UNMAS collaborates with 11 UN departments, agencies, programmes and funds to ensure an effective, proactive and coordinated response to the problems of landmines and explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions.
UNMAS was established in 1997, by the General Assembly, to serve as the UN coordinator for mine action and to support the UN's vision of "a world free of the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance, where individuals and communities live in a safe environment conducive to development, and where mine survivors are fully integrated into their societies."
UNMAS coordinates the Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action, which brings together working-level representatives of UN organizations involved in mine action to develop or revise policies and strategies, set priorities among UN players and share information. UNMAS also coordinates meetings of standing committees, which were created when the Anti-Personnel Mine-Ban Treaty went into effect in 1999, and the Steering Committee on Mine Action, which brings together UN mine-action, nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Every year landmines and other explosive hazards kill or injure thousands of people across the globe. The toll of human suffering is devastating. Explosive remnants of war block the delivery of humanitarian assistance, prevent children from going to school, stop farmers from working the land, render water points and places of worship inaccessible, hamper reconstruction efforts and effectively rob people of their livelihoods. Locating, removing and destroying explosive hazards, which today include landmines, cluster bombs, unexploded ordnance, remnant improvised explosive devices and unsafe and unsecured munitions, saves lives and is a prerequisite for humanitarian action. Mine action also includes sensitizing affected populations, especially children, to the risks posed by explosive hazards and ensuring that assistance is provided to victims, their families and communities. The United Nations works in the most affected countries and territories of the world to mitigate the impact of landmines and explosive hazards.
The United Nations applies mine action expertise to mitigate the threat of an increasingly wide range of explosive hazards, from unexploded missiles, artillery shells, rockets, grenades and mortars, to unsafe and unsecured weapons and ammunition, improvised explosive devices and cluster bombs. UNMAS leads, coordinates and carries out efforts to mitigate these threats when mandated by the United Nations Security Council or, when requested by the Secretary-General or an affected country, often in response to a humanitarian emergency.
UNMAS sets up and manages mine-action coordination centres in countries and territories as part of peacekeeping operations and humanitarian emergencies or crises. In these situations, UNMAS may plan and carry out mine-action projects, orchestrate the work of local and international mine-action service providers, and set priorities for mine clearance, mine-risk education and other aspects of mine action.
Mine-action coordination centres managed by UNMAS are also responsible for public information and community liaison operations, victim assistance initiatives; collection of landmine and casualty data, provision of technical advice on destruction of landmine stockpiles, quality management for mine-action operations, and destruction and removal of explosive remnants of war, which comprise unexploded ordnance (bombs, mortars and other explosives that do not detonate on impact but remain volatile and dangerous) and abandoned explosive ordnance, which are unused explosives left behind by armed forces. As a fundamental contributor to peacekeeping and peace operations, UNMAS continues to implement traditional mine action activities as well as develop new areas to extend the reach of mine action in contributing to early peacebuilding by working on ammunition management, weapons management and IED threat mitigation.
UNMAS provides direct support and assistance to 18 countries/territories/missions including Afghanistan, Central African Republic (MINUSCA), Colombia, Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI), Cyprus (UNFICYP), Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO), Iraq, Lebanon (UNIFIL), Libya (UNSMIL), Mali (MINUSMA), Palestine, Somalia (UNSOA) (UNSOM), Sudan, Abyei (UNISFA), Darfur (UNAMID), South Sudan (UNMISS), Syria, Western Sahara (MINURSO), and the rapid response and technical support.
UNMAS coordinates overall UN advocacy in support of treaties and other international legal instruments related to landmines and explosive remnants of war, including cluster munitions, and in support of the rights of people affected by these devices.
The success of UNMAS is the product of the generous support provided by UN Member States through funds allocated by the UN General Assembly for the mine action components of peacekeeping operations, and by considerable extra-budgetary donor funding support.
UNMAS administers the Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Action. The Fund primarily pays for coordination and operation of UNMAS-managed programs, and missions to assess the scope of a countries' problems with landmines and explosive remnants of war. The fund has also been used by donors to support national programmes and NGOs, often through UNDP or UNICEF, in Cambodia, Chad, Lao PDR, Mozambique and Pakistan.
