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Intersessional Standing Committee Meetings, 20-24 June 2011 - Summary

The full summary is available below and each thematic section can also be downloaded in PDF:

Summary - General Status and Operation of the Convention (PDF)

Summary - Stockpile Destruction (PDF)

Summary - Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies (PDF)

Summary - Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration (PDF)

Summary - Resources, Cooperation and Assistance (PDF)

Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention (20 and 24 June)

Universalization, Monday 20 June

Photo: Mine Ban Convention Implementation Support Unit

Photo: Mine Ban Convention Implementation Support Unit

In his overview of the General Status and Operation of the Convention, 10MSP President Gazmend Turdiu noted that States Parties should seize every opportunity to promote the Mine Ban Treaty, to condemn antipersonnel mine use and to discourage production and use by any actor. He mentioned his press release issued on 17 June, condemning recent mine use in Libya. In his update on universalization, the 10MSP President presented highlights from the special meeting on universalization convened in April 2011 in Tirana:

  • Universalization efforts must be strategic and specific to each country's situation;
  • Expanding acceptance of the norm banning use, stockpiling, production and transfer is essential;
  • Multi-layered strategies are key, including efforts by the ICBL, ICRC, and high-level involvement of States Parties.

After many years of serving as coordinator of the Universalization Contact Group, Canada announced that Belgium would now fill this role. Belgium expressed the will to work on MBT universalization with regional champions who have a good understanding of obstacles faced by their neighboring countries and who have ideas on how to remove those obstacles. Belgium mentioned the ICRC's good examples of alternative border protection methods, indicated that it looked forward to working with the ICBL, and underlined the importance of synergies between the MBT, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Protocol V to the CCW.

Prince Mired of Jordan, acting as the 10MSP President's Special Envoy on universalization, reported on a recent trip to the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and indicated that he would visit Tuvalu in August. He mentioned he recently attempted to visit Nepal, which was not feasible because the Nepali leadership was not ready to engage in discussions.

Finland took the floor to reiterate that it would join the MBT in 2012. A draft bill to this effect will be submitted to the Parliament in August or September 2011, in order for accession to take place in 2012. Lao PDR said it was confident it could become a State Party "in the coming years", which is what it has been saying for several years now.

Participating in an MBT meeting for the first time Tuvalu said it was hopeful to join the MBT and that a report to this end would be made available to the cabinet. Poland confirmed that it would join "next year, hopefully early next year" and that APM were already no longer available for its armed forces to use.

Morocco expressed support for the humanitarian objectives of the MBT and said that it could not join yet due to its "security situation." It mentioned that it conducts clearance operations, has no stockpiles, uses only inert mines for training purposes, and marks its mined areas. Mongolia reported it has destroyed over 100 landmines in its stockpile and repeated it follows a step-by-step approach to joining the treaty.

The UN Mine Action Team (UNMAT), representing 14 UN departments involved in mine action including UNDP, UNICEF and UNMAS, recalled that universalization of the MBT remains a priority for the UN.

Cambodia and the President Designate of the 11MSP plan to do outreach on the MBT and the 11MSP in the region, in particular towards Vietnam (a visit planned in August), Lao PDR, Myanmar and Singapore. Cambodia also mentioned a possible regional workshop on universalization to be organized together with the ICRC in Phnom Penh some time before the 11MSP.

Australia assured of its continued support for and involvement in universalization, and said it raised the issue when discussing support to mine action with states not party. Japan stated it has been approaching a number of countries in Asia in regard to accession to the treaty and will continue to do so.

The ICBL presented an overview of its universalization activities and expressed hope for positive movement from the US, Lebanon, Lao PDR, Nepal and Mongolia, among others.

Universalization -- Mine Use in Libya
Throughout the day, the 10MSP President, Germany, Canada, Australia, the ICBL and the ICRC condemned or express serious concern about recent mine use in Libya. The UNMAT noted that these recent instances of mine use show that some armed actors will indeed deploy antipersonnel mines if such weapons remain available for use.

Transparency, Wednesday 22 June
As coordinator of the Contact Group on transparency, Belgium recalled that states that failed to submit annual transparency reports were not in compliance with their treaty obligations and noted that 15 actions in the Cartagena Action Plan touched on annual reporting. It also expressed concern about the quality of those reports submitted. To address these issues, Belgium proposed adapting the Article 7 forms for states to report on similar treaties in a single report and updating the 10-year old reporting guidance document accordingly. The ICBL and ICRC agreed that the reporting forms and guidance document should be updated. The ICBL also expressed concern with the lack of regular, detailed reporting by States Parties with major outstanding treaty obligations, especially those seeking international cooperation and assistance to fulfill these obligations.

