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Thank you for providing the EU an opportunity to address this Arria Formula Meeting and to share our views on this important topic. We are grateful that our members – Belgium, Poland and Germany – keep this topic on the UN Security Council radar screen.
The EU appreciates all positive developments in this field. We therefore welcomed the Security Council Resolution 2365 on Mine action adopted in June 2017 as well as the new UN Mine Action Strategy for 2019-2023 adopted last year.
The new UN Strategy offers inspiration and is a valuable point of reference for the EU's actions in this field and thus underlining the strong partnership between the UN and the EU on mine action.
The EU and its Member States have a long history of supporting mine action from which nearly all countries and regions of the world affected by mines and explosive ordnance have benefitted. I would like to recall that the EU is one of the world's top donors for mine action. In the past five years, the EU has provided support of over €250 million in more than 26 affected countries – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chad, Colombia, Iraq, Laos, Lebanon, Libya, Myanmar, Somalia, Syria, Turkey and Ukraine to name a few.
EU assistance covers the whole scale of mine action:
Apart from the mentioned, the EU also provides support to the affected states in setting up or updating their national mine action strategies and operational clearance plans as well as in cooperation and partnership with the UN, the secretariat of the Mine Ban Convention and other donors, mine action operators and civil society.
In mine-affected countries, mine action is crucial for realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The EU appeals to mine-affected countries to closely connect the SDGs and their national development strategy with mine action in order to make it a cross-cutting issue. Explosive ordnance contamination interferes with numerous SDGs and fields relevant for their fulfilment. From security, humanitarian aid, stabilisation, development and/or public health to the implementation of treaty obligations.
Mine contamination results not only in horrendous short term humanitarian consequences for conflict-affected populations, but it often continues to pose a threat to civilians for a long time after the conflict has ended. That is why mine action is also key in assisting conflict-affected communities in regaining a safe and dignified life.
This year we commemorate the 20th anniversary of entry into force of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention. This Convention currently has 164 state parties, making it a strong international norm and generating a tremendously positive impact. Since the existence of the treaty, more than 30 formerly contaminated countries have been declared mine-free, more than 50 million stockpiled mines have been destroyed, and the official trade in anti-personnel mines has ceased to exist. These actions have directly resulted in saving many thousands of lives and limbs.
With all its Member States being parties to the Convention, the EU is strongly united in banning the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel mines. The preventive effect of the Mine Ban Convention has been tremendous. This is why we urge countries that have not yet done so to accede to the Convention. In view of the 4th Review Conference of the Convention that will take place in Oslo in November this year, the EU, together with its Member States, will prepare a united position aiming at a strong political message for a mine-free world by 2025 and a concrete action plan on how to achieve this ambitious objective.
The Mine Ban Convention is a success story of multilateral disarmament and the concrete application of international humanitarian law. The norm against anti-personnel mines is strong and applied by almost all states in the world, even by states that are not party to the Convention.
The EU's support for mine action and the Mine Ban Convention should also be seen in a wider context. The Convention is an example of what the EU stands for: a rules-based international order, rooted in the respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.
The EU calls upon the UN Security Council to secure and further demonstrate its commitment in addressing the threat that mines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices continue to pose to civilians. I can proudly assure you that the Security Council can count on the EU's continued commitment and engagement for this cause.