Website: www.mineaction.org (from 17. Sep 2001)
The United Nations has been involved in the international coordination of humanitarian mine action activities since 1989 when a mine action programme was initiated in Afghanistan under the auspices of UNOCHA. In October 1997, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) was formed to provide a single UN focal point for dealing with the policy and operational aspects of the landmine issue. UNMAS is charged with the coordination of all aspects of mine action within the UN system, and is responsible for ensuring an effective, proactive and coordinated response to mine contamination worldwide. UNMAS is also responsible for providing mine action assistance in the context of humanitarian emergencies and peacekeeping operations.
POLICY DEVELOPMENT AND COORDINATION
Since 1998, the key principles of UN mine action, as well as roles and responsibilities within the UN system, have been clearly identified inMine Action and Effective Coordination: The United Nations Policy, providing a solid basis for the development of an integrated UN approach to mine action. UNMAS continues to work on additional policy guidelines on issues such as information management, mine awareness, victim assistance, technology, stockpile destruction and treaty implementation. In an effort to establish clear goals and achievable objectives for UN mine action, the UN system is also drafting a comprehensive five-year strategy. The process involves input from mine affected countries, field programmes, the donor community and other partners,.
Coordination mechanisms established in 1998, including the Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action (IACG-MA), and Steering Committee on Mine Action (SCMA), have continued to be integral parts of the consultation, planning and priority setting process within the Organisation. The Steering Committee, which had lapsed in its regular meetings, was reconvened in May 2001, setting the direction for future use of the body, and discussing a number of mine action issues. Membership in the IACG-MA includes all agency and departmental entities involved in UN mine action, while the SC-MA expands this group to include representatives from key NGOs and international organisations. A close working relationship also exists between UNMAS and the Mine Action Support Group (MASG), a group of major mine action donors meeting in New York to develop funding strategies and exchange information.
UNMAS continues to hold annual meetings of national directors and programme advisors for UN mine action programmes worldwide, with the fourth such meeting occurring in Geneva on 5-7 February 2001. This forum, hosted with the assistance of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD), provides a unique opportunity for representatives from a wide array of mine action organisations, at both the field and Headquarters level, to come together and share information.
UNMAS sees these various mechanisms and meetings as critical to ensuring that UN mine action is working in partnership with all members of the mine action community and that efforts are not duplicated.
ASSESSMENT AND MONITORING OF THE LANDMINE THREAT
A main responsibility of UNMAS remains the assessment and monitoring of the global landmine threat. Fifteen assessment missions have been conducted since 1997, with the aim of defining the scope and nature of the landmine/UXO problem, identifying constraints and opportunities relating to the development of mine action initiatives, and making recommendations for a comprehensive response, including institutional arrangements for the coordination and implementation of mine action activities. At the same time monitoring and fact-finding missions have been undertaken on a more limited scale, in support of UN peacekeeping and humanitarian activities, and to assist partner agencies. Completed assessment reports are widely distributed among governments, non-governmental organisations, other agencies and entities, as well as the general public, to promote a better understanding of the landmine situation and the particular needs within affected countries, ensuring more focused funding and support.
Landmine impact surveys are often a natural follow-up to assessment missions, being designed not only to identify the general location of mined or suspected mined areas but also to measure the humanitarian and socio-economic impact of landmine contamination. Such surveys focus on collecting information for clearance, mine awareness and victim assistance programmes in support of a complete national response. The determination of priorities as a result of this process allows activities and resources to be concentrated on the areas of greatest need. Impact surveys are currently underway in Mozambique, Chad, Thailand and Cambodia, while that for the Republic of Yemen was completed and certified by the United Nations in September 2000. Initial planning for additional impact surveys is currently underway for countries including Azerbaijan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Lebanon and Somalia.
PROGRAMME INITIATION AND PROGRAMME SUPPORT
In keeping with the UN mine action policy, responsibility for supporting long-term integrated mine action programmes rests with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with UNMAS involved in an advisory and monitoring capacity. In the context of humanitarian emergencies and peacekeeping operations, the involvement of UNMAS is more comprehensive and direct. In this context, UNMAS is responsible for developing programme plans, and for ensuring their implementation. The most significant ongoing activities implemented under UNMAS auspices include Kosovo (FRY), southern Lebanon and in the Temporary Security Zone between Ethiopia and Eritrea, while planning continues for operations in support of the MONUC mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In line with UNMAS’ role in emergency response and assistance to humanitarian crises, the need to develop a mine action emergency response capability has been identified. Building on lessons learned from existing programmes particularly in Kosovo (FRY) and Ethiopia/Eritrea, the development of such a capacity is seen as crucial for enabling the most effective and immediate response to future crises. Drafting of a plan, in concert with similar efforts within DPKO, is well underway and was a major topic discussed during the May 2001 Steering Committee on Mine Action.
