State Department releases chronology of activities spanning 143 years
The United States has spent more than a billion dollars in the past dozen years on humanitarian land mine removal efforts around the world.
This money has been spent to remove land mines, pay for educational messages on the risks posed by mines, help victims of mine injuries, and fund research and development to improve existing humanitarian mine removal programs.
A December 19 State Department fact sheet says the U.S. investment “has contributed to the notable reduction of landmine casualties worldwide,” brought about the removal of mines from land that had been rendered uninhabitable and helped establish mine action programs in a number of nations.
Drawing on data collected by the departments of State and Defense, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Leahy War Victims Fund and the Mine Action Information Center at James Madison University in Virginia, the fact sheet traces key actions related to mines and unexploded ordnance beginning in the U.S. Civil War in 1862 and extending through the end of 2005.
Additional information about U.S. policy on land mines is available on the State Department's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement Web site. See also the State Department electronic journal, Protecting Lives, Restoring Livelihoods: The U.S. Program To Remove Landmines.
Following is the text of the fact sheet:
(begin fact sheet)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
December 19, 2005
Milestones in Humanitarian Mine Action: Emergence of the Global Landmine Threat, Evolution of Landmine Policy and Development of the Discipline of Humanitarian Mine Action (3rd Edition)
These milestones were compiled with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Agency for International Development's Leahy War Victims Fund, and the Mine Action Information Center at James Madison University.
The United States defines the following as the "pillars" of humanitarian mine action:
1. mine detection and clearance;
2. mine risk education to populations threatened by landmines and unexploded ordnance;
3. survivors assistance to those maimed by landmines and other remnants of war; and
4. research and development to improve the effectiveness of all aspects of the first three pillars.
1862 - One of the earliest known casualties of a landmine as defined today - a target-activated device filled with explosive - is a Union soldier killed by a Confederate landmine during the U.S. Civil War. Five still lethal (i.e. persistent) Confederate landmines were discovered near Mobile, Alabama in the 1960s.
1914-1918 - Landmines are employed on a relatively small scale in some 19th century colonial campaigns and during the Russo-Japanese War (1902-1906) but do not become a major weapon of war until about 1918, late in the First World War. Anti-vehicle (anti-tank) mines are deployed to protect against tanks, a new invention at the time, and anti-personnel landmines are used to protect the anti-vehicle mines from destruction by opposing infantry units.
1939-1945 - During the Second World War, anti-personnel and anti-tank mines are employed in large quantities in all of that war's theaters. Significant quantities that were laid in some former war zones remain a persistent menace to this day.
1945 - France, employing 49,000 German prisoners of war as well as French civilians and military personnel, begins one of the earliest post-war efforts to methodically and comprehensively clear landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). By 1950, several million landmines that were emplaced during World War II throughout Western Europe, from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, are successfully cleared by all affected countries, effectively making the region safe from the humanitarian impact of landmines or "mine safe." However, none are completely "mine free." To this day, some persistent landmines and UXO are still found in Denmark, France and other countries in Western Europe.
1970s - The U.S. Department of Defense begins replacing persistent anti-personnel and anti-vehicle landmines in its stockpiles with self-destructing and self-deactivating (or non-persistent) landmines to prevent enemy use of U.S. landmines against U.S. forces and to minimize the threat to non-combatants.
October 1980 - The "Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons which may be Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects," commonly known as the Convention on Conventional Weapons or "CCW," is created to regulate the use of all manner of non-detectable fragments, incendiaries, blinding laser weapons, and anti-personnel landmines. This marks the first time there has been an effort to regulate the use of landmines. The United States takes the lead in drafting Protocol II, known as the Amended Mines Protocol (AMP), specifically to address landmines, booby traps, and other delayed-action devices. Visit the www.ccwtreaty.com website to learn more. (Also see other AMP/CCW entries in this fact sheet.)
June 1986 - U.S. Army Special Forces, deployed from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to south-central Honduras during the "Operation Lempira" foreign internal defense exercise, train Honduran Army engineers to clear landmines in civilian agricultural areas affected by conflict in Nicaragua that spilled over onto Honduran soil. The Special Forces' focus is training in humanitarian, rather than military, mine clearance. This marks the first recorded effort by the United States to engage in what is now commonly known as humanitarian mine action. Click on www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/pix/b/22970.htm to view a photograph from this historic operation.
October 1988 - Following careful analysis of the immense landmine threat in Afghanistan stemming from the Soviet occupation, the United States helps establish a comprehensive program to clear landmines there. Today, this program, the UNMAS [United Nations Mine Action Service] Mine Action Program for Afghanistan (MAPA), is the world's largest and most productive demining effort, staffed almost entirely by Afghans themselves. MAPA's use of local managers and employees, transparency, and diversified funding sources has served as a model for many other humanitarian mine action programs elsewhere. The term "humanitarian demining" is coined (now increasingly superseded by the term "humanitarian mine action") to differentiate the activities in Afghanistan from traditional military mine clearance and to reflect the degree of the landmine threat to civilians, their land and infrastructure.
October 1989 - The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) establishes the War Victims Fund to respond to the needs of victims of conflict, to include survivors of accidents with landmines, unexploded ordnance and other explosive remnants of war. Since 1989, the Fund, now called the Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund in honor of Senator Leahy of Vermont who espoused its establishment, has striven to expand access to affordable and appropriate prosthetic and orthotic services, providing over $100 million dollars of such aid to over 30 countries. To learn more, visit www.leahywarvictimsfund.org.
1990 - The word "deminer" comes into common use throughout the mine action community to describe the individuals who are removing landmines.