Compliance, Friday 24 June
Norway emphasized that consolidating the norm against the use of antipersonnel mines should be a concern for all, and that states needed to strongly react to use allegations. The ICBL expressed deep concern about non-compliance with the norm against mine use in regards to further to reports of use by government forces in Libya and allegations of mine use by non-states armed groups in southern Sudan.

The ICBL also raised concerns about the ongoing investigation of allegations of use of antipersonnel mines by one or more members of the Turkish Armed Forces. While commending Turkey's pledge to inform States Parties about its investigation, the ICBL raised additional questions about whether all of the original allegations were being investigated and wider efforts undertaken to prevent further use. Though there is a currently a trial related to this incident, the ICBL noted that its questions did not directly relate to the trial. Turkey simply reiterated that it could not comment while the trial is underway.

The ICRC stressed that non-compliance or even the mere perception of non-compliance harm the treaty, underlining the need for Turkey to take all allegations very seriously. It called on states to ensure their national legislation includes penal sanctions for each of the treaty's prohibitions, to ensure prosecution is possible in case of potential violations.

Guatemala announced that Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru have created an informal working group to monitor the implementation of the Cartagena Action Plan.

Mines Retained for Permitted Purposes, Friday 24 June
The following states provided updates on the number of mines they retain and/or how they are being used: Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Brazil, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Japan and Thailand. Australia, Germany and Ireland indicated that they needed live mines for training purposes. The ICBL and the ICRC both called on states to do better at reporting on past and planned use of retained mines, to provide explanations for increases in the number of mines retained, and to assess the number of mines currently retained with a view to destroy those that are not "absolutely necessary."

11MSP Preparations, Friday 24 June
Cambodia introduced the logistical aspects of the 11MSP preparations and welcomed all delegations in Phnom Penh. Youth Ambassador Song Kosal took the floor on behalf of the ICBL and the Cambodia Campaign to Ban Landmines and Cluster Munitions, to call on all states to "push for progress" by the 11MSP and to make 2011 the best year ever for mine action. The UN Office of Disarmament Affairs provided additional logistical information.

Other (2012 Meetings), Friday 24 June
The 10MSP President announced that Slovenia has offered to preside over the 12MSP, which will take place in Geneva either from 26-30 November 2012 or 3-7 December 2012. The proposed dates for the next intersessional Standing Committee meetings are 21-25 May 2012.

Implementation Support Unit; Leadership Positions on Standing Committees, Monday 20 June and Friday 24 June
The President of the 10MSP reported on the continuing review he has been leading of both the Implementation Support Unit (ISU) and the intersessional work programme.

After bilateral consultations that lasted all week, the President of the 10MSP introduced a revised draft agreement on the ISU between the States Parties and the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining. The revised draft makes the States Parties responsible for the implementation of the agreement, and includes adjustments related to human resources. The revised draft was deemed agreeable by states participating in the intersessional meeting.

Seven states took the floor to discuss the funding model for the ISU, most of them leaning towards a "hybrid model" that would combine assessed contributions based on the UN scale and voluntary ones. A proposal from the President of the 10MSP will be available at a 11MSP preparatory meeting in September, and a decision will be taken by the 11MSP.

The President of the 10MSP also presented an idea to progressively reduce the number of states in leadership positions on Standing Committees to two Co-Chairs per Standing Committee at the 12MSP, instead of two Co-Chairs and two Co-Rapporteurs each as is currently the case. The ICBL welcomed this proposal since increased demands for leadership on similar conventions in Geneva meant that there was a shortage of states with the capacity to take on these positions. No one objected to the proposal. A decision will be taken by the 11MSP.

The Implementation Support Unit also presented a detailed update on its activities.


Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction (20 June)

Belarus, Greece, Turkey and Ukraine, the four States Parties that have missed their stockpile destruction deadline, took the floor to provide updates on progress made.

An EU tender for the destruction of Belarus' stockpile destruction was reissued on 30 June 2010 and Belarus signed a contract on 21 December 2010 with a Spanish company EXPAL that will ensure the destruction of Belarus's PFM mines. The contract stipulates a 28-month deadline, which means destruction should be completed by 2013. Administrative matters were being finalized and actual destruction had not yet begun. An inventory search carried out by the Ministry of Defense showed that the numbers of stockpiled mines was slightly smaller than previously thought, with the total now remaining to be destroyed being 3,356,636 PFMs.

