A University Grants Commission Approved Journal
(under UGC-CARE, Arts & Humanities Citation Index)
ISSN 2582-2241




This is first in a three-part series on Leng Sochea’s comprehensive study on demining in Cambodia. Part One presents the historical background, the research objectives, and local/global legal and regulatory framework. Dr. Sochea conducted this study with deminers and team leaders in five provinces of Cambodia. There is a sizeable volume of literature on the effectiveness of the multiple factors involved in demining in Cambodia, but empirical investigation into such factors is extremely sparse. There exists no research on the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), which is the primary focus of this project. The study explores the history of the laying of landmines and other ordnance by the United States and the Cambodian warring factions, the extent of destruction caused, and it identifies both strengths and weaknesses of the demining system. The author traces the difficult path that Cambodia took to gradually develop one of the most efficient and sophisticated mine action planning mechanisms in the world.

CAMBODIA AIMS TO BE FREE OF THE HAZARD OF LANDMINES BY 2025, under an international and local deadline. The history and politics in the country of environmental contamination by landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) is governed within a web of national and global laws, mine clearing agencies, and donors that aim to rid the country of the long lingering danger. The most heavily affected area is at the Cambodian-Thai border region, known as the K-5 mine belt, where millions of landmines were laid both by the United States Air Force in the early Vietnam War in the 1960s and 1970s, and then by warring Cambodian factions during the Civil War in the 1980s.This is where the crux of the challenge remains. While the entire densely contaminated area is some 1,000 kilometres long and 100 to 500 metres wide, it is also somewhat well-defined. The Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) sources claim that on an average, there are 2,400 anti-personnel mines per K-5 linear km, making it one of the most heavily mined areas on the planet.

The Level One Survey (2000-2002) identified that 46 percent of 13,908 villages in the country were contaminated with mines and/or ERW, resulting in high human casualties and loss of livestock, and impeded safe access to water and other gathering spaces.[1] More than 85 percent of villagers felt they did not have enough land for agriculture, and more than 61 percent enough land for housing. Some 4,544 sq. km. of land was suspected to be affected.

Map of Cambodia showing the Level One Survey, 2002

The updated contamination data from the most recent Baseline Survey confirms that at present Cambodia still has about 1,946 sq. km. of contaminated land, spread throughout the country.[2] Within this, approximately 971 sq. km. is mined area and around 976 sq. km. is ERW and cluster munitions area. From 1992 to 2016, Cambodia removed mines and released a total of 1,520 sq. km. of contaminated land and destroyed over 3.7 million landmines and ERW.

More than 64,500 men, women and children have been killed or suffer life-changing injuries due to accidents caused by landmines and ERW, the highest in the world. Casualty rates, while down from a peak of over 4,000 in 1996, remain unacceptably high, averaging 88 casualties per year and are now rising again as new road development and expansion of the rural population encourage families to move into direct proximity of what remains one of the world’s largest minefields.

Cambodia committed to the MAPUTO+15 declarations made by the State Parties of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC) to free the world of mines by 2025. The National Mine Action Strategy (NMAS, 2017-2025) of the Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC) is the new roadmap for the agencies running the demining programme, with strategies to ensure that all remaining challenges, which have been accurately estimated at 1,946 sq. km., are addressed by 2025 and the Cambodian people can live safely and development activities can take place free of the threats from mines and other ERW.[3]


Problem Statement

There is an extensive literature on the effectiveness of the factors involved in demining in Cambodia, but empirical investigation into such factors is extremely sparse. There is no research on the Cambodian Mine Action Center (CMAC), which is the primary focus of this study. Driven by humanitarian considerations, action to clear mines has been well-supported by the international donor community. Generous support from Japan, the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Norway, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Finland and Belgium has been essential in achieving the extensive progress made till date. It has helped Cambodia become a party to the APMBC, commonly known as the “Ottawa Convention,” on January 1, 2000. Article 5 of the Convention stipulates that all State Parties should destroy or ensure the destruction of all anti-personnel mines, or APMs, in mined areas as soon as possible, but no later than ten years after the entry into force of the Convention.

In December 2009, Cambodia was granted a ten-year extension of its deadline, till January 2020, for the clearance of all mined areas. The previous NMAS 2010-2019 detailed how the extension period was to be implemented. In 2014, the State Parties committed to the goal of a mine-free world by 2025 when they agreed to the Maputo Declaration at the Mine Ban Treaty’s Third Review Conference in June.

Research Objectives

The objectives of this research project in Cambodia are: (1) To investigate the factors contributing to the effective management of demining; (2) to assess how each factor influences effective management of demining; and (3) to provide suggestions and recommendations to the government and donors related to demining actions. The reason this research is focused on the CMAC is, first, because it is the sole National Demining Operator, and secondly, it is the biggest operator with rich resources, and with excellent know-how and experience in demining.

Baseline Survey (BLS 2009-Aug 2016)


Land Classification

Total Remaining (Km2)

By Priority (Km2)



Dense concentration of Anti-Personnel Mine (AP) threat



High priority clearance


Mixed AP and AT threat (dense and scattered)



Land Containing Anti-tank Mines (AT)



Scattered AP threat



Low priority clearance


Mines outside polygons



Continued survey and clearance





Land Containing ERW (not mines)



EoD call-out response and clearance


Land Containing Aircraft bombs



Land containing Cluster Munitions/bombs



Continued survey and priority clearance


Location of Ground battles



EoD call-out response and clearance


Location of stockpiles/caches



Abandoned military compounds



No verifiable mine threat



UXO (not cluster munitions) not in polygons



High priority

through EOD





Grand Total



Note: The figure above is filtered from IMSMAng as of Sept. 6, 2016

The Mine Manufacturing Countries

Human Rights Watch/Arms Project has identified almost 100 companies and government agencies in forty-eight countries that manufactured more than 340 types of anti-personnel landmines in recent decades. They include more than one dozen countries and more than 150 landmines not previously publicly identified anywhere. The available evidence suggests that China, Italy and the former Soviet Union were probably the largest producers and exporters of anti-personnel mines in recent years. Though official data would seem to place the United States far behind, field reports from mine clearance groups suggest that the United States must have been in the front ranks in the not-too-distant past. The HRW/Arms Project estimates that manufacturers have probably produced an average of between five million and ten million anti-personnel landmines per year in recent decades, roughly ten times the production volume previously reported in the trade press. The combined global production of anti-personnel mines (excluding delivery systems and accessories) is probably worth at least US$ 50 million to US$ 200 million annually.

