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What else is happening on victim assistance?



Cooperation with other relevant legal instruments

At the 2014 and 2013 Protocol V Conference, High Contracting Parties agreed to "continue to exchange practical experiences and lessons learnt with other relevant international legal instruments". Two highly relevant instruments are the Convention on Anti-personnel Landmines and Convention on Cluster Munitions. Set out below is the latest news on these two Conventions.

Convention on Anti-personnel Landmines

The Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer or Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (otherwise known as the Anti-personnel Landmine Convention (APLC)) was the first instrument to seek assistance for the victims resulting from the use of a particular weapon. The APLC contains similar provisions as Protocol V on victim assistance.
At the First Review Conference of the APLC, States Parties agreed on matters such as the definitions of who is a ‘victim’ and what is ‘victim assistance’. The Nairobi Action Plan 2005 – 2009: Ending the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines determined that the ‘States Parties will enhance the care, rehabilitation and reintegration efforts’ through action steps addressed to affected, donor and all other States. At the Second Review Conference for the APLC, States Parties agreed to the Cartagena Action Plan 2010 – 2014: Ending the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines, which set out 14 comprehensive steps to be taken on victim assistance. The Third Review Conference adopted the Maputo Action Plan, which called for States Parties to assess the needs of victims, implementation and monitoring of measurable objectives to assist victims, enhance the relevant legal and policy frameworks, enhance the accessibility of services to victims, ensure the full inclusion and participation of victims in matters that affect them, and all States Parties are tasked to raise awareness of victims' rights.

Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, Implementation Support Unit, The role of mine action in integrating victim assistance into broader frameworks (2014) (available in Arabic, English, French and Spanish)

Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention Implementation Support Unit ‘Five key examples of the role of mine action in integrating victim assistance into broader frameworks’ (2014) Publications about the Convention

Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention Implementation Support Unit ‘AP Mine Ban Convention: Checklist’ (2008) Publications about the Convention

Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention Implementation Support Unit ‘A Guide to Understanding Victim Assistance in the Context of the AP Mine Ban Convention’ (2008) Publications about the Convention

Convention on Cluster Munitions

The Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) has further elaborated on the rights and needs of victims. The preamble of the CCM specifies that victim assistance must include ‘medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support’ and ‘social and economic inclusion’; assistance needs to be ‘age and gender sensitive’; acknowledges the role of the CRPD; and emphasizes the need for coordination between the different which address the ‘rights and needs of victim of various types of weapons’. The main provisions on victim assistance are found in Article 5. Affected States Parties are to provide ‘age and gender sensitive assistance, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, as well as provide for their social and economic inclusion’; collect reliable data on victims; assess the needs of victims; develop and implement laws and policies; develop national plans and budgets; mobilize resources; ensure that any discrimination is only based on ‘medical, rehabilitative, psychological or socio-economic needs’; consult with victims and their representatives; designate a focal point on victim assistance; and promote relevant guidelines and good practices.

The Vientiane Action Plan was agreed to at the CCM First Meeting of States Parties. The Action Plan builds on the work of other fora on victim assistance and contains concrete steps with timeframes. Also, at the first Meeting of States Parties, a ‘Survivors’ declaration’ was presented in which cluster munition and landmine survivors outlined their expectations of States Parties and their own commitments to the CCM.

At the CCM Fourth Meeting of States Parties held in Lusaka, Zambia, September 2013, the following challenges and questions were identified in the 'Lusaka Progress Report':

One challenge is to ensure that victim assistance activities are based on the needs and priorities of those affected, and that resources are made available and used efficiently. A second challenge is to create sustainable services and programs, and to ensure that the lifelong needs of victims are met. A third challenge is to fully integrate Victim Assistance efforts with the wider agenda on development, disability and human rights, and to make best use of opportunities that allow for a holistic approach that encompasses all victims of explosive remnants of war.

Questions to discuss at 4MSP may include:

  • How can States Parties link victim assistance efforts under the CCM to activities promoting the rights of victims under other relevant instruments of international law, as well as in development cooperation?
  • How can States Parties better include survivors in the planning, priorities and implementation of victim assistance?
  • How can States Parties best operationalize their obligations towards victims of cluster munitions, whilst observing their obligation to not discriminate on the basis of what caused the injury/disability?

The above challenges and questions are also highly relevant to Protocol V's work on victim assistance.

