Clearance is step one, development is step two

As our Mine Action Fellows stated at the Convention on Cluster Munitions MSP last year, “There is no place for cluster munitions in the future we are building.” International development is about sustainably building a better future for the world. On Day 3 of International Development Week, we will look at how this future can’t exist with explosive ordnance such as cluster munitions blocking progress. 

Cluster munitions become de facto landmines because 5-30% of them fail to detonate upon landing. We know how landmines stall sustainable development- when land is contaminated, many development activities cannot take place at all or happen unsafely. In 2021, there were 149 cluster munitions casualties which brings the total number to 23,082 casualties officially recorded by the Cluster Munition Monitor. If we want sustainable cities and communities (SDG #11), clearance needs to happen first. We cannot develop when children are being injured by landmines when they are trying to go to school. We cannot develop when farmland is being avoided because of suspected contamination. We cannot develop when clinics are hard to reach because contamination is surrounding the facility. Clearance comes first. Once the land has been cleared, then we can build schools, hospitals, markets, and clean energy facilities. 

Clearance is a legal obligation under the Convention on Cluster Munitions. States who have joined this Convention commit to clearing cluster munitions as soon as possible, but no later than 10 years after their entry. Two states completed clearance before joining, 5 states completed clearance after joining, and ten states submitted extension requests. Donor states need to contribute more to help affected states clear their land. Affected states need to make a firm commitment to clearing the land they are legally obligated to clear.

Only once clearance is completed will other UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) be achieved. Let’s take a close look at the goals clearing explosive ordnance will help achieve:

Clearing explosive ordnance opens a safe path to development and reaching the UN SDGs without clearance is not possible. Clearance is step one, development is step two.