According to the United Nations (UN), every year landmines kill thousands of people – most of them women, children and the elderly – and severely maim countless others. Scattered in some 59 countries, minefields are a constant reminder of past conflicts, even after peace has been achieved. The presence of mines makes economic use of the affected areas impossible, making them inaccessible to the local population and government, and further restricting the economic and social development of the affected countries.
The Inter-American Defense Board has accumulated experience in demining through the Demining Assistance Mission in Central America (MARMINCA), the Demining Assistance Mission in South America (MARMINAS) and in Colombia with the Inter-American Monitors Group (GMI-CO), and the Inter-American Technical Advisors Group (GATI-CO).
The GMI was established through the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB) in 2006 and the Group’s primary mission is to support the Organization of American States (OAS) Comprehensive Action Against Antipersonnel Mines Program (AICMA-CO) in Colombia by providing military personnel from IADB member countries to perform the following tasks: Participate as the external monitoring component of AICMA-CO, in document evaluation, training evaluation, operational evaluation and monitoring of the activities of Humanitarian Demining Organizations (HDO), all in accordance with International Standards, National Standards and Approved Operational Procedures for Humanitarian Demining.
In this context of military diplomacy, GMI constitutes an important multilateral action in Latin America to overcome conflicts and their effects. GMI has demonstrated the importance of its work in supporting the efforts of the Colombian authorities to clear mines and, consequently, reduce the negative effects that have affected the country’s population for more than five decades.