Fourth Committee Sends Draft on Assistance in Mine Action to General Assembly, Aimed at Reducing Risks Posed by Landmines, Explosive Remnants of War
Fourth Committee Sends Draft on Assistance in Mine Action to General Assembly, Aimed at Reducing Risks Posed by Landmines, Explosive Remnants of War
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Sixty-fourth General Assembly
20th Meeting (PM)
Fourth Committee Sends Draft on Assistance in Mine Action to General Assembly,
Aimed at Reducing Risks Posed by Landmines, Explosive Remnants of War
Speakers Cite Perverse Nature of Mines, Activated by Victims, Whether Civilians
Or Combatants; Committee Postpones Action on Outer Space Draft, Pending Consensus
The General Assembly, deeply alarmed by the number of mines laid each year, as well as the presence of a decreasing but still very large number of mines and explosive remnants of war as a result of armed conflicts, would urge all States to assist countries affected by those weapons in the establishment and development of national mine-action capacities, according to a draft text approved today without a vote by the Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization).
The draft resolution would also have the Assembly urge all States to provide support to mine-affected States and territories for national programmes to reduce the risks posed by landmines and explosive remnants of war, taking into consideration the different needs of women, girls, boys and men. It would also urge all mine-affected States to identify all areas under their jurisdiction or control containing mines and other explosive remnants of war in the most efficient manner possible, and to employ land release techniques.
Speaking before approval of the resolution, the representative of Norway, who would join consensus, said, however, that his delegation still found the text problematic. More prominence should be given to national authorities in mine-affected counties and more emphasis placed on commercial interests in mine-action. Expertise in mine-affected countries continued to be key to mine action, and the international community had a role to play through treaties and obligations.
Before taking action on the mine assistance draft resolution, the Committee concluded its general debate on the topic, begun yesterday, with speakers reiterating the crucial need to eliminate the dangers and threats of landmines and cluster munitions, and to prioritize assistance to victims.
Uruguay’s representative emphasized the “perverse” nature of anti-personnel landmines, which were activated by their victims and made no distinction between combatants and civilians. The aim of mines was to kill or bring lifelong handicaps, he said, and they had serious social and economic repercussions, which limited the capacity for rehabilitation in the post-conflict phase.
Along those lines, the representative Afghanistan stressed that landmines, cluster munitions and the use of improvised explosive devices had systematically contributed to an environment of international insecurity, and had dramatically hindered United Nations peacekeeping operations. They presented an undeniable threat to the world community, and especially to certain post-conflict nations such as Afghanistan, which had been battling the problem for more than 30 years.
Egypt suffered from more than 20 million mines and explosive remnants of war ‑‑ more than 20 per cent of the world’s total ‑‑ its speaker said, stressing that the mines cast a dark humanitarian shadow, causing fatalities and serious injuries among the populations of the affected areas. Their deployment by warring States in the Second World War raised the question about the responsibility for their removal. To shift the responsibility of mine clearance, while ignoring the legal and political responsibility of the States that had deployed those mines in wartime, undermined the international community’s credibility.
While delineating her country’s mine clearance efforts, the representative of Sri Lanka said that Sri Lanka had not become a party to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention) for “legitimate national security concerns”, but had publicly committed itself to the treaty’s humanitarian goals. Landmines were used by security forces “always for defensive purposes”, she said, and mainly to demarcate the limits of their military installations.
Echoing those sentiments, Indonesia’s representative said the agenda item on assistance in mine action should not be used to define the “illegality” for a State that may decide to employ mines as a tool for the purpose of its legitimate self-defence. Plus, this was not the forum to discuss those issues. Indonesia’s delegation saw room for improvement in the present draft, particularly on how Member States, together with the United Nations, could advance mine action steps.
Also speaking during the general debate were the representatives of Mozambique, Australia, Ethiopia, Lebanon and Mexico.
Prior to that, the Committee also concluded its general debate on the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects, during which the representatives of Liberia and Benin spoke.