In addition to the three mentioned above, the following countries (not ranked by their order) have also been among the world’s larger producers in recent years: Eastern Europe: Former Czechoslovakia, former East Germany and former Yugoslavia. Western Europe: Belgium, and possibly also Austria, France, Greece and Sweden. Others: Egypt, India, Israel, Pakistan, Singapore, South Africa, and possibly also Chile, Iran, Iraq, South Korea and North Korea. A study by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency names China, Egypt, Pakistan and South Africa as new “ambitious marketers of landmine munitions deeply involved in high technology proliferation.” Data obtained under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act reveals that the United States has exported more than 4.3 million anti-personnel mines since 1969. In the past decade, however, the United States exported about 150,000 anti-personnel mines.[4]

The Mine Affected Countries

There are an estimated 110 million anti-personnel mines in the ground and another 100 million stockpiled around the world. More than 350 different types of anti-personnel mines exist. Even if no more mines are ever laid, they would continue to maim and kill for many years to come. If sufficient funds are provided, deminers from the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) say that mine clearance necessary to restore daily life to near normal levels may be achieved in years, and not the decades once predicted. 

Following Afghanistan and Kuwait, the next major landmine challenge for the international community was in Cambodia. In January 1992, the UN Security Council expanded the mandate of the UN Advance Mission in Cambodia (UNAMIC) to include mine clearance and training, and in March the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) began the repatriation of some 360,000 refugees and displaced persons from Thailand.[5] In June 1992, the CMAC was set up as the foundational entity for a national programme. Later, in 2000, the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) was established to separate the regulatory aspects of mine action from the operational work of CMAC.

The Cost of Mine Production and the Cost of Mine Removal

The cost of laying mines is low, as little as US$ 3 per mine, but the cost of removal is very high at US$ 1,000 per mine or more. One study, cited on a UN website, noted a particular project in Cambodia where 45 deminers worked seven months. They found 265 mines and 943 units of unexploded ordnance. The cost of the project was about US$ 378,000, or US$ 1,400 a mine, or US$ 5 for every square metre of cleared land. About one-third of the money went for international salaries and benefits, 27 percent for radios, computers and other equipment, and 20 percent for metal detectors. Only about 4.5 percent went for local salaries, and 8 percent for local administration. Robert Keely (2006) found that the cost per square metre varied from US$ 0.96 to US$ 1.50 in Cambodia with the higher cost obtained when only manual deminers were employed. Mine clearance utilising the current mix of machine, dog, and manual deminer is calculated to cost US$ 0.96 per square metre. Vanna Mao (2010) found that the CMAC cleared 262.8 million square metres between the years 1993 and 2009, by the courtesy of a contribution of US$ 171.9 million, at an average cost of approximately US$ 0.62 per square metre and of approximately US$ 398 per mine.[6]

The Laws and Standards in Mine Action

A number of international laws and standards pertain to mines, cluster munitions, ERW, and ammunition stockpiles. The main international treaties linked to mine action are the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Protocols II, Amended and/or V; Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC); and Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). International standards are also directly focused on mine action, such as the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS); and National Mine Action Standards (NMAS).

Cambodia is a State Party to the Amended Protocol II on Landmines of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), but it is not a party to CCW Protocol V on ERW, and it has not yet signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). Cambodia ratified the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) in July 1999, and the treaty entered into force in Cambodia in January 2000. In May 1999, Cambodia adopted national legislation banning anti-personnel mines and started to produce its annual transparency reports according to Article 7 of the MBT. Cambodia destroyed its stockpiles of APM before the deadline of December 2004 in conformity with Article 4 of the Convention.

Demining organisations in Cambodia are guided by the Cambodian Mine Action Standards (CMAS) that provide a set of technical standards covering management and operations. Developed by the CMAA in consultation with experienced demining organisations in the country, the CMAS is based on the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) and grounded in the country’s context. Demining organisations must comply with the CMAS and develop their standard operating procedures.

Mines in Cambodian Cold War History

The first widespread use of ‘remotely delivered’ or ‘scatterable’ mines was by the U.S. forces seeking to stop the flow of men and material from North to South Vietnam through Cambodia and Laos, during the Vietnam War. Aerially delivered anti-personnel landmines had a number of military advantages over manually laid mines: They could be deployed rapidly, required little logistical support and could be spread deep within enemy territory with minimal risk to air crews. However, they represented a threat to advances by friendly forces. This led to the development of anti-personnel mines fitted with self-destructing or self-neutralising mechanisms.[7]

In the 1960s and early 1970s, the U.S. forces used cluster munitions extensively in bombing campaigns in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) estimates that in Laos alone millions of unexploded sub munitions remain, that have killed or injured some 11,000 people, more than 30 percent of them children. Based on an analysis of U.S. military databases, it is estimated that 9,500 U.S. sorties in Cambodia delivered up to 87,000 air-dropped cluster munitions.[8]

The North Vietnamese army laid the first landmines in Cambodia in 1967, and continued to do so throughout the period of the Vietnam War to protect bases and supply routes, which they established along the border on Cambodian territory. Following the overthrow of Prince Norodom Sihanouk in a coup launched by General Lon Nol in 1970, war between Khmer Rouge guerrilla forces and the U.S.-backed Lon Nol regime generated conflict until 1975. The Khmer Rouge used landmines for military purposes and to seal off their prison-like agricultural cooperatives within “liberated” zones. While in power from 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge used mines extensively along the borders with Vietnam and Thailand. The results of war were loss of millions of lives, severe and extensive damage to the economy and national infrastructure and, above all, the eternal threats of the mines—the long-term enemy of human life and development.

After the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge in 1979, fighting mainly shifted to the west and north-west of the country. The use of landmines became more indiscriminate and assumed a pronounced seasonal pattern. The dry season favoured conventional warfare, and the People’s Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) government troops with support from Vietnamese forces took the offensive against the different rebel factions based along the Thai border. In 1984-85, government forces employed heavy artillery to take control of these camps and subsequently laid millions of mines in an area 1,000-kilometres long and 100 to 500 metres wide.

It was the departure of Vietnamese forces in 1989 that led to the most extensive period of mine-laying, as all of the Cambodian warring factions tried to gain and hold territory in the run-up to the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement that brought the factions together under Prince Sihanouk’s leadership, under a plan to hold elections supervised by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia, or UNTAC. The agreement, however, brought only a temporary respite, as the Khmer Rouge abandoned the election process and resumed their civil war until the guerrilla movement’s final demise in late 1998. The four warring Cambodian factions laid approximately 9,902,000 landmines: The PRK and later the State of Cambodia (4,500,000 landmines); the National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia (972,000 landmines); the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front (930,000 landmines), and the Khmer Rouge (3,500,000 landmines).[9]

The fighting was driven by a variety of ever-changing political alignments and realignments, and led to many landmine casualties. The number of casualties rose further as hundreds of thousands of Cambodians seeking safety in refugee camps along the Cambodian-Thai border attempted to navigate their way through the dangerous land. Due to the nature of civilian war, there was also scattered fighting around key strategic bases across the country, resulting in further dense and scattered mine laying campaigns (Paterson & Vanna, 2004).

