UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called on the thirty or so countries which “have not done so to accede without delay to the convention banning anti-personnel mines”, during a ministerial videoconference of the Security Council .
“More than 160 states are party to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. I call on those who have not yet acceded to the Convention to do so without delay,” he said, after a short video. by British actor Daniel Craig, committed to the UN in the fight against this scourge.
This international treaty, which entered into force in 1999, prohibits the acquisition, production, stockpiling and use of anti-personnel mines.
Among the thirty or so countries that have not joined the Convention are the United States, China, Russia, India, Iran, Israel, Burma, North Korea, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Singapore and … Vietnam, country president of the Security Council in April and at the origin of the convening of the debate on Thursday.
“Our main concern is that this Convention gives only a short deadline to complete the neutralization of the mined areas” and “Vietnam needs several decades” to do this work, explains a Vietnamese diplomatic source.
The treaty provides that each State Party undertakes to remove all its anti-personnel mines no later than ten years after the entry into force of the Convention, a period which may under certain conditions be extended.
“To date, nearly a fifth of Vietnam’s land is still contaminated with ammunition. Mine clearance efforts, if continued at the current rate and with today’s resources, will take another hundred years to complete, which seriously hinders our sustainable development, “Vietnam’s new foreign minister, Bui Thanh Son, told the Council.
– Children, the first victims –
Children who go to play outdoors are among the first victims of landmines in the world, which can take many forms, sometimes very rustic but with terribly destructive power.
“We want to draw attention to the issue” because “Vietnam is in agreement with the humanitarian aspects of the Convention and shows commitment” by attending all the meetings of the States Parties to this Convention and the one on cluster munitions, a Vietnamese diplomatic source said.
Before the Council, the testimony of a Vietnamese official in the fight against mines in her country, Nguyen Thi Dieu Linh, was warmly applauded at the end of her intervention, an expression extremely rare in the precincts of the Security Council.
Antonio Guterres also warned against the development of homemade bombs. “The use of these devices represents the greatest threat” in peace operations, from Somalia to Mali, he stressed.
“New threats linked to explosive devices are appearing in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” he said.
“In 2014, the Minusma mission in Mali detected 11% of improvised explosive devices before they exploded. It became 50% in 2020 with a declining number of victims of attacks committed through this means,” he said. -it belongs.
“Landmines, IEDs and explosive remnants of war represent the worst of humanity,” also denounced the UN chief. “Let us pledge today to step up our efforts to rid the world of these inhuman threats,” he said.
Affirming itself “deeply concerned”, the Security Council on Thursday approved a unanimous declaration stressing “the importance of mine action and the need to strengthen international efforts in this area, in particular in situations of armed conflict”.
“The Council calls on Member States to comply with their respective international treaty obligations related to mine action,” their statement said.
According to diplomats, Vietnam originally wanted to pass a resolution on mines by the Security Council. But Russia among others, not party to certain treaties, opposed it, refusing a binding text, according to the same sources.
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