In other action, the Committee heard the introduction of a draft resolution on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space by the representative of Colombia, in his capacity as Chairman of the Working Group of the Whole. Committee Chairman Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser (Qatar) said action on that draft would be postponed until next week, in an effort to achieve consensus.
The Fourth Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Monday, 2 November, to take up consideration of its agenda item on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
The Fourth Committee (Special Political and Decolonization) met this afternoon to conclude its general debate on the whole question of peacekeeping operations in all their aspects. (For a summary of documents before the Committee on the topic, please see Press Release GA/SPD/437 of 27 October.)
The Committee was also meeting to conclude its general debate on assistance in mine action. (For documents before the Committee on that topic, please see Press Release GA/SPD/439 of 29 October.)
In addition, the Committee was also expected to take action on a draft resolution on the topic, as well as a revised draft resolution on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space.
In that connection, the Committee had before it a draft resolution on assistance in mine action (document A/C.4/64/L.9), by which the General Assembly would stress the pressing need to urge non-State actors to halt immediately and unconditionally new deployments of mines and other associated explosive devices.
By that text, the Assembly would call, in particular, for the continuation of the efforts of States, with the assistance of the United Nations and relevant organizations involved in mine action, as appropriate, to foster the establishment and development of national mine-action capacities in countries in which mines and explosive remnants of war constituted a serious threat to the safety, health and lives of the local civilian population, or an impediment to social and economic development efforts at the national and local levels.
Also according to the text, the Assembly would also urge all States, particularly those that have the capacity to do so, as well as the United Nations system and other relevant organizations and institutions involved in mine action, to support mine-affected States and territories by providing, among other things: assistance to countries affected by mines and explosive remnants of war for the establishment and development of national mine-action capacities, including, where appropriate, in the fulfilment of the mine-affected countries’ relevant international obligations; support for national programmes to reduce the risks posed by landmines and explosive remnants of war, taking into consideration the different needs of women, girls, boys and men; reliable, predictable and timely contributions for mine-action activities; and necessary information and technical, financial and material assistance to locate, remove, destroy and otherwise render ineffective minefields, mines, booby traps, other devices and explosive remnants of war, in accordance with international law, as soon as possible.
By further provisions, the Assembly would urge, pursuant to applicable international law, all mine-affected States to identify all areas under their jurisdiction or control containing mines and other explosive remnants of war in the most efficient manner possible, and to employ land release techniques, including non-technical survey, technical survey and clearance when appropriate.
Furthermore, the resolution would request the Secretary-General to submit to the Assembly at its sixty-sixth session a report on the implementation of the present resolution and on follow-up to previous resolutions on assistance in mine clearance and on assistance in mine action, including on relevant United Nations policies and activities. It would also decide to include in the provisional agenda of its sixty-sixth session the item entitled “Assistance in mine action”.
Also before the Committee was a draft resolution on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (document A/C.4/64/L.2/Rev.1), by which the Assembly would reaffirm the importance of international cooperation in developing the rule of law, including the relevant norms of space law and their important role in international cooperation for the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
Also by that text, the Assembly would endorse the report of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and urge States that had not yet become parties to the international treaties governing the uses of outer space to consider ratifying or acceding to those treaties in accordance with their domestic law, as well as incorporating them into national legislation.
According to the text, the Assembly would welcome the fact that the Scientific and Technical Subcommittee, at its forty-seventh session, would begin consideration under a multi-year work plan of two new items, entitled “International Space Weather Initiative” and “Long-term sustainability of outer space activities”, as agreed by the Committee.
The Assembly would consider it essential that Member States pay more attention to the problem of collisions of space objects, including those with nuclear power sources, with space debris, and other aspects of space debris. By further terms, it would urge all States, in particular those with major space capabilities, to contribute actively to the goal of preventing an arms race in outer space as an essential condition for the promotion of international cooperation in the exploration and use of outer space for peaceful purposes.
