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United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), Landmine Monitor Report 2003

United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS)

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS), located in the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations, was formed in October 1997 to serve as the UN focal point for mine action. At the global level, UNMAS is responsible for coordinating all aspects of mine action within the UN system. At the field level, it is responsible for providing mine action assistance in the context of humanitarian emergencies and peacekeeping operations.

UNMAS and its UN partners operate within the framework of an inter-agency policy formulated in 1998, which clarifies the principles upon which UN mine action is based, and defines roles and responsibilities within the UN system. In 2001, this policy was complemented with a mine action strategy for 2001-2005, which outlines six broad goals for mine action in general, and sets forty specific objectives for the United Nations system in response to the global landmine problem. The following is the update on the activities of the UNMAS for the year 2002 in the six areas covered by the UN strategy: information; emergency response; assistance to national and local authorities; quality management; coordination and resource mobilisation; and advocacy.


UNMAS concentrated on strengthening the Electronic Mine Information Network (E-MINE). Accessed through the Internet at www.mineaction.org, E-MINE offered nearly 600 documents and information on about 600 projects and 150 organizations at the end of 2002. In addition, the stockpile-destruction database developed by Canada was successfully integrated into E-MINE. Finally, UNMAS has entered into partnership with James Madison University to expand and update a database containing examples of contributed by practitioners, which will be made available through E-MINE in December 2003.

UNMAS also took steps to raise awareness among the general public about landmines and UXO. An interactive CD-ROM, Landmines, The World Takes Action, was published explaining the scope and nature of the problem and describing the action taken in response. The CD-ROM was released at the Fourth Meeting of States Parties to the Ottawa Convention. Finally, UNMAS released a new information kit with flyers on a range of topics, including the role of the UN in implementing the Anti-personnel Mine Ban Convention. Other public outreach materials included a special edition of Landmines Magazine on Afghanistan and two large displays.

Emergency response

In 2002, UNMAS continued its operations in Eritrea, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Southern Lebanon. UNMAS also took responsibility for the operations in Afghanistan and established new programmes in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.

On 1 June 2002, UNMAS formally took responsibility for coordinating the UN Mine Action Programme in Afghanistan (MAPA). MAPA brings together 15 national and international NGOs and is coordinated by the UN Mine Action Centre in Afghanistan (UNMACA) based in Kabul, with eight sub-offices around the country. During the second half of 2002, the number of personnel in the MAPA grew from 4,500 to more than 7,000, and operations expanded in response to needs for humanitarian, development and reconstruction assistance. The UNMACA expanded relations with national counterpart institutions and many line ministries in the new Government. Finally, the UNMACA began using the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA) for collating and reporting mine-related information.

A Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC) for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was established in Kinshasa in January 2002. During the year, the MACC used IMSMA to compile mine-related data. The MACC was also instrumental in the integration of mine-action concerns into the plans and operations of the UN peacekeeping Mission in the DRC (MONUC). Finally, the MACC assisted the government in complying with the obligations of the Ottawa Convention, particularly in providing Article 7 reports.

In July 2002 a presidential decree led to the departure of most international mine-action NGOs from Eritrea by the end of August, which diminished the country’s mine-action capacity. In response, the MACC refocused its work toward mine-action activities for the peacekeeping mission. Funds provided through the UN Voluntary Trust Fund supported the development of a national training centre, designed to develop Eritrea’s own mine action capacity. The information section in the MACC continued to provide a single source for mine-related data.

In cooperation with the Mine Action Centre for the Former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia the UN Mine Action Office (MAO) in 2002 coordinated the delivery of bilateral contributions, which provided national authorities with the capacity to deal with the mine/UXO problem. In addition, the MAO established IMSMA to collate mine-related data. The MAO also facilitated and coordinated training and equipment for five teams of the Macedonian Civil Protection Unit as well as the deployment of Handicap International and CARE, to accelerate clearance operations. As of 31 December, the three organizations had cleared 416,000 square metres of land, resulting in the return of 54 villages to their former inhabitants. The MAO is expected to close by mid-2003, when the Macedonian Mine Action Centre has a fully developed capacity to deal with the residual mine/UXO problem.

In support of a new Operation Emirates Solidarity (OES)—funded by the United Arab Emirates—the Mine Action Coordination Centre of Southern Lebanon (MACC-SL) was created. The MACC-SL deployed two commercial mine clearance companies, BACTEC and Minetech for a two-year period. A technical survey, initiated in March 2002 by the Mines Advisory Group, has been providing the MACC-SL with information that enables the OES to set its priorities. The UN has also contracted a company, the Armour Group, to carry out quality assurance under the guidance of the MACC-SL. As of the end of 2002, the OES project was expected to finish by mid-2003, but the completion date may be extended to include an additional area of operations.

The government of Sudan, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the UN country team jointly developed a plan for an Emergency Mine Action Programme in Sudan (EMAPS) on 19 April. An office in Khartoum and two mine-action coordination offices were established. In 2002, EMAPS began implementing assessment and clearance operations in the Nuba Mountains, providing technical support to the UN country team, and assisting the government with the conceptualisation of a mine-action strategy. The UNMAS MRE officer spent three weeks in the Sudan preparing and conducting an inter-agency workshop on MRE prior to the deployment of a UNICEF MRE officer.

Landmine Safety Training

The second phase of the landmine and UXO-safety training project, for UN staff, aid workers and peacekeepers, began in September 2002. The first phase had covered 15 countries, and the second phase extends the initiative to 10 more countries. UNMAS’ partner on this project is Handicap International-France, which conducts “train-the-trainer” workshops.

