Technical Working Group on Mine Action

Remarks by Ms. Alissar Chaker, UNDP Resident Representative

April 4, 2023

Ms. Alissar Chaker (wearing the red glasses)


Your Excellency Ly Thuch, Senior Minister, First Vice-President of the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA), and Chairman of the Technical Working Group on Mine Action,
Your Excellency General Sem Sovanny, Second Vice-President of CMAA,
Your Excellency Prum Sophakmonkol, Vice-President of CMAA, 
Your excellency Ly Panharith, Secretary General of the CMAA, 
Excellencies Ambassadors,
Distinguished Delegates,
UN Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Choum riep sur! A very good morning!

It is my great pleasure to join today’s Technical Working Group on Mine Action (TWG MA) on behalf of UNDP Cambodia in the role of Development Partner Lead Facilitator. I would like to start by extending my appreciation to H.E. Ly Thuch and the Cambodian Mine Action Authority (CMAA) for their diligent efforts, including the organization of today’s meeting, and the valuable and insightful opening remarks.

There is no doubt that over the past 30 years, Cambodia has developed mine action as a mature and well-performing sector not only domestically but also abroad, sharing expertise and know-how in war-torn countries. we have seen the evolution of humanitarian mine action and the exceptional progress made in the sector. We recognize and applaud the mine action operators and thousands of deminers who continue to invest their expertise for clearing anti-personal landmines and other Unexploded Ordnance (UXO).

As we meet today, the United Nations marks the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. This year’s theme is “Mine Action Cannot Wait”, a theme of high relevance in Cambodia as the Kingdom is striving to achieve its 2025 goal of mine-free Cambodia.

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

To this day, the threat of landmines continues to endanger lives and delay development. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is resolute that mine action is inherently linked to larger socio-economic development prospects. Clearing landmines allows people to live in safety and shape their futures - free from the fear that the next step could be their last. It is an enabler for achieving Cambodia’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Clearing landmines means that farmers can work their land; children can get to their school; and roads, markets and local amenities can be developed. Through clearance and land release new opportunities have been/ and are being created, helping to drive forward socio-economic development.

The UNDP engagement in mine action in Cambodia began in 1992. From 2006 to 2022, the “Clearing for Results” project (now in its fourth phase) contributed to over 18% of the sector achievements, thanks to the strong partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia, mine action operators and development partners, such as currently, Australia, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea. Moreover, we worked consistently with the Cambodian Mine Action Authority to support the development of national strategies; strengthen coordination; support monitoring and evaluation of mine action activities; and enhance mine action data management.

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Mine action entails much more than simply clearing mines. It is imperative to address the devastating effect that mines have had on direct and indirect victims, their households, and communities. In partnership with the Royal Government of Cambodia, the CMAA, International and national NGOs as well as Disabled Peoples Organizations, tens of thousands of landmine victims and other persons with disabilities have been and will continue to be supported with assistive devices, prosthetics, skills and vocational training, mental health and psychosocial support and rehabilitation. UNDP is also committed to continuing its support to awareness raising and advocacy on the seriousness of landmines.  That is, we will continue reinforcing Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) messaging in local communities; training teachers and police in high-risk areas; rolling out landmine/UXO awareness campaigns and distributing educational material; in addition to developing a harmonized Explosive Ordnance Risk Education (EORE) toolkit that is evidence-based, agile and adaptive. 

Though landmines are indiscriminate weapons, their impact and consequences are different for women, girls, boys, and men.  In Cambodia, men and boys account for  80 per cent of landmine casualties, however, injured women and girls are particularly affected throughout their life due to their different responsibilities and work, differential access to services, and social attitudes. Understanding different people’s experiences, capacities, and vulnerabilities allows to better address the needs and protect the rights of individuals and affected communities. UNDP is working with the CMAA Gender Team to ensure that the differentiated vulnerabilities and challenges of women and girls are supported, and that Gender Mine Action Standards are finalized. We further encourage Cambodia to foster all possible efforts to support organizations for Gender and Diversity Mainstreaming within the framework of the national Mine Action Plan to ensure that no one is left behind.

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

Clearing and releasing mine fields is a dangerous, difficult, timely and costly endeavor. As such, mine action is a nationally led endeavor. As a state party to the Ottawa Convention and an observer of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Cambodian Government committed to eliminating the known landmines in Cambodia by 2025 as per the National Mine Action Strategy 2018-2025. This is an ambitious goal and one that the RGC and many operators are working towards.

The UNDP congratulates the Royal Government of Cambodia for allocating USD 30 million from the national budget for mine clearance in 2023, and likewise for 2024 and 2025. Nonetheless, additional funds from the international community will be required to release all remaining minefields in Cambodia. We, therefore, urge the Friends of Cambodia to scale-up their financial support for making Mine Free Cambodia a reality.

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

By the end of 2022, Cambodia declared 7 provinces as mine free and plans to declare another 11 mine-free provinces by the end of 2023. Finishing the job will, however, need a strong commitment to clear the K5 belt and border areas. UNDP is extremely encouraged by the country leadership’s invitation during the closing ceremony of the conference celebrating the 30th anniversary of mine action in Cambodia, urging all relevant authorities to work on demining with neighboring Thailand. The continued and valuable contribution of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces will be especially important to realize the 2025 goal. We also request that access is facilitated to all mine action operators for clearing the minefields along the border.

Excellencies, distinguished guests,

The presence of relevant Royal Government institutions, operators, and development partners today reaffirms the significance of mine action in Cambodia and the shared commitment towards the 2025 goal of mine free Cambodia.  UNDP is looking forward to today’s productive and open dialogue and urges on this International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action the adoption of a multi-sectoral National Victim Assistance Framework and strengthened referral pathways so that victims and their families, even in remote areas, can receive the help they need.

In conclusion, allow me to reiterate UNDP’s commitment to support the Royal Government of Cambodia and CMAA in implementing their mandate, leading, and coordinating all stakeholders involved in the mine action sector and supporting the country achieving its mine-free goal, until the job is done.

Thank you.