Andy Smith
Mine action specialist

Global SOPs for HMA


The old 'Generic SOPs' have been very significantly revised and are now being released as 'Global SOPs' in separate chapters. Since they were first made freely available in 2007, there have been many hundreds of downloads and I have been pleased to see some translated into Russian, Arabic and Portuguese. A few new chapters have been added but it is ten years since any significant revisions were made to the set as a whole.

The previous release attempted to reflect best practice in HMA. This extensive revision deliberately goes further by addressing issues that the leaders of the industry have neglected, including contradictions within the IMAS which cause confusion about the nature of Humanitarian Mine Action. In consequence, this version has incorporated many significant changes to terminology. There is no requirement to use the IMAS terminology so I have substituted terms that avoid ambiguity and introduce clarity. There is a full Glossary in the introductory chapter and each separate chapter is prefaced with a shorter Glossary explaining critical terms used in it.

various mine warning signs

Those chapters that are nominally 'ready' are listed below. The full revision of these SOPs has not yet been completed, so readers are invited to comment, make suggestions or supply additions that they think would be appropriate. Send to me at avs(at)

The inclusion of new SOPs covering Humanitarian IED search and clearance, the use of Small Unmanned Aircraft, and Risk Management in HMA may be of special interest (see Chapters 7, 10 and 14). Those already using earlier versions should look at all of the changes, which are extensive. The 'Land release' criteria have been simplified and allow a genuinely evidence based release of land while maintaining safety for everyone involved.

Please do not use any of these SOPs without studying them and making changes because your own experience needs to be added. Also, it is a principle of Quality Management that all procedures should be subject to regular and dispassionate review that leads to revisions/corrections appropriate to the time and place of use.

Currently available chapters

CHAPTER 0: Introduction
This chapter gives an introduction, acknowledgments, a full Glossary and a contents list for the entire set of SOP chapters. Click here to open it as a doc file. Click here to open it as a PDF file.

This chapter defines the criteria for releasing hazardous areas, or parts of them, by Search & Clearance, Reduction, Verification or Cancellation. Designed to allow safe and efficient land release without compromising safety, it defines the Task Assessment and Technical Survey processes. The production of a preliminary Task Release Plan is also covered.
Click here to open it as a doc file. Click here to open it as a PDF file.

This chapter describes all aspects of manual Search & Clearance, covering approved procedures from vegetation removal and the use of metal-detectors to area-excavation in detail. BAC, BACS and MDD support are covered, along with procedures to deal with obstructions in the task area and the discovery of human remains. It also covers MEDEVAC procedures during manual demining.
Click here to open it as a doc file. Click here to open it as a PDF file.

This chapter describes approved approaches to improvised explosive hazards including improvised munitions (including mines), improvised bombs and improvised ‘malign fuzed’ IEDs designed to target those tasked with finding them. Designed solely for use in HMA, this SOP must be extended with additional details when the specific nature of the IED hazards, in particular their initiation systems, in the working area becomes known. Click here to open it as a doc file. Click here to open it as a PDF file.  

This chapter describes general principles behind the use of demining machines and the various mechanical demining procedures that may be used. It describes the management of mechanical assets, then gives detailed procedural instructions for a range of machines. The chapter also covers MEDEVAC and machine recovery in the event of an accident involving a machine.
Click here to open it as a doc file. Click here to open it as a PDF file.

This chapter provides detailed operating procedures for the deployment of MDDs, covering search patterns, training requirements, accreditation, healthcare and the varied requirements of MDD Team management. The Chapter also covers MDD MEDEVAC procedures. Click here to open it as a doc file.
Click here to open it as a PDF file.

This chapter describes the way in which SUA can be used during field operations, covering the restrictions on their use and relevant safety requirements. SUA may also be known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or ‘drones’. Click here to open it as a doc file.
Click here to open it as a PDF file.

This chapter explains how to conduct risk management in HMA programmes. It covers general organisational risks and details procedures that must be followed when identifying and managing field specific risks. Click here to open it as a doc file. Click here to open it as a PDF file.


The author makes these Global SOPs available on condition that those using them accept full liability for errors or omissions. No part of the SOPs should be adopted before studying them closely and making changes to suit the needs of the organisation and the particular programme. The chapters are linked with cross references and share a common terminology. When making terminology changes, users should ensure that all other chapters are adjusted appropriately.

The author was an active member of the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS) Review Board for more than a decade and presents these SOPs as being fully IMAS compliant.

Any similarity between parts of these Global SOPs and the SOPs of specific organisations should be interpreted as a compliment. No parts have been copied, but good practices have been assimilated.



Parts, or all, of these SOPs may be copied and used subject to the constraint that no part of these SOPs may be reproduced in any publication that is sold for profit without express permission. Please acknowledge this as a source.