As was decided during the first meeting of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their destruction in Maputo, Mozambique, the first meeting of the Standing Committee of Experts on Victim Assistance, socio-economic integration and mine awareness took place in Geneva, from 15 th to 17 th September, 1999, with Switzerland and Mexico as Co-Chairs, Japan and Nicaragua as Co-Rapporteurs, and with the logistical support from the Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining. In Maputo , it was agreed that there is a need to integrate mine victim assistance into broader public health and socio-economic strategies and include awareness and education. The main accepted principles include comprehensive and integrated approach; non-discrimination of victims; participation of those affected and all relevant partners in the planning process; national ownership; capacity building and sustainability as important elements; and programs based on:
  • Monitoring and surveillance
  • Prevention and mine-risk awareness
  • Medical treatment
  • Physical and psychosocial rehabilitation
  • Social and economic reintegration and reconstruction
  • Institutional reinforcement

In Maputo , the following future actions were agreed upon

  • Promote the exchange of experiences taking into account the particularities and characteristics of successful national, subregional and regional programs, adapted to the cultural and socio-economic reality of the different countries, considering that there is not a single model to address this issue.
  • Support a wider and integral scope of landmine victim assistance, including medical and rehabilitation aspects of individuals as well as communities and the reconstruction of the socio-economic conditions in affected communities.
  • Facilitate on country level the practical use of the Strategic Framework for Victim Assistance, including mobilization of resources to allow affected countries to utilize and further refine this and other tools, including ICBL guidelines.
  • Support the practical use of the Landmine Awareness Guidelines in a minimum number of countries, and report back on their application at the September 2000 meeting.
  • Sharing of information on resource allocation at the donor and mine affected country level, as well as from operational agencies, in order to identify existing gaps and make most efficient use of available funding and avoid duplication.
  • Formulate a methodology and systems for evaluation of mine victim assistance program implementation. In other words, identify benchmarks for progress.

The First Standing Committee of Experts on Victim Assistance, socio-economic integration and mine awareness

The First Standing Committee of Experts brought together more than 150 participants representing a wide range of Mine Action actors including representatives of State Parties from different sectors, other interested States, Non Governmental Organizations, Intergovernmental Organizations, and Landmine victims, among others. The participants had open and frank discussions about different aspects of landmine victim assistance, socio-economic integration and mine awareness.

I. Exchange of Experiences

With the objective to provide empirical background for in depth discussions of the most important issues relating to victim assistance, there were various presentations of landmine survivors and mine-affected regions and countries.

Landmine Survivors

Four landmine survivors from different backgrounds gave personal accounts of their experiences, the difficulties they and their families faced, both at the personal level, as well as at the social/community level. Their presentations emphasized the following points:
  • most mine victims are civilians;
  • most mine victims die; many contemplate suicide;
  • most need employment opportunities to resume productive lives in their communities.
  • Less than 10 percent of victims have access to proper treatment or rehabilitation. Access to care is a central issue.
  • Landmine Victims also include families and mine-affected communities.
The survivors called on States Parties:
  • to include mine victims and associations of and for persons with disabilities as equal participants in program planning.
  • to enact and enforce legislation to protect the rights of persons with disabilities.
  • to view victim assistance as a part of development strategy and human resource development, not as charity.
  • to facilitate victim assistance by allocating funds to a range of programs (medical care, physical and psychosocial rehabilitation , social and economic reintegration) to help survivors.

