|The Fight Against Antipersonnel Mines - Facts and Elements of a Normative Approach to the Decision Process (European Commission, 1997, 65 pages)|
The quality control of mine clearing operations must be performed by an agency independent of the mine clearance company. If necessary, the whole of the zone regarded as cleared of mines will be subjected to the control. As a general rule, however, the control will only affect samples of the field.
The United Nations request that the rate of depollution be 99.9%, with a 0.3% tolerance (which comes to 99.6%).
The 99.6% rate is considered achieved when only one left-over mine is found in a field where 250 mines have been destroyed. The depollution is then regarded as satisfactory. Finding 2 mines in the field is not acceptable and the mine clearance agent will be requested to start the operation over again in the entire zone concerned. In many cases, the number of mines left over in a reference zone does not allow to establish this ratio, which renders the appraisal of the quality of the operation very uncertain. In such case, the U.N. advocate the following procedure (example of a road depollution):
The mine clearance worksite of the road is divided up into 50-km-long sections. If 250 mines have been neutralized in this area, and the controller finds more than one residual mine (either a mine or some other object presenting the same level of danger), a zone stretching 5 km away in both directions from the location where the mine was found will be controlled again. This mine clearance agent will be charged for the cost of this operation. If the number of mines neutralized is between 251 and 500, and more than 2 incidents are deplored, a 5-km zone stretching in both directions from each of these objects will be controlled again. Between 501 and 750 mines, a maximum of 3 incidents will be tolerated, and so on...
The United Nations admit that after the intervention of the mine clearance team, mines may be conveyed to the depolluted zone by strong rains or laid by the belligerents or any other individual. Generally speaking, the identification of such devices is easy, and therefore their presence should not be regarded as a failure on the part of the mine clearance agent.
Should arguments arise about the above-mentioned item, the dispute will be solved before an independent arbiter. After the depollution of a 50-km segment, the U.N. request a two-week-period to perform the quality assurance operations. Should the U.N. fail to meet this deadline, the zone will be regarded as depolluted by default, and the U.N. will be responsible for all complementary mine clearing operations.
If the mine clearance contract imposes quality control according to these principles, it may be drafted as follows:
Art. X: «The depollution completed by the contracting party will be subjected to quality control conducted according to the procedures defined by the National Mine Action Structure. Should it turn out that the rate of depollution stands below 99.6% in the zone taken as a reference, a certain amount will be deducted from the payment originally agreed upon as a protective measure, and withheld until the contracting party brings forward evidence that a satisfactory situation has been restored.»