1991 - The U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Leahy War Victims Fund [LWVF] provides $1.35 million to U.S. non-governmental organizations working in Vietnam to address critical prosthetic needs there. This is the first United States humanitarian assistance to flow into Vietnam since the end of the conflict in the mid-1970s.
1992 - The Cambodia Mine Action Center is formed and is considered the first major integrated humanitarian mine action program.
October 1992 - The United States unilaterally bans the export of its anti-personnel landmines. The U.S. Congress later formalizes this ban, per "Public Law 102-484, Section 1365; 22 United States Code, 2778 note." In 2001, Congress amends the law, which was to expire in 2003, to expire on October 23, 2008. To examine this law on-line, go to http://uscode.house.gov/usc.htm enter the word "landmines" in the search engine, click on "22 USC Sec. 2778" and scroll to Landmine Export Moratorium.
October 1992 - The International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) is formed by a steering committee of non-governmental organizations consisting of Handicap International, Human Rights Watch, Medico International, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), Physicians for Human Rights, and the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation. Eventually, the ICBL brings together over 1400 human rights and humanitarian mine action organizations in one of the most comprehensive information-gathering networks for mine action. To learn more, visit www.icbl.org.
October 1993 - The United States formally establishes the U.S. Humanitarian Demining Program, an inter-agency effort (Department of State, Department of Defense, Agency for International Development) to provide a full range of assistance to mine affected countries that request U.S. help. Previously established U.S. humanitarian demining programs (Afghanistan 1988, Cambodia 1991, Kuwait 1991, northern Iraq 1992, Somalia 1991, El Salvador 1993, Mozambique 1993) are brought into the Program. It is difficult to quantify U.S. humanitarian demining funding outlays prior to October 1993, but since then the U.S. contribution is expected to reach $1 billion dollars sometime in 2005. In December 2002, the program is formally renamed the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program to more accurately reflect the scope of its activities. Visit www.state.gov/t/pm/wra to learn about the U.S. Department of State's mine action and related light conventional weapons abatement programs and visit www.humanitarian-demining.org/demining/default.asp to learn about the U.S. Department of Defense's Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program.
1994 - The Government of El Salvador declares that it is "mine free," denoting that every single landmine emplaced on its territory has been located and cleared. However, some questions were raised about this absolute declaration and in May 2001 a Salvadoran government official conceded that some landmines and unexploded ordnance were still being found. The U.S. Agency for International Development's Leahy War Victims Fund continues to provide scholarships for Salvadoran and other Central American orthopedic technicians, who serve landmine survivors and others with disabilities, to attend the School for Ortopedia Tecnica at the Universidad Don Bosco in El Salvador where they receive training and professional development. To date the LWVF has invested $300,000 in these educational efforts in El Salvador.
September 1994 - In an address to the UN General Assembly, then U.S. President Bill Clinton becomes the first world leader to call for the eventual elimination of anti-personnel landmines.
December 1994 - The U.S. Department of State's Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs (now Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement) releases HIDDEN KILLERS: The Global Landmine Crisis, the first report to estimate the magnitude of the landmine threat in terms of numbers of mines laid and numbers of mine-related deaths and injuries. The fourth and final edition of HIDDEN KILLERS, released fall 2001, with statistics on the generally reduced numbers of extant landmines and landmine casualties is still available at http://www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/rpt /hk/2001/6961.htm.
1995 - U.S. Special Operations Forces, who are adept at teaching various skills to foreign troops, begin training foreign deminers around the world in the techniques of humanitarian mine action, using internationally recognized standards, as a part of the U.S. "Train-the-Trainer" program." (See the related February 1997 entry.)
1995 - Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are introduced to map contaminated areas, and will eventually also be used to produce maps that assist mine risk education.
1995 - The U.S. Army's Night Vision and Sensors Directorate (NVESD) at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, is tasked with performing research on promising new technologies to detect and clear landmines for humanitarian demining programs using everything from cutting edge science to off-the-shelf equipment that can be adapted for robust clearance operations. Prototypes are made available for rigorous field tests, funded by the NVESD, in mine-affected countries. Plans for locally producing equipment that has passed these field tests are freely given to interested countries. To learn more, visit http://www.nvl.army.mil/text/ technology.html.
March 1995 - Belgium becomes the first country to pass domestic laws banning the use or production of landmines as well as their export.
June 1995 - The U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Leahy War Victims Fund sponsors the first comprehensive workshop on "Appropriate Prosthetic Technology for Developing Countries" in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The consensus conference is attended by over 90 participants from around the world and leads to substantial changes in the way prosthetic services are implemented in non-industrialized countries.
1996 - UNICEF establishes Mine Awareness Guidelines to introduce program planners and program managers to issues that are central to landmine/UXO awareness (mine risk education).
1996 - DC Comics mine awareness comic books, commissioned by the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency, are distributed in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is the first attempt to disseminate mine awareness information (now called mine risk education) on a large scale using the easily accessible and attractive device of comic book heroes depicted in former war zone settings to help inculcate in children greater respect for the dangers of landmines and unexploded ordnance. Subsequent customized editions, also tailored to suit local conditions and culture and printed on durable paper, are distributed in Central America in 1998 and in Kosovo in 1999-2000.
1996 - The first edition of Jane's Mines and Mine Clearance, edited by landmine expert Colin King, is published by the Jane’s Information Group. This annually updated encyclopedia contains illustrations and technical detail on nearly all landmines and booby traps in existence along with the means to detect and clear them.