Given the scope of the landmine problem, the wide range of factors to take into consideration and the number of actors involved, the ongoing development and enhancement of an appropriate information management system continues to be a priority for UNMAS. Such a system supports effective monitoring, planning and programme implementation, and serves the needs not only of the United Nations but also of other partners. To this end UNMAS continues to work in partnership with the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining, to develop the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA). The first phase of this project, the development of a Field Module, has been completed and the system is in seventeen different countries and programmes. The second phase of the IMSMA project, the development of a global module and the improvement and upgrading of the Field Module, is ongoing. These activities are complemented by provision of training on the system for national-level representatives and field users. Where alternate information systems already exist, efforts are underway to facilitate the retrofit of existing data into the IMSMA structure where appropriate. This is being considered on a case-by-case basis, with the aim of allowing greater coordination of global information analysis and dissemination.
In addition, a comprehensive UN policy on mine action information management is being drafted, and electronic mechanisms such as the Database of Mine Action Investments continue to be developed. This database, accessed through the UNMAS website, now includes data from sixteen donor countries and the EU, with participation steadily growing. Similarly, in partnership with the Government of Canada, a web-based Resource Site for Stockpile Destruction has also been developed and is accessible through the UNMAS website, providing a consolidated reference point containing technical papers, policy guidelines, lessons learned and other relevant information on this core element of UN mine action.
In addition to these projects, UNMAS is in the process of re-designing its website, developing an Electronic Mine Information Network (E-Mine) to better serve the wider mine action community, and provide a clearer and more functional interface with the growing number of electronic media users. Such efforts will provide enhanced opportunities for consciousness-raising and advocacy, while also providing better information to all levels of the international community. A complementary CD-Rom will also be available in the future.
QUALITY MANAGEMENT AND TECHNOLOGY
UNMAS remains responsible for the ongoing development, maintenance and promotion of technical and safety standards for mine action. The International Standards for Humanitarian Mine Clearance, originally produced in 1997, have now undergone a comprehensive review process, and been updated and expanded with the support of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining. The product will be released at the end of 2001 as the International Mine Action Standards (IMAS), for which a comprehensive regional outreach programme is being conducted throughout 2001 to ensure that the standards are understood, accepted and applied appropriately in the field.
Additional standards and guidelines are under consideration to cover areas including mine awareness education (led by UNICEF with the support of UNMAS and the GICHD), impact surveys (with UNMAS working in close cooperation with the Survey Working Group), mine detection dogs, mechanical clearance, and stockpile destruction (with the GICHD providing support). This is in addition to guidelines for mine awareness education already formulated by UNICEF, and the work of the World Health Organisation (WHO), who have the lead within the UN system to determine requirements for additional standards and/or guidelines with regard to victim assistance. Within this context, efforts to improve and standardise best practices and techniques for use in mine action continue as an element of quality management. For example, a comprehensive ‘management handbook’ for use as a reference by programme managers in the field and personnel at the headquarters level is being developed.
With regard to technology, it is acknowledged that more universal application of existing equipment would enable activities to be conducted more effectively, efficiently, and with less risk. UNMAS has been called upon to take a role through the collection and dissemination of appropriate information and the development of applicable standards, where required. As a result, a number of studies and projects are underway, with UNMAS and GICHD working in cooperation, while UNMAS continues to support valuable projects such as the Demining Technology Forum and International Test and Evaluation Project.
ADVOCACY AND TREATY IMPLEMENTATION
The United Nations has continued its efforts to universalise a worldwide ban on anti-personnel landmines. UNMAS encourages additional countries to accede to the key international instruments (APM Ban Treaty and CCW), while also developing support to the implementation of specific Treaty obligations. In this regard, close cooperation with States Parties and Participants, NGOs, the GICHD and the UN Department of Disarmament Affairs (DDA) is required. The Mine Action Service has therefore been an active participant in the inter-sessional work programme of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty (APM Ban Treaty), providing technical briefings and other updates.
