International Trust Fund

by Joseph Keane [ Center for International Stabilization and Recovery ]


The International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance is an organization that raises donations for mine action in Southeastern Europe and administers the donations to areas in need. The goal of the organization is to “eliminate the effect of mine contamination ... by 2010.”1 In 2008, the ITF managed US$33,999,200 in donations from 31 organizations (such as nongovernmental organizations, civic organizations, philanthropies and private companies) and 13 donor countries.2 It was the largest amount of donations the ITF had received in any single year.

History

In March 1998, Slovenia established the ITF to help rid Bosnia and Herzegovina of the landmines from the Bosnian War. The ITF was originally focused on victim rehabilitation, socioeconomic rehabilitation and demining. As the ITF began receiving more funds, the organization expanded its services to include mine-risk education and training.3 There was a need for mine action in the countries neighboring BiH, and the ITF expanded its area of service to all of the Southeastern Europe region.

The ITF’s work in the various countries led to the establishment of the South-Eastern Europe Mine Action Coordination Council in November 2000. In the agreement, in which the directors from mine-action centers from the Southeastern Europe region and the Caucasus vowed to work together for the common goal of eliminating landmines, the ITF acted as a “promoter and facilitator,”4 helping to get SEEMACC up and running.

Current Operations

Mine-action projects implemented through the ITF have been integrated into wider framework of development and human security by

Donors. Donors have two options when contributing to the ITF. Donations can be earmarked for a specified project or country, or provided without being designated for particular projects. Non-earmarked donations go to projects that the ITF has recognized as high priority. The U.S. Department of State and ITF have an agreement that the United States will match all donations that are made to the ITF by other donors in the Southeastern Europe region up to the amount authorized by the U.S. Congress for this purpose.

Mine-victim assistance. Rehabilitation of mine victims is an important component of the ITF’s program. Rehabilitation directly draws attention to the consequences of war. The ITF Mine Victims Assistance program is thus implemented on three different levels, as follows:

  1. Rehabilitation of mine victims from the Southeastern Europe region and other mine-affected countries at the Institute for Rehabilitation in the Republic of Slovenia
  2. Other mine-victim assistance and mine-risk education programs implemented by various NGOs in Southeastern Europe and other mine-affected countries
  3. Education and training of professionals from the Southeastern Europe region and other mine-affected countries, specifically the Caucasus region

(Click the image to enlarge)
Organizational structure of the ITF.
All graphics courtesy of the ITF

Demining. An estimated two million mines and unexploded ordnance remain in Southeastern Europe from recent conflicts. Demining programs use trained deminers, mine-detection dogs and machinery (flails, rollers, vegetation cutters, and excavators) to remove the many remaining hazards. The ITF supports demining programs in these affected areas: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia. With few exceptions, international mine action has been a great success and has demonstrated the benefits of mine-affected states, international organizations, donors, implementing organizations and civil society working together with a common goal of reducing the impact of landmines and explosive remnants of war5 in post-conflict countries.6

Training. The ITF provides funding for three areas of training. Courses are taught in explosive-ordnance disposal, monitoring and quality assurance/quality control. Between 1998 and 2004, 185 individuals received training in these areas. With funding from the ITF, the Slovenian Institute for Rehabilitation teaches courses and holds seminars in mine-victim rehabilitation in the Southeastern region of Europe; between 1998 and 2004, the institute trained 314 people were trained. Through programs funded by the ITF, the people trained with these skills later aid those in the region affected by mines.7

Past and Present Operations

The ITF is expanding its activities outside Southeastern Europe, namely to the South Caucasus and Central Asia, while projects in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Latin America are in the planning stage. The ITF has received requests for cooperation from the following countries: Afghanistan, Colombia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Sudan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Some of the programs that the ITF supports began receiving assistance in the late 1990s or early 2000s, and are still being supported today, while many of the programs have been completed. The ITF aspires to free Southeastern Europe from the impact of landmines and unexploded ordnance and actively contributes to the eradication of the mine problem in other mine-affected parts of the world.

One of the ITF's biggest accomplishments is making Macedonia and Montenegro officially mine-free.8 Table 1 shows the area created through ITF-funded programs.


