International law, when it comes to addressing the rights of victims of armed violence, is incoherent and patchy. Existing law covers some rights, for some victims, some of the time. But many victims of armed violence fall through the gaps of international law, leaving them without actionable rights.
This is the stark conclusion of a new report by Action on Armed Violence, released today. “Writing the Rights” is a major, first of its kind analysis of international and regional legal and policy provisions on the rights of victims of armed violence.
This non-exhaustive report concludes that much more needs to be done by states to ensure that the rights of all victims of armed violence are protected and that assistance is provided in a way that addresses victims’ particular circumstances and specific needs.
The problem lies in the fact that, currently, existing provisions are too diverse, spanning a variety of different legal frameworks. These provisions often end up targeting specific groups, such as women or victims of torture. The result is that some victims of armed violence fall through the gaps. The rights of some victims are not adequately protected, and access to the services they need is impeded.
AOAV stresses in the report that States should initiate official discussions on the issue of the rights of victims of armed violence, an issue that does not receive the attention it deserves.
In short, States should:
- Initiate official discussions, as part of their international commitments, on the rights of victims of armed violence, seeking views of all States on this;
- Develop a legal framework protecting the rights of victims of armed violence;
- Ensure that reform on this matter is guided by victims and survivors, both on process and the substance of any instrument;
- Engage as part of their commitments as States Parties to various international treaties which cover victims of armed violence (such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Convention against Torture, or the Rights of the Child);
- Use the lessons learned from inclusion of victims rights in the Mine Ban Treaty in 1997, the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, and the Action Plan on Victim Assistance in Protocol V of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, to develop an instrument that will bring concrete benefits to all victims of armed violence.
- Signatories to the Geneva Declaration on Armed Violence and Development and the Oslo Commitments on Armed Violence and Development should consider discussions on this issue as part of their commitments under these instruments. Both instruments contain strong language regarding recognition of the rights of victims of armed violence.
Nerina Čevra, Victims’ Rights Coordinator at AOAV, says: “International law as it stands covers some rights, for some victims, some of the times. Developing a uniform international legal framework for all victims of armed violence will make sure that all have access to the services they need to recover and be productive members of their communities.”
Steven Smith, AOAV’s CEO, says: “AOAV works to support victims and survivors of land mines, cluster munitions, and armed violence more broadly through psychosocial support and capacity building for human rights advocacy. It is our belief that the voices of those most impacted must be heard loud and clear, and their needs, be it in recovery or economic inclusion, must be met.”
Please click here to download the full report.
For more information, please contact: Nerina Čevra – email@example.com, or Jane Hunter – firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at +44 (0) 20 7256 9500
Click here to read more about AOAV’s work with victims and survivors of armed violence.
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