Lebanon Mine Action Centre Extension Request Consultation

Lebanon Mine Action Center Delegation with CCM Presidency (Mexico).

The Convention on Cluster Munitions Implementation Support Unit (CCM-ISU) welcomed the Lebanon Mine Action Center (LMAC) in Geneva March 19-20, to discuss an Article 4 Clearance deadline extension request by the State Party, in the face of implementation challenges. The meeting was also an opportunity to discuss the importance of international cooperation to completing cluster munition clearance, end the terrible human toll (and specifically the toll on children) of the weapon, and how Convention on Cluster Munitions implementation is contributing to UN Sustainable Development goals in Lebanon and elsewhere.

To date, Lebanon has cleared 92% of the known cluster munition contamination on its territory and has instituted innovative risk education and other programming to protect civilians and support affected communities. Due to significant challenges including an economic crisis, active conflict on its southern border – where operations are concentrated – and a large number of displaced persons hosted in the country, Lebanon is requesting an extension to complete cluster munition clearance.

Lebanon’s strong national ownership of mine action operations is illustrated in the national strategy elaborated to meet its clearance obligations under the Convention by 2026, and fact that the armed forces is the largest contributor to the Center. The financial crisis engulfing the country has meant reduced capacity on the ground however, and operations have been halted completely since October 2023 due to the proximity of the conflict in Gaza. Additionally, the population density in the country, and influx of refugees means that contamination has an extreme impact, while the economic situation is exacerbating risky behaviour by communities. Cluster munition remnants continue to claim lives in the country.

The LMAC delegation engaged during the week with the Convention Presidency (Mexico) in an extraordinary session of the CCM Coordination Committee. Members acknowledged the multiple challenges faced by Lebanon as well as the longstanding commitment to the Convention since it was negotiated and adopted, including hosting the Second Meeting of States Parties in 2011. Committee members commended the strong progress made by Lebanon towards eliminating cluster munitions, with particular appreciation from the President regarding the Mine Action Center’s innovation – in inclusive risk education and clearance efforts, through the Regional School for Humanitarian Demining in Lebanon, and the strong partnerships with international mine action stakeholders, among others.

“Lebanon is an example of how the Convention is making a real change in affected communities and saving lives,” said LMAC Director, Brigadier General Jihad Al Bechelany. “The scope of remaining contamination is not large, and we know what needs to be done. We have the knowledge and the capacity, LMAC can easily roll out multiple teams to ensure speedy clearance; what we need is concerted international assistance to make this tangible target a reality”.

Lebanon is among a handful of States in need of assistance to provide the final push needed to complete clearance efforts and prevent further civilian casualties from the weapon. Successfully eliminating cluster munitions contamination is increasingly understood to be interlinked with achieving peace and security, development, and human rights objectives.

“There is a concern that interest in cluster munitions clearance is waning as emerging crises occupy States’ resources. Those very real and urgent priorities should not cancel our ability to eliminate the threat from these weapons and complete our obligations under the CCM,” said RSHDL Director Colonel Fadi Wazen. “Some one million people will directly benefit from the clearance in Lebanon, but the overall impact is much greater.”