Council of Delegates 2009: Resolution 6
Movement Strategy on Landmines, Cluster Munitions and other Explosive Remnants of War: Reducing the Effects of Weapons on Civilians
Council of Delegates of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Nairobi, Kenya, 23-25 November 2009
The Council of Delegates,
expressing renewed deep concern about the widespread and preventable death and injury caused during and after armed conflicts by landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war,
noting that the similar effects of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war call for similar humanitarian responses, including establishing and implementing international norms, reducing the risk to affected communities of the dangers posed by such weapons, and providing comprehensive assistance to victims,
expressing satisfaction at the substantial progress made in anti-personnel mine destruction, awareness and clearance since the entry into force in 1999 of the Convention on the prohibition of Anti-Personnel mines, yet concerned that a significant number of States Parties have found it necessary to apply to extend the deadlines for mine clearance and that some States Parties have fallen behind in meeting the deadlines for stockpile destruction, warmly welcoming the adoption on 30 May 2008 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,
recalling Resolution 10 of the 1999 Council of Delegates adopting the Movement Strategy on Landmines, Resolution 11 of the 2003 Council of Delegates extending the Movement Strategy on Landmines through 2009 and the activities listed therein to cover all explosive remnants of war, and Resolution 8 of the 2007 Council of Delegates on international humanitarian law and cluster munitions,
recognizing the historic development of international humanitarian law and of practices in the fields of risk reduction and victim assistance since the 1999 Movement Strategy on Landmines was adopted,commending the commitment and perseverance of all the Movement’s components that have been involved in the implementation of the Movement Strategy on Landmines since 1999,
noting with appreciation the report to the Council of Delegates prepared by the ICRC on progress made in implementing the objectives set out in Resolution 8 of the 2007 Council of Delegates on international humanitarian law and cluster munitions,
1. adopts the Movement Strategy on Landmines, Cluster Munitions and Other Explosive Remnants of War: Reducing the Effects of Weapons on Civilians, which replaces the 1999 Strategy and its 2003 extension;
2. urges all the Movement’s components to implement the Strategy, in particular by:
a. continuing to develop, promote and implement the norms of international humanitarian law that now form a comprehensive international legal framework for preventing and addressing the human suffering caused by mines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war;
b. taking flexible, appropriate, coordinated and integrated action to reduce the impact of weapon contamination through data gathering and analysis, risk reduction, risk education, and survey and clearance;
c. providing victims of weapons with comprehensive assistance in the form of emergency and continuing medical care, physical and functional rehabilitation, psychological support and social reintegration, economic inclusion, and development and promotion of national legislation and policies that advocate effective treatment, care and protection for all citizens with disabilities, including survivors of weapon-related accidents;
3. requests that all the Movement’s components carry out periodic self-assessments on their implementation of the Movement Strategy and that they provide this information to the ICRC for monitoring and reporting purposes;
4. invites the ICRC to monitor implementation of the Movement Strategy and to report, as necessary, to the Council of Delegates on the progress made based on the reports submitted to it by the Movement’s components and information obtained from other sources, said report to include pertinent recommendations.
Movement Strategy on Landmines, Cluster Munitions and other Explosive Remnants of War: Reducing the Effects of Weapons on Civilians
The aim of this strategy is to ensure that civilians will no longer be affected by weapons that cause suffering and injury after the cessation of hostilities.
To achieve this vision, all the components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (Movement) are committed to an approach that integrates the following activities: the development, promotion and implementation of legal norms, operational activities for alleviating the effects of these weapons and assistance to survivors.
This can be achieved by mobilizing the unique capacities of all the components of the Movement, while ensuring effective coordination and cooperation with relevant external actors.
Landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war (ERW) continue to cause suffering long after the end of conflicts. Significant developments in applicable norms and in operational practice since the adoption of the 1999–2009 Movement Strategy on Landmines have made a new strategy necessary.
The new Movement Strategy builds, strengthens and mobilizes the capacities and resources of all the components of the Movement, and ensures effective coordination and cooperation with all relevant actors. It sets out the roles, responsibilities and guiding principles, and the actions required, of the different components of the Movement.
The Strategy commits the Movement to continuing the development, promotion and implementation of the norms of international humanitarian law that now form a comprehensive international legal framework for preventing and addressing the human suffering caused by mines, cluster munitions and other ERW. The Movement played a vital role in the adoption and promotion of these norms; and it will remain actively engaged in ensuring that the commitments of these instruments are kept and their potential to save lives realized.