1996 - Sweden establishes the Swedish EOD and Demining Center (SWEDEC) in Eksjö with responsibility for training Swedish and foreign personnel in all aspects of military explosive ordnance disposal and in conducting research and development. SWEDEC staff have deployed to support humanitarian mine action programs in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Eritrea and Sri Lanka. SWEDEC helped establish Cambodia's mine detection dog program. To learn more, visit www.swedec.mil.se
January 1996 - Menschen gegen Minen (MgM), a German non-governmental organization currently engaged in humanitarian demining in Angola, sets up the MgM Network, a free, real-time Internet forum in which demining practitioners, international relief workers, researchers, and others from around the world with an interest in human mine action, may exchange vital information, post inquiries or simply monitor Network traffic in order to gain additional knowledge about this field. To subscribe to the forum, visit www.mgm.org, click on "Network," agree to abide by the rules, and follow the prompts.
February 1996 - The U.S. Department of Defense establishes the Humanitarian Demining Training Center (HDTC) at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. The HDTC serves as the U.S. Government's training and information center for humanitarian mine action, researches techniques on landmine use and demining, and incorporates current data into training programs to meet Department of Defense requirements. Programs of instruction are taught in accordance with International Mine Action Standards (IMAS). Since its inception, over 1500 U.S. military graduates of the HDTC have trained foreign deminers in all aspects of humanitarian mine action in 34 countries in "Train the Trainer" courses. The HDTC also trains deploying personnel of other U.S. Government agencies prior to their posting to areas of risk and manages a public outreach program (for example Landmine Studies students at Southwest Missouri State University have participated in hands-on familiarization events at the HDTC). Learn more at www.wood.army.mil/hdtc/.
May 1996 - The Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) Review Conference adopts the Amended Mines Protocol (AMP), which significantly improves the original 1980 Protocol. The AMP is made applicable to internal armed conflicts as well as international armed conflicts. To examine the AMP in detail, visit www.ccwtreaty.com/amendedmineprotocol.htm. (Also see other AMP/ CCW entries in this fact sheet.)
June 1996 - The U.S. Secretary of Defense directs implementation of the President's new policy on anti-personnel landmines (APL). Key elements of the policy include: research and procurement of alternatives to APLs, exploration of operational doctrine, tactics and plans to reduce or eliminate the reliance on APLs, removal of non self-destructing anti-personnel landmines from basic ammunition loads (South Korea excepted), and expansion of humanitarian demining research and development and humanitarian demining training efforts.
September 1996 - The United States unilaterally begins removing its anti-personnel and anti-tank mines from the perimeter of the U.S. Naval Base, Guantanamo, Cuba. Clearance of the United States' last permanent minefield is completed in 1999. Quality assurance/verification is completed in May 2000.
September 1996 - The Mine Action Information Center (MAIC), originally funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, now supported in part by the U.S. Department of State, is established at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia, to collect, process, analyze and disseminate information on all aspects of humanitarian mine action. An information clearinghouse with a comprehensive website (http://maic.jmu.edu/about us.htm) useful to laymen and specialists alike, the MAIC also hosts conferences and symposia on landmine-related topics, develops mine awareness materials, produces Geographic Information Services (GIS) products and conducts surveys to improve mine action. In addition, the MAIC provides training for managers of national mine action programs. The MAIC's Journal of Mine Action, published three times a year, and whose research and development section is now funded by the Canadian Center for Mine Action Technologies, is available online at http://maic.jmu.edu/journals/htm.
January 7, 1997 - President Clinton formally seeks the advice and consent of the United States Senate to ratify Protocol II - the Amended Mines Protocol on anti-personnel landmines - that was drafted by the United States, and other Protocols to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. Click on www.ccwtreaty.com/keydocs.html and then select "Full U.S. Ratification Package with analysis Protocol II," to view Protocol II in its entirety, including the White House letter of transmittal to the Senate. (Also see other related entries.)
January 1997 - Princess Diana (1961-1997) visits Angola, a seriously mine-affected country, and helps to draw international attention to the global landmine problem.
October 1997 - The United States designates a Special Representative of the President and Secretary of State for Global Humanitarian Demining and establishes a supporting office, later called the Office of Mine Action Initiatives and Partnerships (PM/MAIP) in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, at the U.S. Department of State. The mission is to increase international cooperation and coordination for humanitarian mine action, raise U.S. public awareness of and support for humanitarian mine action via public-private partnerships, and coordinate research and development in humanitarian mine action. PM/MAIP is eventually amalgamated in the new Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) on Oct. 6, 2003. See the related October 2003 entry and visit www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.
October 1997 - The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) is formed to serve as the UN focal point for humanitarian mine action. At the global level, it is responsible for coordinating all aspects of mine action within the UN system to ensure an effective and proactive response to landmine contamination. At the field level, UNMAS is responsible for providing mine action assistance during humanitarian emergencies and peacekeeping operations. To learn more, visit www.mineaction.org.
November 1997 - The United Kingdom Mine Information and Training Center (MITC), a British military initiative, is established at the Combat Engineer School in Surrey, England, to facilitate the flow of information about landmines between military and civilian organizations, and to train military, government and non-government organizations, civilians and students both at the MITC and overseas. Courses are given in Basic Humanitarian Demining and the delivery and receipt of Mine Risk Education. To learn more, visit www.mitc.royalengineers.com.
December 1997 - The 1997 "Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction," commonly referred to as the Ottawa Convention, is opened for signature in Ottawa, Canada. The United States participates in the Convention but ultimately declines to sign it due to unmet concerns relating to the protection of its forces and allies and the lack of exemptions for mixed munitions. To learn more about this Convention, visit http://www.mineaction.org, click on "Advocacy and Conventions," then click on "AP Mine Ban Convention."
