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Explosive remnants of war: a case study of explosive ordnance disposal in Laos, 1974-2013

Explosive remnants of war: a case study of explosive ordnance disposal in Laos, 1974-2013

Kemp, Anna F. (2014) Explosive remnants of war: a case study of explosive ordnance disposal in Laos, 1974-2013. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

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This thesis examines one man-made disaster, resulting from the plethora of UneXploded Ordnance (UXO) in Laos, to clarify the performance of post-conflict humanitarian aid and development until 2012. This is achieved through case study field work in Laos. The time period studied is from 1954, the beginning of the political background to the war in Laos, through to the work carried out by the national agency UXO Lao in the field to 2012. The academic disciplines driving this research are War, Conflict and Security Studies, including Post-Conflict Studies, plus aspects of International Relations and Disaster Management. It is not a Law thesis although of necessity it touches on aspects of International Law and particularly the subsequent Protocol V to the 1980 Treaty on Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions (CMC).
In nine years from 1964-1973 the U.S.A. dropped 260 million cluster bomb submunitions on Laos. It is estimated that 30 percent of the cluster munitions failed to detonate. It is not known exactly where they were dropped and rivers and rain cause them to move. The effect of UXO in the most affected provinces has made them unsuitable for expansion in tourism and agriculture. Analysis of responses to this situation shows that efforts to educate people about the dangers of UXO have often been ineffective and victim assistance is lacking, although now covered by the CMC.
The U.S.A. bombing, remained shrouded in official secrecy, and Laos's Communist status precluded overt aid. Laos was therefore a forgotten war but one which has profound implications for warfare and subsequent peace-building. Clearance remained a low priority, in part because it was a low priority for the Lao Government which was not much interested in the welfare of the rural communities affected. The National Regulatory Authority (NRA), the agency within the Laotian government responsible for UXO and EOD requires in FY 2013 $30 million, for UXO clearance with substantial additional increases over the next ten years. The U.S.A. is now committed diplomatically and financially to assist Laos in its bomb removal effort, after President Barack Obama signed a Presidential Determination in 2009 declaring that Laos was no longer a Marxist-Leninist Country and thus facilitating U.S.A. and other international aid. New technology may finally unlock the solution to this 50-year old problem. The distribution of GPS to farmers would enable them to report locations of any UXO they found, for immediate attention, greatly increasing the speed and effectiveness of response.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: unexploded ordnance; Laos; war; post-conflict studies;
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > Centre for Applied Sociology Research (CASR)
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2021 00:21

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