Flexible, appropriate, coordinated and integrated action is necessary in order to reduce the impact of weapon contamination. Not only mines, cluster munitions and other ERW, but also stockpiles of ammunition and small arms and light weapons pose a threat. Taking established guiding principles into account, the Movement’s components will, depending on the situation, implement the following activities, either separately or in combination: data gathering and analysis, risk reduction, risk education, and survey and clearance. The Movement implements these activities during, before and after conflicts and in rapid-onset emergencies in which weapon contamination poses a threat.
Greater efforts are required to provide comprehensive assistance to victims of weapons. Assistance to survivors will be implemented through an integrated and multidisciplinary approach with the aim of providing the widest possible opportunities for full and effective participation and inclusion in society, for education and employment, and for access to essential services. Victim assistance activities include emergency and continuing medical care, physical and functional rehabilitation, psychological support and social reintegration, economic inclusion, and development and promotion of national legislation and policies that advocate effective treatment, care and protection for all citizens with disabilities, including survivors of weapon-related accidents.
Section 1: Background and approaches
The issue of landmines enabled the humanitarian community to begin the process of comprehensively tackling the impact and long-term effects on civilians of mines, ERW and other weapons. Since the adoption of the first Movement Strategy in 1999, a great deal more has been learnt about the human costs of abandoned or unexploded weapons. These insights have provided the basis for significant developments in those areas of international humanitarian law that deal with such weapons, in operational activities to alleviate the consequences of weapon contamination for civilians, and in efforts to convert States’ victim assistance commitments into tangible benefits for the victims themselves. All the components of the Movement, together with other humanitarian actors, have played a role in promoting international norms, in intervening to secure compliance, in reducing the effects on civilians, and in assisting victims. National Societies, with their community-based networks and unique status within affected countries, continue to play a crucial role in national strategies for dealing with the consequences of weapon contamination.
The Strategy reinforces the Movement’s commitment to develop, promote and implement the norms of international humanitarian law that now form a comprehensive international legal framework for preventing and addressing the human suffering caused by mines, cluster munitions and other ERW. The Strategy calls for a flexible, multidisciplinary approach to reduce the consequences of weapon contamination and to strengthen efforts to provide comprehensive assistance to victims, using the capacities and resources of the Movement for action. It aims to build, strengthen and mobilize the capacities and resources of all the components of the Movement, and to ensure effective coordination and cooperation with all relevant actors.
The Strategy presents Movement policy in support of international norms prohibiting or regulating the use of weapons that kill and injure despite the end of hostilities. It also reflects the Movement’s operational approach to alleviating the consequences of weapon contamination and to providing support for, and assisting in the social reintegration of, survivors and their families. The Strategy does not cover every aspect of the Movement’s efforts to protect civilians from being harmed by weapons and provide assistance for victims. As its title suggests, the Strategy’s focus is on landmines, cluster munitions and other ERW. However, the activities devoted to reducing the harm done by weapon contamination and providing assistance to victims also cover a broader range of weapons.
The Strategy is not time-bound. It aims to provide a long-term framework that will be updated when necessary.
1.3 Movement approach
1.3.1 Roles and responsibilities
The ICRC continues to implement activities based on need, both directly and in association with national authorities and National Societies during armed conflicts and other situations of violence. It also provides expertise, advice and support to National Societies who wish to launch programmes in this area of need. The ICRC also plays a leading role in the development of relevant international norms as well as in monitoring and promoting their implementation.
National Societies, as the key Movement actors in their domestic con- texts, will direct their efforts towards the promotion of legal norms, incident reduction and data gathering. They also play an important part in providing various forms of victim assistance, based on needs and capacities. Their auxiliary role to their public authorities in the humanitarian field and their grassroots networks make them uniquely qualified to contribute to national strategies for tackling the effects of weapon contamination. Depending on the context, those National Societies that work internationally support and cooperate with the National Societies of affected countries, in coordination with the ICRC and the International Federation.
The International Federation provides the necessary organizational development support for National Societies in areas such as resource mobilization and financial and human resources management, and assists them in incorporating programmes covered by this Strategy in their development plans. The International Federation also includes work in this field in its own disaster-preparedness and emergency response mechanisms. Its presence in relevant international forums will create opportunities for National Societies to present their experiences, in support of Movement positions.