National Experiences

Countries from four regions gave presentations on the regional and national approaches to victim assistance, socio-economic reintegration and mine awareness. 1) Europe (Bosnia-Herzegovina)
  • Aggressive multimedia campaign used for public information and risk reduction have had promising results yielding decreased mine incidents and being cost effective.
  • Future plans include: creation of database; database accessibility to all Mine Action Groups; Standardized Reporting forms
  • Approach gave importance to:
  • Coordinated, integrated approach (UNICEF/KFOR arrangement)
  • Need for international standards for Mine Action
  • Comprehensive reporting mechanism
  • Must devise Mine Action plans according to needs of communities not deminers
  • Must consider integration with members of humanitarian sector to address housing, sanitation, and agricultural issues
2) Latin America (Nicaragua)
  • Campaigns using actors within State and social authorities necessary to implement Mine Action programs
  • Importance of communication with military authority on Mine Awareness and Mine Clearance
  • Must Organize monitoring of mine areas and victims and create database on mine related issues
  • Pointed out negative affects of Hurricane Mitch on Mine Action programs
  • Pointed to the newly created National Demining Commission as the national coordinating body of Mine Action, including the participation of Ministry of Health
  • Institutional actions focus on the training of rehabilitation specialists and creation of rehabilitation units in mine affected areas,
  • Intersectorial actions count on the participation of the Organization of American States (OAS), NGO´s, Civil Society, in addition to governmental actors
  • Admits there is a great need to improve victim assistance both at the institutional coordination level, as well as at the implementation level.
3) Asia (Laos, Afghanistan and Cambodia)
  • UXO related accidents affecting children has increased
  • Access to land for agriculture and villages has decreased
  • People are aware of the danger and have learned to live with it
  • Mine Awareness is a behavior modification process; approach must be scientific and persuasive; must provide people with knowledge and skills to avoid danger
  • Key to capacity building is empowering local communities
  • Cultural issues need to be addressed in planning Mine Awareness programs
  • Impact of Mine Awareness if difficult to address and needs more work
4) Africa (Mozambique)
  • Mine victim assistance must be put into a broader development context and the overall health situation of Mozambique, which faces many major health problems like malaria, AIDS, etc.
  • Pointed out the importance of creating employment and promoting informal employment opportunities for the disabled and the population in general.
  • The positive experiences made with the strategic framework of the Mozambican Government, which allowed a rapid analyses of the situation in a comprehensive and integrated way, define gaps and prioritize donor intervention, among other issues.
  • A number of initiatives in the policy framework field resulted in the approval by the council of ministers of the “National Policy on the Disabled”; the installation of the “National Demining Institute” to improve effectiveness in cooperation and ensuring transparency for the State and its international partners; and the establishment of an “Intersectorial Technical Group” which will operationalise the strategic plan to ensure the coordinated monitoring of program implementation.
  • Institutional reinforcement has been considered essential in guaranteeing sustainable support to mine victims.
  • Emphasis placed on giving people in community active role in demining operations.

II. Integral landmine victim assistance

Throughout the discussions, there was a consensus on the need for a comprehensive and integrated action oriented approach to landmine victim assistance. This integral development approach must include medical and rehabilitation aspects, reconstruction of socio-economic conditions as well as institutional reinforcement. This integral approach must also contemplate the active participation of victims and their communities, the governments of mine affected countries, donor countries, regional and international organizations, non governmental organizations and private enterprises in a coordinated effort. These actors should participate in mine action according to their strengths and possibilities, avoiding duplication, competition and increased costs and bureaucracy keeping in mind the main objective of providing assistance to landmine victims.

Medical and rehabilitation aspects of individuals and communities

Assistance to landmine victims is being highlighted recently because of the world wide interest generated by the Ottawa Treaty. The SCE reemphasized that assistance for landmine victims resides within the larger context of general disability issues. It is clear that all services and programs which target landmine victims are inclusive of all persons with disabilities. While it is recognized that issues of poverty and underdevelopment underpin the needs of the disabled, there is a need to focused on the support of physical, psychological and economic rehabilitation and reintegration of the disabled marginalized groups. There is a necessity to include language on this issue in the resolution at the Meeting of the Parties. It was pointed out that more attention needs to be given to special issues related to gender issues regarding landmine victims which have been largely overlooked. Psychological and social support are important ingredients of recovery from landmine injury, yet this area of programming appears to be under supported and should be included in the victims assistance programs.

Reconstruction of socio economic conditions

Economic reintegration , employment and education of landmine survivors were raised as critical components to the true reintegration of landmine victims and it was suggested that more emphasis be placed on vocational training and job training in entrepreneurial skills and education opportunities be made available to landmine victims. It was also noted that microcredit and income generating projects can play a crucial role in economic and social reintegration. Although the development of a mine affected country is an element to be considered when evaluating victim assistance issues, national plans for assisting the special needs of disabled persons, including landmine victims must be addressed as an integral element in health planification and as a part of national mine action. It is imperative that: Action points:
  • Include in the resolution at the Meeting of the Parties that state parties be urged to establish and implement national disability laws;
  • Fund peer support programs;
  • Support and educate families and communities;
  • Facilitate activities in which children with disabilities and children without disabilities mix together.
  • Programs aimed at the general population do not unintentionally leave out landmine victims and other persons with disabilities,
  • A minimum standard level of basic amputee-specific needs be addressed.

Mine Awareness

Since the Meeting of the State Parties in Maputo, there has been some concern over the placement of Mine Awareness within the issue of Victim Assistance. Many argue that Mine Awareness should be placed within Mine Clearance, but others maintain that in terms of Mine Victim prevention, Mine Awareness is an essential element. The discussions advocated the fact that Mine Awareness is more than education, it is used to implement Mine Action Programs. Humanitarian Mine Awareness helps people understand why they are at risk and aims to change behavioral patterns and in some cases has greater success cultural and religious leaders are incorporated into mass media campaigns. It was agreed that this issue should continue to be discussed by this Standing Committee of Experts until the Conference of the Parties in September of 2000, when it could be recommended that this issue be taken up by another Standing Committee.


