The Committee on Victim Assistance convened a Victim Assistance (VA) Experts Meeting on 25 and 27 November 2019 on the margins of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention's Fourth Review Conference held in Oslo. In line with the Committee’s mandate to provide “advice to the States Parties in the fulfilment of their commitments related to victim assistance” and to “facilitate discussion on ways and means of enhancing victim assistance and to ensure the wellbeing of mine victim”, the VA Experts Meeting provided an opportunity for national VA experts to exchange experience and lessons learned in meeting the needs and rights of mine victims.
H.E. Dag Inge Ulstein, Minister of International Development of Norway, HRH Prince Mired of Jordan, Special Envoy of the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention and Ms Maria Soledad Cisternas, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Disability and Accessibility opened the VA Experts Meeting. Approximately 40 representatives of States Parties and representatives of other disability and VA actors participated in the meeting.
The Oslo VA Experts Meeting focused on the implementation of the actions related to VA of the Oslo Action Plan (OAP) adopted on the final day of the Fourth Review Conference. In particular, the Committee highlighted some of the concrete actions that reflect the breadth of States Parties’ commitments towards mine survivors and affected families and communities for the period of 2020-2024, including:
Furthermore, the Committee highlighted the international cooperation and assistance actions of the OAP, particularly the importance of “resource mobilisation plans” and making use of “South-to-South” cooperation in generating the necessary support for States to make progress in achieving the VA objectives of the OAP in the next five years. The Committee provided information concerning the proposed set of indicators included in the draft OAP and their role as an important tool in measuring implementation of the OAP. The Committee encouraged national VA Experts to consider developing national indicators tailored to their respective national contexts.
To support reporting efforts of States Parties with responsibility for a significant number of mine survivors, the Committee developed a checklist. The checklist also seeks to assist national VA Experts in establishing a national baseline and to identify gaps and challenges in order to increase measurability of VA efforts over the next five years. The Committee thanked States Parties that had completed the draft checklist and invited participants to provide any suggestions they may have on the contents of the draft checklist by 15 January 2020.
The Committee stressed that mine action programmes are mostly intended to exist for a fixed period, while mine victims and survivors may need long term support. In promoting a sustainable approach to VA, the OAP reaffirms States Parties’ understanding that “… in order to be effective and sustainable, victim assistance should be integrated into broader national policies, plans and legal frameworks relating to the rights of persons with disabilities, and to health, education, employment, development and poverty reduction in support of the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Participants of the VA Experts Meeting were divided in small regional and language working groups to discuss the role of mine action centres/authorities and those of relevant national ministries (e.g. ministry of health and social affairs) in sharing the responsibility of implementing the VA aspects of the OAP. The exercise provided an opportunity for exchange of experience on integration of VA into national policies and programmes.
Assistive products are part of the rehabilitation pillar of VA, and an essential aspect of assistance to mine survivors. Taking advantage of the Meeting in Oslo, on 27 November participants visited the NAV Centre for Assistive Technology in Oslo. NAV carries out assessment of needs for assistive products and provides assistive devices to people in need of such devices in Oslo. NAV also provides education and training for the primary health care system including instructions on the use of assistive aids and professional advice on the workplace design for individuals with disabilities. Participants were provided with information on different types of assistive products that are designed and made available for different types of disabilities. The Centre is known as a good practice in providing assistive technology by the World Health Organisation.
To address the challenge of shortages of resources in VA, the Committee expressed its interest in providing support to States Parties that seek international cooperation through the Individualised Approach which is led by the Committee on the Enhancement of Cooperation and Assistance. The Individualised Approach is an informal meeting held at the margins of Convention meetings which provides a unique opportunity for States Parties seeking assistance to interact with a selective group of possible partners and supporters. The Committee invited the State Party seeking international cooperation and assistance for victim assistance to approach the Committee in this regard.
The incoming Chair of the Committee on Victim Assistance, Italy provided information on the Committee’s plan for 2020 and encouraged the inclusion of information on victim assistance including a completed checklist, in the Article 7 report to be submitted before 30 April 2020. The Chair announced the Committee’s intention to convene the next VA Experts Meeting on the margins of the Eighteenth Meeting of States Parties (18MSP) in November 2020 and invited the national VA Experts to share any suggestions they may have in making the Experts Meeting more useful and tailored to their needs.