Global Campaign against IEDs: White Paper

The death of a foreign soldier in an improvised blast often makes headlines, but we have failed to communicate to armed opposition groups and their foreign supporters that IEDs kill and maim hundreds of innocent people and this is a clear violation of all war laws.

Ajmal Samadi, Director, Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM)

This is an Executive Summary of the original white paper published in 2010.

The international community is failing in its responsibilities to the world’s population in the area of the illicit use of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).

With nearly 300 incidents every month around the world IEDs are a global problem and regarded by many aid groups as the greatest humanitarian threat. One study reports that of some 1,836 incidents of explosive devices in populated areas documented across 38 different countries during a six month period in 2006, 60% (1,105) involved “bombs” or “car-bombs” – predominantly IEDs. The reported incidents involved an estimated 3,767 killed (80% civilians) and 9,120 wounded (86% civilians) including approximately 196 killed and 28 wounded who were the actual IED users. In cases where these studied incidents occurred in populated areas some 90% of reported casualties were civilians.

In addition to a growing number of civilian casualties, conflict-affected populations have also experienced loss of livelihood, displacement, and destruction of property and personal assets. Use of these devices creates insecurity that shrinks the humanitarian space. They destroy infrastructure, undermine livelihood opportunities, displace communities, and erode the quality and availability of basic services. Particularly affected are vulnerable individuals, such as women, children and internally displaced persons. The cumulative effect is felt across socio-economic development efforts and widens the development deficit.

IED events (including suicide bombs, car bombs, set explosives, etc) significantly impact stability, security, and development of sustainable livelihoods globally. By example, cumulatively for Nigeria, Russia, Mexico, and India there were over 60,000 civilians killed or injured in 2008 and 2009. Incidents rose 20% in Russia and over 15% in India in 2009 compared to 2008. Although no incidents were reported in Mexico, the proliferation of illegal small arms (AK-47s, etc.) and associated violence known to be a pre-curser to IED proliferation is on the rise. The socio-economic situation across the key Capital forms there is now at or near in Columbia prior to it becoming a “narco-state”.

Over 67% of all civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 2009 were caused by Anti-Government Elements (AGE). Some 87% (1,054) of those AGE attacks were from IEDs using attacks carried out in a manner that failed to discriminate between civilians and military targets or to take adequate precautions to prevent civilian casualties.

The total incidents in Nigeria dropped slightly in 2009 but are on the rise in 2010. The information available, proliferation of small arms, and insurgent statements show this trend and associated instability is increasing in the Niger River delta and will overflow unless a comprehensive strategy is implemented. The time to act is now.

Other than oral and verbal condemnations, governments and the global community took little action to apprehend and prosecute those responsible under the rule of law. The task was left to military forces even though such acts are clear violation of international and host nation law.

The current mis-characterization of the IED threat as principally a military problem ignores the fact they have a debilitating effect on the population. Use of these devices creates insecurity that shrinks the humanitarian space. They destroy infrastructure, undermine livelihood opportunities, displace communities, and erode the quality and availability of basic services. Particularly affected are vulnerable individuals, such as women, children and internally displaced persons. The cumulative effect is felt across socio-economic development efforts and widens the development deficit.

In addition to a growing number of civilian casualties, conflict-affected populations have also experienced loss of livelihood, displacement, and destruction of property and personal assets.

PIF’s White Paper takes the position IEDs effecting civilian populations:

  • Are a global problem, in fact the greatest contributor to civilian deaths;
  • Prevailing attitudes focusing almost exclusively on a military solution are wrong and actually increase the problem;
  • Such attitudes are facilitating the proliferation of IEDs which, in turn pose the greatest threat to stability and personal freedoms especially for emerging and recovering nations.

The proposed solution is to begin a global campaign to deal with this problem using a model that simultaneously addresses the root causes why illicit IED networks organize and whey they are effective. The cornerstone of the approach is changing the paradigm to deal with illicit IEDs under the International Rule of Law while eliminating the root causes that support developing and sustaining IED networks by building sustainable livelihoods for effected populations.

Problem Statement

Although Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) pose a significant threat to global security, stability, sustainable development, human rights, and humanitarian operations, they are incorrectly framed as a military problem. A purely military response will never: effectively halt the proliferation of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs); eliminate C-IED civilian Casualties; or adequately neutralize the root cause of IEDs.