Bonnie Docherty ‘Breaking New Ground : The Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Evolution of International Humanitarian Law’ (2009) Human Rights Quaterly, vol. 31, pp. 934-963

Markus A. Reiterer ‘Assistance to Cluster Munition Victims: A Major Step Toward Humanitarian Disarmament’ (2010), chapter 3 of ‘Implementing the Convention on Cluster Munitions’ UNIDIR Disarmament Forum

Other organisations working on victim assistance

World Health Organization

The World Health Organization (WHO) supports the awareness and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In addition to this it has created a Taskforce to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities are adequately mainstreamed in WHO programs and it actively promotes the inclusion of disability as an important element in national health policies. Also the WHO develops normative instruments to reinforce medical care and rehabilitation services and helps countries to include medical care and rehabilitations services into primary health care. Finally, the WHO promotes the development of Community-Based Rehabilitation Programmes and supports strategies to ensure that professionals defend the rights and dignity of people with disabilities.

United Nations Development Programme

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is involved in victim assistance and its focus depends on the individual country’s needs and priorities. It provides technical and advisory Mine Action services in about 40 countries worldwide. It supports countries to meet their obligations deriving from the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and ensures that gender considerations and an emphasis on the role of women are included in all Mine Actions interventions. UNDP has been actively involved in several countries such as Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Colombia, Iraq and Mozambique. In Iraq for instance, UNDP supports rehabilitation centres and facilitates income generation projects for persons with disabilities.

United Nations Mine Action Service

The United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) chairs the Inter-Agency Coordination Group for Mine Action (IACG-MA), comprising 13 UN departments, agencies, programmes and funds involved in mine action to varying degrees and in accordance with respective mandates. The IACG-MA shares the vision of " a world free of the threat of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), where individuals and communities live in a safe environment conducive to development and where the needs of mine and ERW victims are met and they are fully integration into their societies". At the global level, UNMAS and IACG-MA partners support efforts to provide landmine and explosive remnants of war survivors and other victims with the services required for the full enjoyment of their human rights (mine action pillar of victim assistance). It also advocates for the universalization and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and it represents the DPKO. UNMAS presence in the field, notably through the management of mine action coordination centres, has contributed to promote the delivery of services to address the needs and rights of landmine/ERW survivors and other victims. In a number of UNMAS field programmes (Afghanistan, DRC and Sudan) these efforts include direct support by UNMAS for the establishment and/or enhancement of national disability frameworks for all persons with disabilities that are consistent with the CRPD. UNMAS programmes in the field work on victim data collection and on advocacy efforts for victim assistance, including for the ratification and implementation of all victim assistance-relevant treaties (APMBC, CCW Protocol V, CMC and CRPD).

The International Committee of the Red Cross

As part of its humanitarian mission, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) works to alleviate human suffering in armed conflict and other situations of violence. This includes the provision of assistance to conflict victims, including those injured by landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war. Victim assistance work of the ICRC covers a broad range of activities consisting of emergency and continuing medical care, physical and functional rehabilitation, psychological support, social reintegration, economic inclusion, and the development and promotion of legislation and policies that advocate effective treatment, care and protection for persons with disabilities. These activities are carried out by the ICRC with the support of National Societies, and/or by National Societies in their own countries with the support of the ICRC and/or the International Federation of the Red Cross. Access to physical rehabilitation, as one important part of victim assistance, has been provided by the ICRC Physical Rehabilitation Programme (PRP) and the Special Fund for the Disabled (SPD) for more than 30 years. In 2010, the PRP supported 84 centres in 25 countries and 1 territory, while in 2011 the SFD supported 59 centres in 27 countries.

HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL

HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL, an independent international aid organization, works alongside people with disabilities and vulnerable populations. Particularly, it ensures that their essential rights are respected: the right to health, education, employment, accessibility and security. Handicap International’s work specifically targets populations at risk of diseases, violence or accidents liable to cause disability; refugees, populations living in disaster areas or displaced by crisis and catastrophes, especially targeting people who are disabled or injured; and populations threatened by weapons such as cluster munitions and landmines, during or after a conflict.

Handicap International ‘Victim Assistance: How to Ensure Mine/ERW Survivors Participate in, and Benefit from, Disability-Inclusive Development?’ (2014) HI: Brussels

Handicap International ‘Factsheets: How to implement victim assistance obligations?’ (2013) Victim Assistance Factsheets