Last week, during the Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions Intersessional meetings in Geneva, Action On Armed Violence held a side event to present our new publication, “Writing the Rights: Highlighting the International Standards on the Rights of Victims of Armed Violence.” The side event familiarised the audience with the report and jumpstart discussion on this topic within the disarmament community.
The event began with Nerina Čevra, AOAV’s lead on victims’ rights, explaining the publication’s background and purposes. She highlighted the fact that this report comes at an opportune time, when discussions within the humanitarian disarmament community are turning to the future of what is known as “victim assistance” and the focus is on integrating such assistance measures into existing disability, development, and human rights frameworks.
Čevra pointed out that although it is necessary to “integrate”, care must be taken to make sure that such integration does not result in victims and survivors’ needs being lost among many. At the same time, funding practices must be more equitable – and a comprehensive examination of all the rights of victims of armed violence is needed. Therefore, AOAV proposes to take the discussion forward by addressing the rights of all victims of armed violence as a group, to ensure non-discrimination and sustainability.
Next, Richard Moyes, Managing Partner at Article 36, spoke about the relationship between casualty recording/data collection and weapons-related discussions as the first step to ensuring other rights of victims. He reminded the audience that the disarmament community uses data to justify the regulation and banning of weapons, like landmines and cluster munitions, but that we should remember that behind those statistics are human beings, with real stories, real lives and real needs that must be taken into consideration as well.
Margaret Arech, the ICBL Ambassador – and a landmine survivor herself – spoke next about survivor participation and what it means in terms of victims’ rights, but also in terms of its importance for campaigning against the proliferation of weapons and war. She spoke about how survivors who took part in “Raising the Voices” leadership program run by Landmine Survivors Network are all leaders themselves, both nationally and internationally. “Survivors have more to say than just their stories. They can be technical experts who can lobby effectively”, said Arech.
The last speaker on the panel was Megan Burke, Coordinator of the ICBL’s Survivors Network Project, who spoke about the need to ensure meaningful participation of survivors by investing in building their capacity for advocacy. She also discussed campaigning but also organisational capacities to help them develop associations and networks that are sustainable and can continue functioning on their own, once the support of the international community dwindles, as it inevitably does.
The panel discussion was followed by a Q&A in which many of the questions focused on the need to make sure there are resources sufficient to continue providing assistance and meeting the needs and the rights of all survivors. The entire discussion pointed toward the fact that truly it is the right time to think about a global discussion on the rights of all victims of armed violence, be it from the point of view of human rights, development or aid effectiveness.
Read more about AOAV’s work supporting victims of armed violence here.
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