June 2017 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 May 2017
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PEACEMAKING, PEACEKEEPING AND PEACEBUILDING

Mine Action

Expected Council Action

At the initiative of Bolivia, the Council is expected to hold a meeting in June on mine action and explosive hazard threat mitigation, with a briefing by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, and possibly one other speaker who would offer a perspective from the field. Bolivia is expected to circulate a concept note ahead of the meeting and has signalled its intention to propose a draft resolution that would recognise the increasingly complex nature of the threat posed by improvised explosive devices and similar hazards, reaffirm relevant obligations under international humanitarian law, and support the work of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), which was established 20 years ago.

Background  

The Council regularly addresses issues related to mine action and the threat posed by improvised explosive devices in the context of mission mandates, but has on very few occasions considered mine action as a thematic issue. It held an open debate on 15 August 1996 followed by the adoption on 30 August of a presidential statement on demining in the context of UN peacekeeping. On 19 November 2003, it adopted another presidential statement on the importance of mine action for peacekeeping operations. In this statement, the Council expressed its grave concern at the harmful impact of landmines and unexploded ordnance on civilian populations, humanitarian workers, and UN staff, and welcomed the effective coordination of mine action activities, highlighting in particular the important role played by UNMAS. The Council requested the Secretary-General to provide information on the scope and humanitarian impact of the mine and unexploded ordnance problem in all relevant reports and expressed its readiness to consider mine action concerns in country-specific situations. It also noted the importance of ensuring that mine action is reflected in the mandates and personnel planning for peacekeeping operations.

Located in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, UNMAS serves as a focal point for UN efforts to ensure an effective and coordinated response to the problems of landmines and explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions and leads the Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action.  UNMAS also sets up and manages mine action coordination centres in peacekeeping operations and humanitarian emergencies or crises. It is currently present in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Colombia, Côte d’Ivoire, Cyprus, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan and Syria, as well as Abyei, Palestine and Western Sahara.  

UNMAS was established by the General Assembly, which has traditionally been the main forum for discussing mine action and how to counter the growing threat posed by improvised explosive devices. In recent years, it has adopted a resolution every two years on assistance in mine action that has included a request for a Secretary-General’s report. The most recent resolution, adopted on 9 December 2015, urged states to provide support to mine-affected countries and assistance to victims, while emphasising the importance of “explicitly incorporating references to mine action…in ceasefire and peace agreements as well as in the mandates of peacekeeping operations and special political missions”.  

In 2015 the General Assembly also adopted a resolution on countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices. In the resolution, adopted on 7 December, the General Assembly expressed concern over, among other things, the devastation caused by the increasing use of such devices by illegal armed groups and terrorists, resulting in thousands of casualties. It noted that attacks with improvised explosive attacks have caused serious harm to UN staff and peacekeepers and to humanitarian workers.The resolution also encouraged states “to respond to the needs of today’s peacekeepers to operate in new threat environments involving improvised explosive devices”, including by providing the appropriate training, capabilities and financial resources. As a follow up, it requested a report from the Secretary-General with recommendations for ways forward. A similar resolution was adopted in 2016.

According to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, there was a sharp increase in the number of people killed and injured by mines, improvised explosive devices, and explosive remnants of war in 2015, the latest year for which data has been published. Compared with 2014, the number of casualties increased by 75 percent to 6461, mostly due to more casualties recorded in Libya, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen, but also due to greater availability of casualty data.

UN Documents

Security Council Presidential Statements
19 November 2003 S/PRST/2003/22 was on the importance of mine action in peacekeeping operations. 
30 August 1996 S/PRST/1996/37 was in demining in the context of UN peacekeeping.
General Assembly Documents
25 July 2016 A/71/187 was the Secretary-General’s report on countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices.
9 December 2015 A/RES/70/80 was the resolution on assistance in mine action.
7 December 2015 A/RES/70/46 was the resolution on countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices.
3 August 2015 A/70/207 was the Secretary-General’s report on assistance in mine action.