2017 is the 20th anniversary of UNMAS
This is a very special year for UNMAS. 2017 is not only its 20th anniversary but also the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention.
The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and their Destruction, also known as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention dates to December 1997 and comprises 162 State Parties. The Convention contains provisions for the elimination of anti-personnel landmines, transparency reports to update the international community and provisions for verification. Yet, its aim is humanitarian and developmental: to recreate an environment in which people can live safely, in which economic and social well-being can occur free from the threat posed by landmines, and in which victims’ needs are addressed. The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention establishes a cooperative framework in which mine-affected countries and non-mine-affected countries work together to achieve a mine-free world.
As of today, over 50 countries are contaminated with millions of landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW), following decades of armed conflict. These range from Peru in South-America, Denmark in Northern Europe to Vietnam in the Asia-Pacific Region. In many of those mine-affected countries, the institutional, technical, and financial capacity does not exist to cope with the problem alone.
UNMAS is part of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) and the UN system-wide coordinator of mine action. It collaborates with 11 other UN departments, agencies, programmes and funds to ensure an effective, proactive and coordinated response to the problems of landmines and explosive remnants of war.
For the last 20 years, UNMAS has assisted State Parties in addressing crucial objectives agreed by The Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, namely:
· To destroy all stockpiled anti-personnel landmines;
· To clear laid landmines;
· To provide assistance to mine clearance, mine awareness, stockpile destruction and victim assistance activities worldwide;
· To take all appropriate legal, administrative, and other measures to prevent activities prohibited by the Convention;
· To report annually to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the status of implementation.
Affected states, with the support of the international community, have achieved real progress in addressing the threat of mines and ERWs, including cluster munitions. However, as the threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war diminished, new threats have emerged, such as those posed by improvised explosive devices, obsolete and poorly managed ammunition stockpiles, and the circulation of illicit small arms and light weapons. Protracted new conflicts in this decade have also stalled some of the progress already made.
In 20 years, the expertise and capacity developed by UNMAS continue to evolve, meeting the needs on the ground. UNMAS deployed in support of UNISFA in December 2011, following a mine incident in August 2011, which killed four UNISFA peacekeepers and injured seven others. Since UNMAS deployment, no UNISFA personnel has fallen victim to either landmines or ERW.