20 July 2010

Standing Committee on the General Status and Operation of the Convention (21 & 25 June). Co-Chairs: Ecuador & Slovenia; Co-Rapporteurs: Canada & Thailand.

Universalization: The apparent standstill on the universalization front was mentioned as a regrettable fact by a number of States Parties and other actors, and many of them including the ICBL called for increased efforts and thanked Prince Mired of Jordan for his continued diplomatic engagement as the President's Special Envoy on Universalization.

Canada as Coordinator of the Universalization Contact Group recalled that the Cartagena Summit recorded that "attracting further adherents to the Convention has grown more difficult in recent years implying that future efforts to promote acceptance of the Convention and its norms will require intensive effort at as high a level as possible."

Prince Mired of Jordan, the President's Special Envoy on Universalization, provided a brief report on his recent efforts, including advocacy missions undertaken in Lao PDR in April and the U.S. in May. He called on States Parties to urge the US to join the treaty, in light of the ongoing U.S. landmine policy review. He also presented his plans for the coming months, including tentative missions to Sri Lanka (August), Mongolia (October), as well as to Bahrain, Nepal and Micronesia. Three states not party took the floor.

Lao PDR reiterated its support for the aims of the Mine Ban Treaty, indicated a consultation process was underway with all relevant ministries to check their readiness to join, and expressed confidence that Lao could join "in the coming years."

Nepal announced the creation of a high-level task force to review accession to the Mine Ban Treaty and indicated it would "submit a report in the near future." It stated that it does not produce antipersonnel mines.

Poland reiterated its intention to ratify in 2012 and indicated the relevant documents were being prepared and would be submitted to the parliament.

The ICBL provided a detailed update on its universalization efforts carried out since the Cartagena Summit, with major focus on actions related to the U.S.'s landmine policy review process. We called on States Parties to communicate with the U.S. at the highest possible level about the importance, desirability, and feasibility of the US joining the treaty. This was seconded by Canada. Transparency and the exchange of information (Article 7)At the time of the intersessional meetings, there was a very low rate of annual transparency report submission, at 46%, though by the end of the week it rose to 50% with additional submissions.

Belgium as Coordinator of the Transparency Contact Group recalled how essential it is to share complete and precise information to help reach the treaty's aims, as required by the treaty and reinforced in the Cartagena Action Plan. It noted an improvement in the reporting on cooperation and assistance from donor states and expressed the wish that it would prompt affected states to better report on their needs.

The ICBL expressed concern with the low submission rate and recalled that submitting transparency reports is a legal obligation and also an opportunity to highlight achievements, re-focus attention on the work ahead, and seek international assistance.Mines retained for development and training purposes (Article 3)Many States Parties gave updates on how they have used mines retained under Article 3, including information on the destruction of some of the mines.

Cyprus noted it had done a review of the number of mines retained to ensure it was the minimum number strictly necessary and decided it would reduce the number by about half.

Turkey said it would review its number of mines retained when it completed stockpile destruction, and Thailand indicated it would be reviewing its retention plans. Portugal and Australia noted that they used inactive mines for training. Belgium made a detailed presentation on how they are using retained mines, noting that they mostly use inert mines, but also have a limited number of live mines for training in destruction.

Norway restated its views that Article 3 should not be allowed to undermine the ban on stockpiling, noting its concern that many states were retaining mines for too long without reporting on how they were used.

The ICBL also encouraged states to use expanded form D to report on mines retained, and expressed major concern with the large number of States Parties that are retaining mines but apparently not using them for permitted purposes. This would appear to constitute ongoing stockpiling and should be treated as a compliance issue.

Compliance: grave concern over allegations of mine use by Turkish ArmyTurkey made a brief statement about recent allegations of mine use by the Turkish armed forces, going on the record for the first time on this serious matter. Turkey indicated a military investigation was underway and that no comments could be made until the investigation report was available. They said the findings of the inquiry would be shared with States Parties and the international community.

The ICBL expressed grave concern about the allegations, saying they were the most credible allegations to date on use of antipersonnel mines by armed forces of a State Party. The ICBL raised a number of questions about the allegations, including where the mines might have come from, whether it was an isolated incident or a broader pattern, and whether there was a need for more training for the armed forces about the Mine Ban Treaty.

The ICRC said that this situation highlighted the need for national implementation measures including penal sanctions for violations.National implementation measures (Article 9). The ICRC gave an update on the status of implementation of Article 9.

