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Abstract

Improvised explosive devices (IED) are not new in mine action; they have contributed to explosive ordnance contamination in post-conflict settings since the advent of humanitarian demining almost 30 years ago.

What is new is that the systematic deployment of IEDs by armed groups is occurring today on a greater scale. The prevalence of use of these weapons by highly visible groups such as the Islamic State has accentuated the profile of IEDs even further. In addition, a large proportion of the IEDs deployed are victim-operated (VOIED) and contribute to a new landmine emergency characterized by a systematic production, standardization of designs, and the deployment of hundreds of thousands of locally-manufactured landmines. These recent developments have led to debate on how IEDs are defined in relation to key conventions such as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC), on the required competency levels needed to engage in IED disposal (IEDD) activities, and on the applicability of the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) to provide the framework for mine action operations concerning IEDs.

This editorial provides a historic perspective on the extent of IEDD operations conducted by mine action actors, explains the scope and applicability of the IMAS to address all explosive ordnance including improvised devices, and suggests amendments to the IMAS to provide improved guidance to respond to IED contamination in a humanitarian context.

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