After investigating the case of mines that were seemingly missing from a shipment sent to Bulgaria for destruction, Greece indicated that "the initial assumption on the loss of a number of mines proved to be erroneous " and was due to un-even distribution of mines during their packaging. Though last year Greece cancelled its contract with EAS for stockpile destruction, EAS won a lawsuit that required Greece to grant it another contract to finish the destruction. EAS submitted a proposal in April 2011 which calls for the destruction of Greece's 953,285 remaining mines within 22 months. The contract is still being negotiated. In later comments, the ICBL noted that 22 months was an excessively long time period. The ICBL also called for greater oversight of the process by the Ministry of Defense since the contract was cancelled due to delays and complications in getting the destruction done in a transparent and efficient manner. Bulgaria took the floor to indicate that it considers the case of missing Greek mines to be closed.

Turkey confirmed that the 22,716 ADAM mines containing depleted uranium that remained in its stockpiles were shipped to Germany on 17 February 2011. The destruction began on 23 March 2011 in Germany, and should be completed by 31 August 2011. Germany also took the floor to confirm that 631 projectiles containing 36 ADAM mines each entered Germany on 3 March 2011, and that their destruction was solely in the hands of the German company Spree-werke L├╝bben and the NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA.)

Ukraine announced that it is conducting some destruction by ejecting mines into a "closed water reservoir" which should enable the destruction of 500,000 mines a year. An agreement should be signed "in the nearest future" with the NATO Partnership for Peace Trust Fund to support such destruction. Norway noted that equipment bought with Norwegian funds of $1 million was being installed to modernize Ukraine's existing destruction capacity and bring them up to international environmental standards. This should allow the destruction of 1.1 million mines per year. The GICHD presented the specificities of this equipment, emphasizing that the project promoted national ownership and local employment. Ukraine also mentioned planned cooperation agreements with NAMSA and the European Commission to support destruction, but still expects to need at least 4 more years before it can finish.

Norway also stated that delays in complying with Article 4 were "regrettable and unacceptable" and called for continued attention to the issue and for increased national ownership. The ICBL, the ICRC and UNMAT commented on the presentations made by the four States Parties. Iraq mentioned that the stockpiles found in 2009 had been destroyed and that 45 mines had been retained for training purposes.


Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education, and Mine Action Technologies (20, 21 and 22 June)

The session was marked by announcements from Nigeria, which confirmed that had cleared all known mined areas and that it would make an official declaration of completion of Article 5 duties at the 11MSP, and The Gambia that indicated it has no mined areas. Two states that were thought to never or no longer have mined areas took the floor: Greece said that it would re-examine to a depth of 1,20m an area on Rhodes Island that is possibly mine-affected, and Germany announced it has discovered possible mine contamination on a former Soviet military training site measuring 4km2.

Algeria, Chile and the Democratic Republic of Congo introduced their respective draft mine clearance deadline extension requests, on which States Parties will make a decision at the 11MSP. Most notably, DR Congo stated that it would request a two-year interim period to get a better picture of its contamination, instead of the four-year interim period announced earlier. Algeria indicated it had no intention of clearing its "memorial" mined areas despite criticism from Canada, Norway, the ICRC and the ICBL. Algeria also said that the military installations and pylons it had previously mined had been cleared, and it provided additional information on when and where this had taken place. Unfortunately Eritrea did not participate in the meetings so could not present the request it had submitted, the first time this has happened since states started requesting extensions.

Guinea-Bissau, Jordan and Uganda confirmed being on track to comply with their respective revised deadlines. Venezuela said it would complete clearance ahead of its revised deadline, in the first quarter of 2013. Denmark indicated its last contaminated area would be released by July 2012 at the latest. Worryingly, Chad indicated that its survey activities were on hold since mid-June 2011 due to funding shortfalls.

The Republic of Congo said it would miss its 2012 clearance deadline and would have to ask for an extension at the 11MSP, which will be after its 1 November 2011 deadline. Afghanistan announced that despite achieving 69% of the "overall clearance" as of March 2011, it would have to ask next year for an extension to its 2013 deadline.

The following states that have already been granted deadline extensions also reported on efforts made to meet their revised deadlines: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, Mauritania, Peru, Senegal, Tajikistan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe. The ICBL put forward comments and questions to all of these states, emphasizing the lack of national support for mine action in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Thailand, and the United Kingdom and the slow progress in these states as well as Ecuador, Senegal, and Zimbabwe.

Angola, Burundi, Cyprus, Iraq and Turkey provided updates on progress and challenges. Sudan (north of the country) and Serbia both said that with sustained support from donors, they would meet their respective 2014 deadlines. Bhutan also said it would be able to declare completion before its deadline.