The Assembly would, by other terms, endorse the recommendation of the Committee that the Office for Outer Space Affairs should continue to serve as the executive secretariat of the International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems and its Providers’ Forum. It would also endorse the work plan of the UN-SPIDER (United Nations Platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response) programme for the biennium 2010-2011, and encourage Member States to provide all necessary support, on a voluntary basis.
By further terms, it would also emphasize that regional and interregional cooperation in the field of space activities would be essential to strengthen the peaceful uses of outer space, assist States in the development of their space capabilities and contribute to the achievement of the goals of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. It would further emphasize the need to increase the benefits of space technology and its applications and to contribute to an orderly growth of space activities favourable to sustained economic growth and sustainable development in all countries, including mitigation of the consequences of disasters, in particular in the developing countries.
The Assembly would, by other terms, urge all Member States to continue to contribute to the Trust Fund for the United Nations Programme on Space Applications. It would urge entities of the United Nations system to continue to examine, in cooperation with the Committee, how space science and technology and their applications could contribute to implementing the United Nations Millennium Declaration on the development agenda.
Statements on Peacekeeping
JAMES EESIAH (Liberia), aligning his delegation with the statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Union, thanked the Security Council, the United Nations system and the international community for the vital role which the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) was playing in the peacebuilding efforts of his country. He hoped that the New Horizon initiative would result in enhancing the efficient delivery on the ground by the endeavours of the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support.
On the question of peacebuilding, he welcomed the proposal for peacekeepers to be better trained, and further supported the improvements in the areas of the rule of law, security sector reform, and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. He underscored the need to integrate into their programmes provisions for training the police, customs and immigrations officers, as well as to provide equipment and logistics, which would enable those officers to execute their duties. He re-emphasized his delegation’s appeal to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Security Council that the regional peacebuilding programme of the United Nations was vital. A regional approach to peacebuilding in West Africa was crucial. Recent developments in Conakry clearly substantiated Liberia’s repeated requests for the sustainable development of peacebuilding programs, which would provide job opportunities in West Africa.
JEAN-FRANCIS RÉGIS ZINSOU (Benin), aligning his delegation with statements made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Group, said that many things had already been said on the topic of peacekeeping, and the Under-Secretaries-General who had addressed the Committee had described the context of new challenges facing peacekeeping today. Peacekeeping was indeed at a crossroads, and bold and courageous decisions were necessary to give it a new breath of fresh air and enable it to achieve its goals. The New Horizons non-paper had set forth several possible avenues that could be taken in the search for solutions to those new challenges. However, even if Member States were able to achieve a common and clear understanding of the concepts, such as the protection of civilians and robust peacekeeping operations, countries with limited resources, such as his, would still have to face the problem of finding the resources to meet the challenges inherent in implementing those new contexts on the ground.
He said that the low level of participation of the least developed countries was related to the lack of financial and material resources. Those difficulties could increase in light of the increased resources that were required for a new generation of peacekeeping operations, as defined by the non-paper. Benin reiterated the need to ensure regular reimbursements to enable those countries to have predictable resources. Guaranteeing regular and predictable reimbursements would enable countries to set up genuine peacekeeping funds to have the necessary equipment and resources without putting great pressure on national treasuries.
Statements on Assistance in Mine Action
MARTÍN VIDAL (Uruguay), speaking on behalf of Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR), said that March had been the 10-year anniversary of the entry into force of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production, and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (Mine-Ban Convention). He welcomed the fact that 80 per cent of Member States had ratified or acceded to that important instrument. Since its adoption, 41 million landmines had been destroyed, and the production, sale and transfer of those explosives had nearly ceased. That was a clear sign of what the international community could attain. Thanks to that achievement, many lives had been saved. The second review conference of the treaty would be held in Cartagena under the motto “a mine-free world”, where remaining challenges would be addressed.
He stressed the perverse nature of anti-personnel landmines, which Uruguay was committed to eliminating from the face of the earth. Anti-personnel mines were activated by their victims, and did not discriminate between combatants and civilians. If not cleared, those munitions could remain active for a great many years. The wounds those explosions provoked were particularly serious. The aim of mines was to kill or bring lifelong handicaps, and they had serious social and economic repercussions, which limited the capacity for rehabilitation in the post-conflict phase.
