The open debate on “Mine action and sustaining peace: Stronger partnerships for better delivery” held late Thursday, chaired by Vietnamese foreign minister Bùi Thanh Sơn. — VNA/VNS Photo Bùi Lâm Khánh
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam, as the rotating President of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for April, held a ministerial open debate late Thursday, 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 Bùi Thanh Sơn, was attended by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, along with ministers, deputy ministers, ambassadors, and heads of missions of the UNSC member states.
Speakers 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 Việt Nam Nguyễn Thị Diệu Linh, and UN Global Advocate for the Elimination of Mines and Explosive Hazards actor Daniel Craig.
Also present were 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 Việt Nam’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.
Foreign Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn 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 Việt Nam’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 Việt Nam, 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.
The open debate was highly valued by the international community.
Ilene Cohn, Officer-in-Charge of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), told Vietnam News Agency that Việt Nam put forward the issue at the right time, expressing her delight at Việt Nam, as Council President, choosing the unexploded ordnance (UXO) issue as the topic for one of the main debates.
She noted that the meeting held great importance as the UNSC is the body responsible for resolving issues to maintain the world’s peace and security, especially when bombs and landmines remain a threat to people around the globe.
Cohn said Việt Nam has obtained much progress in mine action, but there remains much to do for a world free of lethal weapons.
Ambassador Đặng Đình Quý, Permanent Representative of Việt Nam to the UN, said UXOs are always “silent killers”, but two new issues have emerged in recent years: the increasingly widespread use of controlled improvised explosives and the use of these improvised devices to attack peacekeeping missions.
Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have also made this issue even more serious, he noted.
Quý added that the UXO issue has been rarely discussed at the UNSC as it was not supported by countries’ previous policies. Therefore, Việt Nam’s chairing of the signature debate about mine action has met the international community’s concern.
Sudan, one of the countries hit hard by conflicts and UXOs, also spoke highly of Việt Nam’s selection of the mine action issue for the open debate.
Chargé d’affaires Mohammed Elbahi from the Sudanese mission to the UN said there remains many UXOs in Sudan which have considerably affected the country’s development process and caused much pain for its people.
He also said his country’s commitment to exerting efforts to finish the settlement of the remaining UXOs in the near future.
At the meeting, the UNSC adopted a presidential statement viewed as “unprecedented” in four years that stresses the implementation of the existing legal framework, particularly UNSC Resolution 2365, points out new challenges, and sets up new measures the international community needs to take to promote mine action. — VNS