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Abandoned Explosive Ordnance (AXO)

Explosive ordnance that has not been used during an armed conflict, that has been left behind or dumped by a party to an armed conflict, and which is no longer under control of the party that left it behind or dumped it. Abandoned explosive ordnance may or may not have been primed, fused, armed or otherwise prepared for use.1

Area reduction

The process through which the initial area indicated as contaminated (during any information gathering activities or surveys that form part of the General Mine Action Assessment process) is reduced to a smaller area.2

Note: Area reduction may involve some limited clearance, such as the opening of access routes and the destruction of mines and Explosive Remnants of War that represent an immediate and unacceptable risk, but it will mainly be as a consequence of collecting more reliable information on the extent of the hazardous area.

Usually it will be appropriate to mark the remaining hazardous area(s) with permanent or temporary marking systems.

Note: Likewise, area reduction is sometimes done as part of the clearance operation.

Battle Area Clearance (BAC)

The systematic and controlled clearance of hazardous areas where the hazards are known not to include mines.2

Cluster bombs

Cluster bombs, or cluster munitions, are weapons that can be dropped from the air or fired from the ground. They release numerous explosive fragments – bomblets, or submunitions. Bomblets that fail to explode on impact pose the threat of death or injury long after conflict is over.

Their presence means a lack of access to safe land, limiting agricultural development, the reconstruction of vital infrastructure, and the work of relief and development agencies.

In parts of South East Asia, the local name for cluster bomblets is 'bombies'.

Community Liaison (CL)

Community Liaison teams are the eyes and ears of MAG. Their job is to go out and liaise with communities to find out what and where the problem is.

See also: More on Community Liaison

Confirmed Hazardous Area (CHA)

A Confirmed Hazardous Area is an area identified by a non-technical survey in which the necessity for further intervention through either technical survey or clearance has been confirmed2.

Convention on Cluster Munitions

The Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions. Separate articles in the Convention concern assistance to victims, clearance of contaminated areas and destruction of stockpiles.

The Convention was opened for signature at a signing conference in Oslo in December 2008 and entered into force on 1 August 2010.

See also: Convention on Cluster Munitions websiteUnited Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) website

Conventional Weapons Management and Disposal (CWMD)

MAG uses the term Conventional Weapons Management and Disposal (CWMD) to refer to its to work in support of weapons and ammunition disposal and security. This includes dealing with Small Arms and Light Weapons, as well as items such as aircraft bombs, large calibre artillery, mortar ammunition and rockets.

The term also reflects the different roles that MAG takes on within this sector, from direct clearance activities and Physical Security and Stockpile Management, to capacity building and training.

CWMD is a coordinated and integrated approach that supports states to develop sustainable solutions to armed violence, and is an essential contribution to local, national and regional security and aspects of Armed Violence Reduction (AVR).

See also: More on CWMD

Country Director

The Country Director is the most senior representative in each MAG programme, responsible for managing and coordinating staff, developing and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders, strategic financial management, administration and logistical support, in-country strategic planning, proposal writing and budgeting, compliance with local regulations, overall security management and fundraising.

See also: Careers with MAG

Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR)

Disarmament is the collection, documentation, control and disposal of small arms, ammunition, explosives and light and heavy weapons from combatants and often from the civilian population.

Demobilisation is the formal and controlled discharge of active combatants from armed forces and groups, including a phase of “reinsertion” that provides short-term assistance to ex-combatants.

Reintegration is the process by which ex-combatants acquire civilian status and gain sustainable employment and income. It is a political, social and economic process with an open time-frame, primarily taking place in communities at the local level.

Source and more information: United Nations Peacekeeping website

Explosive Ordnance (EO)

All munitions containing explosives, nuclear fission or fusion materials and biological and chemical agents.

