Vietnam

Vietnam is contaminated with anti-personnel mines and heavily contaminated with cluster munition remnants

Cluster Munition Remnants

Anti-Personnel Mines
  • Performance

    Average

Performance Indicator Score
Problem understood 5
Target date for completion of clearance 4
Targeted clearance 5
Efficient clearance 5
National funding of programme 7
Timely clearance 5
Land release system in place 6
National mine action standards 5
Reporting on progress 2
Improving performance 6
Performance score 5.1

Recommendations for Action

  • Vietnam should accede to the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) as a matter of priority.
  • Vietnam should prepare a strategic plan giving priority to clearance of cluster munition remnants (CMR) and widening application of the CMR survey methodology applied in Quang Tri province.
  • Vietnam should accelerate development of a national database and make data available to operators on a timely basis.
  • Vietnam should publish comprehensive annual reports on the results of survey and clearance by all operators, national and international.

Contamination

Vietnam is massively contaminated by CMR, but no credible estimate exists of the extent (to the nearest hundred square kilometre). The United States (US) dropped 413,130 tons of submunitions over Vietnam between 1965 and 1973, striking 55 provinces and cities, including Haiphong, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, and Vinh. Vietnam’s Military Engineering Command has recorded finding 15 types of US-made submunitions.“Vietnam mine/ERW (including cluster munitions) contamination, impacts and clearance requirements”, presentation by Sr. Col. Phan Duc Tuan, People’s Army of Vietnam, in Geneva, 30 June 2011. Most of the submunitions used were air-dropped, but artillery-delivered submunitions were also used in central Quang Binh and provinces to its south.Handicap International, Fatal Footprint, the Global Human Impact of Cluster Munitions, Brussels, 2006, p. 15.

The Military Engineering Command says it has encountered substantial amounts of cluster munitions abandoned by the US military, notably at or around old US air bases, including eight underground bunkers found in 2009, one reportedly covering an area of 4,000m2 and containing some 25 tons of munitions.Interview with Sr. Col. Phan Duc Tuan, PAVN, in Geneva, 30 June 2011.


Programme Management

Vietnam’s mine action programme has shifted from military management to civilian oversight but operations continue to depend largely on the armed forces. A Prime Minister’s Decision in 2006 assigned the Ministry of National Defence to oversee mine action at the national level with clearance undertaken by the Army Engineering Corps of the People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN).Prime Minister’s Decision No. 96/2006/QD-TTg, 4 May 2006. BOMICEN, part of the Ministry of National Defence, has acted as a central coordinating body for clearance and survey by national operators.Email from Col. Nguyen Trong Dac, Ministry of National Defense, 6 August 2006.​

In 2013, Vietnam announced a Prime Minister’s decision to establish a national mine action centre (VNMAC) to strengthen the direction of mine action and provide a focal point for mine action operations.Interview with Maj. Gen. Pham Quang Xuan, Director, VNMAC, in Geneva, 31 March 2014. However, although VNMAC reports to the Prime Minister’s office, the decision assigned responsibility for managing and coordinating the national mine action programme to the Ministry of Defence. VNMAC was given responsibility to propose policy, draw up plans, serve as the focal point for international cooperation, lead fundraising, and “preside over” mine action information management. It is also responsible for organising and implementing quality assurance.Prime Minister’s Decision 319/QD-TTg, 4 March 2014. The government appointed VNMAC’s director and two deputy directors in 2014 and the centre became offi cially operational in February 2015.Information provided by Do Van Nhan, Deputy Director General, VNMAC, received by email from Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation (VVAF), 19 June 2015.

International operators conclude agreements to work in Vietnam with the People’s Aid Coordinating Committee but negotiate their programme of operations separately with the authorities of each province. Quang Tri province, which includes the former demilitarised zone that separated North and South Vietnam and is one of the most heavily contaminated regions, approved the creation of a Legacy of War Coordination Centre (LWCC) in February 2015. The LWCC, established by the province’s Department of Foreign Affairs with funding and technical support provided by Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA), is responsible for drawing up an annual workplan, coordinating operations of NPA and Mines Advisory Group (MAG) and operates a database integrating mine action data of all operators, including the results of NPA’s and MAG’s integrated survey and clearance operations.Legacy of War Coordination Centre website, at: http://lwcc-dbu-quangtri.vn/en-us/INTRODUCTION/Project-Establishment; email from Le Nah Thu, Project Officer, MAG, 9 May 2016.​

Strategic Planning

VNMAC said it had drafted an action plan for 2016−20, which was awaiting approval by the prime minister, but provided no further details.Information provided by Dang Van Dong, VNMAC, received by email from the International Centre, VVAF, Hanoi, 23 June 2016. 

VNMAC priorities for 2016 included issuing a decree on mine action monitoring, elaborating quality management standards, building VNMAC’s headquarters in Hanoi, constructing a national database, and conducting technical survey and clearance of approximately 300km2.Information provided by Dang Van Dong, Deputy Director, VNMAC, received by email from the International Centre, VVAF, Hanoi, 23 June 2016. 