At the same time, the removal of anti-personnel landmines was costly and dangerous, he said. However, clearing and destroying them allowed for economic and social activities to once again be undertaken in affected areas, which particularly benefited communities. The Organization of American States had a mine action programme, which was marked by solidarity. Efforts were under way, but they required economic and social reinsertion into communities. Mine action must include sweeping mine fields and support for victims.
He said that petitions for extending the timetables for mine clearance were aimed at the ultimate goal of the destruction of all anti-personnel mines. The donor community must not find itself fatigued, and must continue to support those commitments. One of the biggest challenges facing the international community in that area was the drama of ensuring that health systems, social services and reintegration programmes were appropriate in addressing victims’ needs. In that connection, he welcomed the entry into force of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which aimed at improving the quality of life for victims. The issue of providing for landmine victims must also be included in the broader context of development, as their tragedy was not solely physical and moral, hampering the individuals’ ability to attain well-being and enjoyment of their rights, but it affected community development as well.
MAGED A. ABDELAZIZ (Egypt) said that his delegation attached great importance to the agenda item, taking into consideration the ongoing suffering of its civilian population during the last 65 years from the devastating effects resulting from the massive number of mines deployed by warring States on the Egyptian territories during the Second World War. Those mines continued to cause horrible losses and casualties among civilians, while impeding the country’s development and exploitation of national natural resources. Egypt suffered from more than 20 million mines and explosive remnants of war, which represented more than 20 per cent of the total mines in the world.
He said that the presence of those mines and explosive remnants of war over nearly one fifth of the Egyptian territory had caused several economic and social problems for Egypt, particularly in light of the massive financial and technical resources required for mine detection and clearance. The problem of mines in Egypt was not only economic in nature, but also cast a dark humanitarian shadow, where they continued to cause fatalities and serious injuries among the populations of the affected areas. The high price paid by Egypt as a result of mines deployed by warring States in the Second World War raised the question about the responsibility of those States that deployed mines in territories other than their own for their removal. It was also important to highlight that shifting the responsibility of mine clearance, while ignoring the legal and political responsibility of the States that had deployed those mines in wartime, was a severe imbalance that undermined the international community’s credibility.
DANIEL ANTONIO (Mozambique), associating his delegation with the statement made on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said that Mozambique was one of the countries affected by mines and explosive remnants of war. Mine clearance and their total eradication, therefore, remained a major priority for his Government. Since 1994, Mozambique, with the assistance of the United Nations and other partners, had made concentrated efforts to face the landmine problem, removing them from more than 280 million square metres of land, which had subsequently been returned to the communities for productive use. As a result of the National Mine Plan of Action 2005-2009, aimed at ensuring steady progress in the overall mine clearance activities, 46 million square metres of land had been cleared and 62,748 mines had been destroyed.
He said that mine clearance was already integrated into the Government Action Plan for Reduction of Absolute Poverty 2005-2009 (PARPA), with the objective to secure the eradication of mines and preventing accidents. In that context, the Government had been working diligently to ensure the safe return of people to their places of origin and to enable them to resume socio-economic activities. Mozambique’s Government had also recently concluded a survey, which determined 541 additional areas to be cleared, representing 12.2 million square metres of landmine-contaminated zones. In that connection, Mozambique had submitted to the Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies, a request for a deadline extension, until 2014, under article 5 of the Mine-Ban Convention, as Mozambique would not be able to meet the mine clearance deadline of December 2009. However, the fact that the request was being considered was encouraging. Mozambique would meanwhile continue to help remove explosive devices and teach the rural population in affected areas about the danger of landmines.
