The States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty are meeting in Geneva this week to discuss their progress in implementing obligations under the treaty. Today’s discussion in the World Meteorological Organisation’s building revolved around assisting victims of these banned weapons.
As part of the treaty, states have committed to international cooperation and assistance to those States Parties responsible for many victims of landmines. Today, they discussed how to ensure that they meet their obligations and continue a sustainable and effective effort to help those affected by landmines, be it individuals directly injured, or their families and affected communities.
But the discussions were cloudy indeed. In 2011, funding allocated for victim assistance decreased by 20% – the largest decrease since the Mine Ban Treaty entered into force in 1999.
Donor states, particularly Australia, highlighted that as part of their funding to support healthcare systems, they are also assisting victims of landmines, who are benefiting from the health care reforms they help put in place. Other states also talked about integrating victim assistance funding into broader health, disability and development initiatives as a way to ensure sustainability.
However, it is likely that by “integrating” victim assistance funding, donor states are less able to verify whether survivors really do benefit from these initiatives. For instance, funding the setup of a hospital will not only serve landmine survivors but also all other citizens of a country. Therefore, donors should not just assume that landmine survivors will, in fact, be the beneficiaries of their resources.
It is essential that donor states put mechanisms into place that monitor how the funding is allocated. Affected states should be required to present evidence of how these initiatives truly reach survivors in need.
Victim assistance is a commitment made by States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty and as such it should be fulfilled conscientiously. Landmine survivors around the world are counting on it.
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