The year 2017 marks a decade since the beginning of the historic Oslo Process that led to adoption of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, the first multilateral treaty to make the provision of assistance to victims of a given weapon a formal obligation for all States Parties with victims. The convention continues to set the highest standards for victim assistance. It requires States Parties with cluster munition victims to implement specific activities to ensure that adequate assistance is provided. Article 5 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions requires that States Parties with cluster munition victims implement the following victim assistance activities:
- Collect relevant data and assess the needs of cluster munition victims;
- Coordinate victim assistance programs;
- Develop a national plan, budget, and time frame for implementation;
- Report on progress;
- Actively involve cluster munition victims;
- Provide adequate assistance;
- Implement national legislation according to the principles of international law; and
- Provide assistance that is gender- and age-sensitive as well as non-discriminatory.
By codifying the international understanding of victim assistance and its components and provisions in Article 5, the Convention on Cluster Munitions extended the scope and understanding of the growing norm on victim assistance that had developed under the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. That standard was again adapted, although in a less comprehensive form, in the text of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in July 2017.
Victim assistance is not only written into the Convention on Cluster Munitions as an obligation in Article 5—it rests at its core. As one delegate said in 2007, during the Oslo Process:
“It is impossible to separate the question of victims, their rights and needs, from the overall question of how best to tackle the cluster munitions problem. That is the reality check factor. By that I mean the integration into the policy process of the perspectives from the affected communities, the victims themselves and their families…The reality check factor helps us stay focused on the objectives rather than on the process.”
The Dubrovnik Action Plan adopted by States Parties at the Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference in September 2015 elaborates on the convention’s victim assistance obligations and in doing so lays out six broad objectives to be achieved by the time of the Second Review Conference in 2020:
- Improvement in the quality and quantity of assistance for persons with disabilities;
- Strengthened respect for human rights;
- Increased exchange of information on good and cost-effective practices;
- Increased involvement of victims in processes that concern them;
- Increased support for victim assistance programs; and
- Increased demonstration of results in Article 7 transparency reports.
This summary highlights developments and challenges in States Parties with respect to their implementation of the six objectives of the Dubrovnik Action Plan and its other specific actions and recommendations. It reports on 14 States Parties with responsibility for cluster munition victims to which Article 5 and the action plan commitments are applicable: Afghanistan, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Chad, Colombia, Croatia, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Lao PDR, Lebanon, Montenegro, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Somalia.
Not included in this overview are countries that are states not party to (and other areas that cannot join) the Convention on Cluster Munitions, including signatories, which are not bound by its obligations nor in a position to receive funding or resources through international cooperation assistance in fulfilment of obligations of donor States Parties under Article 6.7.
Data on the provision of victim assistance in States Parties, signatory states, and non-signatories, to the Convention on Cluster Munitions is available online in relevant Monitor country profiles. More details on the implementation of services are also available through the Landmine Monitor and other summary Monitor reporting on victim assistance. A collection of thematic overviews, briefing papers, factsheets, and infographics related to victim assistance produced since 1999, as well as the latest key country profiles, is available through the victim assistance portal on the Monitor website.
Improvement in the quality and quantity of assistance
Ongoing data collection
The Dubrovnik Action Plan calls for ongoing assessment of the needs of cluster munition victims.
In the following countries, at least some data disaggregated by sex and age was generally available to all relevant stakeholders, and its use in program planning was reported: Albania, Afghanistan, BiH, Croatia, Iraq, Lao PDR, and Lebanon. Albania completed an assessment of socio-economic and medical needs of marginalized victims of explosive remnants of war (ERW). BiH, Croatia, and Lebanon needed to update, revise, or combine victim databases. Further survey was needed in order to identify cluster munition victims and/or needs in Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Iraq, Montenegro, and Mozambique.
In Afghanistan, the preliminary work plan for a nationwide disability survey was completed in 2016. However, in March 2017 the survey was removed from program planning. The last national disability survey was carried out in 2005.
In 2016, Colombia first reported, “To date, the Colombian State has not reported or recorded victims of cluster munitions.” In November 2012, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found that there were 44 civilian casualties as a result of cluster munition use during an attack in 1998. It is not clear if these casualties are recorded in the data of Colombia’s Unit for Comprehensive Victim Support and Reparation (Victims Unit).
