Margaret Arach Orech, Ambassador to the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Member of Uganda's National Council for Disability, Director of the Uganda Landmine Survivor's Association, and a landmine survivor, delivered the ICBL statement on Victim Assistance during the Intersessional Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, on June 23 2011, in Geneva.
Song Kosal, mine victim from Cambodia, welcomed delegations to the Eleventh Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Phnom Penh in November and encouraged states “to bring Laos, Singapore, Vietnam, the USA, and Tuvalu with you.” Together with Firoz Alizada, Campaign Manager of ICBL and mine survivor from Afghanistan, and Bekele Gonfa, mine survivor from Ethiopia, she actively participated in the parallel program on Victim Assistance.
Five Ban Advocates were actively engaged in the Intersessional Standing Committee meetings at the Convention on Cluster Munitions from June 27-30 2011 in Geneva: Raed Mokaled from Lebanon; Lynn Bradach from the United States; Thoummy Silamphan with Seevue Xaykia as Interpreter and Ban Advocates National Coordinator from Lao PDR; Sladjan and Dusica Vuckovic with Sanja Ignjatovic as Interpreter from Serbia. The Ban Advocates lobbied for several delegations, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, China, Croatia, Lebanon, and Vietnam. On June 28, during the plenary session on Victim Assistance, both Thoummy Silamphan and Raed Mokaled made an intervention on victim assistance on behalf of the CMC.
Raed Mokaled stated, “… most states at this session do not have experts on their delegations, let alone representatives of disabled persons’ organizations or cluster munitions victims. Yet, according to the Vientiane Action Plan, cluster munitions victims should be included in all convention-related activities. Intersessional meetings are one of the most significant opportunities for the participation of cluster munitions victims at the international level, as this is where the most work gets done. We expect to see more survivor participation at the Meeting of States Parties in Lebanon in September, where we will also be waiting to hear about concrete steps for implementing Article 5 of the Convention through the Vientiane Action Plan framework and in line with other international humanitarian and human rights laws.”
On June 28 2011, at the victim assistance session of the Intersessional Standing Committee meetings on the CCM, Lao PDR stated that “the national coordination mechanism for victim assistance involves all victim assistance stakeholders, including a growing number of cluster munitions survivors from the Lao Ban Advocates”, stressing that, “The inclusion of cluster munitions survivors is greatly supported by the work of the Lao Ban Advocates”. Lao PDR added that “more efforts are needed” to “actively involve cluster munitions survivors and their representative organizations as required under Article 5 of the Convention.”
During the same session, Australia stressed the importance of survivor inclusion, saying, “Recalling the fundamental principle of inclusion, survivors are central to efforts. Progress could be enhanced if they are further empowered to actively participate in the broader frameworks of disability and development at the national, regional, and international levels to ensure that their rights and needs are part of the agenda. We must increase our collective efforts. Whether we work on disarmament, disability, or development, we must ensure coherence in our efforts to ensure sustainability and maximize the impact on the ground to promote the full inclusion and effective participation of all persons with disabilities, including victims, in the social, cultural, economic, and political life of their communities.”
“Inclusion” was also the key word in Norway’s statement in that session, “Inclusion of victims and survivors is key to ensure that assistance programs and services are best tailored to address the needs of victims. In addition, inclusion is also an obligation based on a core human right to participate in decision-making affecting one’s own life.” Referring to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Norway stated, “The inclusive and non-discriminatory approach must be enhanced and improved.”
Norway remembered that at the end of May, representatives from governments, humanitarian organizations, and civil society gathered in Oslo for a conference on Disability in Conflicts and Emergencies. This conference provided a unique opportunity to share experiences and possibilities on how to include persons with disabilities at all levels and responses to humanitarian emergencies. “Discussions at the conference showed that exclusion and discrimination of people with disabilities in emergencies is largely due to exclusionary policies and practices, inaccessible planning, and lack of participation.” According to Norway, it underlines “that persons with disabilities must be empowered to advocate for their own legal rights and included in all stages of planning, mapping and implementation.” Norway stated that it supports peer support programs for victims.
Switzerland ended its statement in this session by stating, “The active participation of victims in the respective planning and implementation process remains a further priority of Switzerland (…).”
For more information on the Ban Advocates, see www.handicapinternational.be/
More information on the side event on psychological and psychosocial support for victims and the involvement of the Ban Advocates, during the Intersessional Standing Committee on the CCM in June in Geneva in the HI Update on Victim Assistance