Military, Public, and Private Sector efforts are most often coordinated (at best) and the non-military community rarely, if ever, acts to reduce the IED threat through its aid and development programs. The different approaches, timelines, languages, and agendas between these organizations within and between the countries involved results in an unsynchronized, un-integrated flow of funds and approaches without any clearly recognizable coordinated strategy. There are tremendous resources that could be optimized in execution to significantly increase the tangible results. Coupling said resources with the billions of dollars in support from other nations, in a unifying innovative approach, will lead to tremendous progress. Immeasurable funds and resources have been expended addressing the IED problems. With no clearly recognizable coordinated strategy solutions continue to be elusive. Resources could be optimized by working collaboratively with other nations to develop and implement an innovative approach that incorporates the rule of law, host nation participation, and the capital forms.

The only lasting solution will come from a new approach that unifies a majority of the global community to reduce the threat from illicit IED networks supported by support from local populations at the community level where IEDs incidents occur.

The Partners International Foundation approach will reduce civilian IED related casualties; eliminate many of the underlying causes of conflict and instability in the countries affected, and increase the capacity of people to have a better life through actively collaborating in building sustainable livelihoods.

Afghanistan Pilot

The U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Office (JIEDDO) spent a staggering $1.434 Billion in 2009 on attack the network efforts. Although the DOD does not publish the specific programs these funds resourced, historically they are intelligence, research and development, or material acquisition related. Much of this is the result of legal restrictions that prohibit U.S. Defense funds from being expended on nation building, development and other areas needed to neutralize these illicit networks.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reportedly spent $2.154 Billion in Afghanistan in 2009. This is approximately 78% of all foreign aid Afghanistan receives. Although USAID published financial records are even more obscure than the military’s, none of these funds appear to directly address illicit IED networks. These are spread over 20 program areas virtually evenly. They do not appear integrated into any disciplined strategy to eliminate elicit IED network root causes, nor do they appear mapped so as to enable and enhance military areas.

This same approach that produced laudable reductions in PGF inflicted civilian casualties has proven mostly ineffective in reducing or eliminating civilian deaths from AGE and specifically the IEDs they use. In Afghanistan alone during 2009 the United Nations reported a 14% increase in civilian casualties (2,412) compared to 2008 (2,118) representing the highest level since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 and the worst year for civilian casualties since UNAMA began systematically documenting such incidents (2007).

The Afghanistan pilot partners with community and Afghanistan National based communities and organizations to build the capacity for them to eliminate the root causes of IEDs and the insurgency. It places the responsibility and the lead with the host nation and its people while properly and objectively leveraging outside aid and support.

It is the missing component of the West’s “exit strategy” necessary to leave a secure and stable Afghanistan.

Niger River Delta Pilot

The program recognizes the interactions among key global concerns, but more importantly, the strategy integrates, synchronizes (as appropriate) and leverages existing and planned programs in all appropriate areas to maximize positive impact. Although this applies globally, it is particularly critical in the Nigeria proof of concept. A stable and secure Nigeria is essential to a stable and secure Africa. Nigeria is chosen as a proof of concept because in addition to being the most populous country in Africa, eighth most populous country in the world, and the most populous country in the world with a black population majority, events in Nigeria have continental and global effect. With one of the fastest growing economies in the world and third largest economy in Africa, Nigeria is identified by Goldman Sachs investment bank as one of 11 countries having the highest potential to become one of the world’s largest economies in the 21st century. Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers. As a regional power and the hegemony in West Africa events Nigeria ripple continentally.

The current instability and unstable environment created by the elements using IEDs is having a debilitating effect. The stolen oil black market spurred violence and corruption in the Niger delta. The instability resulting from the fact few Nigerians benefited from the oil wealth created an insurgency and other violence. This threatens Nigeria’s economic, political, social, natural, infrastructure and cultural capital. In addition to disrupting income from oil itself, the violence and instability is severely dampening foreign investment.

