International Dialogue on Underwater Munitions (IDUM) is a non-governmental organization founded in Canada in 2004, and established as a Dutch Foundation in The Hague, the Netherlands. The IDUM was founded by Terrance P. Long, a retired Canadian Military Engineer with more than thirty years experience having served as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal, and demining expert all over the world. His expertise and passion for marine ecosystems led to the birth of IDUM.
Our seas and oceans are dying from more than 50 years of global dumping of chemical and conventional munitions in our waters. Underwater munitions pollute the marine environment with toxic chemicals, which impact our health and the environment. Today there is a “need to clean” both chemical and conventional weapons based on potential human health impacts, as well as environmental implications through depleting fish stocks (CHEMSEA Findings Report 2013). Underwater Munitions are “Point Source Emitters of Pollution,” which means that in most cases when “we remove the source – we remove the problem.” Off-the-shelf-technology developed by the private sector, and the military’s unmanned systems programs already exist to detect, map, recover and dispose of underwater munitions and the toxic waste they create.
IDUM’s mission is to promote the creation of an Internationally Binding Treaty on all classes (biological, chemical, conventional, and radiological) of underwater munitions. This treaty would encourage countries to collaborate on underwater munitions research, science, and policy including environmentally-friendly remediation in the affected regions. IDUM is an internationally recognized body where all stakeholders (diplomats, government departments including external affairs, environmental protection and fishery, fossil fuel and fishing industry, salvage divers, militaries, and others) can come together in an open and transparent forum to discuss underwater munitions, seek solutions, and promote international cooperation on related issues.
Since the creation of the foundation we have successfully hosted five international dialogues on Sea Dumped Weapons (SDW) related issues. Our work is recognized by inter-governmental institutions such as the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The UN identified our work in the 2014 ‘UN Resolution on Sea Dumped Munitions’ and in the 2013 Secretary General’s report titled ‘Cooperative Measures on Sea Dumped Chemical Munitions.‘ In 2014, the OPCW report titled ‘Third Review Conference of State Parties’ outlined the need for international cooperation on SDWs.
Apart from working to bring together the various stakeholders that can create effective policy responses to SDWs, we have been active in collaborative research as well. Our work seeks to expand knowledge on the detrimental impacts of SDWs, as well as detection, and removal procedures and technologies. We have published a two part co-edited journal in collaboration with the Polish Scientific Committee titled ‘The Legacy of Underwater Munitions: Policy and the Science of Assessment, Evaluation of Impacts and Potential Response’ and have helped to create two international documentaries titled ‘Deadly Depths‘ (which won best international documentary at the German Green Screen Film Fest in 2014), and ‘Foot Prints of War.’
We cooperate, and conduct collaborative research with international organizations like CHEMSEA, with which we published (CHEMSEA Findings), and inter-governmental organizations such as NATO, where we served as Co-Director for NATO Science for Peace and Security (SPS). Our latest project the ‘Decision Aid for Marine Munitions’ (DAIMON) aims to increase the knowledge base by evaluating risks and benefits of various management options of SDWs, assess their impacts on ecosystems, maritime activities and humans as seafood consumers.