26 August 2013

Victims of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war have been at the heart of campaign and advocacy efforts since the founding of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) and subsequently, the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). There are at least 25 ICBL-CMC national and local survivor networks whose members are strong national advocates for all aspects of the Mine Ban Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These networks empower and improve the lives of thousands of survivors and their families through peer support and income-generating projects and by helping them to access other services such as healthcare and physical rehabilitation.

In response to requests from national campaigns, and with support from Norway, the ICBL-CMC created the Survivor Network Project in 2012, to provide targeted financial and technical support to survivor networks.

Eleven survivor networks received financial support during the first year of the project and many of these are already showing impressive results. The survivor network of the Cambodian Campaign to Ban Landmines visited almost 400 villages to learn first-hand the needs of survivors, and then passed this information directly to the Prime Minister and Defense Ministry through a comprehensive set of national and local recommendations. The Cambodian Campaign also used the village visits to share information about the rights of survivors and other persons with disabilities with local authorities and survivors.

In Afghanistan and Albania, the Afghan Landmine Survivor Network and the Kukes Survivor Network saw their countries ratify the CRPD following letter writing campaigns, public awareness events and high level lobbying meetings. In Tajikistan, the President signed an action plan for CRPD accession following advocacy efforts by the Tajik Survivor Network.The Tajik Survivor Network also successfully lobbied for increased financial resources for victim assistance and increased availability of peer support services for survivors.

The Senegalese Association of Landmine Victims (ASVM) and YYGM, a survivor network in Ethiopia, boosted survivor participation in disabled sporting events to encourage social inclusion in their countries. ASVM organized a regional basketball tournament on 27 December 2012 bringing together survivors from the Casamance region, the Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. Survivor athletes in Ethiopia took home three gold medals and a silver at the Addis Ababa Sports Festival for Persons with Disabilities on 3 December 2012, International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

In El Salvador, survivors monitored the government’s implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty and the CRPD. The Network of Survivors alongside other organizations of persons with disabilities (DPOs), contributed to the national CRPD alternative report. The report highlights areas where more progress is needed to uphold the rights of survivors and other persons with disabilities and will contribute to the Committee of the CRPD’s official recommendations to the government of El Salvador.

The Landmine Survivor Initiative in Bosnia and Herzegovina successfully advocated for survivor participation in the drafting of the country’s victim assistance statement for the upcoming Meeting of States Parties to the Cluster Munition Convention.

In Uganda, a local survivor group in Pader district created by the Uganda Landmine Survivors Association (ULSA)conducted training on Uganda’s obligations and commitments to survivors under the Mine Ban Treaty, Cluster Munition Convention and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Following the training, the group was given official representation on the district council to aid in the design and implementation of local development projects.“Outputs from the Survivor Network Project members over the past 12 months have shown once again how important and effective it is to engage survivors in the promotion of victim’s rights and implementation of the Mine Ban Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Convention on Persons with Disabilities,” said Megan Burke, Coordinator of the Survivor Network Project.