During the UNTAC period (1991-1993), information was collected on the location of around 1,900 suspected mined areas. While the information was always understood to be incomplete, it did provide mine clearance operators with a demining challenge that would occupy them for a decade. In this period, the newly formed CMAC, as well as the Mine Advisory Group (MAG), and The HALO Trust, were collecting reports of additional suspect areas. In 1992, the CMAC commenced recording them in Cambodia’s first mine action database. Other guidance on the extent of the problem was gathered through interviews with knowledgeable military informants, which indicated that the border area alone likely contained close to 3 million mines, spread over an area of 800 sq. km. to 1,000 sq. km.[10]

The Level One Survey (2000-2002) found that 4,544 sq. km. of land was suspected to be affected.[11] The RGC believes that the L1S suspected hazardous areas (SHA) present the first national overview of the extent and location of Cambodia’s mine and ERW contamination. The survey was certified by the UN certification committee, and was overseen by an external quality assurance monitor.

Since completion of the L1S project in 2002, and with subsequent experience gained by operators, the L1S results are no longer considered accurate, and the RGC and the CMAA decided to conduct a baseline survey (BLS) to provide more detailed information on the exact extent of the remaining contamination. The updated contamination data from the Baseline Survey confirms that as of December 2016 there still remained approximately 1,946 sq. km. of contaminated land throughout the country. Within this, approximately 971 sq. km. is mined area and around 976 sq. km. is ERW and cluster munitions area.

The types of mines used in Cambodia

All the armed factions have used mines since at least the anti-colonial wars of the late 1940s. During the Vietnam War, government forces deployed mines in defense of towns and of communication/supply lines, but the Khmer Rouge used them more extensively to “destabilise contested areas” and inhibit contact between “liberated zones” and the rest of the country. After 1979, the use of landmines became more indiscriminate and assumed a pronounced seasonal pattern. The warring factions used different types of mines such as K58, 652A, 652B, KP-2, M18A, PMZ-2, PMD, PMD-2, MD-82B, 71A, 72A, 72B, TM-46, TM-57, TM-62, DH-7, DH-10, etc.[12]

The Sheer Scale of Explosive Remnants of War

In the fall of 2000, the U.S. government released to the governments of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam extensive classified U.S. Air Force data on all American bombings of those countries.[13] The data assists them in the search for unexploded U.S. ordnance, still a major threat in much of the region. It can also be analysed in map and time series formats, revealing an astounding wealth of historical information on the region’s former air war.

The new data transforms our understanding of the scale of what happened to Cambodia during the Indochinese war.[14] First, it revises dramatically upwards the heretofore accepted bombing total of 539,129 tons dropped on the country. The Pentagon’s records indicate that from 1965 to 1975 Cambodia was actually the target of 2,756,941 tons of U.S. bombs including unexploded BLU-24, BLU-26, BLU-36, BLU-42, BLU-43, BLU-49, and BLU-61 sub-munitions, dropped  by  no  fewer  than  230,516 sorties: A  tonnage  nearly  five  times  greater  than previously believed. It is now apparent that in 1969-73 alone Cambodia suffered nearly half of all the U.S. bombing of Indochina (six million tons over nine years), making it even today the most heavily bombed country in history. To put the bombardment into context, the U.S. dropped 160,000 tons of bombs on Japan during the Second World War. The Pentagon data records the bombardment of Cambodia to have been at least three times heavier (around 500,000 tons), perhaps much more. To put this massive figure in global perspective, during the entire Second World War, the U.S. dropped 2 million tons of bombs, including 1.6 million tons in the European theatre and 500,000 tons in the Pacific theatre (including the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki: 15,000 and 20,000 tons respectively). In the Korean War, the total amount of U.S. bombardment was 454,000 tons.[15]

Not only was the total payload dropped on Cambodia much bigger than the previous revelations by the U.S. government or media, the bombardment also began much earlier. While the “secret” 1969-70 Menu Campaign, when first uncovered, caused Congressional uproar in Washington and provoked calls for the impeachment of the president, Richard Nixon, we now know that the U.S. bombing actually started over four years earlier, in 1965, as Cambodian leaders had claimed at the time. The early tactical strikes may have supported secret Central Intelligence Agency ground incursions from across the Vietnamese border because during the mid-1960s, the Studies and Operations Group/U.S. Special Forces teams in tandem with the Khmer Serei (U.S.-trained ethnic Cambodian rebels operating from South Vietnam),were collecting intelligence inside Cambodia. Perhaps the U.S. tactical air strikes supported or followed upon these secret pre-1969 operations.

Map of Cambodia showing U.S. Bombing Sorties, April 1965-August 1973

This revelation has several implications. First, U.S. bombing of neutral Cambodia significantly predates the Nixon administration. Earlier individual bombardments of Cambodia were known and protested by the Cambodian government. Prince Sihanouk’s foreign minister, for instance, claimed as early as January 1966 that “hundreds of our people have already died in these attacks.”[16] The Pentagon database reveals escalating bombardments. From 1965 to 1968, the administration of the president, Lyndon Johnson, conducted 2,565 sorties over Cambodia and dropped 214 tons of bombs there. Most of these strikes occurred under the Vietnam War policy of the secretary of defense, Robert S. McNamara, which he has since publicly regretted.

The Cambodian Mine Action Programmes

In November 1991, the UNAMIC was deployed to maintain the ceasefire during the period prior to the establishment of the UNTAC, and to initiate mine awareness training of civilian populations. Later, its mandate was enlarged to include training in mine clearance and the initiation of a mine clearance programme.[17] The first efforts to assess the scope of the landmine problem in Cambodia were conducted by the UNHCR, which had contracted The HALO Trust (HALO) in 1991-92 to survey 700 sq. km. of land in Battambang province, in prevision of the repatriation of the 360,000 Cambodian refugees based in Thailand.[18] The result of the survey showed that 112 sq. km. of land was “heavily mined;” 280 sq. km. was “probably mined,” and 308 sq. km. was “probably clear of mines.”

The UNAMIC’s mission and functions were taken over by the UNTAC in March 1992. Consequently, one of the four responsibilities of the UNTAC military component consisted in assisting mine clearance and awareness activities. In July 1992, the UNTAC set up the mine clearance training unit (MCTU), which started teaching Cambodian nationals to identify, locate and destroy landmines, and to mark minefields. MCTU also promoted mine awareness among the general public.[19] However, MCTU activities were undermined by the absence of a general strategy that would have prepared for the continuation of mine action activities after the organisation’s departure. In addition, no arrangements were made to develop technical and management skills necessary to run a large mine action programme.[20]

The Supreme National Council (SNC) decided to create the CMAC in June 1992. The Governing Council of the new organisation, composed of representatives from the SNC and from the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG), met for the first time in November of the same year. Aware of the eventual UNTAC withdrawal, different practical solutions were found to operationalise the deminers trained by MCTU. Handicap International Belgium (HIB), for example, temporarily employed MCTU graduates to field the country’s first deminers.  

