Mine Action Assistance from the Most-Able to the Most-Needy

On November 3 the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) released the 2011 Human Development Report and the Human Development Index (HDI) ranking countries by their level of development.  With a scoring system of 1.0 being highest and 0.0 being lowest, Norway is again the most-developed state according to the UNDP with a score of 0.943 and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the least developed at 0.286. 

According to the report, mine-affected African states make up the five least-developed states: Chad, Mozambique, Burundi, Niger and the DRC (Somalia, also very much mine-affected, could not be rated using UNDP’s methodology, but almost certainly would have been among these countries).  Overall, mine-affected countries had an average HDI score of 0.602 whilst non-mine-affected countries had an average score of 0.694.  The difference between mine-affected and non-mine-affected countries compares to the difference between Turkey (HDI = 0.699 a member of NATO and a candidate for entry into the European Union) and Tajikistan (HDI = 0.607, and a major conduit for opium from Afghanistan). Regressions show a negative correlation (Pearson’s r = -0.255) between the presence of landmines in a country and HDI score. 

One of the key elements of the Mine Ban Treaty is the principle of international cooperation, described and codified under Article 6.  The article requires “State Parties in a position to do so” to provide assistance to mine-affected states, assistance that includes demining, technical knowledge and victim assistance.  In this spirit of cooperation, Croatia’s president, Ivo Josipović, declared “Croatia also has vast experience in humanitarian demining and is ready to assist others with its knowledge and expertise,” at the United Nations General Assembly meetings in September (Reaching Critical Will).  If Croatia, ranked 46th on the HDI can offer assistance to other mine-affected countries, how much assistance have the five most-developed countries provided to the five least developed?

The five most-developed nations, according to the 2011 Human Development Report are (in order) Norway, Australia, Netherlands, United States and New Zealand. The United States is not a party to the Mine Ban Treaty, but has been the greatest contributor to mine action over the years and seems to follow the spirit of the Treaty’s international cooperation clause.  Using data from the United Nations Financial Tracking Service (FTS), we can review all of the 2010 mine action contributions (in US dollars) from the five most-developed countries to the five least-developed; as well as the 2010 mine action contributions in general to see if those in a position to provide assistance are actually doing so.

Aid from the Most-Developed to the Least-Developed

2010 mine action contributions from the five most-developed to the five least-developed states totaled $9.4 million and came from two countries, Norway and the Netherlands.  Norway sent $1.4 million to the DRC and $600,000 to Mozambique.  The Netherlands sent $7.4 million to the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The other top five countries (Australia, New Zealand and the United States) did not contribute any funds to the bottom five.  In fact, according to FTS, Burundi and Niger received no mine action funding in 2010 from any countries; Chad received $254,000 from the International Committee of the Red Cross, the ultimate origin of which is unknown.

More broadly, the five most-developed states gave $77 million in mine action funding globally with Norway (the most-developed nation) giving nearly half that sum, US $35 million. 

The top five contributors in terms of total funding for mine action in 2010 were Norway ($35 million), the United States ($29 million), Japan ($23.4 million), Germany ($23.2 million) and Canada ($17 million) for a total of $127 million.  With the exception of Norway, these states are some of the largest economies of the world, all members of the G20 group of nations and so they should be able to contribute more than others.  A better test of the importance of mine action funding to a country (and therefore its commitment to the international cooperation spirit of the Mine Ban Treaty) would be to look at the mine action funding per capita.

In fact, Norway contributes nearly five times more per capita for mine action ($7.18 per person), than the next highest state, Denmark ($1.51).  A third Scandinavian state, Finland, is the only other country that gives more than $1.00 per person in mine action funding.  The Netherlands ($0.61) and Luxembourg ($0.59) round out the top five states in terms of per capita funding.  Australia and United States give $0.15 and $0.09 per capita to mine action, respectively.  If the United States were to contribute to mine action funding at the per capita rate of Norway, the total contribution would be over $2.2 billion.  Considering that at least one estimate of the total cost to clear all landmines globally is $33 billion (United Nations), a United States that contributes at the same level of commitment as Norway could shorten the total amount of time required from 1,100 years to 15. 

So, the data shows that Norway, the country in the greatest position to provide assistance to mine-affected states, at least according to the Human Development Report, does so both in total and per capita. 

A special note here: New Zealand’s mine action contributions were not reported via the Financial Tracking Service.  According to the Landmine Monitor, in 2010 New Zealand contributed $3.3 million to mine action which represents a per capita giving level of $0.77, greater than the Netherlands so the FTS numbers need to be kept in their context (as do the Human Development Report numbers which exclude Somalia). 

 Michael P. Moore, November 10, 2011

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