10 March 2008

Just over a year after Indonesia ratified the Mine Ban Treaty, it showed its potential as a regional leader on the mine ban by hosting a workshop on the implementation and universalization of the Mine Ban Treaty.The workshop, which took place in Bali from 25-27 February, was organized by Canada and Indonesia with the support of Australia. The goals of the workshop were to promote universal adherence to the Mine Ban Treaty in the region and to provide a forum for States Parties to share information about their implementation activities and to discuss common challenges.

The workshop was well-attended by states from the region, including six States not Party to the treaty: Lao PDR, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. States Parties to the treaty including Afghanistan, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, the PhilippinesTimor-Leste, Thailand participated in the meeting in addition to representatives from international organizations (GICHD, ICRC, UN) and NGOs (ICBL, Landmine Survivors Network, Mines Advisory Group). The ICBL was represented by Treaty Implementation Director Tamar Gabelnick, Diplomatic Advisor Ambassador Satnam Jit Singh, Landmine Monitor Project Manager Jacqueline Hansen, and Landmine Monitor Ban Policy Researcher and Editor Mark Hiznay.

The workshop was successful in stimulating substantive discussions on implementation among States Parties and educating States not Parties about what the treaty requires and how joining would be beneficial to them. A series of presentations on international cooperation and assistance by the UN, GICHD, ICBL, and Australia was particularly helpful in that regard. Indonesia used the workshop to provide information on its implementation status as one of the newest States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty. It noted that it had filed its initial Article 7 report that was due by 28 January, providing details on its antipersonnel mine stockpiles and confirming that it has no mined areas.

At the workshop, Indonesia reported that it has around 16,500 mines, of which it plans to destroy 11,603 by its 4-year deadline, keeping 4978 for training of peacekeepers under the Article 3 exception. Concerning national implementation measures, Indonesia said the ban was covered by Emergency Law 12/1951, but that it would reflect on whether to revise this law or have new stand-alone implementation legislation.

Jordan, which participated in the meeting as President of the 8MSP, announced that its national implementation legislation had passed its national legislature early this year and now awaits final approval by the King. Other States Parties from the region provided updates on their activities on stockpile destruction, mine clearance, victim assistance, reporting, and national implementation measures. Cambodia and Thailand spoke of their efforts to use area reduction and cancellation to release previously suspected hazardous areas.

On Victim Assistance (VA), Cambodia emphasized the importance of gradually taking ownership of services in the disability sector. New Zealand and Cambodia presented their goals for the year as co-chairs of the Victim Assistance Standing Committee, focusing on encouraging the 24 states with the greatest responsibility for VA (the VA24) to meet the goals they set for themselves by the end of 2009 and to sign and ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Among the States not Party that spoke, Laos was most positive about the convention, noting that it’s primary concern was how long it would take it to meet the obligation to clear mined areas and whether this would be adistraction from the need to clear cluster munition remnants and other ERW. It was reassured that extensions of the 10-year deadline were possible and that by joining the treaty, more international assistance could be provided, which would make it easier to clear mines and ERW.

ICBL/LM Statements: Opening ICBL Remarks, Tamar Gabelnick, ICBL. Understanding the Ottawa Convention: A Regional Perspective: Amb. Satnam Singh, ICBL.Cooperation and Assistance: The Role of NGOs, Jackie Hansen, Landmine Monitor.