Gaza school children attending interactive theater production featuring ERW Risk Education, International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, April 2016. Photo: UNMAS Palestine
The achievements of the mine action community show that, in working together, we can reach milestones once seen as impossible – a timely message for our efforts today to suppress transmission of the pandemic.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres
Together for Mine Action
On 8 December 2005, the General Assembly declared that 4 April of each year shall be observed as the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action.
It called for continued efforts by States, with the assistance of the United Nations and relevant organizations, to foster the establishment and development of national mine-action capacities in countries where mines and explosive remnants of war constitute a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the civilian population, or an impediment to social and economic development at the national and local levels.
For over 20 years, the work of the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) has been driven by the needs of affected people and tailored to the threat of explosive hazards faced by civilians, peacekeepers and humanitarians.
UNMAS works to save lives, to facilitate deployment of UN missions and the delivery of humanitarian assistance, to protect civilians, to support the voluntary return of the internally displaced and refugees, to enable humanitarian and recovery activities and to advocate for international humanitarian and human rights law.
The United Nations advocates for the universalization of existing legal frameworks and encourages Member States to expand those regimes and develop new international instruments to protect civilians from the scourges of landmines and explosive remnants of war. It undertakes this work in collaboration with interested states, civil society, mine action and international organizations.
Since the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, commonly known as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention opened for signature in 1997, 164 countries have ratified or acceded to it.
In addition to anti-personnel mines, challenges remain with respect to all other explosive remnants of war. On 12 November 2006, the Secretary-General welcomed the entry into force of Protocol V on explosive remnants of war from the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and reiterated his call for its universalization and implementation. In December 2008, the Secretary-General welcomed the opening for signature of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was joined by 108 states.
Guided by its inter-agency policy, the United Nations Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action (IACG-MA), consisting of 12 departments, agencies, funds and programmes, and with observer entities, such as the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research and World Bank continue to ensure system-wide coherence in all mine action pillars and activities.
In 2018 UNMAS convened, coordinated and led the drafting of the United Nations Mine Action Strategy 2019-2023. Two of the most significant aspects of the Strategy are that it represents an accountability framework for the United Nations system and introduces a Theory of Change for the United Nations engagement in mine action.