02 May 2008
Landmine survivors and all people with disabilities can now count on a powerful tool to ensure their rights are respected and their needs met, the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) said today, hailing the entry into force of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (Disability Rights Convention). The Convention, considered the first major human rights treaty of this century, was signed in December 2006. It will enter into force tomorrow, 30 days after the deposit of the 20th ratification (by Ecuador, on 3 April 2008).
“Like the Mine Ban Treaty just over ten years ago, the Disability Rights Convention is the result of a close partnership between governments and civil society organizations, whose contribution was crucial in achieving a strong legal instrument,” said Firoz Ali Alizada, Advisor to the Afghan Landmine Survivors’ Organization (ALSO), stressing the high levels of participation of the disability community – including landmine survivors – in the process. “We are confident that the Disability Rights Convention will help bring about real change in the lives of landmine survivors, through the adoption of effective legislation and a shift in attitude,” Alizada added.
In mine-affected countries, the Disability Rights Convention will complement the obligations for assisting landmine victims contained in the Mine Ban Treaty and strengthen the notion that providing comprehensive assistance to landmine survivors and other people with disability is fundamentally a human rights issue. “Unfortunately, despite repeated verbal commitments, support for landmine survivors is still lacking in many countries, and decisive action is needed to turn promises into real improvements for survivors, their families, and communities,” said ICBL Executive Director Sylvie Brigot.
Of the 24 States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty that have identified themselves as having the most pressing needs in terms of victim assistance, only four have so far ratified the Disability Rights Convention: Croatia, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Peru. The ICBL urges all countries to join the Convention and start adopting national legislation to put it into practice as soon as possible.
As the international community prepares to meet in Dublin from 19 May 2008 to negotiate a new treaty to ban cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians, the ICBL expressed the hope that the principles of equality and inclusion enshrined in the Disability Rights Convention will be fully reflected in the new treaty. "From the experience of the Mine Ban Treaty, we have learned the importance of placing concrete requirements on states for victim assistance. We hope the new treaty will include solid implementation and reporting requirements in this area,” Brigot said.
The ICBL’s Landmine Monitor Report 2007 estimates the global number of landmine survivors at 473,000 but actual numbers are likely to be higher. During the First Review Conference of the Mine Ban Treaty, held in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2004, the following 23 countries identified themselves as having significant numbers of mine survivors and needs for assistance, but also the greatest responsibility to act: Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Burundi, Cambodia, Chad, Colombia, Croatia, Dem. Rep. of Congo, El Salvador, Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Peru, Senegal, Serbia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Uganda and Yemen. Ethiopia later added itself to the list. Through the Nairobi Action Plan, adopted at the end of the First Review Conference in 2004, States Parties to the treaty pledged to enhance efforts for the care, rehabilitation and reintegration of landmine survivors during the period 2005-2009.
For more information, or to arrange an interview, please call the ICBL office in Geneva: +41 (0)22 920 03 25