Malawi spoke on the status of its draft legislation, and Algeria noted it was taking legal action following several seizures of antipersonnel mines, as outlined in their Article 7 report. The ICBL followed by noting that recent compliance concerns showed the urgency of adopting national implementation measures, but also the need for informal treaty mechanisms to follow up on any allegations with concerned States Parties.

The practical implementation of the various other provisions of the convention: Norway remarked on the importance of compliance for all States Parties, stating that in light of recent allegations of violations, each state must not only take national responsibility, but contribute to any necessary consultations and cooperation in the spirit of Article 8.1.

Standing Committee on Stockpile Destruction (21 June) Co-Chairs: Bulgaria & Indonesia; Co-Rapporteurs: Lithuania & Philippines.

All four states that still have obligations under Article 4 are now in violation of the treaty for missing their stockpile destruction deadline. Belarus reported that the second tender issued by the European Commission had been unsuccessful because of a lack of compliant offers, but that a third, possibly less restrictive tender would be issued in the "near future."

Greece announced that it had cancelled its contract with EAS on 16 June because of series of delays in destroying the mines. It added that a contract with another company was being finalized and would have a six month deadline for destruction. Greece added, "we are confident that early in 2011 we should be able to announce the complete destruction of our antipersonnel mines stockpile."

Turkey said its stockpile destruction was progressing at full speed, with 266,143 mines left to destroy as of June 2010, including 22,788 ADAM mines. It predicted the process would be completed this year

Ukraine reiterated its call for technical and financial assistance from international partners. It said it had used its one incinerator to destroy some PFM mines and expected to be able to destroy 1 million mines a year (for a total of six years of destruction), but it had to halt destruction for lack of funds. It announced that the United States agreed to fund a second incinerator, which could reduce the amount of time for destruction to three years. Funding through the EC could increase capacity.

The ICBL called on all States Parties and other stakeholders, especially the European Commission, to continue to monitor the situation and to take proactive steps if progress is stalling, including through political engagement and contributing financial, technical or other resources.

Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration (21 & 24 June) Co-Chairs: Peru & Turkey; Co-Rapporteurs: Australia & Uganda

On 21 June, five states with significant numbers of survivors presented updates on victim assistance. Afghanistan listed several accomplishments including the establishment of an inter-ministerial task force on disabilities, as well as two new regional disability stakeholders coordination groups meeting on a monthly basis to monitor the implementation of the national disability action plan.

Cambodia reported on progress made towards reducing discrimination against persons with disabilities and improving awareness of their rights.

El Salvador indicated it had elaborated guidelines for the implementation of the Cartagena Action Plan.

Peru reported on its recently completed victim assistance needs assessment and on efforts to raise awareness of the Cartagena Action Plan within various government ministries.

Uganda reported on several victim assistance activities and announced a national workshop would be held in August 2010 for stakeholders to review the 2008-2012 national plan on victim assistance to align it with the Cartagena Action Plan.

Following these first five interventions, the ICBL highlighted the positive mentions of inclusion and efforts to implement the CAP, as provided in some of the interventions. It also drew attention to information provided on national contributions to victim assistance and called on other States with significant numbers of victims to include similar points in their interventions later in the week.

On 24 June Ron McCallum, Chair of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, presented the work of the Committee and possible synergies in the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Mine Ban Treaty's obligations on victim assistance. Twelve States Parties then mentioned the relevance of synergies with the CRPD when implementing victim assistance obligations.

The ICBL spoke on the importance of the CRPD for victim assistance and the role that survivors played in forming the convention.Fifteen states with significant numbers of survivors presented updates on victim assistance.

Jordan listed its priorities for future plans and underscored that victim assistance remains the least well-funded from among the mine action pillars, and called for support from the international community.

Mozambique provided an update on the collaboration between the National Institute for Demining (IND) and the Network of Mine Survivors (RAVIM) to identify and assess the needs of survivors living in rural areas near Maputo.

Burundi called attention to the massive number of new survivors that have been identified in that country and the significant needs the country faces. It highlighted a recent technical support visit from the ISU as a push forward in its efforts to elaborate a national plan including a budget.

Sudan reported progress in coordinating government and civil society efforts and in aligning its current victim assistance plan with the Cartagena Action Plan.

Nicaragua announced its ongoing census of persons with disabilities and Ministry of Health efforts to collect data on all services received by mine/ERW survivors.

Senegal reported progress in developing a national victim assistance plan and carrying out a survey of the needs of civilian mine survivors.

