4 April 2019, New York – On the occasion of the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action on the 4 April 2019, the Inter-Agency Coordination Group for Mine Action (IACG-MA) held a panel discussion on how the UN Mine Action Strategy 2019-2023 promotes the 2030 Agenda. The panel consisted of representatives from DPO, UNMAS, UNDP, UNODA, UNOPS, UNICEF, and UNHCR.
Ms. Agnès Marcaillou, Director of UNMAS, opened the panel discussion by recalling states’ core responsibility on mine action on national, regional and international levels. The members of the panel emphasised how the UN Mine Action Strategy 2019-2023 supports their work implementing the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda throughout UN enitities.
The importance of freeing areas from mines was emphasised by UNDP stating that 97% of cleared land had been put into immediate socioeconomic use all around the world. In this way, mine action can be translated into jobs, livelihoods, and food security, as well as water and sanitation development.
Thomas Markram of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs stressed the importance of the 20th anniversary of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, which is comprehensive in the prevention of the use and stockpiling of anti-personnel mines as well as clearance of mined zones. As several panellists called for continued implementation of international normative frameworks and universalisation in mine action, Mr. Markram stated his support for seeking every opportunity to accelerate these treaties which are still far from universal.
Safe Ground Campaign
The Secretary-General announced the Safe Ground campaign in his message commemorating the International Day of Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. Through fundraising and advocacy, the campaign endeavors to replace minefields with playing fields and bring attention and assistance to the victims and survivors of armed conflict.
Ambassadors, delegates and United Nations representatives reflected on the campaign’s imperative at the opening of an exhibition at the United Nations Headquarters held later in the day on 4 April 2019.
Ms. Agnès Marcaillou, Director of UNMAS, opened the event. Ms. Marcaillou remarked that peace, security and development are impossible while a community is contaminated by landmines and urged Member States to provide political and financial support and to accede to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and the Convention on Cluster Munitions without delay.
Following the Director’s remarks, Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim, the Permanent Representative of Iraq, shared his commitment to creating safe ground upon which homes, communities, schools and hospitals can be built. As the Ambassador reflected, some areas of Iraq are still recovering from occupation by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) remaining in Mosul and Fallujah’s streets and rubble.
Norway’s Permanent Representative, Ambassador Mona Juul, commended the exhibition’s message that mine action is essential to the Sustainable Development Goals. In 2019, Norway will serve as President of the Mine Ban Convention and steward the 164 States that support it in defending the norm against landmine use.
Lastly, Ambassador Oumar Daou, Mali’s Permanent Representative, shared Mali’s experience with the dangerous reality of landmines and IEDs, including losing hundreds of soldiers because of them.
Draft prepared by Trine Rosengren Pejstrup and Jonah Glick-Unterman