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.

The United Nations strategic goal is to work in cooperation with national authorities, territories, non-State actors, affected communities, and in partnership with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), donors, the private sector, international and regional organizations and others to reduce the humanitarian and socio-economic threats posed by mines and explosive remnants of war, at which point United Nations mine action assistance will no longer be necessary. United Nations mine action activities are guided by four strategic objectives identified in the United Nations Mine Action Strategy for 2006-2010: reduction of death and injury by at least 50 per cent; mitigate the risk to community livelihoods and expand freedom of movement for at least 80 per cent of the most seriously affected communities; integration of mine action needs into national development and reconstruction plans and budgets in at least 15 countries; assist the development of national institutions to manage the landmine/explosive remnants of war threat, and at the same time prepare for residual response capacity in at least 15 countries.