Other demining operators such as HALO, Mines Advisory Group (MAG), and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) also started mine clearance operations in the northwest of the country. The French semi-official agency, COFRAS-CIDEV, started demining in 1993 in Siem Reap, and other organisations, such as the Cambodian Red Cross (CRC) and World Vision (WV) got involved in mine risk education (MRE). Organisations such as HIB, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Veteran International (VI) supported the provision of rehabilitation services to mine victims and people with disabilities.

After the UNTAC completed its mission and withdrew in August 1993, the UNDP began providing technical support to CMAC through a UN trust fund for Demining in Cambodia. The UN Security Council (UNSC) requested the use of its resources to assist CMAC. The first United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project for financial and technical assistance began at the end of 1993.

The Demining Operators and the Regulatory Body: Cambodian Mine Action Authority

The Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) was established under Royal Decree No. 177 of September 6, 2000 with the prime minister and the deputy prime minister as its president and vice-president respectively. The secretary general of the CMAA is responsible for managing on daily basis all activities related to mine and ERW clearance as well as providing assistance to victims of landmines. The establishment of the CMAA reflects a shift from an emergency and early recovery context to a longer-term development focus requiring a holistic approach of management, planning and coordination of mine action.[21] The CMAA regulates and coordinates all mine action activities throughout the country and establishes policies and procedures. It is also responsible for the implementation of national mine action strategic plans to achieve the goals and priorities identified, and for incorporating them into the Royal Government’s development policies such as the Rectangular Strategy, the National Strategic Development Plan, and the Cambodian Millennium Development Goals. The CMAA is also the coordinating body for mine action in Cambodia, and chairs various coordinating mechanisms such as the Mine Action Technical Working Group, the Mine Action Coordination Committee, and various Technical Reference Groups.[22]

Cambodian Mine Action Centre

In April 1992, the UNTAC proposed the creation of a national mine action centre to the Supreme National Council, which approved the CMAC in June 1992 with King Sihanouk as president, and Yasushi Akashi, the special representative of the UN Secretary General, as vice-president. They nominated five persons each to the CMAC Governing Council—this status was extended by a Royal Decree of November 1, 1993. A revision approved by a Royal Decree of February 25, 1995, conferred on the CMAC the status of a public institution with the legal individual authority placed under the prime minister.

On June 21, 1999, a subsequent Royal Decree gave a new status to the CMAC by providing a revised structure assigning executive responsibilities within the institution. In 2000, the state clarified the role of the CMAC Governing Council vis-à-vis the newly created Cambodian Mine Action Authority. A Royal Decree on the establishment of the CMAC on August 7, 2001 condensed the size of the CMAC Governing Council membership and clarified the body’s role as a national institution to provide mine action services for humanitarian and development projects.[23]

The CMAC is the largest national demining operator in Cambodia, and is one of the largest single-country demining operators in the world. The institution is committed to maximising land release of mines/ERW affected areas and eliminating mine/ERW incidents in Cambodia. The CMAC’s mission—saving lives and supporting development—is critical to the welfare of the Cambodian people. Its core values are set around safety, cost effectiveness, honesty and integrity, and appropriate technology and expertise. It fulfills its mission through four core programmes: (1) Landmine and ERW Clearance; (2) survey and land release, (3) risk education and reduction; (4) training, and research and development in mine action.[24]

The CMAC has grown since its establishment into a professional mine action programme currently employing a workforce of around 1,739 staff deployed around the country with multiple demining tools such as manual demining platoons, demining machines, brush cutters, mine detection dogs, mechanical clearance systems, survey teams, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), and mine/unexploded ordnance (UXO) risk education local networks. The institution’s operational deployment is organised into five regional demining units based in strategic provinces, supported by a training centre, a central maintenance and repair workshop, and a central headquarters in Phnom Penh.[25]

Royal Cambodian Armed Forces

The RCAF engineering brigades have been involved in demining for many years. The RGC has defined the role of the RCAF in mine action as urgent demining in support of government priority projects, and in support of UN Peacekeeping Operations.[26] The RCAF’s demining capacity is about 1,300 personnel; it has received equipment and training from China, France, Japan and the United States. It is a national institution with significant assets in the country, and is reported to have cleared 210.5 sq. km. between 1993 and 2010, representing more than 50 percent of the three other civilian operators’ achievements.[27]

However, much of the reported clearance has been combined survey and clearance of roads in support of rehabilitation projects. It was noted that higher productivity is normal for such tasks, as most of the considered areas are actually not contaminated.[28] Because of its specific mandate and command and control structure, the RCAF does not plan its work through the CMAA and mine action planning units (MAPU) system, and is not fully under the direction of the CMAA. As the RCAF activities have not been subject to the CMAA quality assurance, some mine action organisations or development partners have expressed concern that the areas cleared by RCAF units may not be truly safe for civilian use. One RCAF demining platoon was accredited in 2010, and the CMAA plans to accredit additional units in the future.[29]

As indicated in the mine action strategy, the RGC foresees that the RCAF may be an important contributor to a long-term solution of residual contamination, once the current programme structure with the civilian demining agencies will have ended its work. It remains to be seen how the CMAA and RCAF will strengthen their operational coordination and reporting system in the future.   

The Halo Trust

The Halo Trust began working in Cambodia in 1991 when it was contracted by the UNHCR to undertake a rapid survey to facilitate the safe repatriation of Cambodian refugees from Thailand. HALO commenced formal mine clearance operations in 1992, concentrating on the northwestern provinces. HALO’s objectives are to return land to poor communities for farming and settlement, and to reduce casualties caused by mines/UXO. The organisation concentrated mainly on demining, and prides itself on the safety and the efficiency of its clearance operations.[30]

HALO introduced a number of innovations intended to boost productivity, such as the “one man-one lane” (OMOL) drill for clearance. In 2003, the organisation developed a dedicated EOD team and MRE team. Its operational capacity increased from a staff of 561 in 1999 to 900 in 2001, and its current capacity is a national staff of 1,161 and an international staff of four.

Mine Advisory Group

The Mine Advisory Group began working in Cambodia in 1992 and has carried out humanitarian mine action operations in landmine- and ERW-affected communities since then, with a focus on clearance, community liaison and MRE.[31] The MAG has built partnerships with development organisations to systematically integrate humanitarian mine action with development activities, especially in support of rural development. It currently works in the provinces of Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Cham, Pailin and Steung Treng, with a capacity of a national staff of about 250 and an international staff of five.[32] Its strategic objective in Cambodia is to mitigate the effects that remnants of conflict have on livelihoods, health, and economic and social development, which will in turn promote poverty alleviation. The MAG has developed innovative approaches with the introduction of both the community liaison concept, and the hiring of women and amputees to work as deminers. 