VNMAC reported that mine action in 2015 received a $4 million grant from Japan for clearance in Ha Tinh province and the US pledged $10.2 million for survey and clearance of Quang Tri.Information provided by Dang Van Dong, VNMAC, received by email from the International Centre, VVAF, 23 June 2016.​​

Operators

Most clearance in Vietnam is conducted by the Army Engineering Corps, whose officials have previously operated some 250 mine and battle area clearance teams, including those of around 50 military companies.Interview with Sr. Col. Nguyen Thanh Ban, Engineering Command, Hanoi, 18 June 2013; email from Executive Office of the National Steering Committee, 6 August 2012. The four international humanitarian operators active in Vietnam in 2015 were Danish Demining Group (DDG), MAG, NPA, and PeaceTrees Vietnam.


Land Release

In 2015, NPA survey in Quang Tri and Thua Thien Hue provinces confimed almost 11.4km2 of CMR contamination across 234 areas (see Table 1).Email from Resad Junuzagic, NPA, 26 May 2016.​​

Table 1: Cluster Munitions Remnants Survey in 2015
Operator Province Areas confirmed  Area confirmed (m²)
NPA Quang Tri 212  11,115,000 
NPA Thua Thien Hue 22  278,750 
Totals   234   11,393,750 

MAG and NPA for many years worked independently in different districts of Quang Tri. After a pilot project in 2014, Quang Tri provincial authorities approved a project under which NPA concentrated on conducting its cluster munition remnants survey (CMRS) while MAG cleared the confirmed hazardous areas (CHAs) generated by NPA’s survey. The project aims to complete clearance of all the province’s main contaminated areas by 2020. Both operators expanded capacity supported by multi-year funding from the US. NPA, partnering Project Renew, had a total operations staff of 152 which included 21 CMRS teams, 5 explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams and 1 ten-strong team of “BAC searchers” NPA also conducted community-based NTS in Quang Tri using the evidence points collected as a starting point for CMRS.Emails from Le Anh Thu, Project Offi cer, MAG, 9 May 2016; and Resad Junuzagic, Country Director, NPA, 26 May and 15 June 2016.

MAG also operated in the neighbouring province of Quang Binh conducting non-technical and technical survey as well as clearance, working from evidence points established during spot EOD tasks. It cancelled four suspected hazardous areas covering a total of 85,000m2 and confirmed 176 areas covering 1.88km2.Email from Le Anh Thu, MAG, 9 May 2016.

Vietnam’s Army Engineering Corps and military-affiliated commercial companies have previously reported clearance of several hundred square kilometres a year but no information was received for operations in 2015. International operators reported clearance of 9.8km2 for the year (see Table 2).

Land released through clearance by international operators rose sharply in 2015 as a result of a nearly fivefold increase in clearance by MAG compared with the previous year. MAG added 14 mine action teams and seven brush-cutting teams in 2015 bringing the total number of staff to 377. The expansion was made possible by substantial additional funding from the US and Japan, giving MAG a budget of $6.8 million for the year.17 PeaceTrees Vietnam, operating in Quang Tri province, said it employed 29 technicians who cleared 101,868m2 and destroyed a total of 3,031 items of unexploded ordnance (UXO) but did not specify clearance of CMR or provide any other details.Email from Rebecca Giovannozzi, Program Coordinator, PeaceTrees Vietnam, 7 June 2016.

Table 2: Clearance of CMR-contaminated areas in 2015
Operator Province Areas cleared  Area cleared (m2) Submunitions
destroyed
UXO
destroyed
AP mines
destroyed
MAG Quang
Binh
62  2,958,784  2,591  1,443 
MAG Quang Tri 85  6,239,399  3,764  2,948 
NPA Quang Tri 143,250  234  60  17 
NPA Thua
Thien Hue
491,267  44  451 
Totals   150  9,832,700  6,633  4,902  18  

AP = Anti-personnel. 

MAG’s increased focus on clearance in Quang Tri also led to a downturn in spot EOD tasks in 2015. DDG, which established a presence in Vietnam in 2013 initially conducting risk education in Quang Nam province, started deploying EOD teams on spot tasks in June 2015, and in December started battle area clearance (BAC) focused on CMR. By the end of March 2016, it had completed 105 BAC tasks releasing 43,414m2.Email from Clinton Smith, Country Director, DDG, 6 April 2016.

Table 3: Spot/roving clearance and EOD in 2015
Operator Province Roving tasks Submunitions
destroyed
UXO
destroyed
DDG Quang
Nam
265  51  729 
DDG Quang Tri 179  20  314 
MAG Quang Tri 3,490  105  3,519 
MAG Quang Binh 2,992  764  3,060 
NPA Quang Tri 1,781  168  3,612 
NPA Thua
Thien Hue
172  205  935 
Totals   8,879  1,313  12,169 

 


Article 4 Compliance

Vietnam is neither a state party nor a signatory to the CCM. Nonetheless, Vietnam has obligations under international human rights law to clear CMR as soon as possible, in particular by virtue of its duty to protect the right to life of every person under its jurisdiction.Vietnam is a state party to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 6(1) of which stipulates that: “Every human being has the inherent right to life.”


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