Ban Advocates in Laos campaiging for awareness on cluster munitions and mines

Provincial Meeting organised by the Laos BA in Lao PDR
© Seevanh Xaykia - Lao Ban Advocate Officer
A meeting session
© Seevanh Xaykia - Lao Ban Advocate Officer

To ensure the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) in Laos, the Lao Ban Advocates (BA) supported by Handicap International, organized in January 2012 provincial meetings for raising awareness of the provincial authorities on the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Such meetings were held in Savannakhet Province on the 18th and in Khammouane Province on the 20th of January.  In his opening speech, Mr. Phoukhao Keomyxay- Director of the National Regulatory Authority (NRA) in Savannakhet Province- reminded that “Laoshas signed and ratified the CCM.  The Lao Government was instrumental in the development of the cluster munitions convention, and was its second signatory. Laos hosted the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions in November, 2010. The National Regulatory Authority is coordinating the implementation of the Vientiane Action Plan”.

 The various representatives from those two provinces were coming from different ministries’ departments. Respectively around 22 people and 21 people attended the meetings, representing authorities such as Department of Labour and Social Welfare, Education, Health, Justice, Information and Culture, Finance, Public Works and Transport, and members of the Mass Orgnanisations, Lao Women Union, Lao Front National Construction, and Lao Youth Union.  Journalists from The Lao Star Chanel, the Savannakhet development newspaper, the local radio and television of Savannakhet and Khammouane provinces covered the events. 

The goal of the BA’s through those meetings was primarily to raise awareness on the (CCM).  It also provided them with an opportunity to advocate a better implementation of the CCM as well as to raise awareness onthe Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) in their own country.

 During the meetings the BA presented the CCM with a particular focus on articles 4 and 5. Indeed, those articles, specifically dealing with clearance and victim assistance, permitted to remindLao Government’s obligationsand commitments under the CCM.

The provincial authorities also participated in a ” Working Together” exercise in order to learn how to effectively provide support in terms of implementation.  After the exercise, participants were divided in two groups to discuss the key messages delivered during the meeting and to further consider what could be done to support implementation at their own level.Each group then presented its findings to the other.  

Thanks to those meetings, provincial authorities are now fully aware of the CCM and the MBT.  The BA also recalled the importance of the “Vientiane Action Plan”, drafted during the First Meeting of State Parties held in Ventiane, and hope that, as a result of the various information provided during the meeting, the participants now feel fully capable of incorporating such considerations in their own provincial policies and actions.  

Seevanh Xaykia