Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Meeting – Highs and Lows for Mine Ban Community
(3 June 2013) The Mine Ban Treaty Intersessional Standing Committee (ISC) Meetings that took place last week opened with disturbing news of credible reports which, if confirmed, would constitute the most serious violation the treaty has ever confronted: extensive use of antipersonnel mines by government forces in Yemen, as reported by ICBL member HRW, and Foreign Policy Magazine.
In response, the Yemen Ambassador to the UN reconfirmed his government’s commitment to the treaty, promising a full investigation into the allegations and to take all necessary actions to address the issue on the ground.
Ultimately, the 12MSP President and 15 states, including Afghanistan, Algeria, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, Ireland, Jordan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Slovenia, and Switzerland spoke out to call on Yemen and other countries where there are questions over potential mine use to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation and report to treaty members on their findings on the alleged use. A number of other states also expressed their concerns directly to the delegation of Yemen.
Over the course of the week, several interventions reaffirmed the strength and unity of the mine ban community and demonstrated States Parties’ continued resolve to reaching our goal of a mine-free world. High points from the discussions among States Parties and civil society last week included:
• The announcements by Bhutan and by Venezuela that they have completed their mine clearance ahead of their deadlines ; Greece also released its last suspected mined area after further verification.
• The presentation by Mozambique on its outstanding clearance efforts aimed at being mine-free by the end of 2014;
• Clearance progress in the past year appears faster than planned in Cambodia, Chile, Ecuador, and Tajikistan.
• The constructive dialogue between Cambodia and Thailand regarding allegations of use by Cambodia on their common border, and the confirmation by Cambodia of an investigation which determined no new mines were used;
• An initiative to develop guidelines addressing the needs of child victims, undertaken at the Victim Assistance technical workshop, convened by Austria and Colombia, Co-Chairs of the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance;
• Two victim assistance side events held during the week, looking at the sources of victim assistance funding and the future of Victim Assistance in general;
• The Address by Mozambique’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Henrique Banze, as the future host and President Designate to the treaty’s Third Review Conference on the aims, ambitions and hopes for this milestone meeting;
• Campaigners from Libya and Myanmar joining the ICBL delegation for the first time at a treaty meeting. Low points during the week’s discussions included:
• Unresolved allegations of use in Sudan and South Sudan and the lack of reporting on any investigations undertaken, and continued incomplete and unclear reporting by Turkey on investigations of two use allegations from 2009;
• The continued treaty violation by States Parties Belarus, Greece, and Ukraine regarding their stockpile destruction obligations;
• The Article 5 deadline extension requests by Germany, Serbia and Turkey did not reflect a commitment to clear mined areas ‘as soon as possible,’ as required by the treaty. Niger also announced its intention to submit a request;
• Based on new extension requests submitted last week, 35 states have missed their clearance deadlines, much more than ever anticipated. In many cases, deadlines would have been met if clearance had started on time or had been more efficient;
• Overall unclear reporting by States on mine clearance progress, with a lack of basic information on what has been achieved and what remains to be done, including an assessment of progress relative to benchmarks in their national mine action plans;
• The all time low compliance rate for required transparency reporting by treaty members; as of 25 May 2013, only 59 States Parties had submitted reports for calendar year 2012, less than 40% of states required to do so. The lack of reporting by States Parties with key obligations including 15 States with clearance obligations and 41 States that retain mines, is an even greater concern.
• Funding shortfalls for clearance, VA, and stockpile destruction hampered progress in a number of states.
The ISC meetings serve as the centerpiece of the Intersessional Work Programme established in 1999 at the First Meeting of the States Parties, which took place in Mozambique. The ISC meetings provide an opportunity for states to report on the recent progress they have made to implement the MBT and the Cartagena Action Plan (CAP) and to address challenges and concerns regarding treaty objectives. The Third Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty will return to Mozambique in June 2014, and is an opportunity for States to show the real gains made through the treaty and to reaffirm their commitment to completing the work begun there 14 years ago.
More information regarding the ISC meetings, ICBL statements, and coverage news coverage of the recent meeting is available on the ICBL intersessional meeting web page. Other delegates’ statements can be found on the Implementation Support Unit’s website.