With a bounty of petroleum resources and the plethora of multination corporation investments ranging from oil giants to technology powers (Google, IBM, Hewlett Packard, etc.) there is no shortage of resources to invest in the solution. For these companies and the government of Nigeria a stable and secure Niger River Delta is good for both Nigeria and their own economic advantage. The PIF approach provides a unique means for all to contribute and benefit while building sustainable livelihood for the population.

Nigeria’s current transition to democracy represents an important opportunity for both national and regional stability but this is at risk. The proposed project will reverse this trend by strengthening Nigeria across the capital forms. This will occur while strengthening the network of human rights and other organizations in Nigeria including police reform, Nigeria’s legal architecture and society overall.

As a result of the 17 July to 31 August Initial Assessment trip, this concept is supported for a pilot in Rivers State by:

  • Key militant leaders
  • HOG (RADM) Arogundare – Nigerian Defense Headquarters;
  • Meeting with MG Jon Ode Chief of Plans and Policy – Nigerian Defense Headquarters.
  • Timi Alaibe, Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Head of the President’s Amnesty Programme.
  • Nyimbi Odero, Google Office Lead, English Speaking West Africa
  • Chairman – Committee on Defense and Army, The Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • Chairman – Senate Committee on Niger Delta
  • Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation
  • Niger Delta Development Commission
  • United States Institute for Peace
  • Various Nigrian NGOs.


The Capital Analysis and Performance Strategy (CAPS)

The program’s unique approach is the innovative and evolutionary application of CAPS by a highly productive team formed across public and private sectors and is locally partnered and led.

CAPS uses seven capital forms (Political, Natural, Economic, Infrastructure, Cultural, Social, and Human) applied across the spectrum of development and humanitarian response as a means to establish and maintain stability and security through sustainable livelihoods and development. The CAPS is an actionable approach focused on doing – responding to needs with sustainable solutions.

The CAPS uses seven primary forms of capital incorporating various other capital forms. Traditionally forms of capital are used as they relate to a country’s economic growth. The CAPS uses them in a wider context, that of building capacity in all areas supporting sustainable livelihoods and the overall impact in influence on the illicit IED problem. The CAPS takes into account that the capital forms are inter-dependant. A change in one influences others.

The CAPS key characteristic is that it seeks to incorporate best practices and improve existing processes in any applicable domain vice attempting to replace them. While change is desireable and necessary in some cases, experience shows a great deal of praiseworthy work occurred and continues to occur that should be leveraged whenever possible.

Proposed Approach

IED networks are, at their core, complex configurations consisting of financiers, recruiters, material suppliers, supply chains, business locations, and intelligence systems. They are subject and susceptible to business models and rules and rooted in the seven capital forms.

The proposed Partners International Foundation (PIF) solution is to energize a global movement against illicit IED networks then use this to: 1) eliminate the advantage violators receive from using illicit IEDs; 2) integrate and synchronize public-private efforts across the seven capital forms to eliminate the causes and sources of illicit IED network support using the CAPS; 3) appropriately balance the seven capital forms in selected States to render them self-sufficient and establish sustainable livelihoods; 4) shift the responsibility for neutralizing illicit IED networks from the military to the international community and enforce the international rule of law.

Implementing the approach to neutralize illicit IED networks involves a systematic approach to:

  • Assess the designated area using the seven capital forms to include their inter-relationships, dependencies, and influences among the forms;
  • Decompose the value chain supporting illicit IED networks then map it to appropriate capital forms;
  • Develop and implement a strategy across the relevant capital forms to eliminate the causes and basis of support for illicit IED networks;
  • Continually assess the balance between the seven capital forms and adjust the strategy as required to build capacity and eliminate dependence on outside support;

The potential impact resulting from the success of this project in terms of global and regional security and stability, lives saved, and judicious use of resources would suggests this effort should receive the highest priority


The PIF approach will meet what experts in the area see as critical in dealing with this problem. That is to frame the IED problem in neutral or technological terms then develop a common language emphasizing the criminality rather than the political background or motivation of attacks. Through this approach, the argument shifts from a political one to the fact that many specific IED attacks are illegal under existing international law. The PIF plan specifically meets this community’s call to build a public stigma against the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. Most importantly it is a non-kinetic approach focusing on solving the problem by improving the lives of the affected populations. It builds and empowers rather than destroys. The PIF proposed approach is timely, comprehensive, and inclusive.