Cluster Munition Victim Assistance—4MSP

Posted on September 24, 2013


At the Fourth Meeting of States Parties (4MSP) to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, 10-13 September 2013, states rededicated themselves to fulfilling their victim assistance obligations under the convention. Also, in the margins and lunch breaks of the meeting, victim assistance stood out as a hot topic of discussion and interest. States and civil society paved the way forward, demonstrating strong support for victim assistance and a willingness to further extend victim assistance beyond the realm of humanitarian disarmament forums. A clear consensus emerged that victim assistance can reach more survivors and other persons with disabilities with greater involvement of states, survivors, practitioners and experts.

Questions on victim assistance discussed during the 4MSP included:

  • How can States Parties link victim assistance efforts under the CCM to activities promoting the rights of victims under other relevant instruments of international law?
  • How can States Parties better include survivors in the planning, priorities and implementation of victim assistance?
  • How can States Parties best operationalize their obligations towards victims of cluster munitions, whilst observing their obligation to not discriminate on the basis of what caused the injury/disability?

The victim assistance plenary session was held on 12 September. Statements were made by 11 States Parties, including five with a responsibility for cluster munition victims, and three donor states plus  the UN and the GICHD. The CMC  has made a summary of the statements. Most statements can also be found in full here on the CCM 4MSP VA webpage. The CMC also made an intervention responding to the questions posed by the victim assistance coordinators: read the full CMC statement here.

Victim assistance side events

12 September: Demystifying Victim Assistance, HI

Elke Hottentot, Victim Assistance Technical Advisor, HI, addressed the need for clarifying the components and measures of victim assistance and presented a series of practical factsheets on “How to Implement Victim Assistance Obligations“.

Ingunn Vatne, Senior Advisor, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented an inclusive view of victim assistance from the perspective of a donor state that is also a new State Party to the CRPD and distributed a new policy paper on Norway’s international efforts to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, that also refers specifically to victim assistance, Norway: Disability Policy 2013.

Margaret Arach Orech, Founder and Director of the Uganda Landmine Survivor Association and Anne Rouve-Khiev,  Country Director of HI’s programme in Lao PDR both presented examples from the field. See the PowerPoint presentation for the entire side event: Demystifying VA.

12 September: Mine/Explosive Remnants of War Victim Assistance: what role for information management systems?, GICHD

Background information on the side event can be found here on the flyer. Presentations included an overview on Information Management and Victim Assistance by Ken Rutherford, Director JMU-CISR and slides on Data Trends & Lessons by Loren Persi, ICBL-CMC.

11 September: Victim Assistance, more than the sum of its parts: Reporting on the Mechanisms that Reach Victims, ICBL-CMC / the Monitor

Francky Miantuala, Coordinator of the Congolese Campaign to Ban Landmines moderated the event and gave a background introduction relating the discussion to the recent ratification of the CRPD by the Democratic Republic of Congo and the associated challenges of victim assistance and disability rights coordination.

Caroline Wörgötter of the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations in Geneva has represented victim assistance for Austria in the CCM and CCW. Now, as cochair of the Mine Ban Treaty VA standing committee, together with Colombia, Austria will be leading the way to the next review conference of the AP mine ban convention in Maputo. The presentation outlined the need to continue a focus on the implementation of victim assistance provisions under the CCM; for thematic discussions and exchange to take place in an interdisciplinary broader framework; and increased advocacy and importance of inclusion as summed up by the call “nothing about us without us”

Dijana Pleština, Director of the Government of the Republic of Croatia Office for Mine Action presented on her experiences, having dedicated more than a decade to improving victim assistance in Croatia; a country with responsibility for significant numbers of mine, cluster munition and ERW victims with the greatest responsibilities and expectations of support.

Megan Burke, coordinator and editor for the Victim Assistance team of the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor; also the Coordinator for the ICBL-CMC’s Survivor Network Project, made a presentation on the Mechanisms that Reach Victims based on the Monitor’s findings and ongoing research.

10 September: Beyond Article 5: the international community’s responsibility to assist victims, AoAV

Sulaiman Safdar, Executive Director, Afghan Landmine Survivors’ Organization (ALSO) , gave an overview of the situation in Afghanistan and the importance and the urgency of victim assistance: “Both the affected states like my country Afghanistan and the donor countries are responsible to do whatever they can to respond to the needs of victims as long as there is need.”

Majida Rasul, Legal Advisor, AoAV addressed issues of technical support and coordination.

Bonnie Docherty, Senior Clinical Instructor at the International Human Rights Clinic – Harvard Law School, examined the CCM’s international cooperation and assistance provisions, particularly as they relate to victim assistance.  In Article 6, the convention establishes a clear responsibility for states parties to support affected states’ implementation of their victim assistance obligations. The need for this has obligation been emphasized since the very beginning of the Oslo Process. Because assistance under Article 6 of the CCM can come in range of forms, every state should be in a position to contribute something. Financial assistance is essential and may be most often highlighted; however, technical and material assistance also play a crucial role. Technical advice is a kind of assistance a state with fewer financial resources can provide. The CCM does not mandate a specific approach to international assistance for victim assistance, but it should be age- and gender-sensitive and address the range of support victims need.


For more information on cluster munition victims and victim assistance see Victim Assistance—Cluster Munition Monitor 2013.

Posted in: VA processes