International Mine Awareness Day

Excellencies, USG Lacroix, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Colleagues,

UNDP takes pleasure in participating in the Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action and in this effective partnership. Let me start by thanking the United Nations Mine Action Services (UNMAS) for convening this event on the occasion of International Mine Awareness Day. As UNDP Administrator mentioned in his video statement, raising awareness on the issue of Mine Action is of utmost importance.

UNDP has supported mine action initiatives – Development and Mine Action — since 1993, when we launched our first programme in Cambodia. Since then, UNDP has supported mine action programmes in over 40 countries. In close cooperation with civil society, donors and our UN partners, we have focused on capacity building of Member States and governments, and linking mine action centrally to our core mandate which is development .

This commitment is seen in the 2016 launch of a UNDP Development and Mine Action Support Framework which focuses on three main areas which are in line with the SDGs and 2030 Agenda:

1. Translating mine action into sustainable development dividends, particularly into jobs, livelihoods, food security, and water and sanitation.

For instance, in Lebanon, more than 68 square kilometres have been cleared in 2018, impacting positively on livelihoods in 298 villages. Around 97 percent of cleared land has been put to immediate socio-economic use.

In Cambodia and Lao PDR, with substantive support from UNDP, Mine Action was declared as SDG 18 nationally . This innovative approach is now being promoted to other countries.

2. Strengthening national institutions that accelerate development benefitsfor the countries and people affected by landmines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW).

For instance, Azerbaijan set up a fully functioning mine action agency with UNDP support, which integrated sustainable development considerations and now shares experiences with other countries, including Afghanistan, Georgia and Turkey.

3. Supporting international normative frameworks on mine action.

UNDP has been at the forefront of advocating for and supporting the universalisation and implementation of a number of normative frameworks such as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC), the Convention of Cluster Munitions (CCM) and so forth. This has contributed to landmine-free countries such as Albania, Guinea Bissau, Jordan, Mozambique and Uganda which declared themselves free of known mine fields, meeting demining obligations under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty.

As was mentioned by the UNDP Administrator, we had a long partnership with Mozambique in supporting the Unexploded Ordnances and landmine clearance in the areas which are now submerged by water due to the devastating Cyclone Idai. We can be a little relieved that these areas are mine-free, and thus free of what would have been an unthinkable challenge to delivering the necessary assistance to the affected communities. Without landmines on the ground, we can focus without any delay on people’s livelihoods and community recovery.

In 2017, UNDP and the Geneva Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) conducted a study on Leaving No One Behind: Mine Action and the Sustainable Development Goals, which show the direct links between mine action and a range of SDGs. For example, releasing land not only has direct impacts on reducing violence and fear (Goal 16), it is also seen as an indirect accelerator for several other SDGs, including SDG 1 (Poverty), SDG 2 (Hunger), SDG 3 (Healthy lives), and SDG 8 (Inclusive growth). We are now using the study to design mine action policy and programmes within the context of SDG implementation.

Thus, our work on Development and Mine Action is fully aligned with the priorities of the new UN’s Strategy on Mine Action 2019-2023, as elaborately highlighted by USG Jean-Pierre Lacroix. At UNDP we particularly focus on the areas of socio-economic impact of landmines/ERW, developing national institutional capacities, victim assistance, and linking mine action to achievement of the SDGs. By using UNDP’s Integrator role, we will aim at using Mine Action as a vehicle for advancing the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus and responding to the call of the 2030 Agenda to Leave No One Behind.

In practical terms, the ‘Leave No One Behind’ approach allows UNDP to support local communities in (re)building after conflict and put them back onto the road to development. The integrated approach will also allow us to face the newly-emerging challenges, such as forced displacement resulting in record number of refugees and internally displaced people. The return of refugees or internally displaced is often fraught with the danger in the very landscapes they cherish most. In the case of Syria, for example, the level of explosive hazardous contamination posed by landmines and unexploded ordnances is staggering. In Ukraine, there has been an uptick in incidents as those people displaced informally return to farm in the 50-km wide zone-of-conflict separating the two-warring sides.

We see Mine Action as an enabler for creating safe spaces in the affected communities, launching emergency job programmes, local area development initiatives, reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, implementation of repatriation plans, rebuilding trust and the social contract.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Looking ahead, there is still much more to do to reduce the risks and build better development futures for mine-affected communities:

First, we need to raise awareness at the international and national level on the role that mine action can play in achieving the SDGs, including by capturing country-level evidence that brings a broader voice to the work and impact of mine action. Our work on SDGs and mine action can help in this endeavour.

Second, we need financing and new partnerships to accelerate the efforts made so far. With the global annual investment needs for SDG implementation estimated at USD 5-7 trillion, Mine action will need to be positioned within the 2030 Agenda in order to benefit from the SDG-earmarked funding.

Third, the new UN Strategy on Mine Action (2019-2023) is linked closely to development and the SDG implementation. UNDP is ready to support the UN Inter-Agency Coordination Group on how best to link mine action to the SDGs, in line with the findings of our recent UNDP-GICHD Study which I mentioned earlier.

The Fourth of April reminds us of our obligation and commitments to strengthen partnerships for better results in mine action. In this way, we are assured of achieving our dream of a world free of landmines.

Thank you.

Source: United Nations Development Programme