December 1997 - The first edition of ORDATA, "The International Deminers Guide to Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) Identification, Recovery and Disposal" is released to the public in CD-ROM format by the U.S. Department of Defense. It achieves immediate success in providing the international demining community with a free, first-of-its-kind unclassified reference tool for identifying, recovering and disposing of UXO and landmines. Over 18,000 copies of the ORDATA series database have been distributed free of charge to the international demining community, as well as U.S. and foreign military and civilian bomb disposal technicians. ORDATA has since been followed by ORDATA II and KORDATA, and went on-line in May 2002 at http://maic.jmu.edu/ordata/mission.asp.
1998 - The Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), is established to support the mine action efforts of the international community and United Nations via mine action research, operational support for demining in the field and advocacy of the Ottawa Convention. The GICHD is an independent organization supported by Austria, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the Canton of Geneva. To examine the results of the GICHD's research on mine detecting dogs, socio-economic approaches to mine action, mechanical mine action systems, etc., visit www.gichd.ch.
1998 - Non-governmental organizations, the UN and the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining form the Survey Working Group and begin to develop a methodology for the execution of landmine impact surveys. See www.sac-na.org/sac_swg.html for a list of member organizations.
1998 - The Mine Action Support Group (MASG), comprised now of 27 of the donor nations to humanitarian mine action, is formed in order to share information and better coordinate resources for mine action programs. The MASG meets periodically in New York and once a year in Geneva. The MASG has conducted field visits to Eritrea, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Angola and Sudan. On December 14, 2005, at the request of Switzerland and with the agreement of the other member nations, the United States agrees to assume the chair of the MASG for two years, beginning in January 2006. Current MASG members are Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States.
May 1998 - The U.S. Congress appropriates $28 million dollars for the International Trust Fund (ITF) for Demining and Victims Assistance, based in Ig, Slovenia, to assist mine affected countries in the Balkan region. The U.S. has since deposited over $73 million dollars as a match to contributions from other donor nations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), corporations and individuals, enabling contributors to double the impact of their funding. In 2001, the ITF broadened its mandate to also support humanitarian mine action in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Contributions to the ITF, which have been matched by the United States, have come from a number of companies and non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, schools, civic associations, faith-based groups and individuals, as well as the European Union, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Qatar, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. To learn more about the ITF, visit www.itf-fund.si.
May 20-22, 1998 - The United States convenes "The Washington Conference on Global Humanitarian Demining" to identify specific strategies for achieving international cooperation in mine action. Seven strategies result: 1) developing solid baseline data; 2) consolidating mechanisms for international cooperation; 3) cooperating to develop priorities and match needs with resources; 4) coordinating technology research, development and application in mine-affected countries; 5) promoting victim assistance; 6) applying military expertise; and 7) encouraging public-private partnerships. Officials from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, the UN, European Union, International Committee of the Red Cross, World Bank, Organization of African Unity, Organization of American States, and representatives from 27 non-governmental organizations participate.
June 1998 - The United States completes destruction of over 3.3 million of its non-self-destructing anti-personnel landmines, retaining only those necessary for training, research, and the defense of South Korea.
June 1998 - The United States establishes the Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs (PM/HDP) in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. At the time, the Office serves as the lead U.S. Government mine action entity, rendering mine action assistance to over 40 countries through bilateral and multilateral programs during the course of its existence. PM/HDP is eventually amalgamated in the new Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) on Oct. 6, 2003; see related October 2003 entry and visit www.state.gov/t/pm/wra.
June 1998 - The first annual edition of Landmine Monitor Report, compiled under the auspices of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (see 1992 entry for ICBL), a comprehensive reference guide to landmine facts and statistics around the world including landmine casualties, is released. It is a valuable reference tool for all interested in humanitarian mine action. On-line issues may be downloaded from www.icbl.org/lm.
August 1998 - The Canadian Center for Mine Action Technologies (CCMAT) is established at the Canadian Forces Base Suffield in Southern Alberta to develop low cost, sustainable technology for humanitarian mine action as well as to support the development of the Canadian demining industry. CCMAT also contributes its expertise and facilities to the International Test and Evaluation Program (see July 2000 entry for ITEP) and underwrites the research and development portion of the Mine Action Information Center's Journal of Mine Action. To learn more, visit www.ccmat.gc.ca.
September 1998 - Drawing on public data collected while under contract to the U.S. Department of Defense, AVS Consultants UK devises and disseminates the first database of demining accident victims. It includes details of the injuries sustained and how the accidents occurred. After its utility as a reference and training tool is established, the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) support the release of an approved version in May 2002. Further updates are planned. The latest release is called the Database on Demining Accidents and is available from Mr. Paul Ellis at the GICHD. Email requests to email@example.com.
December 1998 - The U.S.-drafted Amended Mines Protocol to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (AMP/CCW) enters into force. (Also see other AMP/ CCW entries in this fact sheet.)
1999 - The UNDP commissions a study of "Management Training Needs" for the mine action community. The report finds that implementation of management training has the potential to significantly improve the effectiveness and productivity of mine action programs worldwide. This study leads to the creation of UNDP's Mine Action for Middle and Senior Management Training Courses.
1999 - The University of Denver's Center for Teaching International Relations (CTIR) develops a curricula about the global landmine problem commissioned by the U.S. Department of State for use by educators to help students advance their knowledge of geography, history and other social sciences in general while becoming aware of the landmine problem in particular. The curriculum is available in modules for upper elementary, middle and high school students and is online. To download the modules, go to www.du.edu/ctir/pubs_freeForm.html and follow the instructions.