Government focal points
According to the Dubrovnik Action Plan, all States Parties with responsibility for cluster munition victims should have designated a focal point within the government to coordinate victim assistance by the end of 2016.
In 2016, only Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone did not have a victim assistance focal point.
All the other States Parties have focal points for victim assistance. Seven States Parties have focal points in national mine action programs (or centers) Albania, Chad, Croatia, Iraq, Lao PDR, and Lebanon. In addition, Colombia has a focal point based in its mine action program, but to date it has not been reporting on victim assistance activities under the Convention on Cluster Munitions. BiH had a de facto focal point in the mine action center that remained without an official mandate after more than a decade and thus was not reported as the designated focal point for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, but none-the-less coordinated meetings and reported on assistance.
Another three States Parties have focal points in relevant ministries: Afghanistan, Montenegro, and Mozambique.
So far, States Parties have not been reporting if their designated focal points for victim assistance have the necessary “authority, expertise and adequate resources” as called for in the Dubrovnik Action Plan.
Coordination and plans
According to the Dubrovnik Action Plan, coordination of victim assistance activities by States Parties with Article 5 obligations can be situated within existing coordination systems, including those created for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), or states can establish a specific coordination mechanism. Existing national policies, plans, and legal frameworks should be utilized. States Parties without a national disability action plan committed, through the Dubrovnik Action Plan, to draft a disability or victim assistance plan before the end of 2018.
States Parties should ensure that coordination frameworks do not discriminate against or among cluster munition victims and those who have suffered injuries or impairments by other causes. The Monitor identified no discrimination specifically in favor of cluster munition victims by States Parties with Article 5 obligations reported since the entry into force of the convention.
Survivor networks and sustainability
To strengthen sustainability and the effective delivery of services, States Parties have committed, through the Dubrovnik Action Plan, to enhance the capacity of organizations representing survivors and persons with disabilities, as well as national institutions. The Monitor identified the following developments in 2016 and into 2017:
- Albania: The survivor network continued to support survivors and increased coverage to address needs identified through survey.
- Afghanistan: There were further reductions in activities of the survivor network.
- BiH: Entity and cantonal (local) organizations of survivors and persons with disabilities continued the work of the national survivor network that closed in early 2016.
- Croatia: A long-running local survivor NGO closed in 2016 and the national representative NGO continued to operate with limited funding.
- Lao PDR: A survivor-led NGO continued to implement assistance activities locally in one province.
- Lebanon: No survivor network had yet been established, although this was recommended by an NGO assessment in 2012.
- Mozambique: There was reduced capacity of the existing survivor network due to decreased funding.
- Sierra Leone: Conflict and mine/ERW survivors participate together in amputee sports teams, but there were no reports of an organized network of survivors.
- Somalia: Efforts to establish a much-needed survivor network were put on hold due to a persistent scarcity of resources for victim assistance.
Availability and accessibility of assistance
States Parties responsible for cluster munition victims have the obligation to adequately provide assistance. Such assistance should be age- and gender-sensitive. States Parties have committed to increase the availability and accessibility of services in remote and rural areas and to guarantee the implementation of quality services. The Dubrovnik Action Plan also calls for review of the availability, accessibility, and quality of existing services, and identification of the barriers that prevent access.
In many states, there is inadequate funding and resources for international organizations, national and international NGOs, and disabled persons’ organizations (DPOs) that deliver most direct assistance to cluster munition victims, and this is often an impediment to the availability of services. States Parties where funding shortages hindered victim assistance implementation in 2016 included, Afghanistan, BiH, Chad, Croatia, Iraq, Lao PDR, Mozambique, and Somalia. Afghanistan specifically stated that the victim assistance sector faced a “critical funding shortfall” in 2016.
Almost all States Parties still need to create a sustainable funding strategy for the physical rehabilitation sector that incorporates realistic national and international funding. According to Albania’s new 2016–2020 National Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities, it should identify a budget for covering the cost of prosthetic and orthotic devices in 2017 and implement coverage in 2018. In Albania and Chad, there was a need to improve facilities and professional capacity in the rehabilitation sector, and to coordinate government investment in rehabilitation to ensure sustainability.
Impact of conflict on service provision
Continued conflict has significantly and negatively impacted possibilities for providing effective assistance in States Parties Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia. Lebanon saw victim assistance resources stretched by the needs of victims of the Syria conflict. In Guinea-Bissau, an implementing organization reported that the political situation hindered efforts to improve state services.
