10 November 2008

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Secretary-General says legal protocol aimed at ‘horrendous’ impact of remnants

of war invaluable tool, urges further steps, in message to Geneva conference

Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message to the Second Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons’ Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War, delivered by Sergei Sergei Ordzhonikidze, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, in Geneva, 10 November:

It is a pleasure to send greetings to the States Parties to Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

Explosive remnants of war are generated by every armed conflict, and pose a major threat to civilians.  They kill and maim long after the end of hostilities.  They are deadly hazards that must be eliminated.

Protocol V on explosive remnants of war is an invaluable tool towards that end.  It provides a flexible and stable framework for addressing the horrendous humanitarian and developmental impacts of explosive remnants of war.  I urge you to make full use of it.

Last year, you took a number of important decisions on the functioning of the Protocol.  You established a meaningful mechanism for cooperation and coordination aimed at improving knowledge about the scope of the explosive remnants of war problem, facilitating assistance, and advancing implementation of the Protocol.  I congratulate you for your determination to operationalize this major legal instrument.

You have made a good start, but more is needed.  I encourage you to agree on strong practical steps to assist victims of explosive remnants of war.  You should give even more support to the clearance, removal and destruction of unexploded ordnance. You should also establish a culture of information sharing, in particular to collect and record information despite the obstacles posed by battlefield dynamics.  All of this will also mean mobilizing the necessary resources.

The considerable increase by more than one third in the number of States Parties to the Protocol since last year is an encouraging sign.  I commend the [48] States that have expressed their consent to be bound by the Protocol.  I call upon those States that have not yet done so to ratify Protocol V without delay.  I also take this opportunity to remind all States of their responsibility to provide effective protection to the civilian populations both during and after armed conflicts.

The United Nations will continue to assist you in your noble efforts.  In that spirit, please accept my best wishes for a successful conference.

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For information media • not an official record