Japan Mine Action Service

The Japan Mine Action Service is a Japanese non-profit organisation engaged in international humanitarian activities including removal of landmines and UXO. It aims to help create an environment in which people have physical safety, livelihood opportunities and food security, as well to assist in poverty reduction, and create a sustainable environment. Since the establishment of the JMAS in 2001, it has implemented several UXO/mine clearance projects in countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Afghanistan, and Angola.

Cambodian Self-Help Demining

Cambodian Self-Help Demining was officially founded in 2007 by Aki Ra, a Khmer national and former child soldier. The organisation works in “low priority” villages throughout Cambodia with a group of approximately 25 deminers. These brave men and women put their lives on the line twenty-five days each month while demining. The CSHD explains that it is concentrating on working in villages considered “low priority” by the larger demining groups that cannot be present everywhere.

Battle Area Clearance, Training, Equipment and Consultancy

The BACTEC International Limited group (Battle Area Clearance, Training, Equipment and Consultancy) is comprised of a number of leading EOD mine action companies operating worldwide from strategically located offices, with headquarters in the United Kingdom, and offices in Australia, Cambodia, Iraq, Laos and Mozambique. The BACTEC has carried out EOD and UXO landmine clearance and bomb disposal services in forty-five countries since 1991. Its EOD and landmine services encompass the detection and disposal of UXO, landmine clearance, site investigations using geotechnical and geophysical surveys, marine risk assessments and marine surveys, and provision of EOD training and equipment. Its clients include governments, specialist units of the ministries of defense, the UN, the European Union, the UK government’s Department for International Development, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and multinational corporations in the oil, gas and construction industries.

The Factors Contributing to Effective Management of Demining

The factors discussed below were used to formulate the hypotheses for this study. All of the variables to be measured were classified into one of the following three categories: Factors relating to the demining operations, the donors, and the government.


A survey of the healthcare system is germane to any study of demining because a country must rely on its medical facilities to treat its victims of landmines. But the healthcare system had been destroyed due to neglect and warfare, as the following discussion elaborates.

From the 1960s till 1975, as guerrilla warfare raged in the countryside, especially near the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, population shifts occurred from east to west, and from rural to urban areas. During this period, the population of the capital city, Phnom Penh, swelled from about 25,000 to more than one million. From 1975 to 1978, the Khmer Rouge attempted to return Cambodia to a model Maoist agrarian society, causing widespread and continuous population shifts from urban areas throughout the country.

A rudimentary healthcare system that existed under Prince Sihanouk’s government till 1970 was completely destroyed by the Khmer Rouge that laid waste to equipment, supplies, and personnel, along with systems of transportation, power, water, sanitation, and irrigation. One of the greatest losses was people: Out of a population of about seven million, an estimated one to three million people died under Khmer Rouge rule. Many of those who perished were people with higher levels of education. Only forty-five medical doctors survived and, of those, twenty left the country. Only twenty-six pharmacists, twenty-eight dentists, and 728 medical students remained in Cambodia in 1979.

In that year, the Vietnam-backed PRK government had just been installed in power in Phnom Penh, and it was faced with an enormous humanitarian crisis. A slow process of reconstruction began. In the years between 1981 and 1987, there were twenty-nine provincial hospitals, 157 district hospitals, and 1,725 town infirmaries in Cambodia. There was a shortage of trained health personnel in the provinces, and those assigned were often away for training or on other duties. Electricity in the provinces was even less consistent than in Phnom Penh; many hospitals had power for only a few hours in the late afternoon or early evening. In many provinces, the major problems were malaria and war injuries, mainly amputations. Hospitals in some of the provinces had separate wards for tuberculosis patients.

In 1979, none of the nineteen professors from the medical school in Phnom Penh remained; there were few with experience in planning and management. Ten years later, in 1989, a Ministry of Health report on the restoration of the medical faculty emphasised training in science and technology rather than in administration and management. The healthcare training system was restored with a top-down approach. The first priority was to ensure that there were sufficient medical doctors in Phnom Penh; later, doctors and nurses were sent to the provinces.

My Samedy, an ex-dean of the Faculty of Medicine, was one of the few doctors to have survived Khmer Rouge rule. After 1979, he began the slow task of rebuilding the demolished medical school and healthcare system, with help from doctors from Vietnam and some NGO assistance. Samedy, who was also the secretary-general of the Red Cross and the president of the Olympic Committee, recollects the destruction of the medical school: Everything, including desks, blackboards, books, and laboratory equipment, was destroyed. In 1979, resources were minimal. Surviving doctors were appointed as professors and administrators; medical students were enlisted from the ranks of those students who had begun their studies prior to 1975.

Efforts were made during 1989-1990 to recruit students from the provinces so that after training they would return to their homes in remote locations. Primary healthcare training of village health workers was a stated goal, but training was still insufficient. Because education was one of Cambodia’s priorities in the ten year period between 1980 and 1990, the output of health professionals was high. However, the training focused on quantity rather than quality, and on rote learning: Students took notes, memorised, and were tested on facts. Integration, problem solving, and supervised clinical experience were minimal. Education was based on a curative model, with training based in hospitals rather than in the community. Much of the healthcare training came from a French model from the 1960s and did not take into account the country’s problems.

Overall care improved for several reasons, says Health Net International, one of the contracted NGOs. During the period between 1980 and 1991, salaries were so low at government clinics—US$ 10 to US$ 30 per month—that health workers had to seek other income. Many openly sold their services outside the health centres and could earn ten times more than their official salaries. Payment was raised to levels high enough to get staff to dedicate all their time to the public health system. Doctors and district managers settled for salaries from US$ 120 to US$ 180 per month in 1998.

The Cambodia Health Information System (2007) found that the 1962 census counted a population of 5.7 million people. The census in 1998 recorded the population at 11.43 million with an annual growth rate of 2.49 percent. The 1998 census showed a female population of 51.8 percent, and a male population 48.2 percent. In 2004, the total population grew to 13.09 million with an annual growth rate of 1.81 percent (0.7 percent reduction since 1998), according to the Cambodia Inter-Censal Population Survey, 2004. A large proportion of the population, 85 percent, lives in rural areas, and only 15 percent resides in urban areas. The literacy rate among adults aged fifteen and over is 73.6 percent, in which the male adult literacy rate (73.6 percent) is considerably higher than that of females (64.1 percent). Life expectancy at birth is fifty-eight for men and sixty-four for women.[33]

The scholar, Laura McGrew, found that in 1979 and the early 1980s, Cambodia’s health system depended on the many Vietnamese experts present in the country. The system was based on the Vietnamese model combined with vestiges of the old French colonial system. Most major hospitals in Phnom Penh, and some hospitals in the provinces, were assisted by medical teams, from both Western and Eastern bloc countries.[34]

Prior to 1990, although there were attempts to coordinate services among the Red Cross teams, the NGOs, and the UN agencies, there were some communication difficulties. Attempts were made to standardise drug imports from Western countries. Healthcare was, in theory, free for all citizens, but in fact there were many charges for services, and when supplies were unavailable in hospitals, the patient had to purchase on the open market. Each province had a separate budget, and provinces received different levels of humanitarian aid.

