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EU Presidency Statement – United Nations 4th Committee: Assistance in Mine Action

Sommaire: 29 October 2009, New York – Statement on behalf of the European Union by H.E. Mr. Per Örnéus, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Sweden, in the fourth Committee of the General Assembly under agenda item 28: "Assistance in Mine Action", United Nations

Mr Chairman,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union.

The following countries align themselves with this statement:

The candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Montenegro and Serbia as well as the Republic of Moldova and Armenia.

At the end of next month, the Second Review Conference of the APLC will take place in Cartagena, Colombia. This important event will give us all, the international community, an opportunity to renew a strong and continuous commitment towards a world free of APLs without any new APL victims, and where sustainable care is provided for the victims of these weapons. A Final Document, including a forceful, new Action Plan for the years ahead, is being prepared and should be adopted. The European Union pledges its support to the President-Designate, Ambassador Eckey, and the Host Nation, Colombia, in making the conference successful.

Since the last review conference, in Nairobi in 2004, there has been marked progress in universalising the convention, and in its implementation. Today, 156 states are parties to it, and there is general adherence to its norm also by non-States Parties. New use of APLs is rare and internationally stigmatized. Most States Parties have successfully destroyed their stockpiles of APLs. More States Parties have completed clearing mine areas, and techniques for mine clearance have been improved. Increased emphasis is put on victim assistance and mine risk education, and the necessity to give these tasks prominence in national and international development plans. However, challenges remain. 39 states are still not parties to the convention; many of these states face an unstable regional situation. Mines are still stockpiled and armed non-state actors make use of them. Thousands of victims, most of them civilians and among them many children, are claimed by mines and other ERWs every year. Some States Parties face substantial challenges in order to destroy their stockpiles. A substantial number of States Parties remain with their obligation to clear mined areas; they need help to do this and to release suspected areas. Maybe the most daunting challenge for many states is to live up to their responsibilities to the victims of APLs in the context of broader problems of disability and human rights. Assistance to mine victims needs to be integrated into the broader policy frameworks of states with significant numbers of such victims.

The European Union welcomes the progress made in univeralising and implementing the convention, while strongly aware of the humanitarian and developmental challenges that remain. For the European Union, mine action remains a key priority. The financial support provided by the European Union and its Member States to mine action over many years clearly illustrates this strong and continuous commitment.

Through its Joint Action in support of the Convention, taken in 2008, the European Union organises a range of regional seminars and facilitates a number of technical advisory visits to States Parties. The purpose of these seminars and technical visits is inter alia to promote universalisation, national implementation and compliance efforts, to share experiencies and lessons learned among countries of the respective regions and to identify particular needs for mine action.

The European Union looks to the review conference in Cartagena as an opportunity to discuss ways to further strengthening co-operation among all relevant actors, and to enhance aid effectiveness in mine action. APLs and ERWs continue to inflict death and injury. They have serious social and economic consequences, in post-conflict societies impeding the safe return of refugees and IDPs. They hinder reconciliation, stabilisation and economic recovery, and place a heavy burden on poor countries around the world. Against this background the European Union wishes to stress the importance of giving increased attention to the integration of mine action into development policies and strategies. Now, let me turn to three operative priorities that the European Union believes would enable this ambition.

First, we need to strengthen the cooperation between the humanitarian and development sectors with regard to mine action. Mine action is not only a humanitarian issue, but should also constitute a part of the development agenda. Mine action is not to be seen as isolated from other development efforts, but rather needs to be tackled through effective and coordinated approaches at all levels.

Second, in order to move ahead, we must establish stronger partnerships between actors involved in mine action. Mine-affected countries, countries providing assistance in mine action, as well as international organisations all need to work more closely together, so as to ensure more effective approaches.

Third, we need to maintain commitments, focusing on results. Improved global coordination is needed among countries providing assistance in mine action. Furthermore, it is crucial to increasingly make use of partner countries’ own systems, as well as enhancing predictability and accountability for results.

Mr Chairman,

Mindful of the harmful and destabilizing effects of unregulated transfers of conventional weapons and their diversion to the illicit market, and of the humanitarian consequences of mines and cluster munitions, the EU is strongly committed to improving the international and regional responses to these threats.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions represents an important step forward in responding to the humanitarian problems caused by this type of munitions, which constitute a major concern for all EU Member States. The adoption of a meaningful protocol on this type of munitions in the CCW framework involving all major military powers could be an important further contribution.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, the European Union would like to express its appreciation for how the negotiations on the draft resolution on “Assistance in Mine Action” have been carried out. On behalf of the co-sponsors, we thank all delegations for their constructive engagement on the draft resolution and look forward to its adoption by consensus. In this year’s draft resolution, we particularly welcome the recognition of the need to ensure that mine action programmes are gender and age sensitive, so that women, girls, boys and men can equally benefit from them, as well as the encouragement of the participation of all stakeholders in the programming of mine action. The European Union highly values the resolution on “Assistance in Mine Action” and its role in reaffirming the normative framework for the humanitarian mine action activities carried out by the United Nation system.

Thank you.

* Croatia and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.

  • Ref: PRES09-296EN
  • Source UE: Présidence UE
  • UN forum: Quatrième Commission (Affaires politiques spéciales et décolonisation)
  • Date: 29/10/2009

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