Statement by Ambassador Christoph Heusgen in the Security Council Open Debate on “Mine action and sustaining peace: Stronger partnerships for better delivery”, April 8

09.04.2021 - Speech

Check Against Delivery

Excellencies, distinguished colleagues,

Germany aligns itself with the statement of the European Union. As current chair of the multilateral Mine Action Support Group 2020-2021, Germany will make the following additional remarks in its national capacity.

Thank you for convening today’s Open Debate on “Mine action and sustaining peace: Stronger partnerships for better delivery”. Four years after the adoption of UNSC resolution 2365 (2017) explosive ordnance continues to pose a consistent and growing threat to international peace and security, to the safety and security of people living in affected areas, and to potential for sustainable development.

As a staunch supporter of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (aka the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention) and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Germany‘s strategy for humanitarian mine action outlines action towards a mine-free world in which vulnerable communities are protected, their needs are met and their dignity is secured.

Germany reaffirms its strong commitment to the Conventions and to support actions addressing the threat of explosive ordnance. Germany especially appreciates having UNMAS, other UN agencies and NGOs as partners in this collective endeavour.

In light of the global COVID-19-pandemic and growing humanitarian needs, competition for funding has increased. Yet, sustained support for mine action is needed to improve the safety of affected populations, to ensure humanitarian access, and to reduce the socio-economic impact. Germany stands ready to take responsibility: Having been one of the largest donor on humanitarian mine action in 2019, Germany continued its extensive engagement in 2020 by funding 33 humanitarian mine action and stabilization projects in 13 countries, such as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq and Syria, with almost 60 million USD (48.8 Mio EURO). One important pillar of these programmes is victim assistance, an important obligation under the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and the Convention on Cluster Munitions. In 2020, Germany has supported victim assistance with about 30 % of its annual budget for humanitarian mine action.

Landmines, explosive remnants of war, and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) cause thousands of casualties worldwide each year. In 2019 more than 5,500 persons were injured or lost their lives by explosive ordnance. Even years after a conflict has ended, explosive threats bring dreadful harm, instil fear and stop refugees and internally displaced persons from returning to their homes. Mines deprive entire regions of a fair chance at economic recovery and development, and survivors remain stuck in poverty because of the lack of rehabilitation services for their injuries. In addition, new threats continue to affect the lives of thousands of people around the world.

IEDs pose serious threats to the safety and security of peacekeepers in UN missions as well as the local population. The high number of IED attacks conducted by terrorist and criminal networks is extremely concerning. IEDs affect UN operations, for instance MINUSMA, which has had to deal with several cases of IEDs directed against civilians and UN personnel. They hamper the movement of missions and can have a negative impact on the execution of their mandate.

In order to respond to these challenges, Germany believes in a multi-sectoral approach covering all pillars of mine action: coordination, mine risk education, stockpile destruction, advocacy, survey and clearance, and victim assistance.

We further advocate for the worldwide adherence to International Humanitarian Law and its instruments, such as the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and its Protocols II and V, the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Convention on Cluster Munitions as well as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. We urge all UN Member States to accede to these international norms and provisions. We commend those who have already done so, as well as those that engage in the field and assist affected states in their mine action efforts.

Being the current chair of the multilateral Mine Action Support Group 2020-2021 and initiator of a Country Coalition with Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2019, Germany also encourages stronger coordination to render mine action more effective. In that spirit, Germany will co-host, together with UNMAS, the virtual 24th International Meeting of National Mine Action Programme Directors and United Nations Advisers in May 2021.

Mine action needs to be kept on the agenda of the decision-making bodies of the United Nations, in particular the Security Council. We therefore welcome the opportunity provided by this open debate, Mine awareness and mine action are a prerequisite to access and ultimately protect people in need, quite often the most vulnerable. Effective mine action is essential for building peace and sustainable development.

That is why, in accordance with resolution 2365 (2017), when planning special political and peacekeeping missions the Security Council needs to consider mine action in a timely manner to prevent and reduce suffering, to enable and sustain peace and sustainable development. Relevant UN personnel must be adequately equipped, informed and trained to this end.

The Security Council should also remind all parties to armed conflicts of their obligations under international humanitarian law, especially their responsibility to protect civilian populations.

Germany intends to continue its efforts to provide this issue with the greatest attention it deserves.

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