Assistance to national and local authorities

In 2002, two inter-agency assessment missions visited Mauritania and Tunisia to define the scope and nature of the landmine and UXO problems in these countries and to make recommendations for a comprehensive response. A technical mission visited Cyprus at the invitation of the UN Peacekeeping Force (UNFICYP) to identify the threat of mines laid by the Greek Cypriots in the UN-administered buffer zone and to recommend a response. Planning is under way to develop a clearance programme.

Quality management

UNICEF led work on the development of IMAS for mine-risk education (MRE), with support from UNMAS, which secured and administered $740,000 to support MRE projects implemented by UNICEF in Angola, Bosnia, Ethiopia, Guatemala and at the organization’s headquarters in New York.

UNMAS continued to work with partners to advance research and technology. Activities included:

  • Initiating a study, managed by the GICHD, on the application of mechanical clearance technology.
  • Assisting in the development of a concept for a web-based information clearinghouse on mine-action equipment and technologies. This stems from discussions at the Demining Technology Information Forum.
  • Providing support to the International Test and Evaluation Programme (ITEP). UNMAS distributed the ITEP Work Plan to all programme directors for information and comment. UNMAS also responded to many queries from industry, governments and civilians.

Coordination and resource mobilization

Coordination mechanisms

Throughout 2002, the Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action (IACG-MA) continued to meet monthly at the working level, under the chairmanship of UNMAS. At the meeting of principals—chaired by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations—in December 2002, the IACG-MA endorsed the new Operational Framework for Rapid Response and welcomed the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as a new member. In early 2003, the IACG-MA approved the UN policy on the scope of action of mine-action centres and organizations in victim assistance. The approval was the culmination of extensive consultations and outreach on this complex question.

The Steering Committee on Mine Action (SCMA) also met in Geneva in February, May and September of 2002 and discussed specific countries—Afghanistan, Angola, Russian Federation (Chechnya), Sri Lanka, and Vietnam—as well as policy issues—the UN’s rapid response plan, HIV/AIDS, sexual exploitation, and the advocacy work with non-state actors. The SCMA formed an ad hoc task force to address challenges to the relationship between the UN and mine-action NGOs in the field.

The Sixth International Meeting of Mine Action Programme Directors and Advisors took place in Geneva from 17-20 March 2003. The GICHD sponsored the event, which was organized by UNMAS in collaboration with UNDP, UNICEF and UNOPS. Issues discussed included: strategic planning and operational priority setting; integration of mine action into peacekeeping; humanitarian and development programming and budgeting; emerging policy issues; recent developments in mine action tools and technology; and field coordination among government, UN and NGOs. The final day was dedicated to discussions with representatives of donor countries on resource mobilization.

Resource Mobilisation

The great majority of mine-action activities continue to be funded by voluntary contributions. The Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action (VTF) received approximately US $26 million in 2002; the total includes US$18.8 million for Afghanistan. Sixteen donor countries and the European Commission funded activities in 15 mine-affected countries in 2002.

The Mine Action Support Group (MASG), which consists of representatives of donor countries, remains one of the most important instruments for mobilizing resources for mine action. Under the chairmanship of Belgium in 2002, MASG members took field trips to Afghanistan, Eritrea and Ethiopia; UNMAS staff worked with the local mine-action centres to organize these trips.

UNMAS manages a mine-action investments database, which tracks donor contributions to projects worldwide. Donors update their own information on the database. In 2003, the database is expected to be transferred from the Government of Canada to UNMAS. By the end of 2002, 19 donors had submitted data to the system. Total donor contributions decreased slightly between 2000 and 2001 (complete data for 2002 are not yet available). Despite the overall reduction, some major donors, such as the European Commission, have either maintained or increased funding.

UNMAS keeps the donor community abreast of resource mobilization efforts through a web-based interactive database, the Portfolio of Mine-related Projects. This database mainly features UN mine-action projects, but also includes some victim-assistance projects of NGOs. The projects in the Portfolio are also integrated into the UN’s consolidated appeal process (CAP), when appropriate. In November 2002, for the first time, the Portfolio was published simultaneously with the launch of the CAP. At the end of 2002, about 65 percent of the financial requirements listed in the Portfolio had been met.


Advocacy strategy

Consultations took place with all parts of the UN system, the ICBL and the Implementation Support Unit of the GICHD on a UN strategy for advocacy, which is expected to be completed in 2003.

Advocacy with UN partners

UNICEF developed advocacy kits for its regional and country offices. UNMAS participated in a workshop to produce the conceptual framework for the kits and commented on the product. In addition, UNMAS, UNICEF, the Canadian Government and the Quaker UN Office organized a workshop for youth and mine action during the UN General Assembly’s Special Session on Children in May 2002.

Advocacy and the anti-personnel mine-ban convention

In 2002, UNMAS participated in meetings to improve understanding of the provisions of the anti-personnel mine-ban treaty in Afghanistan, Armenia, Belgium, Democratic Republic of Congo, Russia, Thailand, and Tunisia. For the event in Kabul (Afghanistan), UNMAS provided logistical and substantive support and later visited regional authorities in Herat to provide information on their role in the implementation of the treaty.

In addition, UNMAS continued working with the Universalization Contact Group, led by Canada the Article 7 & 9 Contact Group, led by Belgium and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

UNMAS provided regular progress reports to the Standing Committees of the Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty and promoted the involvement of field representatives in the work of these committees. UNMAS also supported the efforts of the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration to set itself clear objectives for its work in the run-up to the Review Conference of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty in 2004.

Advocacy and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

UNMAS participated in all the meetings of the Group of Governmental Experts to the CCW Convention (CCW-GGE), which is examining the issues of explosive remnants of war (ERW) and mines other than antipersonnel mines (MOTAPM). UNMAS polled UN mine-action programme managers on both issues and presented the findings to the CCW-GGE during its July 2002 meeting.