The Mine Ban Convention came about as a humanitarian response to a humanitarian crisis. The Convention sets out clear responsibilities and obligations for the States Parties. Six years after the convention entered in to force, we are satisfied to note the substantial progress that has been made under all articles, including the fields of humanitarian mine action and victim assistance under the framework of the Mine Ban Convention.
Despite overall positive development under the Mine Ban Convention, there is still reason for concern. It is reported for 2003 that in 50 out of 60 mine-affected countries, new victims are not given fully adequate survivor assistance to meet their needs. It is also reported that in some heavily mine-affected countries, only one victim in a hundred gets sufficient help. This is not acceptable.
On this background we must make humanitarian mine action, including victim assistance, even more effective. Mine action efforts will need to be strengthened through the States Parties continued commitment, focus and willingness to give priority to fulfilling their obligations under the treaty.
Since the very beginning of the process that led to the treaty, progress has been made through unique partnerships between mine-affected countries, other States Parties and non-governmental and international organisations. These partnerships will continue to be important in order to ensure the success of the Convention.
The Review Conference in Nairobi one year ago was an important step in the global efforts to alleviate human suffering caused by antipersonnel landmines. The Nairobi Action Plan will be the framework for action until 2009.
Article 5 of the Convention lays down an unequivocal obligation for all States Parties to clear all mines within ten years of the entry into force of the Convention for that State Party. At the upcoming Sixth Meeting of the States Parties we believe it useful to start a process on how to address in an adequate fashion the question on how to facilitate a the handling of the obligations of article 5 in a way that ensures that we reach the goal of a mine free world. The premises for such a process will remain unchanged. The primary responsibility lies with the mine-affected countries, and the contributions of the international community can only be a supplement to their efforts. National ownership and co-ordination of mine action operations, both at the local and national level, are essential if the efforts of mine-affected states are to be effective and efficient.
Mine-affected countries are responsible for meeting the needs of their landmine victims. Other States Parties have an obligation to assist in such efforts. The vast majority of mine survivors are civilians, many of them children. Their families and communities are also affected. Therefore, victim assistance must have a broad scope and include both general health services and the physical, psychological, social and economic reintegration of people with disabilities. It must also include support to their communities. Active participation of mine victims in these efforts must be ensured. These are long-term commitments that need to be part of the country’s general development plans and strategies.
Together with Nicaragua, Norway has chaired the Standing Committee on Victim Assistance during the past year. In this function we have focused on developing the mine-affected countries’ own capacity to assist mine victims. In accordance with the mine victims’ own stated preferences, we have focused on two issues this year, namely trauma care and socio-economic rehabilitation.
Activities undertaken by Nicaragua and Norway in the past year include organising workshops in some of the 24 most mine-affected countries in Africa and Central America and hiring a consultant to assist these countries in establishing national action plans for support to mine victims. We are also planning a side event for the Sixth Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty in Zagreb in November. It will take place in co-operation with the Land Mine Survivor Network, and be in addition to the plenary and committee discussions on victim assistance.
We are in close contact with our co-rapporteurs, Afghanistan and Switzerland, to facilitate a smooth transition when they take over as chairs of the Standing Committee in December this year.
In 2002, Norway initiated the establishment of the Resource Mobilisation Contact Group within the framework of the Convention. To reach the goals of the Convention, we need to sustain the current funding level and secure new sources of funding for mine action. It is equally important that the funds are used in the most cost-effective way. To address these issues, we need to keep mine action as simple, straightforward and field-based as possible. Norway will continue to concentrate its support on mine action programmes that focus on clearing mines as effectively and efficiently as possible, while at the same time involving and developing local capacity based on national and local ownership. It is a Norwegian priority to ensure that our support for mine action is gender sensitive. In connection with the fifth anniversary of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security it is most appropriate to remind ourselves that we must secure the participation of women in all areas of mine action in order to make our efforts effective and efficient. To keep focus on resource mobilisation, Norway will convene a meeting of the Resource Mobilisation Contact Group during the Sixth Meeting of States Parties.
The hallmark of the landmine process is the way it combines field experience and political action. This practical and operational approach must also guide our future work. Our obligation is to stay committed and keep focussing on our obligation to address the needs of landmine survivors and to prevent new victims by clearing all mines.