Taking the floor separately, southern Sudan confirmed and condemned the recent use of antipersonnel mines by "renegade groups", and said that the newly formed state of South Sudan would look forward to becoming the 157th State Party to the Mine Ban Treaty. Germany and the ICBL condemned these recent instances of mine use.


Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration (22 and 23 June)

Although no less than 22 States Parties with survivors, 2 donor states and 1 state not party took the floor on victim assistance, little new information on the implementation of services was provided. However some overall progress was demonstrated in the short time since the 10MSP, most particularly in the area of coordination and planning. Statements that stood out included that of Iraq, which identified needs and gaps in services; Ethiopia that went beyond its usual vague reporting to say more concretely the progress made in 2011; and Burundi that significantly improved on past reporting by stating efforts to develop a plan with a budget. Many countries including Albania, DR Congo and Sudan mentioned the importance of national ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as a catalyst to promoting survivors' rights in their statements.

Afghanistan indicated that its action plan on disability expires at the end of 2011 and that it hopes to tackle the challenges in establishing a monitoring mechanism with support from the ISU. It mentioned that both the CCM and CRPD have passed both houses of parliament and are now awaiting the final stages before Afghanistan can join. When asked by the ICBL whether it would align its disability legislation with the CRPD, the Afghan delegation indicated that it would get feedback from the ICBL during the meetings and take this back to the capital in order to examine the legislation.

Contrary to perceptions of Serbian NGOs, Serbia reported that coordination with NGOs and other actors of victim assistance had improved since the 10MSP, and confirmed that the exact number of survivors in Serbia is still not known due to the absence of a database. Serbia said that under the existing legislation, civilians did not have access to the same high-tech prostheses as veterans, but clarified that this legislation should be amended to equalize access to services among survivors. Similarly, Guinea-Bissau reported that civilians must pay for rehabilitation services at a newly opened rehabilitation center, while veterans have social insurance to cover their costs.

Colombia presented various aspects of the Victims and Land Restitution Law 1448 passed on 10 June 2010, which guarantees "full compensation" for all victims of armed violence, including landmine/ERW survivors. It indicated that survivors were included in coordinating victim assistance through a new annual roundtable that started in 2010. Prompted by a question from the ICBL, Colombia indicated it had created a working group on the particular problem of civilian coca eradicators who are sent to work in hazardous areas. Cambodia reported improvements in the coordination of governmental actors and the provision of healthcare services since the 10MSP. It announced it would hold a national workshop on the Cartagena Action Plan and victim assistance. The ICBL recommended that Cambodia use the 11MSP to raise persons with disabilities' awareness of their rights and asked how Cambodia planned the handover of services run by international organizations to national entities.

Chad reported that a 5-year action plan had been developed with support from HI and funding from the Canadian government and was currently being examined by the government and by an expert commission. Burundi presented a detailed action plan which now requires financial support to be implemented. The ICBL commended Burundi for having a plan and a budget, and called on donors to provide support. El Salvador emphasized the importance of south-south and triangular cooperation, announced the creation of a new National Disability Council and highlighted the challenges of making services accessible to persons with disabilities in rural areas, the majority of whom do not benefit from social coverage.

Senegal confirmed it has a national victim assistance plan covering until 2014, with a budget. Encouragingly, Ethiopia indicated that eight organizations of persons with disabilities received technical and financial support from the government, and that an inter-sectoral body on disability included organizations of persons with disabilities. A national strategy on rehabilitation developed with support from the ICRC will come into force after endorsement by the Council of Ministers, as well as a 2010-2020 national disability strategy under the CRPD. Ethiopia indicated it would look into disaggregating data on landmine victims in its next report on services provided in its rehabilitation centers.

DR Congo provided an update on interministerial efforts to promote the ratification of the CRPD as an important mechanism to promote the rights of survivors. Sudan reiterated ongoing coordination efforts for victim assistance in both the north and the south and the inclusion of survivors and other persons with disabilities in each.

Iraq pointed to the need to improve data collection and indicated it has launched a national data collection project to register persons with disabilities, including the cause of their disability. It emphasized the need for continued international support to build national capacity. Tajikistan reported progress on the inclusion of persons with disabilities through their participation in an inter-agency coordination group. It mentioned ongoing cooperation with Afghanistan on psychosocial support. The ICBL commended Tajikistan for supporting two new organizations of persons with disabilities, which had been a suggestion made by the ICBL during the last intersessional meetings. Tajikistan indicated that its 5-year national mine action plan includes victim assistance, and that it also has a victim assistance-specific plan for year 2011.

