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Humanitarian Mine Action

Back from the fieldwork in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Switzerland's vision

Twenty years after mine action first became an international topic, considerable progress on the road towards achieving a mine-free world has been made. Large areas have been cleared, new standards and international norms have been introduced while new international legal instruments have been created and implemented. Switzerland is a committed actor that makes important contributions to the relevant processes.

Nevertheless, considerable challenges remain, as anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) still claim victims every year. Communities are continuously affected by these remnants of war. As these weapons remain active for years, mines and unexploded ordnance impede both civilian and military peace efforts, limiting socioeconomic reconstruction of the affected communities.

In the long run, Switzerland continues to strive for a world in which there are no new victims of anti-personnel mines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war – a world in which economic and social development progresses smoothly and the needs of the affected populations are adequately met. From 2016 to 2022, Switzerland wants to substantially contribute to the fulfillment of this vision.

Switzerland's international commitment includes political and diplomatic activities as well as financial, personnel and material contributions to mine action programmes worldwide. The Swiss Armed Forces make valuable contributions to these efforts.

The Strategy of the Swiss Confederation as a Guideline

The Swiss government's strategy for 2016 - 2022 for a world free of mines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war determined Switzerland's quintessential contributions to international humanitarian demining efforts.

With this mission in mind, Switzerland has set itself three objectives:

  1. The relevant treaties are fully implemented and universally applied;
  2. Safety from mines, cluster munitions and ERW is increased and the conditions for sustainable development improved;
  3. Ownership of mine action rests entirely with those affected on the ground.

The Mine Ban Treaty


Switzerland was one of the first states to sign the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Ottawa Convention) ratifying it on 24 March 1998.

In the meantime, 164 governments have ratified the treaty (as of April 2019).

The treaty prohibits the state parties to use, stockpile, produce or transfer anti-personnel mines and requires that any current stockpiles be destroyed within four years of ratification. Furthermore, anti-personnel mines have to be cleared from the sovereign territory of a state party within ten years of ratification, although it is possible to request an extension.

The special feature of the Ottawa Convention consists in the commitment that the state parties have taken in mutually supporting each other. The idea is primarily to support affected countries in their efforts to clear mined areas, prevent accidents and assist victims.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions

In 2008, Switzerland signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions (known as the Oslo Convention), which prohibits the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions. The Convention represents an important legal development for humanitarian demining: The comprehensive ban on production, transfer, stockpiling and use of cluster munitions should preventatively curtail the humanitarian consequences of explosive war residues.

The Convention came into effect on 1 August 2010. Switzerland ratified it on 17 July 2012. To date, 120 governments have signed the Convention, 106 have ratified it and 14 remain signatory states (as of April 2019).

Interdepartmental coordination

The Swiss coordination mechanisms for mine action follow the principles of the successful "whole of government" approach to the implementation of Switzerland’s mine action strategy. The inter-departmental co-ordination groups at operational (lead: DDPS) and at policy level (lead: FDFA) will therefore be continued.

Mine action is not an isolated domain: in most cases, it is integrated in country programmes. Therefore, coordination with other strategic frameworks and relevant working groups will be increased as additional synergies with country programmes in development co-operation, humanitarian aid and peacebuilding are sought. As a result, humanitarian demining comprises part of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.



Armed Forces Staff International Relations
Humanitarian Mine Action
Postal address: Papiermühlestrasse 20
Office: Rodtmattstrasse 110
3003 Berne
+41 58 467 04 25


Armed Forces Staff

International Relations
Humanitarian Mine Action
Postal address: Papiermühlestrasse 20
Office: Rodtmattstrasse 110
3003 Berne