PAUL NEVILLE (Australia) said that Governments, the United Nations and civil society had together achieved a great deal regarding in the 10 years since the Convention’s entry into force. Australia had a mine-action strategy that was supported by a five-year, $75 million pledge, from 2005-2010. His Government had delivered support to countries and had helped clear landmines and explosive remnants of war. It had also restored land for agricultural use, built livelihoods and promoted economic development.
He stressed the need to place mine-action interventions within the broader context of development and poverty reduction activities. His country remained committed to global efforts to reduce landmines. Victim assistance was a key component of that, and his Government stressed the value of working together with other partners, including the United Nations. While progress on the issue had been recognized, ongoing support was still needed. For its part, his Government was developing a new strategy to guide Australia’s future in mine action. It looked forward to working with the United Nations and other partners to achieve a world free of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war.
FESSEHA ASEGHDOM TESSEMA (Ethiopia) said that the humanitarian and development problems caused by the presence of mines and explosive remnants of war in different parts of the world had been a source of grave concern for many years. Those mines, which were widespread and lethal, could not be cleared without the concerted efforts of the international community. In that regard, technical and other necessary assistance of the United Nations and other relevant organizations for mine action, were of critical importance. A lot of progress had been made with regard to mine clearance in several countries, but all international assistance remained vital until affected countries had the capacity to address the problem on their own.
He said that Ethiopia, as a mine-affected country, had a considerable number of victims. It firmly believed that all States must join hands to put an end to the suffering of civilians, particularly women and children. Ethiopia had long demonstrated its commitment to tackle the complex problem of landmines by establishing a Mine Action Office, which had been legally mandated with the crucial task of conducting mine clearance and related activities even before becoming party to the Mine-Ban Convention.
Since signing the Convention on the Right of Persons with Disabilities, all efforts were being made to implement its provisions, he said. Ethiopia had been taking a number of legal and administrative measures to ensure the proper protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities in the country, including those affected by landmines. Concerning the deadline for mine clearance, Ethiopia had worked aggressively to tackle that serious problem by allocating considerable resources from its own budget, more assistance from international agencies, and the mine action supporting countries, as well as from the pertinent civil society organizations. Ethiopia had fully complied with the provisions of the Mine-Ban Convention by destroying all of the remaining anti-personnel mines well ahead of the global deadline.
MOHAMMAD WALI NAEEMI (Afghanistan) said that landmines, cluster munitions and the use of improvised explosive devices had systematically contributed to an environment of international insecurity, and had dramatically hindered United Nations peacekeeping operations. They presented an undeniable threat to the world community, and especially to certain post-conflict nations such as Afghanistan. All Member States must continue to support the United Nations and its bodies engaged in the crucial effort to eliminate those dangers.
He said that Afghanistan was pleased to co-sponsor the draft resolution on assistance in mine action, and also welcomed Colombia’s initiative to host the Second Conference Review on the Mine-Ban Convention. The Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World was an excellent step towards the eradication of mines and improvised explosive devices in developing nations, and to an end to the suffering and casualties caused by those weapons, once and for all.
There was still much work to be done before citizens worldwide would be truly protected from the landmine threat, he said. In particular, humanitarian and development assistance to mine-affected countries should prioritize victim assistance, ranging from physical rehabilitation to psychological support, and social and economic reintegration. Afghanistan had been battling the landmine problem for more than three decades, and despite concerted international efforts and the introduction of new technologies, casualties from mines and improvised explosive devices had not substantively decreased in the last few years. Those devices remained a serious and pervasive threat to the lives of Afghans, as well as to the nation’s stability and development.
SAMANTHA JAYASURIYA (Sri Lanka) said that her country had experienced the widespread impacts caused by landmines, improvised explosive devices and other explosive remnants of war, as a result of the 30-year war with a “brutal terrorist organization”. That had left deep scars, both physical and emotional. For legitimate national security concerns, Sri Lanka had not become a party to the Mine-Ban Convention, but had publicly committed itself to the treaty’s humanitarian goals. Landmines were used by security forces “always for defensive purposes” and mainly to demarcate the limits of their military installations. As a party to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed To Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects (Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons), Sri Lanka had always adhered to the important principle of distinguishing military and civilian objects in the use of mines.