January 1999 - The Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) to improve humanitarian deminers' capabilities for decision-making, coordination and information policy becomes the UN-approved standard for information systems that support mine action. Data is collected and evaluated in affected countries' Mine Action Centers and entered into the IMSMA Field Module. Countries can then better coordinate, prioritize and execute demining activities. Information can also be transferred to the IMSMA Web Services where consolidation and analysis is performed. IMSMA was developed by the Center for Security Studies and Conflict Research at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich on behalf of the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (see 1998 entry for GICHD). To learn more about IMSMA or to examine IMSMA Webreports for Chad and Yemen, visit www.imsma.ethz.ch.
March 1999 - The Royal Military College of Sciences at Cranfield University in Shrivenham, England, part of the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, forms the Cranfield Mine Action unit (CMA) to support mine action work of the British government and of the UN. CMA's mine action professionals, academicians, and management experts also train mid-level and senior program managers of foreign national mine action centers. The U.S. Department of State has funded some of this training (see www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2002/10989.htm for an example.) To learn more, visit www.rcms.cranfield.ac.uk/cma.
April 1999 - Flail machines, originally not thought by many practitioners to be of use in humanitarian demining, prove their efficacy in vegetation clearance in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia in order to prepare the ground for manual and mine detecting dog team operations, significantly reducing the cost of clearance.
May 1999 - The United States ratifies the Amended Mines Protocol of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (AMP/CCW). (Also see other AMP/CCW entries in this fact sheet.)
May 1999 - The First Meeting of States Parties to the 1997 Ottawa Convention takes place in Maputo, Mozambique. A key outcome is the creation of "intersessional meetings" throughout the year to address thematic and technical issues. Meetings of nations that are signatories to this Convention continue to be held annually in mine-affected nations.
February 2000 - A Study on Deminer Injuries, conceived, initiated and sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense, is released to the international demining community. Initially intended to help the U.S. Government design personal protective equipment, it breaks new ground in the medical analysis of deminer injury data. To examine the study, visit www.humanitariandemining.org, click on "Personal Protection and Tools," then on "Personal Protection and Tools Publications," then on "Landmine Casualty Data Report: February 2000."
March 2000 - Geneva Call, an international humanitarian organization, begins advocating for non-state actors (NSAs) - armed groups operating outside the control of any government - to cease using anti-personnel landmines, cooperate in humanitarian mine action and join the "Ottawa Convention" by agreeing to the terms of a document commonly known as a Deed of Commitment. The Canton of Geneva acts as a custodian of signed Deeds. Geneva Call notes that "mine use today is more prevalent among NSAs than among government forces" and that "Alone [without the engagement of NSAs], an inter-state ban will not solve the landmine problem." Visit www.genevacall.org to learn more.
July 2000 - The United States of America, European Commission, Belgium, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Sweden sign a Memorandum of Understanding establishing the International Test and Evaluation Program (ITEP) for Humanitarian Demining Equipment, Processes and Methods. ITEP provides the framework for a global network to develop universally accepted standards for test methodology, collecting, generating and disseminating objective data on humanitarian demining technology, and testing and evaluating demining equipment and systems in a cost-effective program. Germany became an ITEP participant in June 2002. To learn more, visit www.itep.ws/.
August 2000 - The U.S. Department of Defense releases the final report of its Lower Extremity Assessment program which utilized full-body human cadavers to fully evaluate the mechanism of injury and determine current levels of protection provided by commercially produced landmine protective footwear. The research breaks new ground in the use of test instrumentation, in particular high-speed radiographic imaging (cineradiography). To examine this study, visit www.humanitariandemining.org, click on "Landmine Injuries," then click on "Publications," then scroll to "Volume II - Final Report of the Lower Extremity Assessment Program (LEAP 99-2)."
September 2000 - The U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Leahy War Victims Fund sponsors a second workshop on appropriate orthopedic technologies for low income countries in Moshi, Tanzania. 80 participants, representing organizations from around the world, produce consensus recommendations in areas such as rehabilitation in national health care structures, community-based rehabilitation, project assessment, monitoring, and sustainability.
October 2000 - The first-ever national landmine survey in a mine-affected country is completed in Yemen. This landmark event, funded by the United States of America, Canada, Germany, Japan and the private United Nations Foundation, is carried out by the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, the Survey Action Center, and the Mine Clearance Planning Agency, an Afghan non-governmental organization. To learn more, see http://secretary.state.gov/www.briefings/statements/2000/ps001004a.html
November 2000 - During the first visit to Vietnam by a U.S. President since the end of the conflict there, President Clinton pledges U.S. Government support to help eliminate landmines and other explosive remnants of war in Vietnam. Subsequently, the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of State provide three demining computer/software suites and related training in the first U.S. military training deployment to Vietnam since 1975. The U.S. continues to assist Vietnam in conducting decontamination of mine and UXO-affected areas and to begin a series of socio-economic impact surveys of affected priority areas.
2001 - The French Army Engineer School creates the National Center of Humanitarian Demining Training, an outgrowth of its "Centre MINEX" first established in Angers, France in 1992 for post-war mine clearance. The Center's expertise is available to mine affected countries and mine action organizations. To learn more, visit www.genie-militaire.com, click on "L'Ecole Supérieure et d'Application du Génie," click "Expertise," then click on "National Center for Humanitarian Demining Training" (toggle the appropriate flags for English, French or Spanish text).
March 2001 - Dr. Ken Rutherford, a landmine survivor and co-founder of the Landmine Survivors Network, establishes Landmine Studies in the Department of Political Science at Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield. Each semester, his students receive a hands-on orientation at the U.S. Department of Defense's Humanitarian Demining Training Center (see February 1997 entry) in order to briefly experience the meticulous, thorough and safety-conscious operating procedures that characterize properly managed humanitarian demining operations. HDTC experts regularly lecture the Landmine Studies students as well. To learn more, visit www.smsu.edu/polsci/landmines.