1.3.2 Guiding principles for Movement action:
The Movement seeks to alleviate the consequences of weapon contamination through a flexible, multidisciplinary approach, which will continue to evolve in step with experience and best practice.
– Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement – The Movement’s components ensure that they promote effective assistance for and protection of the victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence on the basis of the Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
– Multidisciplinary approach – The Movement’s ability to promote and disseminate international norms, curb the harm done by weapon contamination and provide assistance to victims is based on the broad range of skills, capacities and resources at its disposal. Any approach to planning and implementing activities must use all these resources in combination.
– Flexibility, appropriateness and adaptability of approach – Activities must be appropriate to the situation. They must be reviewed and adapted, changing or ending when necessary.
– Complementarity with other actors – It is essential for the Movement to ensure complementarity internally and with the plans and activities of external actors.
– Adherence to international standards and tools – Even as they maintain their independence, Movement activities should comply with international standards such as the International Mine Action Standards.
– Developing national capacities – For the long-term sustainability of national efforts to reduce the harm done by weapon contamination, it is essential that Movement action include measures to ensure accessibility of persons with disabilities to services and infrastructure. Where national disability services and mine action authorities exist, the Movement must work with them and reinforce their capacities. In their absence, the Movement must consider
developing and implementing new structures appropriate to the context, ensuring that support is provided for the affected population.
– Equal and non-discriminatory access to health care, rehabilitation services and initiatives for socio-economic reintegration – The Movement should seek to ensure that everyone in need of health care, rehabilitation, and socio-economic reintegration has access to such services solely on the basis of need and regardless of social, religious, ethnic considerations and regardless of the cause of injury or disability. Special attention must be paid to vulnerable groups.
Section 2: Movement activities
2.1 Promoting international norms
The current framework of international norms in this field reflects an historic development in humanitarian law. It is also evidence of the success that the Movement’s advocacy has had in this field. Taken together, customary norms of humanitarian law, Protocol I additional to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines, Amended Protocol II and Protocol V to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, and the Convention on Cluster Munitions now constitute a comprehensive international legal framework for preventing and dealing with the human suffering caused by mines, cluster munitions and all other explosive munitions used by armed forces or non-State armed groups. The objective of protecting civilians and affected communities will be reached only when these norms are universally accepted and implemented by armed forces and non-State armed groups. The ICRC continues to monitor the development of new weapons and the consequences of their use and to call for action whenever that is required. The Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War all contain direct references to the role of the Movement. This attests to the importance of the Movement’s contribution in treaty promotion and implementation at the global, regional and national levels. In addition, the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent has, since 1999, repeatedly addressed the aim of strengthening the protection of civilians from the indiscriminate use and effects of weapons.
The Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines: This treaty has had a marked impact throughout the world on the use, transfer and production of anti-personnel mines, confirmation that these weapons are being stigmatized and that the anti-personnel mine ban is well on the way to achieving universal observance. The evidence suggests that where there is compliance with the Convention, lives and livelihoods are being preserved in large numbers. There has been a dramatic decrease in the use of anti-personnel mines since the adoption of the treaty. However, the landmines that remain are a major threat and cause immense suffering among civilian populations in many parts of the world. Despite the destruction of millions of mines, as of 2008 several States had been unable to meet their deadlines for the destruction of stockpiles. Also in 2008, most States whose deadline for clearing landmines was 2009 found it necessary to request extensions of two to ten years. States’ compliance with deadlines will continue to require close monitoring.
Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons: It is difficult to assess the effectiveness of this instrument. Of the States party to Amended Protocol II, several have not used anti-personnel mines, anti- vehicle mines or booby-traps since the Protocol entered into force. Reporting on the use of mines by other States Parties has been minimal. During the meeting of States Parties held in November 2008, a new Group of Governmental Experts was established to review the status and operation of Amended Protocol II in 2009. Unfortunately, during meetings of States Parties, substantive issues have not been addressed in any detail.
Protocol V to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons: States that are party to this treaty have begun developing standard forms that may be used by all States Parties for reporting on their implementation of the Protocol, and by States affected by ERW to request assistance in clearance activities. So far, however, States Parties have not begun to consider solutions to the problem of ERW in affected States, which should be a primary concern.
