Mine and Cluster Bomb Survivors Urge Governments to Meet Treaty Obligations

For Immediate Release

Mine and Cluster Bomb Survivors Urge Governments to Meet Treaty Obligations

Vienna Expert Conference on Victim Assistance Opens Today

VIENNA - Landmine and cluster munition survivors worldwide still lack access
to services that would fulfill their most basic human rights, said the
International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and the Cluster Munition
Coalition (CMC) in a joint statement. A conference opens today in Vienna
to examine how states will fulfill their promises to survivors and
their communities. The event brings together governments, United Nations
officials, victim assistance experts, survivors and civil society
advocates. 

"Mine and cluster munition survivors, especially in remote areas,
continue to suffer not only from their injuries, but also from extreme
poverty," said Firoz Ali Alizada, ICBL Treaty Implementation Officer and
a mine survivor himself. "Survivors are eager to contribute to and be a
full part of their communities, including participating in economic
activities. Long-term support for them should be a priority in
development and poverty reduction plans," he said.

The economic inclusion of survivors and other persons with disabilities
is a matter of human rights. It requires eliminating discrimination in
society at large and particularly in the workplace. It should include
physical access and accommodations in the workplace, vocational
training, capacity-building, awareness-raising among employers, and
grassroots economic empowerment projects that effectively change the
day-to-day lives of survivors.

Funding from donor states and from affected states themselves is key to
ensuring promises on victim assistance are met. "The question is not
only how much money is spent, but how well it is spent. Listening to
survivors will help direct money where it is really needed," said Dejan
Dikic, cluster munition survivor and a member of Handicap
International's Ban Advocates group.

States have a set of complementary and similar obligations under
the Mine Ban Treaty, Convention on Cluster Munitions, and Convention on
the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Better planning and
coordination will allow for more efficiency in meeting these
obligations.

The new convention banning cluster munitions, which will enter into
force on 1 August 2010, includes groundbreaking provisions on victim
assistance. It sets high standards and builds on lessons learned from
ten years of Mine Ban Treaty implementation. Both treaties oblige policy
makers to pay attention to voices from mine- and cluster
munition-affected communities. The empowerment, inclusion and meaningful
participation of survivors are crucial to keeping states accountable.

The Vienna Expert Conference on Victim Assistance is hosted by the
Austrian government, which has demonstrated leadership on the issue for
years. "We welcome this initiative from Austria. We hope the Conference
will help identify the next practical steps in implementing commitments
made by states last November at the Cartagena Summit on a Mine-Free
World," said Judith Majlath, from the CMC and ICBL Austrian Section. The
Cartagena Action Plan, adopted by more than 120 States Parties to the
Mine Ban Treaty during the Cartagena Summit, provides a roadmap of what
is required in the next five years in all areas of mine action.

The Conference is also intended as an answer to the report Voices from
the Ground - Landmine and Explosive Remnants of War Survivors Speak out
on Victim Assistance, issued in September 2009 by Handicap International
with support from the ICBL and the Austrian government. The report
highlighted that governments around the world are not living up to their
promises to treat and reintegrate survivors into society.

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The International Campaign to Ban Landmines is committed to an international ban on the use, production, stockpiling, and sale, transfer, or export of antipersonnel landmines.  

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