National Statement by Sweden at the UN Security Council Briefing on Mine Action and Explosive Hazard Threat Management
National Statement on behalf of Sweden, Ambassador Carl Skau, at the Security Council briefing on a comprehensive approach to mine action and explosive hazard threat management. Tuesday, 13 June 2017, New York.
Let me begin by thanking Bolivia for putting Mine Action on the Council's agenda today. I would also like to thank Assistant Secretary-General, Alexander Zouev for his useful briefing and special thanks to Señora Nathalie Ochoa Nina for inspiring and passionate statement this morning. The terrible legacy of landmines and explosive remnants of war on the communities where they are found cannot be overstated. Families returning from the displacement caused by conflict find that the land that once sustained them has now turned against them. The presence of landmines undermines returnees' ability to grow and harvest crops for food or sale, undermining health and livelihoods. And, they hold an even worse threat – that of death or injury.
In the twenty years since the agreement of the Ottawa Convention, impressive progress has been made in the fight to end the use of landmines. It is positive that casualties from landmines have decreased in recent years. This reflects the almost complete end of use of antipersonnel mines as a result of the Mine Ban Treaty, as well as the progress in efforts to make previously mined areas safe for use. However, the work is far from completed.
The number of casualties from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) has risen sharply.
This rise is in the most part attributable to the use of IEDs in conflict and post-conflict areas, in particular by non-state actors. Every effort must be made to mitigate the threat posed to individuals and communities by IEDs. We welcome that work is ongoing within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and its Amended Protocol II, which aims to share experiences on the humanitarian problems posed by IEDs and to learn about efforts to prevent the use of IEDs at a national, regional and international level.
Sweden fully shares the concerns expressed about the serious post-conflict humanitarian problems caused by landmines and explosive remnants of war. It is essential that we step up our efforts to minimise the occurrence, effects, and the risk from this threat.
Children are particularly vulnerable. The landmark Graça Machel report, which led to the Children and Armed Conflict mandate, noted that land mines represent "an insidious and persistent danger" to children. Naturally curious, children are likely to pick up strange objects. Deplorably, some land mines have even been designed to be toy-like. Children are also far more likely to die from their mine injuries than are adults. Children's needs should be at the forefront when designing mine awareness programmes and physical rehabilitation programmes.
The task of clearing the explosive remnants of war is often dangerous and painstakingly slow. However, the results of humanitarian mine clearance on communities can be transformative, as we heard this morning from Señora Ochoa Nina. It is, therefore, important that support, including funding and expertise, for mine action is maintained. Sweden has contributed over 100 million USD to mine action worldwide over the last decade.
In addition to finance, technical assistance is an important aspect of mine action. The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) is a partner to UNMAS and the International Committee of the Red Cross and conducts humanitarian mine-action worldwide. For example, the MSB, through UNMAS, recently supported mine action activities in Somalia to minimize the impact of explosive hazards, to build national explosive management capacity, and to enable the AMISOM to fulfil its mandate with greater safety and freedom of movement.
More broadly, Sweden believes in an approach to disarmament and international security that puts human beings at the centre of policy. Sweden is a State Party to all relevant conventions banning or regulating the use of non-controllable mines, anti-personnel land mines, cluster munitions and the handling of explosive remnants of war. We believe that the continued universalisation of these conventions is the most effective means to counter the risks associated with the use of such weapons.
So in conclusion, commitment to international frameworks, as well as well resourced and effective mine action programmes will not only save lives, but also allow those who have survived the ravages of war to begin rebuilding their lives.