The Convention on Cluster Munitions: The Convention will enter into force once it has been ratified by 30 States. The process of implementing it will then formally get under way: this will include annual meetings of States Parties, the establishment of reporting mechanisms, efforts to support clearance and victim assistance, and monitoring by civil society organizations (including through Landmine Monitor annual reports). A number of national and regional meetings are being planned in order to facilitate understanding of the Convention’s provisions and to encourage States to adhere to the Convention as soon as possible.
2.1.1 Movement action
The Movement has played a crucial role in the adoption and promotion of the norms of humanitarian law. By remaining engaged it can make vital contributions to the task of ensuring that the commitments in these instruments are kept and that their potential to save lives is realized.
On the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines and the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Movement’s principal goals are to:
– achieve universal adherence;
– monitor compliance with the treaties’ prohibitions as well as with their clearance and stockpile destruction deadlines and their commitments to victim assistance;
– make special efforts to promote States Parties’ compliance with clearance and destruction deadlines when the deadline for a particular State is approaching or has passed;
– ensure that States Parties adopt domestic legislation providing for the implementation of the treaties and for the prosecution and punishment of those who violate the treaties’ provisions;
– as appropriate, stigmatize the use of anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions, wherever it may occur;
– document, where feasible, the use of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions and their consequences; consider appropriate action to be taken in such instances with government officials, non-State actors and the media; promote adherence by the State and non-State actors concerned to the relevant norms of humanitarian law; and urge an end to the use of these weapons;
– achieve – with regard to the Convention on Cluster Munitions – the maximum number of signatures before the Convention’s entry into force and rapid ratification by signatory States and accession by non-signatories;
– ensure, after the Convention’s entry into force, that States Parties focus urgently on their commitments to promote clearance and victim assistance; and provide international assistance, particularly for those States Parties most affected by cluster munitions.
On Amended Protocol II and Protocol V to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the Movement’s principal goals are to:
– achieve increased adherence to both Protocols;
– monitor compliance with the Protocols’ prohibitions and commitments;
– ensure that States Parties adopt domestic implementing legislation, as needed;
– urge, with respect to Protocol V, States Parties to ensure that their armed forces are in a position, and required, to record and share information on all explosive ordnance used;
– urge States Parties to ensure that the Protocol’s implementation addresses the effects of all existing and future ERW, with a focus on their clearance and victim assistance commitments.
On all the above-mentioned treaties, the Movement’s efforts will include:
– regular dialogue with government officials, members of parliament and armed forces;
– making other humanitarian actors and the media sensitive to the importance of these treaties;
– raising awareness among the media and the general public, on important dates associated with these treaties, of their importance and the obstacles to their implementation;
– providing support for national programmes and international assistance for
the implementation of clearance, stockpile destruction and victim assistance obligations;
– organizing, at the national, regional and international levels, seminars and workshops to promote increased adherence and implementation;
– ensuring that work on behalf of victims under the treaties mentioned above is consistent with the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
2.1.2 Mutually reinforcing roles and responsibilities within the Movement
The ICRC will continue to:
– play an important role in monitoring and promoting the universal acceptance and implementation of these treaties on behalf of the Movement;
– provide technical and legal expertise, communications materials and other support for Movement efforts in the areas of dissemination and advocacy;
– remind parties to armed conflicts of their obligation to comply with humanitarian law as it applies to landmines, cluster munitions and other ERW, and, when a party to an armed conflict is a State party to one or more of the above treaties, invoke the relevant treaty prohibitions and commitments;
– document, where feasible, the effects of landmines, cluster munitions and other ERW; and make confidential oral and written representations to local, national and regional authorities of parties to a conflict who control any area where these weapons pose a threat to civilians (the ICRC may also mobilize States, regional organizations or other components of the Movement in these efforts);
– monitor and participate in negotiations for new international norms for regulating the use of weapons, in order to ensure that the existing legal framework is strengthened and not undermined;
– mobilize States, international organizations and humanitarian actors in promoting the development, implementation and universal acceptance of these treaties.
