- The Standing Committee on Victim Assistance, Socio-Economic Reintegration and Mine Awareness, established by States Parties to the Ottawa Convention at their Second Meeting, met at the headquarters of the International Labour Organization in Geneva December 4-5, 2000. The meeting was co-chaired by Japan and Nicaragua, with Canada and Honduras serving as co-rapporteurs.
- In keeping with the intersessional program’s spirit of practical cooperation, inclusivity and collegiality, the meeting was open to all interested states and relevant organizations. A total of 79 states, including several states not parties to the Convention, were registered as participants in the meeting, along with numerous international and non-governmental organizations, including the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL).
- The meeting received administrative and organizational support from the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD). The co-chairs expressed their appreciation to the GICHD for this valuable support.
- The meeting program aimed to advance the good work undertaken by the Standing Committee last year by assessing the implementation of means undertaken to meet the challenges of providing assistance to victims and delivering mine awareness education, and identifying concrete actions. In this context, the meeting was organized to cover six thematic areas: (a) linking resources with needs; (b) coordination; (c) raising the voices of landmine victims; (d) guidelines, information dissemination and information management; (e) social and economic reintegration; and, (f) mine awareness.
II. LINKING RESOURCES WITH NEEDS
- The Standing Committee was presented with an overview of what is – and is not – known about the level of need that exists regarding provision of assistance for landmine victims. It was highlighted that the mine action community is still dealing with approximations when it comes to the number of landmine victims. While in some cases fairly comprehensive data exists on the number of new casualties, these data does not indicate the total number of landmine victims or other persons with disabilities and therefore provide only limited information for comprehensive program planning. Several indicators were suggested as possible means for more effectively assessing the global need as it pertains to victim assistance.
- The Standing Committee received a presentation on resources for victim assistance, which suggested that these resources make up only a small percentage of total funding for mine action. Some donor states emphasized the difficulty in accurately denominating resources for victim assistance given multiple sources of funds. On a related note, it was highlighted that the existence of multiple sources within donor governments makes it complicated to identify where the principal points of entry are for accessing funds.
- Two tools for linking resources with needs were presented. The ICBL’s Working Group on Victim Assistance updated the Standing Committee on its work on the Portfolio of Victim Assistance Programs, indicating that in May there will be a further call for entries describing programs to be included in an updated portfolio that will be distributed in September. In addition, the ICBL’s Working Group on Victim Assistance shared its ideas with respect to how States Parties could use the Article 7 Reporting Format’s "Form J" to report on actions taken to provide assistance to victims.
- The following action points were identified with respect to linking resources with needs:
- The ICBL’s Working Group on Victim Assistance volunteered to follow-up on further developing and using various indicators to share with the Committee in May a more comprehensive view of the level of need as it pertains to victim assistance and the extent to which progress is being made.
- States Parties were encouraged to take the guidance provided by the ICBL’s Working Group on Victim Assistance into consideration when completing the Article 7 reporting format’s "Form J" and at least two States Parties indicated they would use this guidance in completing their next reports. In addition, the co-chairs indicated that States Parties should provide ongoing feed-back with respect to further enhancing the reporting of victim assistance through "Form J."
- The co-chairs agreed to follow-up on encouraging States and relevant organizations to submit projects and related information in preparation for an updated Portfolio of Victim Assistance Programs.
- The Standing Committee was presented with ideas concerning the principles that should underlie good coordination, lessons learned from the field for applicability elsewhere and possible models for organizing a mine affected state’s victim assistance efforts. In particular, the Standing Committee benefited from extremely rich presentations made by individuals from mine affected countries.
- Expert presenters shared with the Standing Committee reasons why there is a need for national coordination. These reasons include the need to develop national action plans, to coordinate the delivery of services, to facilitate the development of policies, to address gaps and prevent duplication and ensure an equitable distribution of services, to facilitate information sharing, to develop national capacity and to promote ownership and participation, to coordinate research and to serve as a focal point for relevant internal and external parties.
- The Standing Committee heard that a variety of principles should underlie national coordination, including a recognition of the following: that work in this sector requires a long-term commitment; that basic needs must be met; that there is a need to simultaneously respond to emergencies while laying the foundation for longer-term development; that national capacity building at all levels is the foundation of long-term sustainability; that persons with disabilities should be engaged at all levels of decision-making; that coordination is not control; that a variety of approaches are needed to encourage creativity and diversification; that governments in post-conflict situations are often under-resourced and that there is a need to promote a spirit of cooperation in post-conflict settings.
- It was pointed out that the United Nations Standard Rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities provide a great deal of guidance to States Parties and others in that they (a) highlight the preconditions for equal participation on the part of persons with disabilities, (b) target areas like education and employment for equal participation, and (c) outline implementation measures. In addition, it was argued that national / state authorities, the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, disabled persons’ organizations and communities all have roles and responsibilities in the implementation of these rules.
- The co-chairs encouraged all relevant parties to consider the information presented during this agenda item and suggested the possibility of follow up on this matter at the May meeting of the Standing Committee.
IV. RAISING THE VOICES OF LANDMINE VICTIMS
- The Standing Committee was advised that the sharing of personal experiences by landmine survivors helps the cause of landmine victims by reminding experts and diplomats of the human faces behind complex issues. However, it was pointed out that after having completed one cycle of intersessional work it is time develop a more active practice of inclusion to ensure that landmine survivors are effectively and substantially involved in the expression of their needs and in means developed to meet their needs.
