Mine action cannot wait - Southeast Asia regional conference strengthens cooperation and offers global innovations on mine action

March 28, 2023

Mine risk education in Quang Binh province

UNDP Viet Nam

Ha Noi, 29 March 2023 – Landmines and other explosive remnants of war remain a threat to life and sustainable development in Southeast Asia. Remnants of war are present in half of ASEAN Member States, stalling progress to eradicate extreme poverty and reduce inequalities. 

Experts meeting at a regional conference in Ha Noi offered new solutions to free the region of mines by seeing contamination as a social development issue, rather than a technical or military one. Scaling up mine action depends on increasing cooperation, sharing new data, and rolling out advances in technology. 

Half a century after the Paris Peace Accords were signed, millions or people in Viet Nam, Cambodia, and Laos PDR remain at risk. Between 1964 and 1973, 7.5 million tons of ordnance fell on the three countries. Nearly a fifth of Viet Nam, 5.6 million hectares, is potentially contaminated by explosive ordnance. Approximately 600,000 to 800,000 tons of unexploded ordnance could still be hidden underground.

The “Mine Action for Sustainable Peace and Development: Exchanging regional experience and global innovations in mine action” conference was organized by Viet Nam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Viet Nam.

Mr. Do Hung Viet, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "Mine action should not be seen as a short-term, temporary humanitarian solution, but as an inclusive and comprehensive process towards post-conflict recovery, reconstruction, and peacebuilding, realizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while being people-centered and leaving no one behind." 

KOICA and UNDP have worked with the Government of Viet Nam to overcome the consequences of landmines and unexploded ordnance. In three years, the project has surveyed 17,000 hectares of land, equivalent to 20,000 football fields, and 10,000 contaminated hectares were cleared. Meanwhile, 450,000 local people have received education on the risk of unexploded ordnance.

“Mine action saves and changes lives,” said UNDP Resident Representative in Viet Nam Ramla Khalidi. “Our goal is not only to clear contaminated land but also to ensure that cleared land is integrated with rural development planning efforts and is a vehicle to promote peaceful and sustainable communities”.

'We have launched the second intervention project for mine action, which is called KVPVP (Korea-Vietnam Peace Village Project) in Vietnam on a bigger scale and adding a livelihood support component,” said the country director of KOICA Viet Nam Mr. Han-Deog Cho. “KVPVP will inherit the positive results from the 1st phase and bring about inclusive, safe, and resilient local development by reducing the impacts of explosive ordnance”.

The conference seeks different ways to improve regional cooperation and align regional mine actions with global development and policy processes.

New technology on mine action in Southeast Asia can contribute to sustainable changes on the ground. In Cambodia, the government is using drones to detect landmines and thereby ensuring that survey is cheaper, faster and safer than before. In Vietnam, an online registry and information management system for persons with disabilities and unexploded ordnance survivors has been established to conduct an assessment in the country’s most contaminated provinces of Quang Binh and Binh Dinh.

For more information, please contact: 

Nguyen Viet Lan, UNDP Communication Lead, email: nguyen.viet.lan@undp.org, phone: 0914.436769

Nguyen Thi Thuy Duong, UNDP Communication Officer, email: nguyen.thi.thuy.duong@undp.org, phone: 0983.135799