She said that the challenge in the aftermath of the conflict was to expedite the mine clearance activities and provide assistance to the internally displaced persons. Meticulous care was needed to clear the areas affected by the indiscriminate use of mines, and improvised explosive devices, and other unexploded ordnance. The time required for mine clearance directly impacted the resettlement of displaced persons, and the ability to ensure sustainable livelihoods for the conflict-affected populations. Sri Lanka’s priority at this point was to ensure voluntary return of the displaced persons to their homes and villages. Sri Lanka was also committed to maintaining acceptable standards in mine clearance, in order to ensure the safety and security of returnees.
An extent of 402 square kilometres of land in northern Sri Lanka had been contaminated with about 1.5 million landmines and other explosive remnants, she said. As of August 2009, a total of more than 445 square kilometres of mine-affected lands in the northern and eastern parts of the country had been cleared. Mine action had also been integrated into the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) assistance frameworks in Sri Lanka. The mine-free areas had now been released for infrastructure development, and other economic activities under the two main resettlement and rehabilitation initiatives of the Government “Wadakkin Wasantham” in the north, and “Negenahira Navodaya” in the east. Continued assistance in mine action was vital in addressing the issues of sustainable development, long-term peace, reconciliation and stability in countries emerging from conflicts. Sri Lanka was committed to eliminating the threat of landmines.
MAJDI RAMADAN (Lebanon) said that, in the last 72 hours of the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon, Israelis dropped about 4 million cluster bombs all across South Lebanon after the adoption of resolution 1701 (2006), in which the Security Council called for the cessation of hostilities. Many failed to detonate on impact, becoming de facto landmines, which had proven to be a deadly threat to unsuspecting civilians, mainly children and peacekeepers. Twelve million square metres of land remained contaminated. It would take years to clear that threat, which directly harmed Lebanon’s children.
He said that Lebanon, faced with the catastrophic effects of the Israeli cluster munitions on its land, committed itself to help others avoid the destructive effects of those most evil of silent weapons by raising awareness and playing an active role in the development of a binding international instrument prohibiting their use, namely, the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Lebanon had linked mine action to national development and reconstruction plans through ad hoc coordination mechanisms, with the key support of UNDP, he said. In that regard, UNDP had helped draft mine action plans, including through training and technical advice. Lebanon highly appreciated the role of UNDP and the United Nations Mine Action Service in developing national Lebanese capacities.
He said that most of the information recently received from Israel was already known, as a result of the casualties themselves and three years of reconnaissance, survey and clearance operations conducted by the Lebanese Armed Forces, assisted by United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations. The Lebanese Armed Forces had been assessing the data; however, its accuracy was uncertain, considering past experience and the assessment results thus far.
Furthermore, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) remained the partner of the Lebanese people in mine clearance and in development efforts in South Lebanon, he said. Over the years, UNIFIL troops had sacrificed their lives in mine clearance efforts to safeguard the Lebanese. Lebanon appreciated the important role that UNIFIL played in South Lebanon, and fully recognized the grave sacrifices it suffered.
FEBRIAN RUDDYARD (Indonesia) said that assistance in mine action was a very important agenda item in that its discussion provided all United Nations Member States with an opportunity to forge consensus on the critical issues, and further build support for United Nations action to tackle the very tragic matter of mines and other explosive remnants of war. For its part, Indonesia was a party to the Mine-Ban Convention and had taken some initiatives to raise awareness about the importance of the Cluster Munitions Convention. However, the agenda item on assistance in mine action should not be used to define the “illegality” for a State that might decide to employ mines as a tool for the purpose of its legitimate self-defence. That was not the forum to discuss those issues.
He said, however, that assistance in mine action should unite all Member States. It should be a vehicle to bring together both parties and non-parties to the related treaties, with a view to identifying efforts for effectively tackling the problems caused by landmines. With regard to the draft resolution to be adopted on mine action, he said that there were still issues that needed to be identified in future discussions. Indonesia’s delegation, therefore, saw room for improvement in the present draft, particularly on how Member States, together with the United Nations system, could advance mine action steps.