A charter on the Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities into Humanitarian Action was adopted at the World Humanitarian Summit in Turkey in May 2016. An Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Task Team on Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in Humanitarian Action was established in 2016 to develop and adopt implementation guidelines by the end of 2018. The Co-Chairs are from UNICEF, International Disability Alliance, and Handicap International. The Task Team is large, consisting of 48 individuals from 35 various organizations.
Rehabilitation, including prosthetics
Many States Parties have yet to simplify the process of applying for new prosthetic devices, which was particularly notable in BiH, where survivors recommended a system of electronic applications to overcome bureaucratic barriers. In Iraq, people often only obtained prostheses “after going through a long routine and losing money on transportation.”
It was reported that intensified efforts to improve access to rehabilitation services from remote and rural areas (including allocating resources to take beneficiaries to rehabilitation centers and ensuring that transport is available) are needed in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Lao PDR. In Mozambique, most prosthetic centers have closed and rehabilitation capacity needs to be restored. Sector-wide standards for prosthetic devices are required to improve sevice delivery in Lao PDR and Lebanon. In Sierra Leone, it was reported that staff training would improve the quality of prosthetics and service delivery.
Psychosocial support remained inadequate and availability was lacking in most States Parties. Exceptionally, one survivors’ organization in BiH and one NGO victim assistance program in Lao PDR integrated peer support from survivors into government-run services. Other States Parties had yet to follow similar good practices. Peer support contributes to fulfilling Dubrovnik Action Plan commitments by providing referrals to existing services, and by enhancing the capacity of national survivors’ organizations and DPOs to deliver relevant services. Afghanistan, in particular, requires planning to make available psychosocial support, including peer support. In Mozambique, psychological support requires structures and resources, but these are nearly always lacking. In Colombia, peer support will have to be recognized formally in the universal health coverage system in order for survivors’ organizations to access resources for implementation.
The Dubrovnik Action Plan places specific emphasis on increasing the economic inclusion of cluster munition victims through training and employment, as well as social protection measures. While some progress was made in this field, decent work and livelihoods remain the least developed of all victim assistance pillars overall. Employment opportunities for persons with disabilities that are available to survivors tend to be limited to simple projects without advancement potential. On the other hand, some NGO projects provided techniques for integrating practical sustainability into small business or rural farming, for example in Croatia and Lao PDR.
Local NGOs and survivors’ organizations increased economic inclusion activities in Albania, Croatia, and Lao PDR in the reporting period. However, resources remained limited. In BiH, the number of beneficiaries decreased drastically in 2016. International NGOs and organizations conducted economic inclusion programs—often linked to other rehabilitation activities—in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lao PDR, Lebanon, and Mozambique. In Iraq, the Ministry of Labor provided some flexible low-interest “soft” loans for conflict survivors, but the national Commission on Persons with Disabilities noted that there is a lack of statistics on access by persons with disabilities to work opportunities. In contrast, in Croatia, the state employment service records the number of registered persons with disabilities, and how many of them are mine and ERW survivors. However, such a close understanding of the situation of survivors was rare among States Parties.
A lack of resources has inhibited capacities to provide employment for persons with disabilities, including survivors, in Afghanistan, Chad, and Guinea-Bissau. In Somalia, famine and near-famine conditions reduced efforts aimed at enhancing economic inclusion.
Relevant international law
States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions with victims are legally bound to implement adequate victim assistance in accordance with applicable international humanitarian and human rights law. This requirement has been understood in terms of implementation of the CRPD, and including victim assistance in national CRPD coordination structures. One State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions with cluster munition victims is not a signatory to the CRPD (Somalia). Two are signatories to the CRPD (Lebanon and Chad) and all others are States Parties to the CRPD.
Instruments of international humanitarian law pertinent to the implementation of victim assistanceinclude the Mine Ban Treaty, the Convention on Conventional Weapons’ Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War, and the Geneva Conventions. The 1951 Refugee Convention is also relevant.
All except two States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions with cluster munition victims (Lao PDR and Lebanon) are also party to the Mine Ban Treaty and, as such, have also made victim assistance commitments through the Mine Ban Treaty’s action plans.
