The Geneva office is the humanitarian hub of UNMAS. It works with a broad set of partners based in Geneva and Europe to strengthen humanitarian action and enhances the capacity of affected states in meeting their obligations under humanitarian treaties relevant to mine action. It is the UN voice on mine action in Geneva and ensures UNMAS representation in key events. Fostering and maintaining new and existing partnerships is important for UNMAS to respond adequately to rising humanitarian needs.
The UNMAS Geneva office promotes the integration of mine action into humanitarian operations and policies. One key aspect of the office's humanitarian role is to coordinate the Mine Action Area of Responsibility (MA AoR) within the Global Protection Cluster (GPC) at the global level and to support in-country subcluster coordinators.
The MA AoR advocates for mine action in humanitarian contexts. It is the primary coordination platform for effective and coherent mine action response in humanitarian crises settings, bringing together NGOs and UN agencies under the shared objective of more predictable and effective humanitarian mine action in emergencies. It also represents UNMAS in the GPC, and other humanitarian fora such as the IASC Task Team on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action.
The office also provides technical and policy advice to UNMAS country programmes on humanitarian response planning and coordination in collaboration with the Programme Planning and Management Section. Particular attention is given to the integration of UNMAS country components into local Protection Clusters, and of mine action proposals into humanitarian appeals by increasing partnerships with Geneva-based stakeholders.
“The Mine Action Area of Responsibility’s vision is a world in which people living in humanitarian emergencies are protected from explosive ordnance and rights of victims are realized.”
In 2022, 135 partners, including 97 national organizations, coordinated their activities through the MA AoR reaching over ten million people across eighteen humanitarian emergencies with mine clearance, risk education and victim assistance, thus saving lives, limbs and livelihood thanks to the USD 128 million received from donors. The global MA AoR coordinators from UNMAS and the Danish Refugee Council provided technical support and guidance to 18 in-country coordinators with enhanced capacity building for new coordinators in Myanmar and Ukraine. As part of the Global Protection Cluster, they also contributed to a policy guidance on “Nexus Approaches in Humanitarian Settings” and a “Joint Operational Framework” with the Global Health Cluster. In October 2022, the MA AoR convened a technical workshop to gain a better understanding of how mine action and protection actors are coordinating service mapping and referrals with a view to improving access to services for explosive ordnance victims and persons with disabilities. At the end of 2022, the MA AoR in Niger was discontinued due to lack of funding and the MA AoR in Libya and Iraq were deactivated as a part of the humanitarian cluster deactivation declared by the IASC. In 2023, the MA AoR was active in 15 emergencies and integrated mine action into 15 humanitarian response plans.
The UNMAS Geneva office coordinates activities to mobilize support for the implementation and the universalisation of key mine action treaties, which include the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (APMBC), the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), and the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), and other relevant international agreements such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
The office facilitates the preparation of ‘one UN’ statements to present at these treaties through the Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action (IACG-MA), whose members include:
UN Department of Peace Operations/UNMAS (Chair) ~ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) ~ UN Development Programme (UNDP) ~ Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ~ UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) ~ UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) ~ UN Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) ~ UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) ~ UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) ~ UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) ~ World Food Programme (WFP) ~ World Health Organization (WHO) ~ United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)* ~ World Bank*
The Geneva office also co-leads the organization and media coverage of the Annual International Meetings of Mine Action Directors and UN Advisers at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
“The United Nations wishes to also recall its vision of a world free of ‘all explosive ordnance’. Risk education must therefore be inclusive of all types of explosive ordnance, including cluster munition remnants. The universalization and full implementation of this Convention is a significant factor in saving lives.” - United Nations Inter-Agency Coordination Group on Mine Action, 2020