Whenever appropriate, National Societies will:
– intervene with their national authorities to ensure that their States – if party to the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines and the Convention on Cluster Munitions – respect their deadlines for the destruction of stockpiles and for clearance;
– carry out activities to raise awareness among the general public and national political leaders of the effects of mines, cluster munitions and other ERW, and of the solutions provided in the relevant instruments of humanitarian law;
– promote accession by their governments to relevant international treaties and the faithful implementation thereof by their national authorities;
– promote the adoption of domestic legislation and practical measures to implement those treaties;
– engage in and promote discussions on the national level with the authorities concerned and with military officials, and support programmes and develop partnerships to provide assistance for victims under relevant international instruments, including commitments to such treaties as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
– intervene with their national authorities to ensure that adequate resources are provided for supporting the implementation of treaty commitments, both in affected States and in States able to provide assistance;
– follow up with their national authorities on the implementation of commitments and pledges adopted at International Conferences of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
The International Federation will:
– promote the National Societies’ role, as auxiliary to their public authorities in the humanitarian field, in implementing relevant global and regional instruments, such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and other human rights and health treaties;
– discuss, with the ICRC and National Societies, the promotion and communication of Movement positions on subjects covered by the Strategy.
2.2 Preventing accidents and reducing the effects of weapon contamination
Activities to prevent accidents and alleviate the effects of weapon contamination can be implemented alongside other activities that provide support for victims (including physical rehabilitation, surgical care and activities to improve economic security). These can include data gathering and analysis, risk reduction, risk education and survey and clearance. The context determines the nature, composition and specific objectives of the activities to be carried out.
The nature of the threat posed by weapons varies with the context. In addition to mines, cluster munitions and other ERW, unsecured stockpiles of ammunition and small arms and light weapons also pose a threat. ‘Weapon contamination’ is the umbrella term used to describe operational activities aimed at reducing the effects of such weapons.
Humanitarian action to reduce the effects of weapon contamination on civilians began in 1988, when such activities were first undertaken in Afghanistan. Its techniques and strategies have been evolving constantly, with growing flexibility, professionalism and accountability. Organizations that work in this area have, from the beginning, dealt with weapon contamination that has humanitarian consequences, and not only with weapons that are regulated or prohibited by specific treaties.
The Movement has played an important role in these activities, its various components acting in accordance with their respective mandates. National Societies have taken advantage of their grassroots networks, developing data gathering and working in communities to change behaviour and act as a link with clearance agencies. The ICRC, the International Federation and National Societies working internationally have provided funding for activities. In 1997, the ICRC established a full-time “Mine Action Sector” based in Geneva, in response to the Movement’s request that it become the lead organization in this field. It has since supported mine action activities in more than 40 countries. Besides developing the ability to intervene directly, the ICRC has done much to support National Societies, particularly in the field of capacity building.
2.2.1 Movement action
The Movement implements risk reduction activities during, before and after conflicts, and in rapid onset emergencies where weapon contamination poses a threat. It seeks to curb the effects of weapon contamination by employing a flexible, multidisciplinary approach, which is still evolving in step with experience and best practice. Community liaison is an essential element of all aspects of risk reduction: National Societies operating in affected countries are in the best position to play that role. Bearing in mind the guiding principles set out above, the following kinds of activity can be implemented either separately or in combination, depending on the situation:
Data gathering and analysis – Collecting and analysing data from weapon- contaminated areas is the basis of all planning for reducing risks caused by weapon contamination. It is also a critical activity that strengthens access to survivors and informs the development and application of norms based on field realities. When it is analysed, this information contributes to the identification of dangerous areas, and makes it possible to plan and prioritize activities related to surveying, clearance, risk reduction and risk education. Such data can also be the source of important information for locating and providing support for survivors. As grassroots organizations with a presence in virtually every country, National Societies are often uniquely placed to gather this data in the short and in the long term. In the short term, they often do this as an operational partner of the ICRC; in the long term, they do so as an integrated component of an overall national mine action strategy normally led by the government. Data gathering and analysis must be coordinated with other actors to ensure interoperability and compatibility.
Risk reduction – Often, in countries where the economy and society have been disrupted by war, people in areas contaminated by weapons have to continue to farm, collect water and firewood, graze livestock, or travel. Clearing affected areas would, of course, be the ideal solution, but the consequences of contamination can be alleviated in the short term by providing safer alternatives through economic security and water and habitat programmes that specifically take contamination into account. As these activities can also benefit survivors, consideration must always be given not only to the prevention of new accidents, but also to the pro- vision of support for survivors and to facilitating their social reintegration. Activities to this end, though of many different kinds, typically involve the establishment of safe areas, the provision of new sources of water on non-contaminated ground and of alternative sources of food or fuel, and the implementation of micro-credit projects. The aim is to prevent persons in contaminated areas from having to take risks in order to survive or live as normally possible, and to ensure that survivors receive support for their social reintegration and for normalizing their lives as far as possible.
