Mr. President, Madam and Mr. Coordinator,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia[*], Montenegro*, Serbia* and Albania* and the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Ukraine and Georgia align themselves with this statement.
At the outset, I would like to begin this statement by congratulating Japan on assuming the leadership of Amended Protocol II during its 2021 session and by commending France and Colombia on their continued dedication and commitment as coordinators to improve international cooperation and coordination on matters relating to Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) within the framework of Amended Protocol II.
The European Union and its Member States support efforts to universalise and strengthen the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and stress the importance of continued compliance with all CCW provisions and annexed Protocols. In this regard, we encourage all States that have not yet done so to join Amended Protocol II.
We remain deeply concerned about the continued severe global impact of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and their indiscriminate use and effects in particular in the perpetration of terrorist acts and the use of IEDs by non-state actors. The expanding use of IEDs against civilian populations and infrastructure, including health-care systems, produces alarming humanitarian harm, especially in urban settings, and requires an urgent response from the international community. Efforts to enhance prevention, preparedness and response are needed to tackle the global threat. These efforts require coordination on national, regional and international levels. Any effort made at clearance of IEDs must be carried out in accordance with the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, which contains an obligation on States Parties to clear all types of anti-personnel mines, irrespective of whether the mine is of manufactured or improvised nature.
Multilateral Work to Counter IEDs
We would like to reiterate our continued support for previous multilateral actions taken by the UN in an effort to combat the harmful effects of IEDs. The EU remains in full support of the relevant United Nations General Assembly Resolutions and the 2016 political declaration on IEDs within Amended Protocol II, which together aided in the creation of a universal awareness of the extensive consequences of the threat of IEDs and the ever-growing importance of a comprehensive, global approach to combat said threat. We also recall that the UN Mine Action Service has established a coordinating task force on a whole of system approach to IEDs, pursuant to Action 18 of the implementation plan of the 2018 UNSG Agenda for Disarmament. We welcome the participation of representatives of security, political, humanitarian, development and counter-terrorist entities which facilitate a common understanding of the threat and improve consistency in the use of relevant terminology.
Furthermore, we would also like to draw attention to the importance of adequate mechanisms for reporting and information-sharing systems between States, international organizations, and the private sector to effectively prevent the manufacture and use of IEDs.
The EU welcomes the new CCW Questionnaire on Improvised Explosive Devices and wishes to encourage High Contracting Parties to actively contribute to it and to the existing guidelines, best practices and other recommendations. The EU has recently contributed to the compilation of national or regional guidelines, best practices and other recommendations aiming at addressing the diversion or illicit use of materials that can be used for IEDs through two important documents, namely Regulation (EU) 2019/1148 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on the marketing and use of explosives precursors, amending Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 and repealing Regulation (EU) No 98/2013, as well as the Guidelines for the implementation of Regulation (EU) 2019/1148 on the marketing and use of explosives precursors (2020/C 210/01). We continue to support the involvement of private industry in the exchange of national measures, best practices, and lessons learned as we progress. We also welcome the information hub established by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), which continues to offer a useful compilation of resources for further work.
Moreover, the EU welcomes the Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) Capability Maturity Model and Self-assessment Tool, developed by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), pursuant to General Assembly resolution 73/67. The tool will assist States to self-identify gaps and challenges in their national preparedness, with a view to supporting the development of future prevention and response strategies to counter the threats posed by IEDs and we invite States to use this Self-Assessment Tool.
EU Regulation on the Marketing and Use of Explosives Precursors
The EU believes that it is crucial to involve and engage private sector bodies in an effort to limit the flow of precursor materials to unauthorized end users. The EU has already undertaken several concrete actions in this regard, in accordance with the European Agenda on Security and more specifically in the EU Action Plan against the Illicit Trafficking and Use of Firearms and Explosives.
The overall purpose of the EU-wide harmonised rules and closer cooperation between EU institutions, EU Member States, and other relevant stakeholders, such as industry and Europol, is to reduce the risk that chemical substances are used for the illicit manufacture of explosives.
New EU Regulation 2019/1148 on the marketing and use of explosives precursors, amending Annex XVII to the Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 and repealing Regulation (EU) No 98/2013 has been in effect since 1 February 2021 and includes several measures to strengthen the EU’s existing rules. Firstly, it has expanded the scope by adding new substances to the list of restricted explosives precursors. Secondly, it put an end to previous registration regimes and introduced more comprehensive procedures and criteria for issuing licenses which include verifying legitimacy of the request, security screening and a criminal record check. Lastly, the new regulation makes it clear that the new restrictions apply to online sales as well. Online market places are now also required to detect and report suspicious transactions. In addition to the new EU regulation, "Guidelines for the implementation of Regulation (EU) 2019/1148 on the marketing and use of explosives precursors (2020/C 210/01)" were developed to assist EU Member States’ national authorities, economic operators, and online marketplaces in the application of the Regulation.
The EU will continue to support national capacity building efforts and remains actively involved around the globe from Colombia to Laos. In preventing the illicit proliferation and diversion of materials that can be used in the construction of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the European Union, is supporting Conflict Armament Research (CAR) to implement a project, titled, iTrace Plus 2: Support for the European Agenda on Security to Provide Field-based Data on Access to and the Deployment of Dangerous Substances Such as Explosives by Terrorist Networks. This is the second phase of this cooperation between the European Union and CAR (2020-2022). CAR will be making a detailed presentation on the project tomorrow.
In conclusion, we wish to recall that many High Contracting Parties have expressed their continuing concerns on the humanitarian impact caused by the indiscriminate use of Mines Other than Anti-Personnel Mines (MOTAPM). While acknowledging that MOTAPM are legitimate weapons, Parties to the Convention are obliged to ensure that these weapons are used in accordance with IHL and that all feasible precautions are taken to protect civilians from the unwanted effects of these weapons. The EU believes that further discussion is needed within the CCW framework on how to ensure greater compliance with Amended Protocol II. For this reason, the EU supports the adding of MOTAPM to the agenda for the CCW Annual Conference and continues to believe that further expert discussions on the issue would be of overall benefit to us all.
Thank you, Mr. President.
[*] The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.