Postconflict Landmine Clearance
Landmine clearance is an important step toward resumption of economic activity and stabilization following war or civil conflict, and thereby a means of reducing the likelihood of future conflict. Frequently, it is also a prerequisite for the repatriation of refugees. Thus, it is genuinely a development issue.
Humanitarian mine clearance is not the same as clearing mines for military purposes-technologies for breaching are often not appropriate for clearing large settlement areas. However, technological solutions can be improved through communication and cooperation between applicable military technologies and humanitarian mine clearance communities. In the long run, clearance capacity must be built through development of indigenous capabilities that are sensitive to local priorities, policies, socioeconomic factors, and that can continue for the long time required.
The Administration has identified a number of priorities in this area:
The effectiveness of current capabilities for humanitarian mine clearance needs to be improved dramatically. The U.N. has set a goal of improving it on the order of 50 times the current rate. (According to the UN, only 84,000 mines were cleared in 1993, as compared with 2-3 million new mines laid.) The current costs of approximately $300 per mine cleared must also be cut dramatically.
Improved technology is needed for locating and discriminating mines (especially from nonmine metal fragments).
The humanitarian community must develop more specific, systematic technical requirements for the technology it needs-both for incremental improvements to existing technologies and for R&D priorities in hopes of making significant improvements in the future.
Greater national and international cooperation and coordination of efforts are also needed, including increased public awareness and support, much improved cooperation among military, humanitarian, and economic development agencies in donor and recipient countries, and improved organization and sharing of information.
Mine clearance is a subset of the broader issue of the clearance of unexploded ordnance (UXO), which presents a greater technological problem in detection, characterization, and removal. Whereas landmines are located near the surface, UXO may be buried down to 30 feet. UXO may also have much greater explosive charges. Investment in UXO clearance technology is needed both for the U.S. armed forces and for international economic development.
The Administration also places high priority on protecting the ocean and coastal environment and conserving living marine resources, reflecting the important national security, environmental, and economic interests at stake regarding ocean resources. The United States has five principal objectives in this area: (1) becoming a party to the 1982 U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, as modified in 1994; (2) ensuring sustainable management of ocean fisheries; (3) supporting integrated coastal resource management and reducing marine and coastal pollution; (4) promoting the conservation of marine biodiversity, including whales and other protected species; and (5) conducting scientific research and ocean monitoring both to support these objectives and to more fully understand oceanic and atmospheric processes of global importance.
An understanding of the changing ocean and coastal environment is essential in order to manage ocean resources in a sustainable manner. This Administration places a priority on ocean monitoring and supports appropriate research on fisheries and marine biodiversity, as well as on the marine physical system and ocean-atmosphere relationships important to understanding climate change. The United States will continue to cooperate with other countries and international bodies in support of the Global Ocean Observing System. We will continue to vigorously promote the consistent and equitable implementation by nations of the provisions of the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention on marine scientific research to ensure maximum access to oceanographic data vital to managing ocean resources, as well as for understanding global change. And we will continue to push for international acceptance of the principle of full and open access to oceanographic and meteorological data. This increased emphasis on oceanographic research and monitoring will directly benefit global maritime operations-both civil and military.
To be sustainable, a society must be resilient to natural hazards. Natural hazards, ranging from earthquakes to pestilence, are inevitable. By contrast, natural disasters-defined as long-lasting disruption of entire communities exceeding the communities' ability to recover unaided-are as much a product of societal behavior and practice as of nature. Natural disasters can and should be mitigated.
The United States is a world leader in developing and implementing technologies for both monitoring natural hazards and mitigating natural disasters. The United States is in the final stages of major improvements in weather forecasting and is working to improve the dissemination of this information. In keeping with its strategy of prevention, the United States provides technical assistance and equipment to other countries to help them predict and assess changes in the natural environment and minimize the loss of lives and property due to natural disasters.
Multilaterally, the United States is participating in a U.N. initiative intended to ensure that by the year 2000 all countries will have incorporated into their plans for achieving sustainable development comprehensive national assessments of risks posed by natural hazards and mitigation plans for these risks at the national and local levels. Countries will also have incorporated into their plans ready access to global, regional, national, and local warning systems.
The preceding discussion makes clear the central role that the dissemination of knowledge and expertise plays in any sustainable development strategy. An effective way to promote sustainable practices globally is through partnerships in teaching and research among developed and developing countries. A global community of scholars, united by a shared understanding of scientific methodology and responsibility, and linked via modern telecommunication networks, will be a positive force for promoting stability, democracy, and economic development. This is one reason why the Clinton Administration has made the development of national and global information infrastructures national priorities.
To promote scientific knowledge abroad, the United States enters into cooperative science and technology agreements with countries around the world. These agreements provide the protocols for cooperative research by government-sponsored scientists and engineers. The United States maintains these agreements, and the intellectual property rights protection contained within them, both for geopolitical reasons and because U.S. scientific and technological leadership can be strengthened through international cooperation. Some of today's most difficult challenges cannot be solved by the United States (or any country) acting alone. During a time of severe budgetary constraints, some projects are too costly for any one nation. Sometimes the work must be done in situ; for example, assessing and preserving biodiversity or monitoring disease outbreaks. Other issues naturally invite collaboration because of unique foreign expertise or facilities. Cooperation builds bridges among nations, sometimes even when no other avenues are available.
The Administration fosters international collaborative research by universities, government, and private sector laboratories with counterparts in developing countries and will also build on the opportunities in existing multilateral efforts. Of particular note are the international agricultural research centers sponsored by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). These centers, which are funded largely by the United States and other OECD donors, link closely to research institutions here and in other developed countries. They represent a key means of developing and delivering food-security enhancing, public-goods technologies to developing countries. With a large contingent of U.S. and U.S.-trained scientists, they represent an excellent means of linking to domestic research.
There are an estimated 1 billion illiterate people in the world. High levels of illiteracy undermine sustainable development goals. Clearly, scientific and technical literacy is required as well. Technology transfer and the development of locally appropriate solutions cannot take place if countries with nearly 80 percent of the world's population (and over 90 percent of population growth) continue to have only 6 percent of the world's scientists. Training students from the less developed sectors of the world who then do not return to their own countries, or organizing training without adequate concern for promoting infrastructure for them at home, will serve to undermine the role of the U.S. education sector as a tool for global sustainable development.
On Earth Day 1994, Vice President Gore announced the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) program. GLOBE is an international environmental education and science effort designed to enable students, educators, and scientists to work together to monitor the global environment and provide information for developing a worldwide environmental database. The GLOBE program, with participating schools around the world, will allow students to perform environmental measurements that will greatly augment Earth observations from existing satellite and ground-based systems. Scientists and educators are working together to design experiments that will provide hands-on science and mathematical experience for elementary through high school students and generate useful environmental data for scientists.