Landmine survivors participation in national and program level planning and implementation was raised as a key issue. A list of suggestions for all in victim assistance actors could be elaborated called “How to Include Persons with Disabilities including landmine survivors, in activities and decisions which concern them.” Suggestions to Mine Action Actors:
  1. Participation of landmine survivors and victims in the National Mine Action Coordination Bodies
  2. Support organizations of disabled people.
  3. Hire disabled people for victim assistance programs.
  4. Remove all barriers to participation in institutions and organizations.
  5. Education and awareness programs on the issues of disability.

National coordination bodies

Several countries have developed national coordination bodies to address mine action issues including victim assistance. The roles of these bodies as focal point for mine action center on facilitating communication among all actors, strategic planning, and coordinating integrated policy. It was, however, noted that all mine-affected countries have different situations and each country, with access to information about Mine Action elsewhere, should define its own Mine Action Structure. It was suggested that the National coordinating bodies could also be a center for data collection in particular with regards to tracking victims post hospital care, rehabilitative activities, economic development activities, among others, as well as maintain a data base about mine action information in general. Among the mine action actors, it is imperative that national coordinating bodies, often referred to as Mine Action Centers, include representatives from the health-rehabilitation and disability sectors, as well as the mine victims.
  • Action: Suggest that each mine affected country have a focal point on Victim Assistance and encourage development of national coordination bodies bringing together all actors of Victim Assistance.

III. Guidelines

The importance of providing a set of guidelines for work in victims assistance was reiterated. The Guidelines provide a framework intended to help a wide range of actors, including donors and program implementers, develop and fund the most effective mine victim programs, focusing on integration, participation, partnership and sustainability. Various presentations were given on different guidelines elaborated for Mine Victim Assistance. An overview of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) Guidelines for the Care and Rehabilitation of Survivors was presented. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and World Health Organization (WHO) presented their strategic framework. As well, UNICEF promoted the need for the development of guidelines on psychosocial integration. The UN Standard Rules and the Strategic Framework were mentioned several times during the discussions, as were the Bad Honnef Guidelines.
  • Action: It was decided that a network group will further analyze the content and the future use of strategic orientations and guidelines and elaborate recommendations for the next ISC (see VII).

IV. Identifying existing gaps and available funding

  • Victim Assistance has been funded less than Mine Awareness and Mine Clearance.
  • Increased funding and other forms of support for victim assistance should come both from mine-affected countries as well as donor countries.
  • There is a need for better communication between donor and mine affected countries in order to identify how better to allocate funding, priorities and best strategies.
  • It was agreed that funding for mine victim assistance must be included in the larger framework of mine action.
  • Funding for national capacity building programs for mine affected countries, which include elements of sustainability was encouraged.
  • It was suggested that donor countries pull resources together to improve efforts of victim assistance, including the prevention aspect of victim assistance.

V. Portfolio

As a tool for victim assistance coordination, a Portfolio could be compiled. Such a Portfolio could streamline the sharing of information among mine-affected and donor governments, NGO´s, and other relevant actors. The Portfolio could contain information on a broad range of activities, promote transparency among actors, highlight funding gaps, facilitate contact between actors in the area of victim assistance and with the proper follow up, could contribute to the collection of general information on Mine Action.

VI. Methodology and systems for evaluation (Indicators)

There was agreement that improvement in the management of mine action information is needed especially regarding data on landmine victim assistance in areas like post hospital care, identifying danger areas, behavioral and environmental issues, social and economic reintegration aspects, as well as psychosocial elements. Strategies for measuring progress in victim assistance (indicators of success) need to be developed on several levels: the program level, on the impact of national coordination bodies, and on progress made toward objectives of the SCE process, ie implementation of the Treaty provisions for victim assistance. When monitoring and measurement tools are in place, a more focused dialogue on issues of quality and sustainability will be possible between the actors of various levels, the countries and the Demining International Community.

VII. Future Outlook

From the profound discussions as well as the presentations during the First Standing Committee of Experts on Victim Assistance, Socio-economic Reintegration, and Mine Awareness Meeting, the SCE identified the following areas as target issues for immediate work to be undertaken by the identified facilitator and all other interested parties in what is being referred to as “network groups”: 1. Information and Data CoordinationThe Geneva International Center for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) 2. Victims Assistance ReportingThe International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), Handicap International (HI) 3. Portfolio of Country and Regional ProjectsThe International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) 4. Strategic Approach to “Guidelines”Nicaragua and Mexico 5. Donor Coordination for Project FundingSweden Each of the Network Group Facilitator should present the March 2000 SCE Meeting with concrete conclusions on the above target issues in keeping with the general discussions, recommendations, and suggestions of the First SCE Meeting. Annexed to the present Report is the “Executive Summary Report”, prepared by the Co Chairs of the Standing Committee of Experts on Victim Assistance, Socio-Economic Reintegration and Mine Awareness and the Fact Sheet containing Information on the Facilitators of the Network Groups.