Exchange of information on good and cost-effective practices
The Convention on Cluster Munitions coordinators on victim assistance and on cooperation and assistance, with technical support from Handicap International, prepared a guidance document with examples of good practices on an integrated approach to victim assistance for the Sixth Meeting of States Parties in September 2016. The document was subsequently released as a publication later that year. The two elements of the guide’s approach are to:
(1) Ensure that as long as specific victim assistance efforts are implemented, they act as a catalyst to improve the inclusion and wellbeing of survivors, other persons with disabilities, indirect victims and other vulnerable groups; and
(2) Ensure that broader efforts actually do reach the survivors and indirect victims amongst the beneficiaries.
This dual approach is recommended to be implemented until “mainstream efforts” are demonstrated to be inclusive of, and fulfil the obligations that states have to, survivors and indirect victims.
The guidance was developed with the cooperation of several States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, the ICBL-CMC, and civil society, and welcomed by the Mine Ban Treaty’s victim assistance coordinator Thailand. However, at the Mine Ban Treaty’s 15th Meeting of States Parties (MSP) in December 2016, there was debate and behind-the-scenes negotiation on whether the Convention on Cluster Munitions coordinators’ guidance should be mentioned in the final report of the meeting. The outcome was not reported. The final report of the 15th MSP has still not been made public by the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs, nor by the Mine Ban Treaty’s Implementaion Support Unit (ISU) on its website.
Involvement of victims
States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions have committed to actively include cluster munition victims and their representative organizations in policy-making and decision-making, so that their participation is made sustainable and meaningful. In most States Parties, survivors were engaged in, or invited to attend, relevant activities, but there was rarely any indication of the extent to which survivor input was actually taken into account. Furthermore, it was sometimes reported that survivor views were not adequately considered. Survivor participation was sometimes organized through workshops or public events that were not typical coordination meetings, but offered space for inclusion.
Guinea-Bissau, Montenegro, Sierra Leone, and Somalia remain the exceptions to the general situation for participation, as the Monitor did not identify any survivor involvement in victim assistance activities in these countries in 2016. However, DPOs in all four countries advocated for the rights of all persons with disabilities.
Demonstration of results in Article 7 transparency reports
Under Article 7 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, States Parties are required to report on the status and progress of implementation of all victim assistance obligations. Under the Dubrovnik Action Plan, States Parties with responsibility for cluster munition victims have committed to do this through their Article 7 reports.
In 2017, Afghanistan, Albania, BiH, Croatia, Iraq, Lao PDR, and Lebanon reported in detail on victim assistance efforts, including activities implemented during the previous calendar year. They reported on general efforts to collect and manage casualty data, but none reported specifically on needs assessment surveys undertaken in 2016. There were few or no explicit references to plans or adaptations made to other frameworks for the implementation of victim assistance.
The involvement of cluster munition survivors in the planning and implementation of victim assistance is also rarely detailed in transparency reports. Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Iraq reported on specific national policies pertaining to the implementation of Article 5. Guinea-Bissau has never submitted an Article 7 report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, while Sierra Leone did not include the form on victim assistance in its initial Article 7 report. As of 30 July 2017, States Parties Chad, Guinea-Bissau, Montenegro, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, and Somalia had not submitted transparency reports for calendar year 2016, which were due by the end of April 2017.
New State Party Cuba reported on healthcare disability rights in the context of victim assistance in its initial Article 7 report, while noting that it does not have cluster munition victims. Zambia, which also has not recorded cluster munition victims, reported on the Mine Ban Treaty victim assistance focal point in its Article 7 report for the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Previously, several other states without cluster munition victims similarly reported on their Mine Ban Treaty victim assistance or disability rights implementation in their initial reports, thus strengthening the understanding of this obligation.
The Dubrovnik Action Plan recommends that States Parties provide Article 7 reporting updates on victim assistance “drawing on reports submitted under the CRPD as appropriate.” However, the CRPD has not been used by states thus far to enhance annual Convention on Cluster Munitions reporting. This is likely due to challenges in CRPD reporting, namely its level of complexity, a backlog in reviewing, and its relative infrequency. Most initial CRPD reports submitted by States Parties with cluster munition victims are now several years old.
In Afghanistan, DPOs including survivors’ representative organizations launched an alternative CRPD report (or shadow report) in September 2016. In Iraq, a CMC-member DPO headed by a survivor worked to draft a shadow report during 2016 and into 2017. BiH survivor networks and DPOs prepared an alternative CRPD report in 2014 that was still used by those organizations in 2017. Alternative CRPD reports prepared by civil society are a recognized source of information under the CRPD, and thus could also be an important source of participatory information for states reporting to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
 Cluster munition victims include survivors (persons who were injured by cluster munitions or their explosive remnants and lived) and other persons directly impacted by cluster munitions, as well as their affectedfamilies and communities. Most cluster munition survivors are also persons with disabilities. The term “cluster munition casualties” is used to refer both to persons killed and persons injured as a result of cluster munition use or by cluster munition remnants.
