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UNGA First Committee side event: the challenge of IEDS in humanitarian mine action

Download the report here

This event was co-organized by the Permanent Mission of France and Action on Armed Violence (AOAV).

This online event explored the direct and indirect impact of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) on humanitarian demining action, with case studies from the field in Yemen and Iraq.

The report can be read here.


Ambassador Yann Hwang | Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament
Iain Overton | Executive Director, Action on Armed Violence
Col Steve Smith | CEO International Refugee Trust; former British Army officer, Principal Ammunition Technical Officer (ATO)
Marie Dahan | Reporting and Coordination Analyst, UNDP Yemen
Sarah Nijholt | Founder of Optimum Analysis
Emily Griffith | Explosive Violence Researcher, Action on Armed Violence

Download the presentations:

Marie Darah – UNDP Yemen – Countering IEDs in Yemen: A Human Rights Approach
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Sarah Nijholt – Optimum Analysis – The Challenge of IEDs in HMA: Iraq
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Emily Griffith – AOAV – Data on IEDs and Deminer Deaths
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Speaker Biographies

Ambassador Yann Hwang

Yann Hwang was born in 1967 in Grenoble. He joined the French Foreign Service in 1991 after being graduated from the Institute For Political Sciences of Grenoble and the Regional Institute for Administration of Lyon.

At the Quai d’Orsay, he first developed an expertise in Southern Africa where he was later posted twice (South Africa as first Secretary at the French Embassy in charge of domestic affairs and in Namibia as deputy head of the French Embassy).

He was given the opportunity to serve during two years as protocol officer for the Former French President Jacques Chirac.

He enlarged his skills and became an expert in security and arms control issues: first in Geneva where he was French negotiator during four years in various disarmament fora related to conventional, nuclear and biological weapons; second in Vienna where he was recently posted during four years dealing with politico-military issues and crisis management related issues at the French Permanent Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

He also has professional experience in the aerospace and defense industry as responsible for institutional relations for Safran Holding Company.

From September 2015 to August 2018 he was the Head of Division for Arms control and the OSCE at the French MFA.

Since September 2018, he’s the Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. 

Iain Overton

Iain Overton is the executive director at Action on Armed Violence.

Having worked in over two dozen conflict zones, a former BBC and ITN journalist, Overton’s human rights reporting has been awarded a Peabody Award, two Amnesty Awards, a OneWorld Media Award, a Prix Circom and a BAFTA Scotland. His work has also been shortlisted for 3 Royal Television Society Awards and a Foreign Press Association Award, among others. He has covered armed violence and conflict in Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras,  Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Liberia, Mexico, Mozambique, Pakistan, Palestine, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Syria, Thailand, Turkey and Ukraine.

He has been a member of an expert working group on explosive weapons for the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining and is an expert member of the Forum on the Arms Trade.  He also sits on the Advisory Board for the NIHR Global Health Research Group on Post Conflict Trauma; PrOTeCT at Imperial College London. He sits on the board of the charity Every Casualty.

Steve Smith

Steve Smith MBE is a former British Army officer, who specialised in logistics, intelligence and high threat, counter-terrorist, bomb disposal. He served on operations in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq, and deployed to a number of other hotspots around the world for short-term missions. Having qualified as an Ammunition Technical Officer (ATO) as a captain, he later became the Army’s Principal ATO, responsible for delivering the UK’s counter-IED capability worldwide. He also commanded the Defence Explosives, Munitions and Search School, and served in Defence Intelligence, where part of his remit included IED intelligence. On leaving the Army as a colonel, Steve joined the NGO Action on Armed Violence as CEO, where he oversaw a substantial mine clearance programme in Western Sahara, and a one-year project to establish an EOD capability within the Liberian Armed Forces. He has presented on the IED threat at numerous venues, including the UN (in New York and Geneva), the World Custom’s Organisation and the UK Parliament. Steve holds Master’s degrees in War in the Modern World (MA, King’s College London) and Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management (MSc, Leicester), and is the author of 3-2-1 Bomb Gone: Fighting terrorist bombers in Northern Ireland. He was appointed MBE for his work in Northern Ireland in 1993. He is currently CEO of International Refugee Trust.

Marie Dahan

Marie Dahan has been a Reporting and Coordination Analyst with UNDP Yemen since 2020. She is the coordinator of the Mine Action Area or Responsibility (AoR) and leading the relations with donors for the Mine Action Project. Marie joined UNDP Yemen after working for the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Yemen, the Government of Malta and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with a specific focus on disarmament issues. She holds a bachelor’s degree in law and Political Science and a master’s degree in International Relations from the International American University in London, Richmond University. Marie’s areas of expertise include European and Middle East public policies, humanitarian coordination and armed violence reduction. 

Sarah Nijholt

Sarah Nijholt is a Dutch national and the founder and Managing Director of Optimum Analysis, an in Iraq established research firm working throughout the Middle East. In the past ten years, she has conducted qualitative and quantitative research to inform humanitarian and development programming in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Sudan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Cambodia.

In her capacity as a Lead Researcher, Sarah has led several research projects focused on humanitarian mine action, including two research projects focused on data management in humanitarian mine action and the impact of explosive ordnance on the local population in Iraq. She is currently working on a research project which aims to identify the needs and vulnerabilities of explosive ordnance casualties and their families.   

Emily Griffith

Emily Griffith is a researcher at Action on Armed Violence, leading data collection for the Explosive Violence Monitoring Project. Previously she worked as a researcher in the film and documentary industry, and as a counter-trafficking assistant at the Helen Bamber Foundation. Emily holds a BA in International Development from King’s College London. 

Related reports from Action on Armed Violence:

For more of AOAV’s research on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) follow this link.