Angola indicated that data collection efforts were underway, and already completed in two provinces. Workshops aimed at creating provincial victim assistance plans have been held in two provinces so far. Peru indicated that it has started to apply sanctions that have increased the respect for norms guaranteeing the rights of persons with disabilities. It also explained that some support available for the military and police was not accessible to civilians, and said that it had to call on NGO support to fill this gap. Turkey reported taking steps on in-kind cooperation and assistance for Albanian, Afghan and Azeri patients who received rehabilitation in Turkey through a bilateral agreement, but did not report on services for civilians other than the availability of a percentage of space in military facilities.

Morocco, the only state not party who took the floor, indicated that a plan for the inclusion of persons with disabilities was being finalized.

Albania reported on survivor inclusion in all aspects of coordination and implementation of victim assistance, Bosnia and Herzegovina announced that the Federation adopted a law on professional rehabilitation, meaning that this is now available in both administrative entities. Thailand announced a trust fund for the empowerment of persons with disabilities and the establishment of a survivors' network. Jordan provided an update on the implementation of victim assistance. Croatia reported on the formal establishment of a broad victim assistance coordination mechanism. It announced progress made on casualty data collection, but recognized concerns about access to personal data by NGOs that would like to provide services. Croatia asked how other states had overcome the issue of protecting personal data while ensuring services could be delivered.

Norway called for the twin-track approach to be respected when mainstreaming victim assistance into development programs, and distributed a report on a recent conference on 'Disability in Conflicts and Emergencies' held in Oslo. Australia reiterated that victim assistance was a major focus of its support to mine action, and provided detailed figures on funding.

In a statement delivered by its ambassador Margaret Arach Orech, the ICBL commended Burundi, El Salvador, Jordan, Senegal and Tajikistan for having a national plan that indicates national resources available and highlights needs for international cooperation and assistance. This is a critical first step to ensuring adequate funding and technical support. The ICBL also highlighted that the lack of accessibility, both physical and social, is one of the greatest challenges for survivors.

On Thursday 23 June, the World Health Organization presented its World Report on Disability, published jointly with the World Bank. The report available at www.who.int/disabilities/world_report provides global guidance on implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and gives an extensive picture of the situation of persons with disabilities, their needs and the barriers they face to participating fully in their societies.


Standing Committee on Resources, Cooperation and Assistance (24 June)

This was the first session of the new standing committee on Resources, Cooperation and Assistance, established at the 10MSP.

Delegations had the opportunity to hear about the partnership experiences of two donors and two affected states. Cambodia and UNDP jointly presented their cooperation and assistance framework as well as Cambodia's guidelines for all donors to Cambodian mine action, regrouped in a document entitled Partnership Principles. Similarly, Mozambique and Norway jointly presented their memorandum of understanding that supports the development of national ownership and capacity in addressing Mozambique's mine problem, noting that communication between the partners needed to increase to ensure the objectives were being met.

The following states shared information on their partnership efforts: Colombia, Ecuador and Peru who took the floor jointly, as well as Tajikistan.

Brazil, Mozambique, and the UN Mine Action Team emphasized the importance of south-south cooperation, while Mexico also mentioned south-north cooperation. Algeria, Argentina and Zambia expressed confidence that the new standing committee would help states to share best practices. Mauritania called on donors not to forget states with a small landmine problem that could be fully addressed with a little extra support. Argentina, Indonesia, Mexico and Thailand suggested creating a database with information on all available technical, financial and other resources. Belgium, as coordinator of the Contact Group on transparency, said states should makes their needs or assistance offers known clearly in their transparency reports, and that it would possibly work on a new reporting form to this effect.

In response to recent comments made by the ICBL and others on inefficiencies in the international funding system, including relative to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund, the UN Mine Action Team gave a detailed presentation on efforts they are making to improve the system, and explaining the remaining challenges to enhancing efficiency. The ICBL also made a detailed presentation on how states and other stakeholders could help ensure greater efficiency when providing multilateral or bilateral funding, launching tendering processes and establishing coordination mechanisms.

The ICRC welcomed the call by the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs to restore the European Commission's dedicated budget line on mine action. The ICRC emphasized that a purely developmental approach to funding could lead to some communities being neglected because their needs do not fit neatly within development priorities. Both the ICRC and the ICBL asked for states to share lessons learned on mainstreaming mine action funding into development budgets in a future session of this Standing Committee. The ICBL and the UN Mine Action Team also emphasized the need for national ownership and leadership.