April 2001 - The U.S. Department of State's former Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs establishes a "Quick Reaction Demining Force" (QRDF) that is based in Mozambique. The QRDF is a permanent, professional humanitarian demining cadre composed primarily of 40 Mozambican mine clearance specialists who can deploy worldwide within 14 days of activation to provide immediate demining assistance in emergency humanitarian situations. In between deployments beyond Mozambique, the QRDF engages in humanitarian demining in support of Mozambique's National Demining Office, performing valuable service in that mine-affected nation while keeping its professional skills honed. To learn more about the QRDF, see http://maic.jmu.edu/journal/8.1/focus/roberts/roberts/html .Also see the April 2002 entry in this fact sheet.
June 2001 - The United States proposes a Protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons to deal with mines other than anti-personnel landmines (MOTAPM), in particular anti-vehicle mines. To examine a recent document dealing with this initiative, "Proposals and ideas on MOTAPM in the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) with the purpose to provide a basis for further work," dated February 28, 2005, visit www.ccwtreaty.com/March2005MOTAPM.pdf.
June 2001 - "Broken Earth," a documentary on the global landmine problem which includes vignettes on three mine-affected countries, supported by the U.S. Department of State's former Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs, is released. "Broken Earth" is broadcast by the PBS television network in approximately 70 U.S. markets and overseas in 26 countries.
July 2001 - The results of the International Pilot Project for Technology Cooperation are published. The U.S. Department of Defense conceived this milestone report, also known as the metal detector "consumer report," the first-ever attempt to conduct a multinational test and evaluation venture. Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the European Commission's Joint Research Center eventually joined the United States in evaluating 25 different detector models from 13 manufacturers. The project determined the best detector (s) for a given set of operational parameters and served as a pilot project for the International Test and Evaluation Program. To examine the ultimate findings, visit www.humanitariandemining.org click on "Publications," then click on "International Pilot Project for Technology Cooperation Final Report."
September 2001 - The European Commission's Directorate-General Joint Research Center establishes the Institute for the Protection and Security of the Citizen (IPSC) in Ispra, Italy, one of whose Humanitarian Security Unit functions is to develop and apply appropriate technologies for minefield survey, and improved mine detection and clearance/destruction. The Secretariat of the International Test and Evaluation Program (see July 2001 entry for ITEP) is also hosted by the Unit. To learn more, visit http://humanitarian-security.jrc.it.
September 2001 - Spain establishes the International Demining Training Center (Centro Internacional de Desminado) of Excellence at its army engineer academy in Hoyo de Manzanares near Madrid where it has subsequently offered training to humanitarian deminers from Afghanistan, Angola, Colombia, Mozambique and other countries as well as to its own deminers before their deployments to Afghanistan and elsewhere outside of Spain.
November 2001 - "Landmines: Clearing the Way," a comprehensive resource of information and field experience on the global landmine issue in CD-ROM-format, is released by Huntington Associates. The CD-ROM is a cooperative effort by the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and the Rockefeller Foundation, produced by Huntington Associates. A limited number of copies are still available from the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement.
December 2001 - At the Second Review Conference pertaining to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, 11 countries co-sponsor the U.S.-proposed protocol on anti-vehicle mines. In the most recent subsequent meeting in June 2003, the co-sponsoring countries, now numbering 14, agree to continue work on the proposed protocol. To learn more, visit www.ccwtreaty.com.
December 2001 - The Mine Action Coordination Center in Kosovo, established by the United Nations, declares that Kosovo is mostly free from the humanitarian impact of landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). Although it is widely acknowledged that some landmines and UXO remain, there is no doubt that the clean-up of Kosovo's infestation of landmines and other explosive remnants of war is a major success, accomplished with significant support from the United States of America (which invested nearly $28 million in demining, mine risk education and survivors assistance there from fiscal year 1996 to fiscal year 2002), the European Union, and other donors.
March 2002 - The U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Leahy War Victims Fund sponsors the first workshop on "Prosthetic and Orthotic Training Institutes in Non-Industrialized Countries." The workshop is attended by representatives from 24 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe and leads to greater standardization of training approaches.
April 2002 - The U.S. Department of State's Quick Reaction Demining Force (QRDF) makes its first deployment outside of Mozambique to Sri Lanka in order to assess the landmine threat there and perform short-term clearance to protect some 200,000 internally displaced persons being resettled pending the start of UN relief operations. See www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2002/14849.htm. The QRDF makes subsequent emergency deployments to Sudan and Iraq. (Also see the April 2001 entry.)
June 2002 - Large format "Mined-area indicator" photographic portfolios, commissioned by the U.S. Department of State's former Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs, are released by the Golden West Humanitarian Foundation. The portfolios, depicting typical landmine indicators for Angola and Mozambique, provide detailed color photos of a variety of clues - such as valuable door frames left in abandoned structures; discarded arming pins or landmine detonator containers; improvised warning signs, etc. - which indicate that land or infrastructure have been mined. The portfolios, designed to complement existing mine risk education programs in Angola and Mozambique, are to be used by people attending mine risk education courses and by those who train deminers and mined-area surveyors. Programa Acelerado de Desminagem, Menschen gegen Minen, MineTech International, Norwegian Peoples Aid, Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and The HALO Trust contributed expertise to this project.
September 2002 - The U.S. Department of State's former Office of Mine Action Initiatives and Partnerships commissions the Mine Action Information Center (MAIC) to establish a Global Mine Action Directory (www.maic.jmu.edu/gmar) listing non-governmental organizations that are engaged in one or more forms of support for or direct involvement in humanitarian mine action and to compile The Landmine Action Smart Book, an innovative primer to provide the general public with an overview of humanitarian mine action. An extensively revised edition of The Landmine Action Smart Book is subsequently produced by the MAIC with the support of the new Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA; www.state.gov/t/pm/wra) created by the U.S. Department of State in October 2003. A PDF version of the December 2004 revised edition is available online at http://maic.jmu.edu/researchtools.htm.