This includes bombs and warheads; guided and ballistic missiles; artillery, mortar, rocket and small arms ammunition; all mines, torpedoes and depth charges; pyrotechnics; clusters and dispensers; cartridge and propellant actuated devices; electro-explosive devices; clandestine and improvised explosive devices; and all similar or related items or components explosive in nature.2

Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)

The safe removal and controlled destruction of unexploded, abandoned and other ordnance.

Explosive Remnants of War (ERW)

Unexploded ordnance (UXO) and abandoned explosive ordnance, not including mines or booby-traps1.

General Mine Action Assessment (GMAA)

The continuous process by which a comprehensive inventory can be obtained of all reported and/or suspected locations of mine or Explosive Remnants of War contamination, the quantities and types of explosive hazards, and information on local soil characteristics, vegetation and climate; and assessment of the scale and impact of the landmine and ERW problem on the individual, community and country2.

Impact Assessment

Impact Assessment helps MAG to identify those communities which are most vulnerable from minefields, and also assesses the potential socio-economic impact that clearance of these minefields would have.

Improvised Explosive Device (IED)

Often associated with booby traps, IEDs are usually made locally – often referred to as 'homemade' – and have all the elements of a mass manufactured mine or booby trap.

Internally displaced person/people (IDP/IDPs)

People who've been forced to move to other areas of their own country due to conflict.

Landmine Impact Survey (LIS)

A Landmark Impact Survey quickly ascertains the extent of potential contamination from landmines and unexploded ordnance after conflict. The survey maps potential dangerous areas and also gathers data from the community, such as socioeconomic blockages resulting from actual or perceived contamination.


A landmine is defined by the Mine Ban Treaty as "a munition designed to be placed under, on or near the ground or other surface area and to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person or a vehicle."

Landmines are generally divided into two main groups – anti-personnel and anti-tank – and have four main component parts: an outer structure made of either plastic, wood, metal, Bakelite, rubber or even glass; a fuse or firing mechanism; a detonator; and high explosives.

Some contain thousands of pieces of shrapnel, designed to fire out to great distances, while others have been made with a minimum amount of metal and are therefore difficult to detect using metal detectors.

Landmines are often round in shape and range from the diameter of a small paperweight to a large tin of sweets or, in the case of anti-vehicle landmines, as large as dinner plates.

Anti-personnel landmines can also be square or shaped like a butterfly. Others are cylindrical, with spikes that stick out of the ground. Homemade copies are called improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

There are different injuries sustained by landmines due to the varying types:

• Blast landmines are pressure-activated and generally produce injuries from the explosive detonating;

• Fragmentation landmines (various types) contain shrapnel, which is fired out into victims when the mine detonates;

• Bounding fragmentation landmines jump out of the ground to waist level when activated and fire thousands of deadly fragments, in some cases to a radius of around 100m.

Anti-vehicle or anti-tank landmines are larger and take greater pressure to activate. They can rip through vehicles when detonated and cause devastating damage to drivers and passengers. These landmines do not fall under the Mine Ban Treaty. An innocent person’s vehicle could most certainly activate an anti-vehicle landmine.

Also not falling under the Mine Ban Treaty is the Claymore. This is a ‘directional’ fragmentation landmine designed to be ‘trigger-activated’ rather than detonated by an indiscriminate person, and therefore bypassing the treaty. However the Claymore is often rigged up with a trip-wire fuse that can be tripped by a victim.

See also: Mine Ban Treaty (below); International Campaign to Ban Landmines website; Mine Ban Convention websiteUnited Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) website


Man-Portable Air Defence Systems: Short-range surface-to-air missile systems intended for attacking and defending against low-flying aircraft. Most are easily handled by a single individual and are shoulder-launched. The most advanced MANPADS can effectively engage aircraft at ranges of up to 8,000m (five miles).3

See also: More on MANPADS

Mine action

Activities which aim to reduce the social, economic and environmental impact of mines and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW). Mine action is not just about demining; it is also about people and societies, and how they are affected by landmine and ERW contamination.

