I am pleased to send greetings to all participants in the Fourteenth Annual Conference of the High Contracting Parties to Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
Landmines, booby-traps and other explosive devices continue to cause great suffering to people and communities during and after hostilities, and exacerbate other consequences of armed conflict. Not only do they kill and maim civilians indiscriminately and cause excessive harm to combatants, they hamper post-conflict recovery and the return of populations, economic growth and development.
Amended Protocol II has helped to catalyze international efforts to reduce the menace of these weapons, yet serious challenges remain, especially the prevalent use of improvised explosive devices. High Contracting Parties need urgently to identify how best to protect civilians and assist countries in need by analysing national annual reports and exchanging information on how the Protocol is being implemented.
The revival of the Group of Experts is fostering greater cooperation and synergy and has rejuvenated the Protocol. I welcome this trend and encourage Parties to strengthen transparency in order to enhance cooperation within the context of the Convention.
I also encourage further efforts towards implementing the Accelerated Plan of Action on Universalization of the Convention and its annexed Protocols adopted by last year’s Fourth Review Conference. I commend the 98 States that have expressed their consent to be bound by Amended Protocol II, and I call on all countries that have not yet done so to become Parties to it as soon as possible, particularly those States Parties that have acceded to the original Protocol II.
The United Nations continues to fully support the implementation of this important instrument of international humanitarian law. I wish you a successful meeting.