Cambodia started its health sector reform in 1991 under the Strengthening Health Systems Project. The World Health Organization (WHO) played a critical role by supporting the reforms, under three phases: Phase I covered the period from 1991 to 1994, Phase II from 1995 to 1997, and Phase III from 1998 to 2000).

Due to the inadequate healthcare system, all the demining operators developed their own medical care systems when demining started, but later some operators began using healthcare insurance. The CMAC set up its own healthcare and compensation plan for its employees. Funding received from donors through various projects is paid out to the CMAC staff to cover medical expenses, including injury as well as death compensation and retirement benefits. The healthcare and compensation system is managed by a personnel committee. Less complicated issues with minimal payouts are decided by the Department of Support and Human Resources.[35]

Salaries and Incentives

Current salaries for deminers are low: the CMAC pays deminers US$ 223 per month, HALO Trust pays US$ 205 and an additional bonus of US$ 20 per month, and the MAG pays US$ 209 and an additional bonus of US$ 5 per month. The risks they take hardly seem worth the pay. The deminers have seen colleagues blinded, maimed and killed, but none dwell on the danger. Their salaries, after all, are three times higher than the country’s per capita GDP, but perhaps the real rewards are less tangible.

Recruitment of deminers does not appear to present a problem. There is seldom a shortage of local people willing to offer themselves for training. A major reason for this is probably for the fact that the average deminer’s salary is significantly above all national average pay rates. Rates quoted for developing countries were universally US$ 150 to US$ 250 per month (roughly equivalent to eight times the national average pay, and three times more than a teacher’s salary in most of the countries where demining is undertaken). Some organisations questioned paid more, but none paid less than US$ 150, with the exception of NGOs involved in “locality” demining projects.

The Tools of Demining

Patrick Blagden has found that mine clearance programmes rely primarily on manual practices, procedures and drills that are slow, dangerous and labour-intensive. There are technology related efforts being made to improve the speed, cost-effectiveness, quality and safety of mine clearance. Challenges for mine clearance are the high number and random placement of mines of different types and ages, often in areas of high metal content; mines placed in a range of difficult locations such as irrigation canals, residential areas, roads, water sources, mountains and wooded areas; the need for systems to be accurate; and the cost sustainability of the systems used.

It is generally acknowledged that new technologies will not, at least in the short term, provide significantly improved equipment for the user community. Improvements are likely to be evolutionary, with emphasis on enhancing the capabilities of existing technology. National governments, NGOs and private companies are creating a range of promising technologies which are expanding the “toolbox” of equipment available to the deminer, particularly in the areas of survey, clearance, and neutralisation.[36]

It is recommended that mine action equipment should be designed, manufactured and purchased to meet defined operational needs. It may be necessary to replace inadequate or obsolete equipment for reasons of safety or cost-effectiveness, or to respond to a new or redefined landmine or munitions threat. Changes to national mine action policies or priorities may also require new or modified operational capabilities. Decisions on the design, development, manufacture and purchase of equipment need to reflect the operational needs of the user community, and global equipment development priorities should reflect international mine action operational priorities. In practice, however, this is often not the case. Sometimes procurement decisions focus on donor or industrial priorities rather than programme needs, and there is little correlation between the cost of introducing new technology (input) and improvements to demining productivity (output). In the absence of hard facts, procurement decisions are often based on subjective judgment rather than sound operational analysis.[37]

CMAC’s Demining Tools and Deployment

The CMAC’s interventions have contributed to the reduction of casualties, supported improved livelihoods for the most affected population and fostered safe environments for socio-economic development to take place, especially by making land available and safe for productive use. The CMAC’s management structure is based on the philosophy of quality, transparency, efficiency and flexibility to ensure smooth and effective operations and organisational management. Different departments carry out distinct functions and responsibilities in order to provide support to demining units and field operations that have won an ISO for quality management.

List of teams/tools as of 2016




No. of Teams


Mobile Platoon




Short Leash Detection Dog




Long Leash Detection Dog




Explosive Detection Dog








Demining Machine




Brush Cutter




Battle Area Clearance Team (Small)




Battle Area Clearance Team (Large)




Technical Survey and Clearance




Explosive Disposal/Explosive Remnants of Wars








Explosive Harvesting




Community-Based Mine Risk Reduction




Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

What is the appropriate clearance standard? It has been suggested that mine action agencies may overestimate the benefits of clearance, causing them to spend excessive amounts on risk reduction. Most landmines are located in poor countries, but rich country donors and non-governmental organisations pay for most of the landmine clearance programmes. Gareth Elliot and Harris have suggested that donors may value the lives saved by clearing mines using standards from their own (rich) countries. This may also explain why the standards are stringent, as the goal of accredited mine action agencies is to remove all mines (and unexploded bombs) in an area. This standard requires expensive manual inspection of almost every inch of ground because existing machines cannot find every mine.

A Short History of SOPs

The International Mine Action Standard (IMAS), a global standard, establishes principles and provides both guidance for clearing land mines and ERW in contaminated and affected countries, as well as international standards for demining equipment, animal clearance, and other issues related to mine clearance. Affected countries are able to use IMAS guidelines as base reference to establish their own National Mine Action Standards (the Cambodia Mine Action Standards, or CMAS, are in use) to meet international requirements and develop their own SOPs for intervention, response, maintenance and compliance with standards.

Operation Planning: The circumstances that exist after a conflict has ended depend on many factors, and the form and extent of the required humanitarian and developmental assistance will vary. However, for planning purposes five general states can be identified between the extremes of open conflict and stable self-dependency. Of course, there is no guarantee that a country in conflict will progress smoothly through these five states. Indeed, it is possible for more than one of these states to co-exist within the same geographic area. Local conditions may enable one part of a country to progress rapidly to stable self-dependency, or at least to assisted development, while open conflict may continue elsewhere. Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan are examples of countries where different states of conflict and post-conflict currently co-exist. This study deals with the three of these five states that are most relevant to mine action: Humanitarian emergency, transition assistance, and assisted development.[38]

Cambodia has gradually developed one of the most efficient and sophisticated mine action planning mechanisms in the world. While clearance operations primarily responded to humanitarian and emergency imperatives in the first years of the programmes, the necessity to integrate socio-economic considerations into the planning system emerged around 1996. The CMAC started to acknowledge that it could not be responsible for the allocation of demined land to beneficiaries, but must hand over safe land to local authorities.

The CMAC concluded that it must develop stronger coordination with local authorities, development agencies and other entities before deciding which land had to be cleared and for what purpose. It was gradually accepted that demining operators alone should not decide which land was to be cleared. Demining is costly and time-consuming, and guarantees should exist to ensure that cleared land is effectively used for development purposes and by their intended beneficiaries.

