FEEDBACK – HI mobilized for the Sixteenth Meeting of the States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty

Posted by: on Jan 10, 2018 | No Comments

Victim assistance was a central topic of the Sixteenth Meeting of the States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty (18 to 22 December, Vienna).

The meeting gathered over 500 delegates from 96 countries, including 14 States not party, and civil society organisations.

 20 years of implementation and universalization towards a mine-free world

The meeting opened with a ceremony for the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Convention. The ceremony was led by the Chair Thomas Hajnoczi. High-level speakers took the floor to celebrate the considerable progresses achieved through the Connvention: Peter Maurer, ICRC President, Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Co-Laureate, Tun Channareth, ICBL Ambassador, the Prince Mired of Jordan, Special Envoy of the Convention,  Barbara Haering, GICHD President and UNODA Director.

The speakers emphasized the importance of political will of states parties to bring other states along. States not parties must be reached out to and encouraged to join. The presence of China, India and Pakistan was therefore a positive sign. The acceding of Sri Lanka and the announcement of Palestine that they will ratify in near future and become the 164th state party were also important news.

The European Union announced additional support to help countries implement their obligations under the Convention under the 2014 Maputo Action Plan, including to promote the universal adherence to the treaty.

“Now the dream is coming true. 2025 is achievable”, Ambassador of Mozambique

The Meeting also saw the participation of Princess Astrid of Belgium who opened a special dialogue on the need to implement the Convention’s victim assistance provisions.

Keeping People at the Heart of the Convention: Effective Victim Assistance

Victim assistance was a central topic during the Conference. The role of HI in this regard was mentioned  by several delegations (i.e. Colombia, Afghanistan, Ireland, Australia, Italy, Belgium and Japan). Elke Hottentot, HI’s Victim Assistance Technical Advisor, participated to the High level Panel on VA. On behalf of the association, she reminded States that the last edition of the Monitor recorded a 75% increase in the total number of known casualties since 2014, with 2016 recording the highest annual numbers since 1999. However, 2016 was also the lowest ever recorded dedicated support for victim assistance, constituting only 4% of overall mine action funding, down from 9% and more some years ago. This downward trend is apparent both in the number of donor states supporting victim assistance with dedicated funds, and in the number of affected states receiving support.

She called all actors, representatives of donor and affected states alike, as well as UN agencies to:
– increase their earmarked support for victim assistance.
– move out of the mine action silo and ensure interdepartmental collaboration on VA with Ministries of Health, Social Action, Education and Labor…

“Without these actions, victim assistance risks becoming the ‘blind spot of the Mine Ban Treaty’, the forgotten pillar of this convention, even though we know that in terms of needs, victim assistance should be the longest standing pillar.”, Elke Hottentot

HI was also present through the organization of side events. HI Project coordinator in Colombia, Johana Huertas, presented very vividly, how survivors are included into the support for other survivors, during a panel on “Social and economic inclusion of survivors in Colombia”. Adelmo Jimenez added very concrete reflections on how he is supporting others through his own example and experience as mine survivor. Firoz Alizada from ICBL and the director of the Colombian Demining Unit complemented with general facts on peer-support. After the presentations, survivors and representatives from different countries (including Prince Mired of Jordan) praised these efforts and welcomed a future effective dialogue on peer-support.

HI also organized a side event on “Demining in insecure context”, with a lot of delegates from donor states (i.e. Ireland, Germany, Italy) and affected countries (i.e. Afghanistan) attending the event. The speakers concretely described the work in a complex context with very different stakeholders.

“Building trust is challenging & participative approach is essential to make sure that we are addressing the real and most urgent needs of communities and giving them the ownership.”, Thomas Hugonnier, HI


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