What is the problem?
Different approaches to assistance to victims of specific weapons have developed within different legal frameworks that deal with specific weapons. A degree of separation is understandable in order to maximise political opportunities to regulate or eradicate specific unacceptable weapons. However, such vertical segregation leads to inequalities in treatment, approaches, and very importantly, in the amount of resources that are allocated for assistance in their recovery and to meet their needs and rights.
With the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the non-discrimination requirements in the assistance measures within existing weapons-related treaties, it is essential to develop an overarching framework that addresses the rights of all victims and survivors of armed violence. It may be argued that national level implementation may be a more direct way to influence rights, but it is also arguable that these rights and national-level efforts already exist and they are still discriminatory toward certain groups of victims.
What do we want to change?
Beyond just seeking to regulate the use of the weapon, it is essential that the governments also commit to ensure that the victims of these regulated weapons receive the assistance they need to recover and return to their rightful place in society.
To develop an international framework addressing the rights of all victims of armed violence as a way to improve international cooperation and assistance in this regard.
To ensure that there is a cohesive, coordinated approach to meeting the needs and rights of victims of armed violence across different existing mechanisms.
To ensure greater priority and funding is allocated to programs seeking to assist victims and survivors in recovery and toward greater inclusion in the society.
To increase attention given to the victims in existing instruments such as the Arms Trade Treaty and the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons and to ensure that any future political or legal commitment to control and regulate the use of weapons includes commitments to ensure or facilitate access to assistance in recovery and toward inclusion of victims in their communities.
AOAV will therefore work to:
- Promote the inclusion of assistance to victims in the development of instrument to control and regulate explosive weapons as a category; Promote inclusion of victim assistance in the implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty; promote cross-sectorial connections within the existing instruments with victim assistance provisions (Mine Ban Treaty and Convention on Cluster Munitions)
- Promote the understanding of rights of victims of armed violence among governments and relevant NGOs; Building commitment among civil society and governments of the need to develop a unified framework addressing human rights of all victims of armed violence (see above);
- Promote participation of victims and survivors in decision-making processes affecting their lives, both nationally and internationally.
How does this apply to the CRPD?
States Parties to the CRPD have the opportunity to highlight the connections between the disarmament framework and the CRPD during all discussions at the Conference of States Parties. It is essential to raise the issue of victim assistance in this forum, to explore the connections to ensure that both frameworks are implemented in the most cost-effective and efficient way, bringing services to those most in need.
For example, the right to medical care in victim assistance provisions in other disarmament treaties corresponds with the right to the highest attainable standard of health in the CRPD. According to the CRPD, this right includes providing accessible health care as close as possible to people’s communities and ensuring that informed consent forms the basis of all care.
Similarly, economic inclusion in victim assistance corresponds to the right to work and employment. As provided by the CRPD, when vocational trainings are established, human rights are upheld by promoting full inclusion of survivors and persons with disabilities in the trainings and subsequently in the open labor market.
More needs to be done on this matter and AOAV urges states to look at what has been done, what could be done and what should be done.
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