Such a move became more urgent when stories about land grabbing and demined lands being confiscated by civilian or military officials started to emerge. The CMAC decided to address the problem during a two-day workshop in Battambang in June 1998. During this meeting, military and police officers, provincial and local authorities, the UN agencies and development NGOs decided to jointly develop a new planning system, called the land use planning unit (LUPU), which would guarantee that cleared lands would be handed over to the intended beneficiaries and would be protected from grabbing. With the support of the European Commission, and training and capacity development provided by HI-Belgium and Australian Volunteers International (AVI), the system was gradually extended to provinces like Bantey Meanchey, Preah Vihear, Pailin, and Oddar Meanchey.[39]

An evaluation of the LUPU conducted in 2003 reported that the process was positively evaluated by most of the senior Provincial Sub-Committee (PSC) members who felt that it was clearly a government structure that played a useful role in preventing land disputes, in identifying suitable beneficiaries to receive land, and in bringing together demining operators and development agencies. However, the LUPU system could not be considered a quick fix for all problems: By nature, LUPUs address large mine clearance tasks only and could not be used as a planning tool for small tasks. As the process takes several months, the system is also not ideal for emergency duties. Other systems had to be used to plan for those small and/or emergency tasks, such as the CMAC community-based mine risk reduction or the community mine marking teams.[40]

Another workshop organised in Battambang in December 2002 concluded that the LUPU initiative virtually eliminated the theft of demined land. This could be considered a remarkable outcome considering the immense difficulties that were encountered in the past. In his closing speech, a government representative requested to: (1) preserve and protect the system; (2) homogenise the operating procedures of the existing LUPUs; and (3) find an institutional connection at the national level. Not everybody was convinced at that time that the LUPU system should have been taken over by the CMAA. The setting up of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction (MLMUPC), with its responsibilities on the national cadaster and the social concessions system (potentially including cleared lands), could have been an opportunity to immediately integrating mine action planning into local and provincial development plans. It is likely that such a move would have been audacious, but the MLMUPC was probably not so keen to endorse such new responsibility at that time. Consequently, the CMAA soon started working on the sub-decree N°70/ANK/BK, officially adopted by the RGC in October 2004.

The CMAA issued guidelines on socio-economic management of mine clearance operations in February 2005, and the guidelines were revised in November 2006. The policy guidelines describe the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders in the socio-economic management process of mine clearance operations. The operational guidelines detail activities to be implemented during the planning process. Basically, the new sub-decree transforms the former LUPUs into mine action planning units (MAPU) and the former PSCs into provincial mine action committees (PMAC). This mechanism is quite similar to the former LUPU system, and tries to build on it. The MAPU, as explained, conducts field investigations to: (1) identify mined areas to be cleared; and (2) monitor clearance activities and post-clearance land use.[41]

The process starts with commune meetings where each village chief presents the village wish-list of priority-clearance sites to the commune. Village chiefs, community-based mine risk reduction (CBMRR) members, village development committees (VDC), development agencies and commune chiefs participate in commune meetings facilitated by MAPU. Mine action district working groups (MADWG) are established by the provincial governors in the districts where demining services are required. The composition of MADWGs includes members from district line offices and from among stakeholders involved in demining activities. Once minefield investigations of all proposed sites have been completed, the results of the commune meetings and the minefield investigations are presented at a district-level workshop, and each demining site is rated by the participants using criteria developed by the PMAC in accordance with the operational guidelines. Each minefield is categorised as “high,” “medium,” or “low risk.” Based upon the available number of demining assets, workshop participants determine which sites come first for clearance, with high risk sites on top of the list. Once the task lists are finalised at the district level, they are presented to the PMAC for final approval.

The PMAC can add some of its own priorities to the final list. The MAPU then prepares a list of all approved tasks with the location and name of the operator. It becomes the responsibility of each operator to prepare its own plan for each site. Demining operators’ annual clearance plans are then kept by the MAPU, and completed minefields and clearance progress are then forwarded to the CMAA for inclusion in the database. The CMAA reports that the “success of the prioritization processes is clearly demonstrated in the post-clearance land use monitored by the CMAA.”[42]

The mid-term evaluation of the project “Clearing for Results,” conducted in 2008, recognised that the process of the MAPU (MAPUs are currently operating in 23 provinces) was conceptually sound, and that progress was made in its implementation. The review team concluded that the CMAA should be more involved in priority-setting and in the allocation of demining assets at the national level. However, it also highlighted the MAPU system’s lack of flexibility as an issue. For example, once a plan was officially adopted, operators had to implement it, and were not allowed to carry out area reduction or cancellation. As a result, demining units were not always deployed according to high priority. For this reason, the review team made several suggestions to correct these problems, including the adoption of an area reduction policy, which has in fact been adopted.[43]

Planning and prioritisation of land release operations are an essential process that directly influences the strategic achievements—and therefore the efficiency—of the sector.[44] Cambodia has adopted a combination of top-down and bottom-up approaches.

Top-down approach: Every year, the CMAA establishes a list of priority communes based on mine/ERW casualties for the last five years and the Baseline Survey data. These directives include approximately 160 communes where at least 75 percent of the mine action resources and funding must be allocated (as directed by the National Mine Action Strategy). The remaining mine action assets and resources can be used outside of those 160 communes to respond to other RGC requests and needs. The current system will be enhanced to recognise risk and to differentiate between a hazardous area likely to contain functional mines and the one likely to contain low functionality mines that are therefore more likely to be reclaimed through agricultural activities.

Bottom-up approach: Within the priority communes provided by the CMAA, a central planning role is played by MAPU that coordinates at the sub-national level to develop a list of priority minefields for submission to the CMAA for official approval. The system was designed to be transparent, participatory, decentralised and community based. Through such mechanisms, mine clearance planning was intended to be effectively integrated into commune investment plan.

In the new strategy, the CMAA will continue the planning and prioritisation through the MAPU mechanism that has effectively targeted the clearance resources to the most impacted areas and addressed the community’s need. Further refinement of prioritisation at this level will be based on population proximity to threat. The spreading of mine action resources too thinly in too many and too large target areas might reduce its impact and extend the completion time. It is undeniable that landmine accidents demonstrate the presence of hot spots where local populations are most likely facing acute socio-economic problems and are forced to take risks. However, landmine accidents are not the only criterion for mine action planning. The CMAA will also use a combination of criteria to establish its priorities: High density of contamination, high level of threat to local communities (documented by casualties), and high socio-economic impact (documented by the MAPU).

In summary, the prioritisation will set the criteria into two parts: (1) the village prioritisation, where accident-casualties for the last five years, and those with poor ID registration, fall within the BLS; and (2) minefield prioritisation, where the minefields are in the BLS (A1, A2, A3, but based on proximity to villages and community priorities; and A4-B2 based on the development needs), and where there is a need for village development. At current rates and prioritisation of clearance, it will take many more years for Cambodia to reach its commitment. However, with re-prioritising, as clearance assets to ensure 80 percent of land released comes from the highest impacted minefields, clearance will most likely be completed by 2025.