Risk education – Risk education includes raising awareness in emergencies, undertaking activities aimed at effecting long-term changes in behaviour and ensuring that communities have a central role in determining clearance priorities. All these activities can also benefit survivors. Raising awareness is carried out as a stand-alone activity primarily during emergencies when little data exists and the level of knowledge among people is extremely low. This would be the case typically in periods immediately after the end of conflict, when displaced populations tend to return to their homes rapidly and casualty figures are at their highest. In all other situations, awareness-raising activities should be community-based and linked to risk reduction. Given that it is designed to target those civilians most at risk, any method of raising awareness must give careful consideration to cultural and social factors and to the nature of the threat. Interactive, community-led approaches have been found to be the most effective. Community liaison is an extension of this community-based interaction. Red Cross and Red Crescent volunteers are uniquely qualified to communicate the problems of their communities to mine action operators.
Community liaison is, like data gathering, a characteristic element in the long-term role that a National Society should play as an integrated component of a sustained national mine action strategy.
Survey and clearance – When technical surveys or clearance is required, the Movement will mobilize personnel with accreditation or certification in accordance with International Mine Action Standards, or National Mine Action Standards where they exist.
2.2.2 The different components of the Movement will strengthen and coordinate their efforts to:
– support and develop national capacities and strategies aimed at curbing the effects of weapon contamination, reintegrating victims in their communities and providing support for survivors;
– ensure that risk reduction priorities take into account national and community development goals;
– ensure that the threat posed by weapon contamination is taken into account and acted on when natural disasters occur in contaminated areas; in such situations, the ICRC may provide technical support for field assessment and coordination teams and others;
– ensure that operational experience is shared internationally and activities coordinated, particularly in the areas of data, risk reduction and risk education;
– foster preparedness planning and encourage the provision of support for capacity building and the exchange of experience and expertise among National Societies working on weapon contamination in their own countries;
– provide – with the ICRC taking the leading role – expertise in weapon contamination during emergencies in which weapon contamination is an issue;
– foster an intra-Movement approach to dealing with issues related to weapon contamination.
2.3 Providing assistance for victims
Assistance for victims of landmines, cluster munitions and other ERW should be implemented through an integrated and multidisciplinary approach. The aim of such an approach should be to a) reduce the number of people who die of their injuries through better access to emergency and medical care and b) remove – or reduce as much as possible – the factors that limit the social integration of persons with disabilities, including survivors of weapon-related accidents, so that they may achieve and maintain the highest possible level of independence and quality of life: physically, psychologically, socially and economically. Besides access to essential services, persons with disabilities should have the same opportunities as other citizens, for full and effective participation and inclusion in society, and for education and employment. Survivors of weapon-related accidents – those directly affected by weapons – are a sub-group of the larger community of persons with disabilities. The problems they face are similar to those faced by persons who are disabled in other ways.
The implementation of victim assistance commitments by States party to the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines provides important lessons in how to structure work in this field. Since the first Review Conference of the Convention on the Prohibition of Anti-Personnel Mines, held in Nairobi in 2004, the idea of ‘victim assistance’ has acquired a sharper definition, within a framework for addressing the rights and needs of mine victims and other persons with disabilities. The framework includes the establishment of national focal points for victim assistance and the development of specific measurable and time-bound objectives for achieving the aims of the Nairobi Action Plan and for improving the daily lives of mine survivors and other persons with disabilities. The rights and needs of survivors of accidents related to weapon contamination and the rights and needs of other persons with disabilities are identical under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Support for the needs and rights of persons with disabilities is an area in which the Movement should play a more prominent role.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, which entered into force on 3 May 2008, mark a significant shift in attitudes and approaches to persons with disabilities. This treaty requires that persons with disabilities be regarded not as objects of charity in need of medical treatment and social protection, but as persons with rights, who are capable of claiming those rights and making decisions that affect their lives based
on their free and informed consent and of being active members of society.
Victim assistance does not require the development of new fields or disciplines; but it does require that existing health care, rehabilitation and social ser- vices, and legislative and policy frameworks be adequate to meet the needs of all citizens. Assistance for survivors should be viewed as part of a country’s overall public health and social services framework. However, within that framework care must be taken to ensure that survivors and other persons with disabilities receive the same opportunities – for health care, social services, a life-sustaining income, education and participation in the community – as everyone else.