September 30, 2002 - The U.S. Department of State's Office of Mine Action Initiatives and Partnerships (now Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement) co-sponsors with Rotary International Zones 23 and 24 a two-day conference in Seattle, Washington, "Ending the Tragedy of Landmines Through Innovation and Cooperation," to encourage broader support for humanitarian mine action by Rotarians from around the world. Twenty three non-governmental organizations active in mine action or related humanitarian efforts use presentations and exhibits to educate the participants. Several new non-governmental mine action organizations are subsequently formed by some inspired participants. To learn more, see http://maic.jmu.edu/conference/rotary/info.htm and www.state.gov/r/pa /prs/ps/2002/13790.htm.
2003 - Funding provided to address the rehabilitation needs of civilian victims of war and civil strife by the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) Leahy War Victims Fund exceeds $100 million.
April 2003 - With the assistance of France, Benin establishes the Benin Mine Clearance Training Center in Ouidah to provide regional humanitarian mine action training to Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
May 2003 - The United States helps Iraq to establish its National Mine Action Authority (NMAA) and National and Regional Mine Action Centers, the first ever in its history, and also helps to create Iraq's first indigenous humanitarian mine action non-governmental organization, the Iraqi Mine/UXO Clearance Organization. For a more detailed summary of U.S. assistance in this regard, see the press release at www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2003/27159.htm.
May 2003 - Two Warner Bros. public service messages in the Khmer language commissioned by the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement and USAID's Leahy War Victims Fund, starring Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and a Cambodian mine survivor specially created by Warner Bros. animators, are televised nationally in Cambodia and distributed in rural areas via videotape and other means. One has a mine risk education message; the other deals with mine survivors social reintegration. These innovative messages that blend animation and real film footage of Cambodia are designed to reinforce existing mine risk education and war victims rehabilitation programs already in place in Cambodia. See the press release at www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2003/20554.htm. To view the videos of the messages, click www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/othr/misc/55345.htm and then select from the two choices.
October 2003 - The U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs establishes the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA) to consolidate its humanitarian mine action and closely related small arms/light weapons program and policy functions in one efficient unit. The new office is comprised of the former Office of Humanitarian Demining Programs (PM/HDP), Office of Mine Action Initiatives and Partnerships (PM/MAIP), and the small arms/light weapons cell of the Office of Plans, Policy and Analysis (PM/PPA). See the press release that announced this merger (http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/ 2003/24910.htm) and visit http://www.state.gov/t/pm/wra to learn more about the U.S. Department of State's mine action and small arms/light weapons, including man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), control and destruction activities.
October 2003 - The Regional Center for Divers Training in Underwater EOD (RCUD) is established in Bijeli on the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro to clear persistent mines and other unexploded ordnance, dating from World War One through more recent conflicts, in the Adriatic sea and other bodies of water in the territory of the former Yugoslav federation. This unique regional center, founded by the Republic of Montenegro, is funded by the United States of America, the European Union and Montenegro. The RCUD works in close coordination with the International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance and national mine action centers throughout south east Europe. To learn more visit www.rcud.cg.yu.
November 14-16, 2003 - The U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement co-sponsors with Smith College, the Five College Consortium, and the Polus Center for Social and Economic Development, a conference in Northampton, Massachusetts, "Clear a Path to a Safer World: Addressing the Tragedy of Landmines," to mobilize support for humanitarian mine action by students from over 30 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. Leading figures in mine action and representatives of mine action non-governmental organizations educate the students about the global landmine problem and ways in which it can be resolved. To learn more, see http://www.state.gov/t/pm/rls/rm/26842.htm.
January 24-25, 2004 - The U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement co-sponsors with the South Florida Landmine Action Group and People to People International a festival in Miami, Florida's Coconut Grove park in a novel effort to increase public awareness of the global landmine problem and further support for mine action. Over three thousand members of the public attend. To learn more see http://www.state.gov/ps/prs/ps/2004/28336.htm and www.sflag.org.
January 29, 2004 - Djibouti is the first mine-affected country in Africa to become free from the humanitarian impact of landmines. This success is attributable in large part to the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program that since fiscal year 2000 invested nearly $3 million in training a cadre of Djiboutian army engineer deminers to IMAS standards and established and equipped Djibouti's Mine Action Center. See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2004/28607.htm for more details and related photographs.
February 27, 2004 - The United States announces its new landmine policy, following an extensive inter-agency review and consideration of the views of leading civil society figures. In briefings to the media, diplomatic corps and non-governmental organizations held at the U.S. Department of State, then Special Representative of the President and Secretary of State for Mine Action Lincoln P. Bloomfield, Jr., Dr. Joseph Collins, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Stability Operations, and Brigadier General Kevin Ryan, Director of Strategy, Plans and Policies of the U.S. Army Staff describe the new policy whose key pillars are: 1) U.S. commitment to not use any persistent anti-personnel or anti-vehicle mines after 2010 (only short duration or retrievable self-destructing/self-deactivating mines would be used if necessary); 2) to not use any non-detectable landmines after 2004; 3) to seek a worldwide ban on the sale or export of all persistent mines; 4) to continue research and development on self-destructing/self-deactivating landmines that will not pose a humanitarian threat after battle but will enhance and preserve U.S. military capabilities; and 5) to increase the U.S. Department of State's portion of the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program by 50% from its baseline fiscal year 2003 budget. This makes the U.S. the first major military power to forswear use of persistent or non-detectable mines and surpasses the provisions of both international landmine treaties (AMP/CCW and "Ottawa Convention"). The transcript of then Special Representative Bloomfield's press briefing, Fact Sheet, Frequently Asked Questions and a White Paper may be found at http://www.state.gov/t/pm/wra/c11735.htm.
