21 June 2010
ICBL Statement on Universalization
Intersessional Standing Committees Meetings, 21 June 2010. Delivered by K. Asia Derlicka, ICBL Advocacy and Campaigning Officer. On behalf of the ICBL, let me begin with congratulating His Royal Highness Prince Mired on his remarkable efforts to further universaliztion of the treaty. We are very lucky to enjoy His Highness' continued commitment to a mine-free world and wish him success in his future undertakings. His role as special envoy can make a real difference, but in our view, it is crucial that all States Parties feel an obligation to promote universalization.
Despite an apparent standstill on the universalization front for more than two years now, the ICBL still believes that universal adherence to the treaty and its norm is indispensable to achieve a world free of mines. Since we last met at the Cartagena Summit last December, the ICBL and its members continued to actively encourage States not party to join the treaty by seizing every opportunity at the national and international levels. It has become clear that the US landmine policy review is a serious effort and is a major universalization opportunity. We have undertaken a number of actions to ensure that the review process is inclusive, thorough, and aimed at ultimate accession to the Mine Ban Treaty.
On 1 March we launched a global action, during which ICBL members, including survivors, in 60 countries around the world contacted US embassies requesting meetings to discuss the policy review. In the course of March and April close to 40 meetings with US representatives were held around the world, generating multiple reports by US embassies back to the Department of State. In May, the State Department initiated formal consultations with NGOs, which included many ICBL members, including a group of survivors. Parallel, the USCBL continued its national efforts, such as extensive direct engagement with officials, ongoing online petitions addressed to the President and Secretary of State, and a letter delivered in March to President Obama signed by 65 prominent U.S.-based NGOs, urging submission of the treaty to the Senate for its consent before the end of 2010.
The USCBL also contributed greatly to the success of Senator Leahy's remarkable initiative - a letter signed by 68 US senators, delivered to President Obama on 18 May, asking the administration to join the treaty. In addition, the ICBL recently supported and promoted an online petition to President Obama launched by a global online advocacy community - Avaaz. We are close to hitting the target of 200 thousand signatures.From our discussions with numerous US officials, we firmly believe that it would make a huge difference if a significant number of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty would communicate with the US at the highest possible level about the importance, desirability, and feasibility of the US joining. And, given the timing of the US policy review, States Parties should do so now.
Other ICBL members in States not party have continued to promote the treaty and accession by their governments. These includes ongoing engagement of ICBL campaigners in Nepal, Sri Lanka (a seminar on landmines and ERW for media in March), Georgia (a memorandum signed between the government and NGOs in April), and in Israel, where the Survivors Corps has been very busy with its "Mine-Free Israel" campaign, to name just a few. Several ICBL members continued to engage with non-state armed groups, activity by a national campaign resulted in April in a decision of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines to remove its minefields.
The ICBL also promoted the treaty at the League of Arab States at a regional conference held in Cairo in May. On the European front, we engaged with the President of the European Parliament, who in his press release issued on the occasion of the International Day of Mine Awareness reminded Finland and Poland to join the treaty by 2012 in order to strengthen "Europe's credibility in the fight against antipersonnel mines." We also expect Mongolia to fulfill its earlier announced commitment and accede to the treaty very soon.
Last but certainly not least, the ICBL has continued close dialog with the Lao PDR. We applaud Laos for its leadership on the Convention on Cluster Munitions and for hosting the Convention's First Meeting of States Parties this November, but we strongly believe that by the time of that meeting, Laos should have made the decision to become a party to the Mine Ban Treaty. Again, we want to urge all States remaining outside of the treaty, and especially those that have already taken steps towards accession, to join the treaty without further delay. We also urge all States Parties to fulfill their commitment under the Cartagena Action Plan to "seize every opportunity to promote" the convention and its norm and to join efforts of the Universalization Contact Group.
The ICBL would like to take this opportunity to thank Canada which has led the group's efforts as well as all States Parties and the ICRC, for their universalization work. Lastly, we would also like to take this opportunity to call on all States to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions that so far has been signed by 106 states and ratified by 36, and will enter into force on 1 August this year.