims with mine victim figures disaggregated by year.

Plan for extension period

A total of 82 mined areas had been recorded as of March 2011 with 692 areas having been reclassified from suspected mined areas to battle areas. Contamination covered an estimated 14.13km2 of territory, although of this total some 11.5km2 is found in four mined areas and most in a single area around Kisangani airport. Moreover, technical survey of 70 of the mined areas still remains to be conducted in addition to new areas discovered by the ongoing GMAS. But there is no detailed or even general plan for the release of the 82 mined areas currently registered, plus any additional areas added to the database through the GMAS, including whether clearance is planned for any of these areas during the extension period.
The request does note that technical survey will need to be carried out on the identified zones to determine their exact perimeter, but that it won't take place until the period of January 2013 to November 2014. The DRC should explain why such survey and clearance cannot take place in already identified areas at the same time that the GMAS is carried out in other areas, especially with such a large planned annual budget.

National capacity

The request notes that a draft law on the implementation of the convention, which would also create a national mine action center, was passed by Parliament in 2010. The ICBL understood that the draft law should also approve a budget for mine action. From our information, it has not yet actually become law. It would be helpful if DRC could clarify the status of the legislation, to specify what exactly it encompassed and when final passage can be expected.

No further information is provided on the transition to national ownership, including how and when various stages of handover from UNMACC to the national mine action center will take place. Such information should be included in a revised version of the request.

Resource Mobilization

Much more information on the planned budget for the extension period should be provided. An explanation for the funds for the GMAS (through 2012) is given, but no other costs are detailed.

The request cites $1.5 million as the future annual contribution of the Government of the DRC to the mine action program. It would be helpful to see the detailed breakdown of this contribution, including a timeframe. Has any financial or in-kind contribution been made so far? In addition, the request notes the need to almost double annual international contributions to mine action from an already fairly high $15 million/year. What is the plan to obtain such an increase, and what contingencies does the DRC have in case it cannot achieve these ambitious goals?

Conclusions and recommendations

Although the extension request largely blames poor survey by demining operators, the DRC's need for an extension request is due, in large part, to management problems in the mine action program and insufficient national ownership. Program coordination, thanks to a strengthened UNMACC and better information management, has improved significantly over the past two years. Efforts are underway to increase national ownership of the program, although they remain quite slow and sporadic. More information on this transition as well as national financial and political support for mine action should be provided.

In addition, mine clearance appears to have been very slow, with a total of 1.28km2 of demining since 2001 and only one mined area reported as having been cleared in 2010. The DRC should present a plan for increasing productivity, especially given the large planned budget over the next four years. The request notes as well that the plan depends on receiving a significantly increased amount of foreign support, but much more information should be provided on how they expect to raise such funds before States Parties can properly assess the request.

The DRC is seeking an extension to enable ongoing survey to be completed, but if the extent of the mine problem is known prior to the 11MSP, as may be possible after the end of the GMAA in May, the DRC should instead be encouraged to seek a one-off extension for the time it needs to fulfill its Article 5 obligations. If such information is not available, the DRC should be asked to provide much more information about the plan for the extension period, including a detailed operational plan for different types of survey and clearance and an annual budget relating to each activity. Given the current level of detail, it is not clear why four years are needed since both general surveys should finish by the end of 2012. The DRC should therefore be encouraged to ask for a shorter interim extension with the goal of meeting its Article 5 obligations as soon as possible.

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