Leng Sochea holds a PhD (2018) in Business Administration from Asia Europe University, Phnom Penh, Cambodia; an MBA degree (2005) from the National University of Management, Phnom Penh; a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (2002) from the National Institute of Management, Phnom Penh; and a Bachelor of Law degree (1999) from the Royal University of Law and Economy, Phnom Penh. His varied career began as a worker making fishing nets at a Khmer Rouge factory and lasted from 1975 to 1979. Currently he is an Adviser to the Chairman of the Cambodian National Election Committee since 2016, a rank equal to the Secretary General of the NEC. Concurrently, he is the Permanent Vice-Chairman of the Governing Council of the Cambodia Mine Action Centre since 2013, ranking equal to a minister. He was the Vice-Chairman of the Governing Council of the Cambodia Mine Action Centre in 2011-2012, and he served as the Deputy Secretary General of the Cambodia Mine Action Authority in 2000-2011. He attended the Senior Mine Action Management course at Cranefield Army University in the UK in 2002, a Law and Economics Awareness course at L’Ecole Royale Administration, as well as training courses at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Earlier, he was the Head of the Public Information Office and Spokesperson of the National Election Committee in 1998-2006, and the Deputy Director General in charge of Audio Visual and Media Centre at the Ministry of Information in 1994-2000. He began a career in government working as a Department Director at the Media Centre of the Ministry of Information between 1992 and 1994. Earlier he was a journalist for the Japanese newspaper, Mainichi Shimbun, in 1991-92, reporting on the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia.



[1] Geo Spatial International (GSI): Final Report of Level One Survey, Canada, 2002.

[2] CMAA Database Unit (DBU): Baseline Survey Report, Phnom Penh, 2016.

[3] Royal Government of Cambodia (RGC)-Cambodia Mine Action Authority (CMAA): National Mine Action Strategy (2017-2025), Phnom Penh, 2017.

[4] Mike Croll, The History of Landmines (London: Leo Cooper, 1998), 96.

[5] United Nations, “UN Security Council Resolution, S/RES/728, 1992,” http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/728.

[6] Vanna Mao, “Study on enhancing aid effectiveness and harmonization in mine action,” CDC-CMAA, 2010.

[7] Taylor Owen, “Sideshow? A Spatio-Historical Analysis of the U.S. Bombardment of Cambodia, 1965-1973.”


[8] Ibid.

[9] Gen. Khvan Seam, RCAF Commander of Engineering Force, “The Situation of Landmines in Cambodia,” May 1995.

[10] RGC-CMAA, “Extension Request,” August 25, 2009.

[11] Geo Spatial International (GSI), Final Report: National Level One Survey, Canada, 2002.

[12] Gen. Khvan Siem, “CAF-Engineer-Land mine situation in Cambodia report,” 1996.

[13] The GIS database comprised data originally recovered by the U.S. National Combat Command Information Processing System (NIPS) on missions conducted between 1965 and 1975. The data was classified top secret and maintained by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff until declassified and delivered to the U.S. National Archives in 1976. It was originally compiled in four separate databases. These files are Combat Activities File (CACTA, October 1965-December 1970); Southeast Asia Database (SEADAB, January 1970-June1975); the Strategic Air Command’s Combat Activities report (SACCOACT, June 1965-August 1973); and herbicide data files (HERBS, July 1965-February 1971). Also see, Edward Miguel and Gerard Roland, The Long Run Impact of Bombing Vietnam, University of California, Manuscript, 2005, and also in Journal of Development Economics 96 (2011): 1-15); and Tom Smith, “Southeast Asia Air Combat Data,” The DISAM Journal 24 (2001).

[14] For Henry Kissinger’s views, see Kissinger, Ending the Vietnam War: A History of America's Involvement in and Extrication from the Vietnam War (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003); Kissinger, Diplomacy (New York: Touchstone, 1994); and Kissinger, The White House Years (Boston: Little, Brown, 1979).

[15] Owen, “Sideshow”.

[16] The Australian, January 15, 1966, quoted in Ben Kiernan, How Pol Pot Came to Power:
Colonialism, Nationalism, and Communism in Cambodia, 1930–1975 (Yale University Press, 2004), 285.

[17] The United Nations Security Council Resolution 728 was adopted on January 8, 1992.  But the Council expressed concern at the existence of landmines in Cambodia. The Council noted the establishment of a mine-awareness programme by a report of the Secretary-General in Resolution 717, and that the agreements allow the UNTAC to assist in the process of demining and to undertake training programmes. It also requested the Supreme National Council of Cambodia, under Prince Sihanouk’s leadership, to co-operate with the UNAMIC with its expanded mandate of demining and training the local population, and again called upon all parties to observe the ceasefire.

[18] A majority of Cambodian refugees intended to resettle in Battambang province as well as in other mine-affected areas in the northwest of the country.

[19]United Nations-UNTAC, http://www.un.org/en/peacekeeping/missions/past/untacbackgr2.html.

[20] Robert Eaton, Chris Horwood, Norah Niland, The Development of Indigenous Mine Action Capacity (New York: United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs, 1998).

[21] RGC documentation, 2009.

[22] Ibid.

[23] Ibid.

[24] CMAC report, 2014.

[25] Ibid.

[26] The RCAF has deployed de-miners to the UN peacekeeping mission in Sudan, and the Ministry of Defense maintains a National Peacekeeping Mine and ERW Centre (NPMEC). Five NPMEC teams are accredited by the CMAA and their clearance operations are subject to quality assurance by the latter. Their operational achievements are recorded in the CMAA database.

[27] Ted Paterson and Mao Vanna, A Study of Capacity Development in Mine Action, (Geneva: Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, 2004).

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] In 1989, two brothers, Rae and Lou McGrath, felt compelled to do something to protect the people from the crippling and often fatal threat of unexploded landmines. Their solution was to set up the MAG, which they ran from a caravan near Cockermouth in England’s Lake District.

[32] Since 2008, the MAG reported that a decrease of 30 to 40 percent in funding forced the organisation to reduce the number of staff from 500 in 2009 to 250 at present. Interview with Jamie Franklin, Phnom Penh, August 25, 2010.

[33] Information and Health, 2007.

[34] Laura McGrew, “Health Care in Cambodia,” 1990, http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/cambodia/health-carecambodia.

[35] CMAC, 2004.

[36] Patrick Blagden, “Mine Detection and the need for new technology,” GICHD, Geneva, 2002.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Martin Dahinden and Ian Mansfield, A Study of Socio-Economic Approaches to Mine Action (Geneva: UNDP, March 2001).

[39] Pascal Simon, Transitioning Mine Action Programmes to National Ownership: Cambodia (Geneva: GICHD, March 2012).

[40] Ibid.

[41] Ibid.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] National Mine Action Strategy, 2017-2025.