- The Standing Committee was presented with suggestions on how to raise the voices of landmine victims, including the development of networks of persons with disabilities to promote their interests, and the establishment of legislation to protect the rights and enhance the lives of persons with disabilities. The Standing Committee was also reminded of some of the challenges associated with deepening the inclusion of the landmines survivors, including the fact that landmine victims are not typically in positions of power or decision-making, and the reality that there are special challenges faced by persons with communications-related disabilities. In order to provide some of the skills needed to face some of these challenges at the national and community-based level, as well as reinforce the participation of landmine survivors in the work of the Standing Committee, the establishment of a participatory leadership training program was proposed.
- The following action was identified with respect to raising the voices of landmine victims: The ICBL Working Group on Victim Assistance agreed to coordinate efforts with interested parties to develop a group of landmine survivors who could participate actively in Standing Committee meetings and provide leadership in their communities.
V. GUIDELINES, INFORMATION DISSEMINATION AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
- The Standing Committee was presented with a comprehensive inventory of tools that can contribute to victim assistance information tracking. Updates were provided on some of these tools, such as (a) the Rehabilitation Services Database, which is in-place in four countries with plans to expand it to six more, (b) the Information Management System for Mine Action (IMSMA), in which will be launched a incident / accident report in 2001, (c) the World Health Organization’s data collection project, which is ongoing in Africa, and (d) the manual, Measuring Landmine Incidents and Injuries and the Capacity to Provide Care, on which the Physicians for Human Rights would appreciate feedback on its use.
- With a wealth of existing tools, it was emphasized that States Parties and others should use and enhance existing tools rather than developing any new tools.
- Following a recommendation made by last year’s Standing Committee, the co-chairs agreed to follow-up in identifying national victim assistance focal points. The co-chairs agreed to provide a preliminary list of focal points at the May meeting of the Standing Committee.
- In follow-up to a recommendation made by last year’s Standing Committee regarding the importance of disseminating guidelines, the co-chairs agreed to coordinate the development of a compendium of various victim assistance guidelines documents, which would be distributed at the May meeting of the Standing Committee. Standing Committee participants also discussed the importance of all relevant actors taking these guidelines into consideration whenever appropriate.
VI. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC REINTEGRATION
- The Standing Committee initiated an extremely wide-ranging dialogue on the explicit Convention obligation to provide for the social and economic reintegration of landmine victims. Important advice was provided to the Standing Committee on several aspects of this matter, particularly with respect to vocational rehabilitation and psycho-social reintegration.
- With respect to vocational rehabilitation, it was pointed out that in post-conflict situations landmine victims face a number of challenges, including having been directly and traumatically affected by the conflict, having less access to goods and services, being socially excluded, being discriminated against in terms of access to employment, services, and credit. To overcome these challenges, vocational rehabilitative policies and programs must take an individual approach, prioritize needs and undertake labor-market assessments to ensure there is a clear link between training and the possible opportunities that exist post-training.
- With respect to psycho-social rehabilitation, the importance of survivor-to-survivor counseling was presented to the Standing Committee and it was argued that the problems faced by survivors are not as much physical as they are psychological and social. In addition, the Standing Committee was reminded of the importance of identifying needs in a participatory manner, providing economic support that is both meaningful and empowering, and the need for a holistic approach.
- The co-chairs encouraged meeting participants to consider how the advice provided by expert presenters could better inform efforts to support the social and economic reintegration of landmine survivors and agreed to investigate the possibility of following up on psycho-social rehabilitation – including peer counseling – at the May meeting of the Standing Committee.
VII. MINE AWARENESS
- The Standing Committee received a presentation on upcoming initiatives related to making advances in mine awareness programming, including a seminar in Yemen and a study on media and mine awareness by the GICHD. .
- The Standing Committee received an update on the implementation of UNICEF’s guidelines for landmine and unexploded ordnance awareness education. These guidelines have been distributed widely, translated into eight languages, and posted on the Internet. The guidelines have been used in various settings, including in Kosovo, Nicaragua, Ethiopia and Cambodia. It was emphasized that dissemination is only the start in that there is a need to undertake training in the using these guidelines as a basis.
- The Standing Committee discussed how evaluation is a necessary activity in the implementation of good mine actions awareness programs. It was emphasized that mistakes made in mine awareness programming can cost human lives, as well as result in a waste of time and resources. To prevent some of these mistakes, mine-affected countries could establish a "code of conduct" for mine awareness practitioners in their countries. Lessons learned from evaluations that have been conducted include the fact that communities do manage to cope one way or another, individuals knowingly take risks, poorly implemented programs can cause more damage than no program, and measuring the impact of programming is difficult but not impossible.
- Given the valuable points raised and lessons shared with the Committee, the co-chairs encouraged relevant parties to make use of UNICEF’s guidelines in planning and delivering mine awareness programming, and agreed to consider follow-up in May on extracting lessons learned from the actual implementation of these guidelines as well as other relevant studies and initiatives. In addition, given the importance of evaluating mine awareness programs, the co-chairs encouraged relevant parties to consider this matter in program planning and delivery.
- The co-chairs agreed to consider how to ensure that gender issues are taken into consideration at the next meeting of the Standing Committee.