From 7 to 10 February 2017, the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) convened the 20th International Meeting of National Mine Action Programme Directors and United Nations Advisers at the Palais des Nations, Geneva.
A number of luminaries of humanitarian mine action were there, including: the first Director of UNMAS, Martin Barber; Nobel Peace co-laureate Rae McGrath; founder of Handicap International Dr. Jean-Baptiste Richardier; and Sediq Rashid, who trained as a deminer as a young Afghan refugee in Pakistan and now serves in UNMAS Somalia at a senior level. The Director-General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Michael Møller, delivered remarks at both the opening and closing ceremonies.
The meeting reflected the increasing role of women in mine action. Margaret Arach Orech delivered a keynote address. A landmine survivor, she is the founder and Director of the Uganda Landmine Survivor Association. Asma Hamadi, a Libyan civil society representative, spoke about the empowerment of women and their contribution to the reduction of the threats posed by small arms and light weapons in Libya.
The first half of the meeting focused on the relevance of mine action in the contexts of international humanitarian law, peace processes, stabilization, protection, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The second half was about improving mine action operations through innovative approaches, new technologies, and an increased focus on community-led programming. In between sessions, nine side events tackled issues such as mine action and displacement, the challenges posed by improvised explosive devices, and the importance of employing a gender-sensitive approach.
Following the meeting, UNMAS conducted an online survey which garnered over 80 responses across the range of stakeholders. Almost all the plenary sessions were rated as excellent or good by 80-90% of respondents and the side events received particularly positive feedback. Examples of comments: “Great that this topic was covered! First time in a wider forum” and “Good innovation, clearly presented”.
Via the Twitter hashtag #NDMUN20, the meeting generated over 500 tweets by 150 individuals, reaching almost 4 million people on social media.
View presentations here: http://www.mineaction.org/unmas/registration-NDM_UN20