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Assistance in mine action - Report of the UN SG (A/64/287)

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Sixty-fourth session
Item 29 of the provisional agenda


On the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention), civil society, Governments and the United Nations have come a long way to end the suffering caused by landmines. Over 41 million landmines have been destroyed. Land has been cleared and returned to communities. Increased numbers of at-risk populations have the knowledge and skills to reduce risks. Survivors and their families are increasingly recognized as having rights to social and economic reintegration into their communities. A total of 156 countries have acceded to the Convention.

In addition to the Mine Ban Convention, other instruments and events during the reporting period have had implications for international mine action, including the United Nations response. In 2006, the United Nations deployed a rapid response capability in Lebanon for the clearance of cluster munitions and worked with civil society and Member States for the development of a binding international instrument prohibiting their use, namely, the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which was concluded in Dublin on 30 May 2008 and opened for signature in Oslo on 3 December 2008. Improvised explosive devices pose an increasing challenge to civilians, as well as to United Nations peace operations, humanitarian and development work and the consequences of those devices inexorably affect field operations, putting personnel at risk, necessitating greater security measures, inflicting costs and diminishing the overall efficiency of operations.

The present report outlines the achievements of the United Nations Mine Action Team since the previous report of the Secretary-General (A/62/307 and Corrs.1-3) in the areas of anti-personnel mine clearance, mine-risk education, victim assistance, stockpile destruction and advocacy pursuant to the four strategic objectives set out in the inter-agency mine action policy and Strategy. The report also includes a proposed forward agenda for mine action.

The road to achieving the collective goal of protecting civilians from explosive remnants of war is a long one and even after all the anti-personnel mines and other explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions, and improvised explosive devices are removed, a major challenge will remain: to provide survivors with all the support they need to become and remain active and productive members of their communities. The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations in supporting Member States in confronting these challenges.

I. Introduction

1. The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 62/99, in which the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on progress achieved on all relevant issues outlined in his previous reports to the Assembly on assistance in mine clearance and mine action.

2. 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, 156 countries have ratified or acceded to it. More than 41 million stockpiled anti-personnel mines have been destroyed, and their production, sale and transfer have in essence stopped. The first of March 2009 marked the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention and the Second Review Conference will take place later in 2009 in Cartagena, Colombia.

3. 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 currently has 98 signatories and 14 ratifications and acceptances, and encourages its rapid entry into force.

4. Guided by its inter-agency policy, the United Nations Mine Action Team, consisting of 14 departments, agencies, funds and programmes, and with observer entities, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Office of Legal Affairs and the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, continued to ensure system-wide coherence in all mine action pillars and activities and a "One United Nations" approach with full respect for the individual roles and responsibilities and comparative advantage of each of the Team members, through regular meetings of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group for Mine Action at the principal and working levels. Highlighted throughout the present report is the essential role that the United Nations Mine Action Team plays in ensuring that support to countries and territories affected by mines and explosive remnants of war is strategic, effective and efficient.

5. The United Nations strategic goal is to work in cooperation with national authorities, territories, non-State actors, affected communities, and in partnership with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), donors, the private sector, international and regional organizations and others to reduce the humanitarian and socio-economic threats posed by mines and explosive remnants of war, at which point United Nations mine action assistance will no longer be necessary. United Nations mine action activities are guided by four strategic objectives identified in the United Nations Mine Action Strategy for 2006-2010: reduction of death and injury by at least 50 per cent; mitigate the risk to community livelihoods and expand freedom of movement for at least 80 per cent of the most seriously affected communities; integration of mine action needs into national development and reconstruction plans and budgets in at least 15 countries; assist the development of national institutions to manage the landmine/explosive remnants of war threat, and at the same time prepare for residual response capacity in at least 15 countries.