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Address by Secretary (West) Shri Vikas Swarup at the UNSC Open Debate “Mine action and sustaining peace: Stronger partnerships for better delivery" (April 08, 2021)

April 08, 2021

Thank you, Mr. President.

At the outset, I would like to congratulate Your Excellency Mr. Bui Thanh Son, on your appointment as the Foreign Minister of Vietnam. Allow me to join others in extending best wishes to you and your delegation for a successful presidency of the Security Council for this month. I also wish to express my sincere appreciation to your delegation for organizing today’s open debate on this very important issue. I also thank Secretary General Antonio Guterres; Mr. Stefano Toscano, Director of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD); Ms. Michelle Yeoh, UNDP Goodwill Ambassador; and Ms. Nguyen Thi Dieu Linh, Provincial Programme Manager and Manager of project RENEW, the ‘all-women demining team’ in Vietnam for their briefings.

Mr. President,

2. The UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions have recognized the relevance of mine action across the pillars of peace and security, humanitarian issues, human rights and development. India supports the efforts of the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS), UNDP and other agencies which have been working in conflict zones across the world. UNMAS’s mine action has remained pivotal to the safety and security of our peacekeepers.

3. It is a matter of deep concern that terrorist groups such as Da’esh, Hayat Taharir Al Sham [HTS], and Al Nusra Front, have resorted to land mines and IEDs as low cost and effective options to spread terror and threaten innocent civilians. We are also witnessing a similar trend in Mali, where peacekeepers have been targeted by IEDs. Such usage has only increased; we need to strongly condemn and take effective measures to combat this trend. The countries affected by landmines, particularly with conflict situations, require assistance. We need to provide assistance without politicizing the issue, since it is the people who suffer from this menace.

Mr. President,

4. India is fully committed to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons and is a signatory to all five of its Protocols. We attach high priority to the full implementation and universalization of Amended Protocol-II as it strikes the right balance between humanitarian concerns and legitimate defense requirements of States, particularly those with long borders. We have a moratorium on the export and transfer of landmines and are committed towards reducing the dependence on Anti-Personnel Mines (APM’s). We believe that the availability of militarily effective alternative technologies that are also cost-effective can help facilitate the goal of complete elimination of APMs.

5. India has enacted the Right of Persons with Disability Act, 2016 which addresses the concerns of persons with disabilities, including landmine survivors. In October 2018, the ‘India for Humanity’ initiative was launched as a part of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th anniversary celebrations, with a focus on Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of compassion and service to humanity. Under this initiative, 13 artificial limb fitment camps have been held by India in 12 countries and more than 6500 artificial limbs have been fitted, mainly in Asia and Africa. We are pleased to convey that the limb fitment camps, which aim to provide for the physical, economic and social rehabilitation of the affected persons and help them regain their mobility and dignity, have now been extended up to March 2023. In this context, we acknowledge the association of BMVSS Jaipur, led by Dr. D.R. Mehta, for contributing artificial limb "Jaipur Foot” for thousands affected by disabilities brought by conflicts and land mines.

Mr. President,

6. India is a leading contributor to UN peacekeeping operations and has extended assistance towards international de-mining and rehabilitation efforts. We have also undertaken specialist training on Counter IED, bomb disposal and de-mining operations with numerous partner countries, including Australia, Cambodia, Indonesia and Uzbekistan. Our 12-member team of experts participated in a joint counter explosive threat task forces training exercise Ardent Defender-2019 in Ontario, Canada. About 130 personnel from 13 African States participated in exercise AFINDEX, a multinational exercise on demining and unexploded ordinance held in India in March 2019. In addition to providing training in demining, India had also provided seven demining teams to clear landmines in the Northern part of Sri Lanka in 2010 which helped facilitate the return of IDPs to rebuild their lives.

7. We remain willing to share our best practices with member states and the United Nations with respect to minimizing damages from IED development and proliferation and stand ready to contribute towards capacity building, victim assistance and victim re-habilitation.

I thank you, Mr. President.

New Delhi
April 08, 2021

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