(Click the image to enlarge)
Table 1: Area cleared through ITF-funded programs as of January 2009.

Organizational Structure

The ITF Board of Advisors consists of the organization’s 32 largest donors. The Managing Board is composed of nine representatives from three countries in Southeastern Europe: BiH, Croatia and Slovenia. The board is in charge of overseeing the activities of the ITF, which includes ensuring efficiency and transparency of all tasks.9

Celebrating its 10th Anniversary

The ITF marked its 10th anniversary with a number of different events, beginning with a photo exhibition, “An Abandoned Road.” The 10 photo panels show the progress the ITF has made since its founding in 1998.

The ITF celebrated the establishments of its Board of Advisors in April 2008. For the first time, world’s largest annual gathering of experts on landmines and ERW was held in a mine-affected area, with opportunities to see firsthand lessons learned and operational activities in the field, The Eleventh Meeting for Mine Action National Directors and U.N. Advisers started in Ljubljana, Slovenia and continued in Sibenik, Croatia in April 2008. A new strategy paper for 2009–13 was prepared and presented to the Board of Advisors in November 2008, and it was adopted by the Managing Board in December 2008.

The ITF’s Future

The original vision of the ITF is being accomplished, and a new vision is developing. According to Goran Gačnik, ITF Director, “There are a large number of countries where ITF is not present at the moment. In light of this, ITF can spread its activities to new regions with the strong support of [the] international community, mine-affected countries and donors' support. ITF could be a recognizable organization not only as a part of the demining community but also as an active player in all post-conflict activities in different regions of the world. ITF is currently reviewing its new strategic vision for 2009–13. During this period, the true character of future ITF activities will be defined and will indicate the field of action representing the core of ITF activities on its 20th anniversary.”10

Biography

From November 2006 to November 2008, Joseph Keane was an Editorial Assistant for The Journal of ERW and Mine Action. He graduated from James Madison University in May 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in technical and scientific communication and a Bachelor of Arts at the School of Media and Design in journalism.


Endnotes

  1. “Donors.” International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance. http://www.itf-fund.si/donatorji/donatorji.asp.. Accessed 18 February 2009.
  2. “News.” International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance. http://www.itf-fund.si/news/news.asp. Accessed 2 June 2009.
  3. “About Activities.” International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance. http://www.itf-fund.si/dokumenti/dokument.asp?id=8. Accessed 18 February 2009.
  4. “ITF 10 Year Overview.” International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance. http://www.itf-fund.si/docdir/ITF-brochure-10yrs-2008-web-corr.pdf. Accessed 14 January 2009.
  5.  “ITF supported MVA Programmes and Projects.”International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance. http://tinyurl.com/ccttdd. Accessed 18 February 2009.
  6. “Demining.” International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance. http://www.itf-fund.si/dokumenti/dokument.asp?id=29. Accessed 18 February 2009.
  7. “Training.” International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance. http://www.itf-fund.si/dokumenti/dokument.asp?id=38. Accessed 18 February 2009.
  8. Editor's Note: Some countries and mine-action organizations are urging the use of the term "mine free," while others are espousing the term "mine safe" or "impact free." "Mine free" connotes a condition where all landmines have been cleared, whereas the terms "mine safe" and "impact free" refer to the condition in which landmines no longer pose a credible threat to a community or country.
  9. “ITF Supported MGA Programmes.” International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance. http://www.itf-fund.si/dokumenti/dokument.asp?id=109. Accessed 18 February 2009.
  10. E-mail interviews with Mojca Petrovčič and Goran Gačnik, International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance. 24 September 2008 and 10 June 2009.

Contact Information

Joseph Keane
Editorial Assistant
The Journal of ERW and Mine Action
Mine Action Information Center
Center for International Stabilization and Recovery
James Madison University
Email: maic@jmu.edu

Goran Gačnik
Director
International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance
Zabrv 12
1292 Ig / Slovenia
Tel: +386 1 4796 580
Fax: +386 1 4796 590
E-mail: ljubljana@itf-fund.si
Web site: http://www.itf-fund.si