‘Complete the work’, rid the world of deadly landmines, UN chief urges
The United Nations Secretary-General has called on the international community to recommit to the target of a mine-free world, urging efforts to “make this the last decade when we need to devote ourselves to this task”.
In a message commemorating the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, marked annually on 4 April, Secretary-General António Guterres called on all nations that have not yet acceded to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention “to do so without delay”.
Minefields disrupt education, making it more difficult for children to go to school.Although COVID-19 made our work harder, we have persevered through our partnerships. Perseverance always leads to progress.#3PMA #IMAD2021 pic.twitter.com/OskABMkdtzUNMAS
Having opened for signature in 1997, over 160 States are now parties to the treaty, formally known as the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction.
“We sometimes make progress on clearing mines only to see it rolled back”, Mr. Guterres said, stressing that “we cannot be content simply with advocacy and campaigning to create awareness of the dangers posed by landmines.”
“The United Nations Charter calls us to complete the work: to survey, clear and destroy these deadly devices”, the UN chief highlighted.
In addition to indiscriminately killing and maiming thousands globally, landmines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) hamper social and economic developments, keep farmers from their fields, close schools, hinder reconstruction, and block safe delivery of humanitarian aid.
Children are at a higher risk of severe injury and death, as they often mistake the deadly explosives for toys.
‘One landmine can wreck a community’
James Bond actor Daniel Craig, who is the UN Global Advocate for the Elimination of Mines and Explosive Hazards, also highlighted the dangers.
“One landmine can wreck a community: kill a father, a mother, and all too often a child”, he said.
Mr. Craig went on to note that in addition to new explosive contamination due to ongoing conflicts, there is old contamination in places where fighting stopped decades ago.
For instance, landmines and explosive contamination still pollute wide swaths of Viet Nam, where the war officially ended more than 45 years ago, while in Syria the decade-long conflict not only killed thousands and displaced millions, but also resulted in thousands of tons of new contamination.
“The fighting needs to stop. The clearance needs to begin in earnest and at scale”, Mr. Craig urged.
‘Let’s stay focused’
The UN Global Advocate also called on everyone to “do whatever you can, in whatever position you hold”, to achieve the vision of a world where individuals and communities “live in safe homes, on safe ground, in safe environments”.
“Let’s stay focused”, he urged, calling on nations “to keep their eye on the end-goal of ridding the world of landmines and explosive remnants of war”.
Mr. Craig also praised those working around the world, during the COVID-19 pandemic to clear and destroy hundreds of thousands of explosives in 2020, from landmines, to unexploded bombs and improvised explosive devices.