Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action, observed on 4 April:
The path towards achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development must be clear of landmines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices. All people have the right to live in security, and not fear their next step. Mine action clears paths and creates safe ground on which homes can be built or rebuilt. Mine action changes mindsets so that people know how to protect themselves. It gives people and communities new horizons and hope.
For more than 20 years, the United Nations has helped States to free themselves from the threat of mines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices. This year, the United Nations has launched a new strategy and a campaign — “Safe Ground” — to ensure that no one, no State and no war zone is left behind. With this global campaign, our aim is to turn minefields into playing fields, and to raise resources for victims and survivors of armed conflict.
I call on all States to provide political and financial support for mine action. I also call on States that have not yet acceded to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and associated Protocols, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions to do so without delay. For prevention, protection and lasting peace, universalization of these treaties is essential and strict compliance with international humanitarian law is a must.
I pay tribute to the United Nations Mine Action Service and to the women and men who show extraordinary bravery in advancing this vital work, literally step by step. On this International Day for Mine Awareness, let us reaffirm our commitment to eradicating the horrendous damage caused by landmines and assisting those who have been harmed by their use.