Colombia shared information on the formation of a national victim assistance working group that is developing a national plan, expected to be available by the second half of the year.

Guinea Bissau announced efforts to work with two networks of disabled persons organizations and efforts to raise funds for victim assistance through funding to consolidate the peace process.

Croatia announced the first inter-ministerial coordination meeting on victim assistance and its preparations of a victim assistance plan as well as the establishment of new emergency response team for mine/ERW survivors.

Bosnia and Herzegovina announced advances in coordination of victim assistance, finalization of the national casualty database and coordination, as well as plans for an internet-based "victim assistance" portal.

Thailand reported supporting local survivors associations in mine affected provinces and its revision of the national victim assistance plan.

Tajikistan reported on cooperation with the national association of persons with disabilities in realizing victim assistance projects. Albania and DR Congo also provided updates.

Chad had noted improved coordination in the preceding segment of the session.These updates by states were underscored by two rounds of comments and questions by the ICBL.

Following these, Guatemala, Chile and Iraq also provided updates from the floor on victim assistance efforts since Cartagena. Sheree Bailey, Victim Assistance Specialist at the Implementation Support Unit, delivered a presentation on inclusive development, a topic covered for the first time in the plenary of a treaty-related meeting.

The ICBL described the civil society call for inclusive development including well-considered disability planning in the regular delivery of relevant services and construction of accessible structures and also providing direct support to landmine survivors and their representative organizations.During the opportunity for brief updates on other developments and initiatives in support of victim assistance through the Cartagena Action Plan several states took the floor.

The ICBL summarized the activities undertaken by its network of victim assistance focal points since the Cartagena Summit, including the development of advocacy plans aiming at concrete changes in the lives of victims, and the sharing of information on the Cartagena Action Plan with local partners. We also expressed disappointment that civil society, and especially landmine survivors, were excluded from half of the first day of the parallel programme on victim assistance, where issues of interest to survivors were discussed.

Parallel Programme for Victim Assistance Experts (22 & 23 June)

On 22 and 23 June 2010, the Parallel Programme for Victim Assistance Experts was facilitated by Peru and Turkey, Co-Chairs of the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance and Socio-Economic Reintegration. Victim assistance experts from 18 countries with significant numbers of survivors were registered to participate, along with ICBL representatives and other victim assistance experts. It included an exchange of experiences on challenges and opportunities in implementing the Cartagena Action Plan. At the request of the ICBL, the programme this year included a session on capacity building of survivors and their organisations. Prior to the session, the ICBL had solicited input from its VA focal points and others to include a variety of perspectives.

Following the opening presentation by the ICBL, Firoz Ali Alizada facilitated an active discussion from government experts and civil society representatives on the topic. Issues covered in the rest of the program included national developments, personal mobility, as well as monitoring and reporting to address the rights and needs of mine survivors and other persons with disabilities.

Standing Committee on Mine Clearance, Mine Risk Education and Mine Action Technologies (22 & 23 June) Co-Chairs: Greece & Nigeria; Co-Rapporteurs: Colombia & Switzerland

Nicaragua announced it completed its clearance obligations, thus making Central America the world's first mine-free region. The ICBL congratulated Nicaragua and expressed hope that international donors would redirect funds previously used to support clearance into victim assistance initiatives in Central America.

Ten states that were granted extensions of their mine clearance deadline in 2008 and 2009 reported on progress made:Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Ecuador, Senegal, Tajikistan and Thailand indicated they were behind on their annual goals as laid out in their extension requests, while Cambodia, Jordan, Mozambique, Peru and Uganda reported being on track to meet their plans should sufficient resources be raised.After completing clearance of a first set of four mined areas in the Falkland Islands/Malvinas, United Kingdom was supposed to present a plan by 30 June for clearing other areas, but it indicated the plan would be presented at the 10MSP instead.

Venezuela did not report clearing a single mine since its extension request was granted. These updates we followed by several rounds of comments and questions by the ICBL.

Six states that have or will submit mine clearance deadline extension requests in 2010 took the floor. Chad, which has been granted a first extension in 2008, presented challenges and plans for meeting its obligations under Article 5.

Colombia requested a ten-year deadline extension and indicated it did not intend to follow the Analyzing Group's suggestion to initially request two years to get a better picture of the status of mine contamination.

Denmark, which has been granted a first extension in 2008, requested a final 18-month extension and indicated it would be mine-free by July 2012. Guinea Bissau did not present a request yet but predicted it would ask for 1-2 additional years. Mauritania asked for a five-year deadline extension. Zimbabwe said it would ask for another two years to get a better picture of the mine contamination because it did not receive any international support to do it in the first extension period.