PABLO ARROCHA (Mexico) said that, as his delegation had previously expressed in other forums, it was aware of the imminent threat to security, health and the life of the global civil population presented by mines, still in use in conflicts around the world, as well as the remnants of war that were the consequence of armed conflicts that had already concluded. The urgency for their clearance and elimination was unquestionable. His delegation believed that the Mine-Ban Convention played a key role in reaching those objectives. Its full implementation by States parties, as well as adhesion or accession to the Convention by new States, would put an end to the suffering of mine victims.
He said that Mexico had actively participated in preparing the Cartagena Action Plan 2010-2014, and in particular, section 4 related to assisting victims. The Action Plan should ensure a focus on concrete actions, clear drafting, and synergies among other international humanitarian and human rights instruments. His delegation had also highlighted the need for a focus on developing a broad national action plan that included the protection of the human rights of victims, and which also focused on the importance of establishing inter-secretarial and inter-agency coordination. He hoped that the Cartagena Conference was an opportunity for closer cooperation among all those involved in the process of mine clearance and elimination. In addition, it hoped to soon see the entry into force of the Cluster Munitions Convention, as that legal instrument would help strengthen international humanitarian law, and give appropriate attention to current and future victims who were suffering from the use of those devices.
Action on Draft Resolutions
Turning to action on draft resolutions, Committee Chairman NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER (Qatar) said that draft resolution on assistance in mine action (document A/C.4/64/L.9) had been reissued for technical reasons.
Explaining Cuba’s position before the vote, the representative said that everyone knew that country’s position, and reiterated the remarks made by that delegation in yesterday’s general debate. Along these lines, the representative wished to inform the Committee that no Cuban delegate had ever signed any draft resolution on mine action, nor had it been signed on Cuba’s behalf. Cuba, therefore, wished it to be shown in the record that Cuba was not a co-sponsor of the resolution, and hoped that delegations would take measures so that errors such as that did not recur in the future.
Also speaking in explanation of vote before the vote, the representative of Norway thanked the coordinators for their efforts and joined consensus on the draft. However, Norway still found the draft text problematic, and wished to see more prominence given to national authorities in mine-affected countries, and more emphasis placed on commercial interests in mine-action. Expertise in mine-affected countries was key to mine action, and the international community had a role to play through treaties and obligations. Only non-affected States could assist affected States in their efforts, the representative said, and the United Nations field-based organizations had a special role to play by putting mine action into a humanitarian perspective.
The Committee then adopted that resolution without a vote, concluding its consideration of assistance in mine action.
Turning to its agenda item on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, the representative of Colombia, in his capacity as Chairman of the Working Group of the Whole, introduced a draft resolution on international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space (document A/C.4/64/L.2/Rev.1).
He said the resolution arose from recommendations from the General Assembly to the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and its two subcommittees, which met periodically in order to address matters sent to them by the Assembly.
Substantive changes had not been made from the resolution adopted last year, he said. He then orally amended the draft text to put into quotation marks the last sentence in operative paragraph 28, “national space entities to lay the foundation for a regional entity for cooperation”.
Making a general statement on the draft resolution, Chile’s representative said that the draft text in Spanish had some mistakes or omissions, particularly in operative paragraphs 26, 28 and 29.
Brazil’s representative said that she was concerned by the observations made by Chile, as she did not recall the language that he provided regarding operative paragraph 26 as being the outcome of consultations of the working group of the whole. The language as it stood in the text had been duly circulated a few days ago, she noted.
Committee Chairman AL-NASSER said that, in view of the absence of consensus on the draft resolution, the Committee would postpone its consideration until next week. He requested Colombia to conduct consultations on the issues so as to achieve consensus on the draft.
He said that the Committee would meet again at 3 p.m. on Monday, 2 November, to take up consideration of its agenda item on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
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