I thank Kenya and the other co-sponsors for convening this meeting and the briefers for their insights. The beginning of 2021 was indeed bleak for UN peacekeepers. Switzerland joins the Security Council and Member States in condemning the killing of and all acts of violence against UN personnel and calls for appropriate accountability measures. Such attacks may constitute a war crime.
Let me highlight two priorities for Switzerland to reduce the threat posed by IEDs:
First, safe and secure management of ammunition is critical. Host government ammunition stockpiles are often a source of explosives for IEDs. Switzerland pursued a political initiative on this issue already in 2015, and provided technical support to countries such as Mali and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Host governments need more support to identify and dispose of surplus ammunition and develop sustainable national capacities. In this regard, the UN International Ammunition Technical Guidelines provide a useful framework.
Through ammunition leaks, Contingent Owned Equipment can equally become IEDs targeted at peacekeepers. Swiss experts contributed to develop and currently support the implementation of the UN Manual on Ammunition Management. Switzerland calls on the Security Council to strengthen ammunition management measures when mandating and implementing peace operations.
Second, in the aftermath of recent conflicts, abandoned explosive ordnance has fallen into the hands of armed groups and become a source of IEDs. Explosive ordnance, mines and IEDs found in the theatre of operation must be safely and rapidly cleared. Switzerland provided expertise to elaborate the UN Military Engineer Unit & Counter Explosive Threat Search and Detect Manual and currently supports the development of training material. We call on the Security Council to consider the rapid control over abandoned stockpiles and clearance of explosive ordnance in peace operation mandates.
In line with resolution 2518 (2020), Switzerland supports UN standardization efforts as well as robust pre-deployment training. In this regard, we would be interested in hearing from the Force Commander of MINUSMA how these Manuals are being implemented in Mali.
Peacekeeping missions are one of the most effective tools of the Security Council, and force protection is in this regard of paramount importance. Switzerland remains committed to enhancing the safety and security of peacekeepers, and will continue to highlight its importance in our first-ever bid for a seat on the Security Council.
I thank you.