The majority of UN mine action activities are funded from voluntary donor contributions. Resource mobilisation is, therefore, instrumental to the success of UN mine action endeavours. As UN focal point, UNMAS coordinates these resource mobilisation efforts and manages the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action (VTF). Since 1994, the VTF has received more than US$70 million in contributions. Approximately US$11.9 million was received in 1999, US$11.3 million in 2000, and US$5,253,593 received in the first six months of 2001. These funds have been provided by forty-two donor governments and the European Union, and have been used to support mine action activities in twenty-one mine-affected countries.
An annual consolidatedPortfolio of Mine-related Projects is prepared by UNMAS in support of resource mobilisation. The purpose of this document is to inform the donor community of mine action needs, and it is updated on an annual basis. The Portfolio includes brief descriptions and budget requirements for all UN mine action programmes and projects, be they implemented by UNDP, UNICEF or any other UN agency or programme. This year sees the number of countries covered rising to thirty, with an additional twenty-five thematic projects also included.
At the same time, UNMAS continues to liase with the donor community to discuss priorities and identify funding gaps. Reporting on the use of these funds to the donors has remained a key issue for all concerned parties to ensure transparency and confidence in UN funding mechanisms. This has been achieved through the publication and distribution of regular updates and feedback on funds usage, a process that will be improved by the development of electronic tools to assist in both reporting and monitoring of donor status.
Even as lives continue to be saved and valuable assets returned to productive use through the elimination of landmines, the success of mine action endeavours remains dependant on the political commitment of the parties involved, on the overall security situation, and on the effective co-operation of all other parties willing to provide assistance.
UNMAS Contact Details:
United Nations Mine Action Service
304 East 45th Street
New York, NY 10017
Telephone: +1 212 963 1875
Fax: +1 212 963 2498
ANNEX: LIST OF UNITED NATIONS REFERENCES & RESOURCES RELATING TO MINE ACTION
- International Mine Action Standards (IMAS)
SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTIONS
- Pertaining to the Ethiopia-Eritrea conflict. Resolution adopted by the Security Council at its 4181st meeting on 31 July 2000. S/RES/1312 (2000).
- Pertaining to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Resolution adopted by the Security Council at its 4104th meeting on 24 February 2000. S/RES/1291 (2000).
- Pertaining to the situation in Lebanon. Resolution adopted by the Security Council at its 4267th meeting on 30 January 2001. S/RES/1337 (2001).
- Pertaining to the conflict in Sierra Leone. Resolution adopted by the Security Council at its 4099th meeting on 7 February 2000. S/RES/1289 (2000)
GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTIONS
- Assistance in Mine Action. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 14 December 2000. A/RES/55/120.
- Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 3 January 2001. A/RES/55/37.
- Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and On Their Destruction. Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 12 January 2001. A/RES/55/33[V].
REPORT OF THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL
- Assistance in Mine Action. Report of the Secretary-General to the General Assembly at the 55th session on 3 November 2000. A/55/542.
POLICY,INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS AND GUIDELINES
- International Guidelines for Landmine and Unexploded Ordnance Awareness Education. United Nations, 1999.
- United Nations and the Use of the Militaries. United Nations, 1999.
- Mine Action and Effective Coordination: the United Nations Policy. United Nations, 1998.
- Study Report, the Development of Indigenous Mine Action Capacities. UN Department of Humanitarian Affairs, 1997.
- Anti-Personnel Land-Mines: A Scourge on Children. UNICEF, 1994.
ASSESSMENT MISSION REPORTS
- Burundi. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. August 1998.
- Ethiopia. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. June 1998.
- Jordan. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. May 1999.
- Lebanon. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. May 1999.
- North-WestSomalia. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. June 1998.
- Azerbaijan. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. November 1998.
- Yemen. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. September 1998.
- Jordan. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. June 1999.
- Ecuador. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. November 1999.
- Peru. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. December 1999.
- SierraLeone. Technical Assessment Mission Report. February 2000.
- Zimbabwe. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. February 2000.
- Namibia. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. March 2000.
- Egypt. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. February 2000.
- Belarus. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. August 2000.
- Nicaragua. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. June 2000.
- Zambia. Inter-agency Assessment Mission Report. June 2000.
- Abkhazia(Georgia). Technical Assessment Mission Report. October 2000.
- Eritrea / Ethiopia. Technical Assessment Mission Report. November 2000.
- Mozambique. Technical Assessment Mission Report. March 2000.
- SouthernLebanon. Technical Assessment Mission Report. May 2000.