In the spirit of the UN vision of a world free from the threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war, UNMAS seeks to secure voluntary donations from existing partners and to expand the Voluntary Trust Fund by partnering with philanthropic foundations, endowment funds, private donations and gifts.
UNMAS maintains a small and important office in Geneva that works on humanitarian mine action issues. UNMAS Geneva supports relevant emergency humanitarian responses as the Coordinator of the Mine Action Area of Responsibility within the Global Protection Cluster. It also serves as the coordinator for mine action-related treaties including the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC), the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).
UNMAS programmes in the field and UNMAS HQ coordination activities are funded in a number of ways:
Agnès Marcaillou is the Director of UNMAS, the United Nations Mine Action Service, in the UN Peacekeeping Department (DPKO), where she oversees UNMAS activities in New York and Geneva, as well as in some 18 field operations world-wide. In this capacity, she administers the United Nations Trust Fund for Mine Action, and chairs the UN Inter-Agency Coordinating Group on Mine Action as well as the Geneva-based Committee on International Mine Action Standards.
During a distinguished career of 25-plus years with the United Nations, she has worked in the fields of disarmament and arms control, political and peace-keeping affairs, holding a variety of positions in New York, Geneva, The Hague, Iraq and Cambodia. She has served in New York in the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, as Principal Officer in charge of UN regional disarmament and conventional weapons; as Secretary of the Preparatory process for the 2001 UN international conference on (the) illicit trade in small arms and light weapons; in the Hague, as Chief of Staff of the Executive Secretary of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons; in the UN Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM), as officer in charge of chemical weapons destruction and the disarmament of Iraq; in Geneva in the Conference on Disarmament (CD), as deputy secretary of the CD negotiation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
During her career, she also served as Deputy Spokeswoman for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and prior to that, in the Department for Political Affairs.
A Lawyer and Political Scientist, Ms. Marcaillou is a Laureate of the French Post-Graduate Institute for National Defense Studies (IHEDN), as well as a NATO Fellow and a Fellow of the UN Disarmament Fellowship Programme. She is also known for her work on the advancement of women in peace and security and for her research on public-private partnerships.
Ms. Marcaillou has authored a number of publications in English and French.
Paul Heslop, UNMAS Chief of Programmes, is a former graduate of Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and the UK Defence College at Shrivenham. He began his demining career in 1994 working for the British non-governmental organization “The HALO Trust”.
Subsequently He worked in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Kosovo, Mozambique and the United States of America for HALO, before studying for an MBA at the London Business school. In 2004 he joined the United Nations as the Chief of Staff for the National Demining Programme in the United Nations Peacekeeping Mission (UNMIS) in the Sudan.
Mr. Heslop moved to New York in 2007 to head the UNOPS Mine Action Unit, where he was responsible for implementing $US 150 million in projects per year. In 2011 Heslop joined UNMAS as the Chief of Programmes. He currently oversees 18 projects in 14 countries in support of peacekeeping, political and humanitarian missions.
Abigail Hartley was appointed Chief of the Policy, Advocacy and Public Information Section of UNMAS in May 2014.
Under Ms. Hartley’s supervision, the Section focuses on leadership of the Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action (comprising 12 United Nations entities and 2 observers), development of mine action policy, monitoring of the Strategy of the United Nations on mine action 2013 - 2018, advocacy in support of mine-related international legal instruments, as well as UNMAS communication and outreach.
Ms. Hartley has over 15 years of progressively responsible experience in the mine action sector at both headquarters and field level. She spent almost 6 years working in Afghanistan, a country significantly impacted by landmines and other explosive remnants of war and the oldest and largest mine action programme in the world. Ms. Hartley joined the UNMAS programme as a Senior Programme Officer and thereafter held posts of Chief of Staff and Programme Manager overseeing policy, political, legal, humanitarian, social and economic aspects of the programme. Prior to this, Ms. Hartley worked for many years with the mine clearance organization Mines Advisory Group (MAG) all over the world but primarily in South Sudan, Sri Lanka and Sudan.
Ms. Hartley is a graduate of the University of Bradford and holds a Master’s degree in International Politics and Security Studies.