Dubrovnik Review Conference & Cluster Munition Monitor 2015 on Victim Assistance

Posted on September 7, 2015

The First Review Conference 7-11 September 2015, Dubrovnik, Croatia, comes 5 years since the First Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions took place in Vientiane, Lao PDR in November 2010. It will evaluate the progress made by states so far to meet the lifesaving obligations they have consented to be bound by under the Convention, as well as the commitments they made in the Vientiane Action Plan.

To mark the First Review Conference of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor released the global findings of Cluster Munition Monitor 2015, a report that reviews developments in the period since the convention entered into force on 1 August 2010. It covers global trends in ban policy, survey and clearance of cluster munition remnants, and casualties and victim assistance.

In many ways a landmark humanitarian disarmament agreement, the Convention on Cluster Munitions is the first international treaty to make the provision of assistance to victims of a given weapon a formal requirement for all States Parties. It is also the first international humanitarian law treaty to include a reporting obligation for victim assistance. At this significant milestone, the fifth year since its entry into force on 1 August 2010, the Convention on Cluster Munitions continues to set the highest standard in obligations for the provision of assistance as well as on reporting practices on victim assistance.

The objectives of the convention’s victim assistance obligations were elaborated in the 2011–2015 Vientiane Action Plan adopted by States Parties at the First Meeting of States Parties in November 2010, which included a set of measurable goals and commitments. This victim assistance overview includes Monitor reporting and findings from 2010 to 1 August 2015.

Research shows that the Convention on Cluster Munitions, and victim assistance in humanitarian disarmament more broadly, has contributed to making more resources available to survivors, as well as people with similar needs—mostly persons with disabilities. Because it requires a non-discriminatory approach to providing all forms of assistance and services, victim assistance often contributes to addressing some of the needs of persons with disabilities who are not survivors, but also have requirements—for assistance and the fulfillment of their rights—that are similar to those of cluster munition victims.

Some victim assistance efforts have reached family members of people killed by cluster munitions, as well as those who survived direct harm from cluster munitions. Assistance to so-called indirect victims is, however, far less common than assistance provided to survivors and persons with disabilities.

The Convention on Cluster Munitions has provisions to safeguard against discrimination that align it with the 2008 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which includes non-discrimination as a general principle and proscribes “discrimination of any kind on the basis of disability.” In addition, the Convention on Cluster Munitions prohibits discrimination between cluster munition victims with disabilities and other persons with disabilities and requires that differences in treatment be based only on medical, rehabilitative, psychological, or socioeconomic needs.

The preamble of the Convention on Cluster Munitions highlights the close relationship between the CRPD and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  However, while domestic implementation of the CRPD is developing alongside the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the structures established under the CRPD had often not yet built adequate capacity for supporting the fulfillment of the state’s obligations under either convention. In such circumstances, existing victim assistance-specific coordination remained the most viable mechanism for maintaining progress on the objectives of the Vientiane Action Plan.

By codifying the international understanding of victim assistance and its components and provisions that originally developed under the Mine Ban Treaty (1997), the Convention on Cluster Munitions has also influenced the victim assistance commitments in the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), particularly Protocol V and its Plan of Action on Victim Assistance (2008). It has also been reinforcing victim assistance practices under the Mine Ban Treaty’s five-year action plans.
All States Parties with cluster munition victims provided some victim assistance services and nearly all have acted in accordance with the time-bound actions of the Convention’s victim assistance plan that is to be revised in 2015.

States Parties did not have the resources to replace or manage services that were reduced and programs that closed because of declines in international funding. Further international support was essential to ensure that assistance will be adequately available, particularly for survivors in remote and rural areas.

Banner image (c) CMC

Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor is an initiative providing research for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). It produces several research products including the annual Landmine Monitor and Cluster Munition Monitor reports, online country profile reports, as well as factsheets and maps.