Top Stories : Statement by the Delegation of Thailand  H.E. Mr. Sek Wannamethee,  Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the UN in Geneva At the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention Intersessional Meetings Agenda Item 3: Matters related to the mandate of the Committee on Article 5 Implementation 8 June 2017, Geneva News

Top Stories : Statement by the Delegation of Thailand H.E. Mr. Sek Wannamethee, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the UN in Geneva At the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention Intersessional Meetings Agenda Item 3: Matters related to the mandate of the Committee on Article 5 Implementation 8 June 2017, Geneva

Statement by the Delegation of Thailand
H.E. Mr. Sek Wannamethee,
Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Thailand to the UN in Geneva
At the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention Intersessional Meetings
Agenda Item 3: Matters related to the mandate of the Committee on Article 5 Implementation
8 June 2017, Geneva

 

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

At the outset, on behalf of the Royal Thai Government, I would like to express our sincere appreciation to Austria, as Presidency of the 16th Meeting of States Parties of the Convention, for their leadership and enduring commitment in driving the work of the Convention forward. Our appreciation also extends to the ISU for their invaluable support rendered to all States Parties in paving the way towards a mine-free world.

 

Since joining the Convention in 1999, Thailand has been an active member of the Convention. Thailand was the President for the fifth Meeting of the State Parties (5MSP) in 2002 and had been chair and co-chairs of several committees.

 

Apart from Thailand’s contribution to the State Parties’ community, Thailand has been fully committed to our obligations under the convention. All stakeholders, from Government agencies to local communities, from the public sector to non-profit entities, are tirelessly working in collaboration to create a mine-free Thailand.

 

It is clear however that mine clearance is far from straightforward. Challenges and obstacles demand concerted efforts to overcome while mine clearance requires time and determination to safely accomplish the mission. It is unfortunate that we cannot declare ourselves mine-free by the November 2018 deadline set by the first extension. Nonetheless, our commitment to the Convention and our aspiration to return safe land to the people remain intact.

 

This is the reason we are here today, to share with you valuable lessons we have learnt, the progress we have made and our plans in fulfilling the Convention’s obligations.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Landmine contamination in Thailand can be traced back to the mid-20th century, when Communist insurgency and internal conflicts in nearby states left remnants along the Thai border. In the early 2000s, the Landmine Impact Survey (LIS) revealed 2,557 sq. km. of contamination in 27 of Thailand’s 76 provinces, with heaviest concentration along the eastern border with Cambodia.

 

From the very beginning, the Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC), with support from domestic and international partners, has been a leading force in mine clearance as well as humanitarian mine action. Employing a community-centered approach, TMAC, over the past 15 years, has released over 80% of the 2,557 sq. km. Therefore, only 16.5% or 422 sq. km. of work remain. Most recently, in 2016, Chiang Rai and Nan, two affected provinces in northern Thailand were declared mine-free.

 

However, this does not suggest that the challenge is any less great. Out of the remaining 422 sq. km., 359 sq.km. lie along border areas neighboring 3 countries, namely Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar. This poses several major challenges to Demining teams, which include harsh environments and difficulty in accessing the terrains. Most importantly, many areas are subject to ongoing consultations with neighboring states or awaiting official re-survey and demarcation.

 

These areas we referred to them in our request as “Areas to be demarcated” or AD, where work will take considerable time and cautiousness. To successfully carry out work in these areas, partnerships and international collaborations become most crucial. We continue to push for robust consultation with neighboring countries to expedite work in the border areas.

 

In doing so, Thailand has approached several neighboring agencies, especially the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) and the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC), to seek opportunity for the possibility of joint operations under Thai-Cambodian General Border Committee framework.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Thailand has submitted the Request for an extension to the deadline for completing the destruction of antipersonnel mines in mined areas in accordance with Article 5 of the Convention in order to successfully clear all landmines from the Thai government’s control and jurisdiction. In fulfilling our mine clearance obligations, the extension requests a period of 5 years, from November 2018 to November 2023.

 

We proposed a two phase plan of work. Phase one covers the remaining time of the first extension until November 2018. Focus will be in areas not related to border issues of approximately 14 sq. km. Phase two will be from November 2018 – November 2023 along the border areas. During this phase, engagement and involvement of local stakeholders will become even more vital as Thailand has shifted from physical clearance to Land Release.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Yesterday, Thailand had the privilege to participate as a panelist at a seminar entitled, “Universalizing Land Release”. Co-organized by Austria, Germany, the ISU, and GICHD, the event was a great opportunity for us to share our experiences on the agenda. Thailand once invested heavily on physical survey and clearance. This, however, later proved to be inefficient in terms of resources utilization and caused delay in clearance of real hazardous areas.

 

With this lesson, Thailand later shifted its methodology to “Land Release”, which heightened reliance on Non-Technical Survey (NTS) or evidence in assisting cancellation of suspected areas. As a result, Thailand was able to release an average of nearly 30 sq. km. per year from 2012 onwards, compared to only 2.4 sq. km. per year by the traditional method prior to 2011.

 

Furthermore, since January 2016, Thailand has worked with the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) on a “Pilot Project” to resurvey remaining SHAs using Land Release. The survey began on the area believed to be overestimated in the magnitude of actual contamination. The initial results of the resurvey later indicated that only around 0.22 – 13.5 % of SHAs were contaminated. Once Land Release has been applied nationwide, Thailand expects to cancel nearly 86.5% of the SHA.  

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

The task that lies ahead will be challenging yet the ultimate goal of a mine-free country is never beyond reach. During our near 20 year venture, the Royal Thai Government has put mine clearance and humanitarian mine action high on its agenda through direction, funding, and capacity building. The renewed establishment of the National Committee for Mine Action, chaired by H.E. the Prime Minister also reflects our country’s strong commitment to meet the obligations under the Convention. Our experiences and expertise on Mine Action are continued to be shared among our neighboring friends and the international community.

 

In 2016, Thailand proud to have chaired the Committee on Victim Assistance. It was an opportunity to showcase our achievement and progress and share our experiences in VA as well as take the lead in developing the Guidance on VA reporting. In addition, priority is given to the promotion of Mine Risk Education (MRE), which aims to reduce the risk of injury from mines and unexploded ordnance by raising awareness and promoting behavioral changes.

 

Mr. Chairman,

 

Thailand welcomes the advice and guidance as well as support, especially on related training and equipment such as all-terrain vehicles for our Mine Action work.

 

Thailand appreciates the continued supports from States Parties and all agencies concerned, notably the Chair of the Committee on Article 5 Implementation, the ISU and GICHD.

 

Last but not least, I would like reiterate that Thailand remains fully committed to fulfilling our obligations to ensure a world free of mines. Thailand will continue to participate at all relevant meetings of the Convention, submit its annual Article 7 Transparency Report, as well as keeping the Convention informed of our progress and actions.

 

Thank you