The objective of mine action is to reduce the risk from landmines and ERW to a level where people can live safely; in which economic, social and health development can occur free from the constraints imposed by landmine and ERW contamination, and in which the victims’ needs can be addressed.4

Mine Action Team (MAT)

Specially trained multi-skilled teams who detect and remove the remnants of conflict.

Meetings of the States Parties (MSP)

The 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction banning anti-personnel mines indicates that the Convention's States Parties "shall meet regularly in order to consider any matter with regard to the application of implementation of (the) Convention." 

The 11th Meeting of the States Parties takes place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 28 November to 2 December 2011. For more information on this and all previous MSPs please see the Convention's website.

See also: Mine Ban Treaty (below)

Mine Ban Treaty

The 1997 Mine Ban Treaty is the international agreement that bans anti-personnel landmines. Sometimes referred to as the Ottawa Convention or Ottawa Treaty, it is officially titled the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction.

MAG’s former Executive Director Lou McGrath is co-laureate of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize because of his work in bringing this forward with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

The treaty is the most comprehensive international instrument for ridding the world of the scourge of mines. Eighty per cent of the world's states are party5, committing to:

• Never use anti-personnel mines, nor to "develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer" them;
• Destroy mines in their stockpiles within four years of the treaty becoming binding;
• Clear mines in their territory, or support efforts to clear mines in mined countries, within 10 years;
• In mine-affected countries, conduct Mine Risk Education and ensure that mine survivors, their families and communities receive comprehensive assistance;
• Offer assistance to other States Parties, for example in providing for survivors or contributing to clearance programmes;
• Adopt national implementation measures (such as national legislation) in order to ensure that the terms of the treaty are upheld in their territory.

The treaty also doesn’t stop any signatory from using anti-vehicle mines.

Ultimately, the landmines that target innocent people and have already been laid still need to be dealt with.

See also: International Campaign to Ban Landmines website; Mine Ban Convention website

Mine Risk Education (MRE)

MRE – or Risk Education (RE), Small Arms Light Weapons Risk Education (SALWRE) or Risk Reduction Education (RRE) – is the life-saving information we provide to those immediately at risk. It helps minimise the risks for people living, working and travelling through areas contaminated with landmines and/or unexploded ordnance.

An MRE session may include, for example: how to recognise commonly found remnants of conflict, how to report a dangerous item, what to do in an emergency, known areas of contamination and accidents, warning clues and signs for mined areas, how to keep others safe, and more.

See also: More on Mine Risk Education

Nairobi Protocol

The Nairobi Protocol for the Prevention, Control and Reduction of Small Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and the Horn Of Africa was signed in April 2004 by the following governments, referred to as the States Parties: Republic of Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Djibouti, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, State of Eritrea, Republic of Kenya, Republic of Rwanda, Republic of Seychelles, Republic of the Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, Republic of Uganda.

The objectives are to:

• Prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of, trafficking in, possession and use of small arms and light weapons in the sub-region;
• Prevent the excessive and destabilising accumulation of small arms and light weapons in the sub-region;
• Promote and facilitate information sharing and cooperation between the governments in the sub-region, as well as between governments, inter-governmental organisations and civil society, in all matters relating to the illicit trafficking and proliferation of small arms and light weapons;
• Promote cooperation at the sub-regional level as well as in international fora to effectively combat the small arms and light weapons problem, in collaboration with relevant partners;
• Encourage accountability, law enforcement and efficient control and management of small arms and light weapons held by States Parties and civilians.

Download the full protocol at the Regional Centre on Small Arms website

Non-governmental organisation (NGO)

An organisation which has no participation or representation from any government.

Non-Technical Survey (NTS)

An important survey activity which involves collecting and analysing new and/or existing information about a hazardous area. Its purpose is to confirm whether there is evidence of a hazard or not, to identify the type and extent of hazards within any hazardous area and to define, as far as is possible, the perimeter of the actual hazardous areas without physical intervention.4

Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM)

MAG's Physical Security and Stockpile Management operations provide technical assistance to states to improve weapons and munitions management.

