Swiss to create new centre, support unit
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Landmine survivors are a focus for a key week-long meeting in Geneva, the MSP12 for short, that has brought together top dignataries and officials from throughout the world: the Twelfth Meeting of the States Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, also known as the Mine Ban Treaty or Ottawa Convention.
The opening day Monday 3 December coincided with International Day for Persons with Disabilities. United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay addressed the opening day session. “When victims of mines and other explosive devices acquire a disability, they fall under the scope of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, or CRPD. The CRPD offers an essential legal framework for ensuring that the fundamental human rights of victims are at the heart of any mine action programme,” she told the group.
Landmines kill an estimated 4,000 people a year, according to ICBL (International Campaign to Ban Landmines) with the number falling, from 20,000 in 1999, thanks to campaigning and the convention’s successes. Attention is focusing increasingly on the 26 countries that have declared they have large groups of survivors they need to help, usually numbering in the thousands.
One of the convention’s strengths is that it contains measures, the first weapons convention to do so, to help victims of the weapons. This week’s meeting will see reports from these countries on what they intend to achieve by 2014.
Millions raised to help victims, most of whom are in world’s poorest countries
The convention has been a catalyst for drawing attention to survivors in some of the world’s poorest countries, helping organizations, notably the International Red Cross (ICRC), to raises millions of dollars to help landmine survivors and others with disabilities in mine-affected countries. The ICRC alone has raised $100 million.
The meeting in Geneva is a mid-term assessment for the Cartagena Action Plan of 2010 to clear mines, destroy stockpiles, assist landmine survivors and promote the convention’s acceptance worldwide from 2010 to 2014.
Five countries, or “states parties”, expected to declare this week that they have demined their territories, with mine clearance also a key part of the meeting. The 36 states parties still fulfilling their mine clearance obligations are expected to report on their demining efforts.
Switzerland budgets $17 million in stepped-up 3-year programme
Switzerland’s foreign minister, Didier Burkhalter, speaking as the host country, pointed out that countries which use landmines are falling into a future trap of their own making. He pressured countries that lag behind on their commitments to move faster, noting that there is no such thing as partial demining.
Switzerland has just adopted its own strategy this week for humanitarian demining from 2012 to 2014. The country has budgeted $17 million to finance concrete projects in the field and to send experts but also to create an international humanitarian demining centre and a support unit to help apply the convention.