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UNSC debate urges int’l cooperation in mine action

Vietnam, as the rotating President of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for April, held a ministerial open debate on April 8, focusing on “Mine action and sustaining peace: Stronger partnerships for better delivery”.

The event, held both virtually and in person under the chair of Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son, was attended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, along with ministers, deputy ministers, ambassadors, and heads of missions of the UNSC member states.

Speakers at the debate included Director of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining Stefano Toscano, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador actress Yeoh Choo-Kheng, Manager of Project RENEW All-Women Demining Team in Vietnam Nguyen Thi Dieu Linh, and UN Global Advocate for the Elimination of Mines and Explosive Hazards actor Daniel Craig.

It also saw the presence of officials from Vietnamese ministries, sectors, and localities hit hard by war-left explosives, along with representatives of the embassies of UNSC member states, UN organisations, and domestic and international non-governmental organisations working on unexploded ordnance (UXO) settlement.

Speaking at the debate, participants highly valued Vietnam’s initiative to organise the event. They voiced support for the humanitarian purpose of limiting the use of bombs and landmines around the world and emphasised UXO consequences in conflict zones as well as areas that used to undergo conflicts. They also advocated national and international efforts to overcome UXO consequences, assist victims, and stabilise the situation for reconstruction and socio-economic development.

Participants highlighted the importance of international cooperation in addressing UXO and underlined the need to enhance cohesion and coordination within the UN system, including the UNSC, so as to contribute more to UXO settlement efforts by the UN and relevant countries.

In his remarks, Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son stressed that sustainable peace is secured only when the consequences of wars and conflicts, including UXO consequences, are resolved.

He held that this issue needs more attention in the UNSC agenda and shared Vietnam’s experience in this regard, including close attention from all-level leaders; investment in capacity building; the close coordination among ministries, sectors, localities, and non-governmental organisations; along with the participation of people of all social strata, especially women.

Programmes and policies need to centre on people while cooperation with international partners should be enhanced, particularly via the settlement of UXO consequences and the healing of the wounds of war, according to the official.

The minister called for closer cooperation among countries to achieve more sustainable outcomes in mine action, via providing financial and technical assistance, improving capacity and awareness, and sharing experience with affected countries.

He suggested the UN and particularly the UNSC should step up measures to ensure safety for peacekeepers, protect civilians, and promote sustainable peace.

On this occasion, the UNSC adopted its first presidential statement, proposed by Vietnam, on mine action.

The statement underlined the connection between UXO settlement and sustainable peace, stability, and development, affirming the UNSC’s commitment and highlighting the necessity for international cooperation in mine action.

It also mentioned new important issues like impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, augmenting support for affected countries, establishing specialised mine action units at UN peacekeeping missions, and taking into account special needs of women and children during the performance of related tasks./.