Victim assistance must be understood in a broader context of development or underdevelopment. Countries do not have the same capacities; many are not in a position to offer adequate amounts of care and social assistance to their people, as a whole, and to persons with disabilities in particular. In affected countries, a political commitment to assist survivors of weapon-related accidents and other persons with disabilities is essential, but ensuring the achievement of concrete results may require addressing broader development concerns.
2.3.1 Movement action
Activities within victim assistance deal with emergency and continuing medical care, physical and functional rehabilitation, psychological support and social reintegration, economic inclusion, and development and promotion of legislation and policies that advocate effective treatment, care and protection for all citizens with disabilities, including survivors of weapon-related accidents.
The activities described below could be carried out by the ICRC with the support of National Societies and/or by National Societies in their own countries with the support of the ICRC and/or the International Federation.
Participating National Societies are encouraged to explore possibilities for partnerships with operating National Societies.
All the components of the Movement should, depending on the context, and their capacities and resources, seek to contribute to the following activities, as part of a comprehensive approach:
Emergency and continuing medical care: Emergency and continuing medical care covers such issues as emergency first aid and ensuring access to health care facilities, and appropriate medical care (including competent surgical management and pain treatment). The aims are to establish and enhance the health-care services needed to respond to the immediate and still-existing medical needs of those who have been injured in a weapon-related incident, by increasing the number of health care workers and improving health care infrastructure and by ensuring that health care facilities have the equipment, supplies and medicines necessary to meet minimum standards.
Physical and functional rehabilitation: Physical rehabilitation may be described as the provision of assistive devices such as prostheses, outhouses, walking aids and wheelchairs along with appropriate physical therapy. It also includes activities aimed at maintaining, adjusting, repairing and replacing the devices as needed. Physical rehabilitation focuses on helping a person regain or improve his or her physical abilities; functional rehabilitation consists of all the measures that are taken to help a person with a disability recover his or her ability to carry on activities or fulfil roles that he or she considers important, useful, or necessary, and may target issues such as sight and hearing.
Psychosocial support: This takes the form of psychological support and efforts to achieve social reintegration/inclusion. It includes activities that assist victims to overcome traumatic experiences and that promote their social well- being. These activities may include participation in community-based peer support groups, in associations for persons with disabilities and in sporting and related activities; and, where necessary, professional counselling. Suitable psychosocial support can make a significant difference in the lives of survivors of weapon- related accidents and the families of those who have been killed or injured.
Economic reintegration: Economic reintegration/inclusion activities consist mainly of providing education and vocational training and developing sustainable economic activities and employment opportunities in affected communities. Survivors’ prospects depend largely on the political stability, and the economic situation, of their communities. However, enhancing opportunities for economic inclusion contributes to the capacity for self-reliance of survivors and their families and to community development as a whole. It is important to integrate such efforts in the broader context of economic development and of attempts to ensure significant increases in the number of economically reintegrated victims.
National Societies, as auxiliary to their public authorities in the humanitarian field, will actively participate in forums and coordinating bodies whose aims are to develop, implement and/or monitor services provided for persons with disabilities, including survivors of weapon-related accidents.
2.3.2 The different components of the Movement must strengthen and coordinate their efforts to:
– ensure that operational experience in the area of victim assistance is shared and activities better coordinated in order to improve the Movement’s ability to mount a comprehensive and integrated response to the needs of survivors and their families;
– increase access to appropriate medical care, rehabilitation services and socio- economic reintegration initiatives, giving survivors and their families the same opportunities – for full and effective participation and inclusion in society, for education and for employment – as other citizens;
– support awareness-raising programmes at the community level for reducing the threat of discrimination, marginalization and denial of access to services, education and employment, which increase the suffering of survivors, their families and their communities, and which impede economic and social development;
– improve the quality of the medical care and rehabilitation services being provided and ensure that survivors have access to services that meet their particular needs;
– develop national capacities for the provision of services, in order to ensure their long-term availability, as most survivors will need these services for the rest of their lives;
– support National Society partnerships with other relevant actors, including through supporting the building of capacity in National Societies to function as an effective auxiliary to the various public authorities which will often be involved at the national level;
– support the drafting of laws and policies that address the needs and fundamental human rights of persons with disabilities, including survivors of weapon-related accidents, and ensure effective rehabilitation.