See also: MAG calls for preventative action as Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites continue to rise; PSSM & SALW reports

Remnants of conflict

MAG uses this term to describe all items recovered and destroyed as part of its humanitarian disarmament activities. These include anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines, explosive remnants of war, abandoned explosive ordnance, unexploded ordnance and Small Arms and Light Weapons.

Small Arms Ammunition (SAA)

Small Arms Ammunition is primarily cartridge-based. Described in military terms as a 'round' of ammunition, it comprises a cartridge case, bullet, propellant and primer. Small Arms Ammunition varies in size and calibre, and contemporary military ammunition largely follows standards originally set by NATO or the former Warsaw Pact.6

NATO calibres include: 5.56 x 45mm; 7.62 x 51mm; 9 x 19mm; 12.7 x 99mm or .50 BMG (Browning machine gun). Warsaw Pact calibres include: 5.45 x 39mm; 7.62 x 39mm; 7.62 x 54mm (Rimmed); 9 x 18mm Makarov; 7.62 x 25mm; 12.7 x 107mm or 12.7 x 108mm; 14.5 x 114mm.

Source: Small Arms Survey website

Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW)

Small arms include revolvers, self-loading pistols, rifles and carbines, sub-machine guns, assault rifles, light machine guns.

Light weapons include hand-held under-barrel and mounted grenade launchers, heavy machine guns, portable anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, recoilless rifles, portable launchers of anti-tank missile and rocket systems, portable launchers of anti-aircraft missile systems (MANPADS), mortars of less than 100mm calibre.

See also: United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) website

Suspected Hazardous Area (SHA)

An area suspected of having a mine/Explosive Remnants of War hazard.2

[Note: A Suspected Hazardous Area can be identified by an impact survey, other form of national survey, or a claim of the presence of an explosive hazard.]

Technical Field Manager (TFM)

Technical Field Managers are the skilled technical staff who implement all aspects of landmine clearance and Explosive Ordnance Disposal operations, leading teams of national staff.

See also: Careers with MAG

Technical survey

The detailed topographical and technical investigation of known or suspected hazardous areas identified during the planning phase. Such areas would have been identified during any information-gathering activities or surveys which form part of the GMAA process or have been otherwise reported.4

Unexploded ordnance (UXO)

Explosive weapons – such as bombs, rockets, missiles, mortars and grenades –  that did not explode when they were used and still pose a risk of detonation, potentially many decades after they were employed or discarded.

Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS)

Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites (UEMS) include accidents resulting in the explosion of abandoned, damaged, improperly stored, or properly stored stockpiles of munitions and explosives.

'Munitions sites' comprise storage areas (including those temporarily maintained during demilitarisation or Explosive Ordnance Disposal) and processing sites, whether temporary or permanent6.

See also: Unplanned Explosions at Munitions Sites [Small Arms Survey website]


1 United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Protocol V

2 A Guide to International Mine Action Standards, Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining,

3 Man-Portable Air Defence Systems (MANPADS), Small Arms Survey Research Notes January 2011, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva,

4 IMAS (International Mine Action Standards) definition

5 International Campaign to Ban Landmines,

6 Small Arms Survey,

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About MAG

MAG (Mines Advisory Group) saves and improves lives by reducing the devastating effects armed violence and remnants of conflict have on people around the world.
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Co-laureate of the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize  |  Registered as a charitable company in the UK  |  Company no: 4016409  Charity no: 1083008  |  ISO 9001:2008 accredited  |  International Mine Action Standards compliant  |  Signatory of the ICRC Code of Conduct  |  Member of the Fundraising Standards Board scheme  |  Registered office: Suite 3A, South Central, 11 Peter Street, Manchester, M2 5QR, United Kingdom