UN Secretary General speaks out against devastating impact of IEDs

The Non-Violence sculpture, also known as The Knotted Gun, at the UN Headquarters. The Non-Violence sculpture, also known as The Knotted Gun, at the UN Headquarters. Photo by Matthew TenBruggencate on Unsplash

08 April 2021

UN chief calls for stronger action to address the lasting impact of landmines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices (IEDs)

At a ministerial-level Security Council debate, UN Secretary-General António Guterres spoke about the increasingly complex challenges of mine action. The increasingly urban areas of conflict, the proliferation of armed groups, and the rises in use of IEDs pose significant threats to development and stability in many countries. Still, the Secretary-General acknowledged the major progress in recent years, with UN funding marking over 560 square kilometres of land safe from mines and IEDs in countries such as Afghanistan and Cambodia between 2018 and 2020.

Secretary-General Guterres outlined three areas for attention: enhancing UN peacekeepers’ knowledge and equipment to better protect environments which face high explosive threats; acknowledging the integral role of demining efforts in durable solutions to conflict; and strengthening UN Member States’ political will in cooperating to prevent and mitigate the horrific consequences of such explosive devices. The idea that ‘demining’ efforts underpin sustainable peacebuilding efforts was reiterated by Nguyen Thi Dieu Linh, Provincial Programme Manager and Manager of the all-women demining team in Vietnam, RENEW. Nguyen emphasised how  deminers and risk educators have challenged stereotypical conceptions of femininity to keep their communities safe. UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Michelle Yeoh also spoke about similar issues during the session. She pointed to the 19,000 deaths and injuries caused by explosive weapons in 2020 – 59% of which were inflicted on civilians – as an indication of these weapons’ “clear and present danger”.

In closing, the Secretary-General said that as explosive devices “represent the worst of humanity, efforts to eradicate them “reflect humanity at its best”, and asked the Council to “commit to intensify our words to rid the world of these inhumane threats”. Empty platitudes are pleasant to report on, but if the current UN secretary genuinely wants to show his desire to make a change, now is the time to act.

 

 

To know more, please read:

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/04/1089312

https://news.un.org/en/story/2021/04/1088972

 

Author: Tan Zhong Chen; Editor: Xavier Atkins

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