Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


13th Meeting of State Parties
Agenda 11: Victim Assistance
Statement by Australia

3 December 2013

Statement delivered by Ms Anne Giles.

Mr President

Improving the quality of life for victims of explosive remnants of war, including landmines and cluster munitions, is a significant focus of Australia’s mine action assistance.

As a country in a position to assist, Australia is increasingly focusing our efforts on ensuring that our assistance builds appropriate and sustained capacities within affected states to address both the immediate and the long-term challenges of victim assistance. In order to enhance its sustainability, we are seeking to ensure that our victim assistance efforts are integrated within national level health and disability programs.

By way of example, Cambodia has raised the issue of victim assistance and disability as a national priority and proposed that it be considered as a priority for international cooperation and assistance.

On that note, Australia is pleased to be assisting Cambodia to develop a new National Disability Strategic Plan (2014 – 2018) and supporting this opportunity for Cambodia to use the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as the guiding framework in developing the new Strategic Plan. This initiative has evolved from the Landmine Survivor Assistance Program and the Cambodia Initiative for Disability Inclusion and is expected to ensure a more comprehensive approach to assisting victims and other people with a disability.

Mr President

Australia has also supported the Convention’s Implementation Support Unit (ISU) to conduct research on the experience and contribution that national mine action programs have made to victim assistance. Today at 1.00pm, Australia and the ISU will host a side event which will share the findings of this research. I warmly encourage all delegations to attend this event.

One of the important outcomes of this research will be a compilation of case studies illustrating how mine action programs have demonstrated good practice in contributing to the integration of victim assistance in broader contexts.

This research has documented a wealth of good examples that could be replicated elsewhere. These include in Afghanistan, South Sudan and Tajikistan where mine action programs and activities have promoted disability inclusive development. A common theme running through examples of good practice is the recruitment by mine action agencies of qualified and experienced personnel to coordinate victim assistance activities and build capacities.

Australia believes that documenting such good practice will provide a substantive input to furthering our understanding of victim assistance ahead of next year’s Third Review Conference.

Mr President

While humanitarian demining will have an end point, the imperative of States to ensure the well-being of their populations, including mine victims, and to guarantee their rights, will remain a continuing State responsibility.

On this note, the ISU’s research will also enhance our understanding of the true magnitude of the effort being made to assist States in developing the responses necessary to meet the rights and needs of all individuals who are injured, or who live with disabilities, including landmine survivors.

Given our collective understanding of the totality of what constitutes victim assistance within existing frameworks such as healthcare, disability and human rights, it is perhaps surprising that we have had such a narrow perspective of what we generally count and report as support to victim assistance within this Convention.

We hope, therefore, that the outcomes of the ISU’s research work and today’s side event will make a strong contribution to ongoing deliberations under the Convention on a comprehensive and sustainable approach to victim assistance.

With the Convention’s Third Review Conference only months away, now is the time to review our understandings of victim assistance and how it should be developed and supported in the future. Nearly 15 years after the Convention’s entry into force, we should be able to point to examples of sustainable outcomes and improvements in the quality of life of survivors. If we can’t, all State Parties should consider what we could do differently to ensure that we utilise scarce resources effectively to meet our promise to assist victims.

Finally, Mr President, Australia encourages mine-affected States, with support from development partners, to proactively integrate victim assistance requirements into national plans that address disability, healthcare, rehabilitation, social services and employment. This will help ensure that victim assistance is addressed by national institutions and predictably funded into the future.

I thank you, Mr President