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Long after combat ends, landmines and unexploded ordnance continue to maim and kill, preventing people from safely returning to their homes, tilling their fields, collecting water, as well as preventing governments from reconstructing powerlines and industrial infrastructure. Mine action is an integrated approach to addressing the mine problem and consists of a range of activities that create a safer environment for people to resume a normal and productive life.

In 15 of the world's most heavily mined countries, UNOPS acts on behalf of its major clients (the United Nations Mine Action Service – UNMAS, the United Nations Development Programme – UNDP, and the United Nations Office of the Iraq Programme – UNOIP), providing the project management services necessary to deal with immediate urgent needs and to help develop national capacity to resolve the problem over the long term, combining the flexibility and innovation of a private sector firm with the principles and objectives of the United Nations.


UNOPS has been designated as a principal provider for mine action project services within the United Nations system. The UNOPS Mine Action Unit, established in early 1998, is directly responsible for all UNOPS involvement in mine action, including the execution of nearly all of the UN mine action support projects. The MAU includes specialized project management, technical and legal expertise, as well as appropriate support for fielding personnel and procurement of supplies. This unique combination of skills enables UNOPS to efficiently provide mine action project management services tailored to our clients needs. UNOPS acts in many ways:

Behind the scenes: Before mine action begins, UNOPS brings together the elements required to set up a mine action programme, including international expertise, specialized equipment, complex agreements with donor governments for the provision of "in-kind" personnel, as well as necessary management and administrative support.

In the country: Depending on the scope of the project, UNOPS specialized project personnel advise officials of the national mine action authority or directly coordinate the work of all actors, launch nationwide mine surveys and work with the responsible authorities to set priorities to meet local needs.

In the minefields: UNOPS contracts the world's leading demining companies and NGOs through competitive bidding, and ensures that they follow the international standards for humanitarian mine clearance. As areas are cleared, certification is provided to let civilians know it's safe to move back home.

In the community: UNOPS supports networks of prosthetic and rehabilitation centres, mine-awareness campaigns, and training programmes to lessen the risk of living in mine affected areas and to teach new skills to those who have lost limbs and livelihoods.

When requested to do so, UNOPS will:

  • orchestrate the many resources required to start up and carry out effective mine action;
  • identify and recruit international and national expertise in mine action;
  • rapidly procure and deploy demining and other equipment to the field;
  • conduct tenders and draft contracts and agreements to suit any country situation;
  • provide technical backstopping on all aspects of mine action;
  • ensure exchange of experience and best practices among programmes;
  • prepare grant agreements for support to victim assistance; and
  • train nationals and develop local institutions to ensure sustainability.

Through the provision of mine action services, UNOPS has been able to assist UNMAS, UNDP, OIP and national governments in the:

  • establishment of national mine action centres and development of national mine action plans and policies covering standards and quality assurance for survey, clearance, accreditation, and victim assistance;
  • establishment of mine action information systems for priority setting, tasking and reporting;
  • launching of mine survey and clearance operations through the use of manual, mine detection dogs and mechanical systems in mine-affected areas; and
  • strengthening of medical treatment, rehabilitation and vocational services for mine victims.


UNOPS has been entrusted to manage mine action projects for various UN agencies since the early 1990s. The Mine Action Unit delivers a range of management and procurement services valued at about $25 million in 1999, $40 million in 2000, and expected to reach $50 million in the year 2001.

UNOPS’ major clients include UNMAS, UNDP and the UNOIP. UNOPS’ involvement varies, depending on the country and the project. Sometimes funders of mine action call on UNOPS to assume full operational responsibility for an entire programme (e.g., Kosovo and N. Iraq). At other times, UNOPS is given responsibility for all UN support to a national programme; whereas in some cases UNOPS may be hired to manage only a single component, such as hiring international technical expertise in mine action. The programmes, listed below, are described in more detail in the country update sections of this Report.

UNMAS is the focal point for mine action within the UN system, as designated by the UN Secretary-General, and is responsible for coordinating all mine-related work funded by eleven UN departments and agencies, and for launching emergency mine action activities such as in Kosovo, or when natural disasters severely impact on a country’s mine problem as in the floods in Central America and Mozambique. Over the past few years, UNOPS has worked with UNMAS by providing the programme management services necessary to implement programmes in Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia, Eritrea, South Lebanon, Kosovo, Mozambique, Nicaragua, and Yemen and on global projects such as the Landmine Survivors Directory and the Land Mine Safety Handbook. Key new activities over the past year included startup of the programmes in Eritrea and South Lebanon, and extension of Quality Assurance Monitoring activities to Level One Impact Surveys in Cambodia, Mozambique and Thailand.

UNDP is generally responsible for mine action projects in stable development contexts, which generally focus on strengthening national institutional capacity to enable mine-affected countries to manage mine action programmes on their own over the long-term. UNOPS provides project management services necessary to support implementation of UNDP programmes in Angola, Azerbaijan, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Croatia, Ethiopia, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Somalia, Sri Lanka, and Yemen and the UNA-USA “Adopt-a Minefield” programme. During the past year, the preliminary phase of capacity building support to the Government of Ethiopia’s mine action programme was begun, while the UNDP support programmes in Angola and Sri Lanka were both largely suspended due to local political conditions.

The UN Office of the Iraq Programme manages the "Oil for Food Programme" established under Security Council Resolution 986. Since 1997, UNOPS has managed the integrated mine action programme in Northern Iraq on behalf of the UNOIP. Under this programme over 700 deminers have been trained and deployed, with the majority of teams now operating under local supervision, a mine action information database has been established with a Level One Survey conducted in all of the accessible territory, over 5 square kilometers of mine fields cleared (50% of which was cleared in 2000), a network of emergency medical and prosthetics centers established and supported, and special efforts have been taken to develop a full range of local capabilities, including an indigenous mine detection dog programme, development and production of local mini-flail systems, and development of local mine action NGOs.


UNOPS is actively involved in the efforts of the United Nations and the mine action community to develop the information, tools, and infrastructure to increase the effectiveness of mine action, and is an active member of the Interagency Coordination Group on Mine Action chaired by UNMAS. In addition to the provision of project management services for the specific country programmes referred above, UNOPS executes other projects for UNMAS, including the Landmine Safety Handbook and Training Programme, and the Landmine Survivors’ Directory, and quality assurance of the Level One Survey process. UNOPS participates in the development of international standards for mine action, in the discussion of the specification and use of appropriate indicators for priority setting to increase the impact and efficiency of mine action activities, and in the further development of the IMSMA database to enable its use for the full range of operational and information management needs of mine action programmes. UNOPS seeks to ensure that international and national staff involved in the daily management and support to programmes take part in all such discussions. UNOPS actively encourages exchange of information among programmes and learning from best practices, and has developed startup kits including model documents and guidelines that enable the new programmes with which it is involved to benefit from the experience accumulating in the field.


UNOPS Mine Action Unit
405 Lexington Avenue, 4th floor
New York, NY 10174
Fax: 1-212-457-4049
Email: mau@unops.org