Let me begin by thanking Belgium, Poland and Germany for convening the meeting on this important topic today. I thank also today’s briefers for their useful contributions.
Estonia fully shares the concerns expressed about the serious problems caused by explosive ordnance threat. Since the entry into force of the Ottawa Convention 20 years ago, remarkable progress has been made in the fight against ending the use of landmines. However, land mines, explosive remnants of war, improvised explosive devices still affect many countries in various ways. They affect security, hinder development, aggravate humanitarian situation of vulnerable communities, IDPs and refugees. In order to mitigate the risks posed by explosive ordnance, a more comprehensive and integrated approach is much needed.
Mine action plays a critical role in helping mine-affected countries, often fragile or suffering from protracted crises, to build and sustain peace. In 2017, the Security Council importantly adopted its first-ever resolution on mine action, recognizing the positive contribution of mine action to sustaining peace and stability. We are equally pleased that the new UN Mine Action Strategy puts emphasis on the integration of mine action across humanitarian, human rights, peace and security, and development responses, serving as a tool for conflict prevention. As the UNSC resolution 2365 stresses, it is crucial to continue including mine action during the earliest stages of planning in peacekeeping operations and special political missions, as well as in humanitarian responses. In light of these positive developments, various UN agencies support mine action and donor countries integrate mine action in their respective programmes. We hope the progress continues.
For Estonia, mine action is a priority area in our Government’s Strategy for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance. Over the years, we have increased our contributions in humanitarian demining, including financial support to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). Estonia also participates in the clean-up of various explosive remnants of war and mine-clearance activities under bilateral and international projects and missions in Mali, Central African Republic, Gaza, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Ukraine and Afghanistan.
Mine action can only be effective if demining work is complemented by effective mine risk education, mine victims assistance and stockpile destruction activities. In this regard, I would like to point out the immense work done by UNICEF in mine risk education, advocacy and survivor assistance, often using new and innovative ways to approach and educate children. Mine risk education and capacity building is also one of the priorities of Estonian mine action activities. Estonia finances a bilateral project for developing a humanitarian demining training system in Ukraine and our instructors have conducted counter improvised explosive devices training in Iraq. Estonia is committed to stay engaged for the mine action cause.
I thank you.