The ICBL made a number of comments on those statements, which are available at www.icbl.org//intersessionals10. Several States Parties with mine clearance deadlines in 2012 or beyond also provided updates.

On 23 June the James Madison University's Centre for International Stabilisation and Recovery and Colin King Associates Ltd presented initial findings of a study on the effect of aging on emplaced mines, including implications on strategic planning and mine risk education (an important point made was that images of deteriorated mines should be presented in mine risk education sessions). Responding to the presentation, the ICBL emphasised that all mined areas must be cleared, no matter how old. A few states reacted including Mauritania that strongly supported the ICBL's comments.Special Session on Cooperation and Assistance (25 June).

A special session aimed at identifying key issues and questions on how to strengthen and improve international cooperation and assistance on victim assistance, mine clearance and other issues was held on 25 June. Susan Eckey, President of the Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free World, explained the session had been designed as an answer to the high level of interest expressed in the issue of cooperation and assistance in Cartagena and a possible precursor to a new standing committee on resources.

Turkey introduced the President's discussion paper on cooperation and assistance on victim assistance, explaining reasons why victim assistance is the most complex aspect of mine action, and recalling that addressing this challenge requires that greater priority be given at all levels to disability issues, that the capacity of States be increased to deliver on their responsibilities and that survivors and other persons with disabilities be included in decision-making processes. Many States Parties as well as the ICRC and UNMAS engaged in the discussion that followed.

The ICBL gave detailed recommendations for states in a position to assist, for states with significant numbers of victims, and for national and international service providers and organizations of people with disabilities.

Norway introduced the President's discussion paper on cooperation and assistance on mine clearance, highlighting the gap between projected funding needs and anticipated contributions. Reduced funding will be a threat to many clearance operations but it may also represent a critical opportunity to re-think forms of cooperation that can lead to more effective and resource-efficient implementation of Article 5 obligations. Many delegations participated in the discussion that followed.

Zambia reiterated its proposal to create a Standing Committee on resources, as a forum where affected states and states in a position to assist would exchange information on how best to mobilize existing or new resources. The ICRC and several others urged states to support this proposal.

Germany called for an urgent "shift in thinking" including steps towards national ownership, building sustainable local capacities, the improvement of coordination between donors, and the best possible use of synergies across instruments of international humanitarian law. The European Union said that integration of mine action into the development agenda is the only way to ensure sustainable results.

The ICBL pointed out several areas where additional reflection is required such as the ratio between funds spent on clearance and funds spent on coordination, the heavy bureaucracies associated with some multilateral channels, and concrete opportunities for improving productivity per dollar spent. We also reiterated our view that all states are in a position to assist through financial, technical or other forms of support. The discussion on cooperation and assistance on other issues was not possible due to time constraints.

Statements for all sessions that were made available to the ISU are available at http://www.apminebanconvention.org/intersessional-work-programme/june-2010/

ICBL and CMC Side Events. On 21 June Lao PDR, UNDP and the Cluster Munition Coalition organized a briefing on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, to review the latest developments on the status of the Convention and to lay out next steps to prepare for the First Meeting of the States Parties taking place in Vientiane, Lao PDR from 8-12 November 2010 as well as the Convention's entry into force on 1 August 2010.

On 22 June the Monitor launched its country profiles webpage during a well-attended lunchtime briefing. Country profiles replace the country reports in the annual Landmine Monitor Report, which was published from 1999-2009. They include summaries of developments related to mine ban policy, cluster munition ban policy, mine action, casualties and victim assistance, and support for mine action. (www.the-monitor.org/index.php/cp/display/region_profiles/)

On 23 June, after the day of meetings, ICBL member Survivor Corps organized a farewell event to celebrate survivorship and thank partners on the occasion of the closing down of Survivor Corps. Jerry White, Survivor Corps co-founder, shared his personal thoughts and many members of the mine ban community took the floor to thank Landmine Survivors Network / Survivor Corps for the impressive work accomplished throughout the years to raise the voices of survivors in national and international forums.

On 24 June a public conference by ICBL member Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan was held at the Graduate Institute and brought together students, researchers and members of the general public interested in the landmine situation in Myanmar/Burma. The presentation was followed by a lively questions and answers session. Photos by Mary Wareham are available athttp://www.flickr.com/photos/marywareham/sets/72157606007655893/