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, 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 was held later in 2009 in Cartagena, Colombia.
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.
Guided by its inter-agency policy, the United Nations Mine Action Team, consisting of 14 departments, agencies, funds and programmes,3 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.
2018 Theme: Advancing Protection, Peace and Development
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.
The theme Advancing Protection, Peace, and Development echoes the vision of the Secretary-General and his reforms of the peace and security architecture comprising the entire humanitarian, peace building and sustainable development continuum. 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.
Secretary-General’s Message for 2018
An unprecedented volume of landmines and unexploded weapons contaminates rural and urban war zones, maiming and killing innocent civilians long after conflict has ended.
Mine action is vital. Roads cleared of explosive devices enable peacekeepers to patrol and protect civilians. And when fields are cleared and schools and hospitals are made safe, normal life can resume.
I urge all Governments to provide political and financial support to enable mine action work to continue, wherever it is needed. In our turbulent world, mine action is a concrete step towards peace.
– António Guterres