April 2004 - IGEOD, a group of mine action professionals, start a free Internet forum. The forum welcomes input from all with an interest in humanitarian mine action from students to mine action managers, deminers to government officials. The IGEOD forum is moderated by founder members to avoid spam and off-topic messages. It enables members to exchange vital information, post inquiries or simply monitor Network traffic in order to gain additional knowledge about this field. To subscribe to the forum, visit www.landmineweb.co.uk and click "to register."
May 2004 - Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) TV stations around the United States begin broadcasting "First Steps: The International Response to the Global Landmine Crisis," an hour-long documentary by Emmy Award-winner Jonathan Silvers, supported by the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement. Narrated by singer/songwriter Emmylou Harris, "First Steps" depicts the grim legacy of persistent landmines, abandoned and unexploded ordnance in Albania, Azerbaijan and Angola, and the efforts to control future mining via the two international landmine treaties (AMP/CCW and "Ottawa Convention"). Visit http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2004/32589.htm to learn more about "First Steps."
June 2004 - Honduras announces that it has completed clearance of landmines on its territory. This success is attributable in part to the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program that invested approximately $1 million in mine clearance, survivors assistance, a mine detecting dog program, and operational and logistical support for demining training conducted by U.S. and multinational teams. To learn more, see http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2004/37592.htm.
January 1, 2005 - The United States become the first major military power to put into effect a permanent, self-imposed ban on the use of non-detectable landmines, regardless of whether they are anti-personnel or anti-vehicle mines, and regardless of whether they are self-destructing/self-deactivating or persistent mines. This action surpasses the restrictions of the Amended Mines Protocol to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons that bans non-detectable anti-personnel landmines only, and also surpasses the "Ottawa Convention" ban on anti-personnel mines, which is silent on landmine detectability. This prohibition on non-detectable mines was one of the commitments made by the United States when it presented its new landmine policy in February 2004. To learn more about the U.S. ban on non-detectable landmines, see http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2005/40193.htm.
February 9-11, 2005 - The U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement hosts a workshop, "Public-Private Partnerships: Working Together for a Safer World," in which civic associations, demining organizations, humanitarian groups, and officials from Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq and the United States of America a total of 56 organizations analyze the role of the Department of State's partnership program to reinforce humanitarian mine action. The participants also seek to better harmonize their efforts and garner even greater support from civil society. To learn more about the workshop, see http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2005/42321.htm. To follow post-workshop initiatives, see the special website established by the Mine Action Information Center at http://maic.jmu.edu/conference/proceedings/partnership2005.
February 17, 2005 - With support from the United Kingdom, Kenya opens the East African International Mining Action Training Centre on the outskirts of Nairobi to train African soldiers to help make former African war zones safe again.
April 4, 2005 - The Organization of American States' Inter-American Defense Board declares that humanitarian demining operations in Suriname have been completed in accordance with International Mine Action Standards. Honduras and Brazil provided demining personnel, Canada provided funding, and the United States provided aerial transportation to the Honduran deminers.
May 9, 2005 - The U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement awards multiple performance-based service contracts to ArmorGroup North America, DynCorp International LLC, and RONCO Consulting Corporation worth up to a total maximum of $500 million dollars over a five year period to conduct humanitarian demining, destroy abandoned ordnance and excess small arms, light weapons and man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), enhance the safety and security of arms and ammunition depots, and provide a broad range of other peace-building tasks worldwide. See the related press release at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2005/45859.htm.
May 10, 2005 - The Survey Action Center introduces the "LIS Explorer," a unique web-based research tool funded by a grant by the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement that enables the public as well as decision makers to easily examine the results of Landmine Impact Surveys in selected countries. To learn more, see the U.S. Department of State press release at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2005/45973.htm, then click on www.sac-na.org/lisexplorer/index.html for a more detailed description and to try it out.
October 2005 - The United States investment in landmine clearance, mine risk education, mine survivors assistance, and research and development on improving humanitarian demining, surpasses $1 billion dollars since the inter-agency U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program was established in 1993. This major outlay of funding has contributed to the notable reduction of landmine casualties worldwide, clearance of many mined areas that enabled inhabitants, internally displaced persons and refugees to safely work, farm and educate their children again, restoration of mobility, dignity and hope to tens of thousands of landmine survivors and their families, and establishing national capacity for mine action in several countries. Other notable success stories include enabling Costa Rica, Djibouti, Honduras and Kosovo province to become free from the humanitarian impact of landmine and UXO ("impact free").
October 6-8, 2005 - The Chicago Coalition for Landmine Action and the U.S. Department of State's Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement co-host a National Conference for Landmine Action in Chicago. The Conference's goals are to teach more effective fund-raising and public outreach techniques to non-governmental organizations that are interested in funding mine action, and to educate the public about the global landmine problem. The Conference is attended by over 100 representatives from 56 organizations. To learn more, see http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/2005/54714.htm.
December 15, 2005 - Guatemala and the Organization of American States conclude a program to clear persistent landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) that at one time affected 1,800 Guatemalan communities. This success was brought about in part by the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program which invested approximately $500,000 in Guatemala since 1988 to clear mines and UXO, provide mine risk education, and render medical and psycho-social aid to Guatemalan landmine survivors and others wounded by conflict. See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2005/58181.htm for more details.
(end fact sheet)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)