 These activities, to be implemented in accordance with applicable international humanitarian and human rights law, include medical care, rehabilitation, and psychological support, as well as provision for their social and economic inclusion.
 Mine Ban Treaty, Article 6.3.
 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons contains only the obligation of assistance, without implimentation provisions found in the Convention on Cluster Munitions. “Each State Party shall, with respect to individuals under its jurisdiction who are affected by the use or testing of nuclear weapons, in accordance with applicable international humanitarian and human rights law, adequately provide age- and gender-sensitive assistance, without discrimination, including medical care, rehabilitation and psychological support, as well as provide for their social and economic inclusion.” Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Article 6.1 (not yet open for signature or entered into force), http://undocs.org/A/CONF.229/2017/8.
 “Victim Assistance and the Oslo Process on Cluster Munitions,” Introduction by Amb. Steffen Kongstad, Deputy Director General, Department for UN, Peace and Humanitarian Affairs, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oslo, at The European Regional Conference on Cluster Munitions, Brussels, 30 October 2007.
 Including through “traditional mechanisms, and south-south, regional and triangular cooperation and in linking national focal points and centres.”
 Article 6.7. “Each State Party in a position to do so shall provide assistance for the implementation of the obligations referred to in Article 5 of this Convention.”
 Article 5 of the convention requires that States Parties with victims make “every effort to collect reliable relevant data” and assess the needs of cluster munition victims.
 UNMAS and USAID, “Monthly Status Update – July 2016 Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (ACAP III),” August 2016.
 UNMAS and USAID, “Monthly Status Update – April 2017 Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (ACAP III),” May 2017; and UNMAS and USAID, “Monthly Status Update – March 2017 Afghan Civilian Assistance Program (ACAP III),” April 2017.
 Colombia, initial Convention on Cluster Munitions Article 7 Report 2016, Form H. This was confirmed as not changed in its Article 7 report (for calendar year 2016) cover letter.
 The use of a cluster munition and resulting casualties were listed as undisputed facts in the case. See paragraphs 69 and 70. The court ordered Colombia to provide comprehensive reparations to the victims, including health and rehabilitative care. Inter-American Court of Human Rights, “Case: Massacre of Santo Domingo vs. Colombia Sentence of 30 November 2012,” bit.ly/SantoDomingoCaseSentence.
 In accordance with Convention on Cluster Munitions, Article 5.2(g). Note: Under Action #4.1 of the Convention on Cluster Munitions’ 2011–2015 Vientiane Action Plan, States Parties committed to designating a government focal pointfor victim assistance within six months of the convention’s entry into force for each State Party.
 Dubrovnik Action Plan, Action 4.1(c). A comprehensive coordination mechanism actively involves cluster munition victims and their representative organizations, as well as relevant health, rehabilitation, psychological, and psychosocial services, and education, employment, gender, and disability rights experts.
 Dubrovnik Action Plan, Action 4.1(c).
 Dubrovnik Action Plan, Action 4.1(d).
 Dubrovnik Action Plan, Action 4.1(a).
 Convention on Cluster Munitions, Article 5.1, which applies with respect to cluster munition victims in areas under the State Party’s jurisdiction or control.
 Children require specific and more frequent assistance than adults. Women and girls often need specific services depending on their personal and cultural circumstances. Women face multiple forms of discrimination, as survivors themselves or as those who survive the loss of family members, often the husband and head of household.
 Relevant services include medical care, rehabilitation, psychological support, education, and economic and social inclusion. See also, Dubrovnik Action Plan, Action 4.1(b).
 Ministry of Social Welfare and Youth, “National Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities 2016–2020,” p. 124.
 Dubrovnik Action Plan, Action 4.1(b) and 4.2(c).
 Convention on Cluster Munitions, Article 5.1. Applicable international human rights law includes the CRPD, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
 “Guidance on an Integrated Approach to Victim Assistance: By States for States,” bit.ly/VAIntegratedApproach. See also, Convention on Cluster Munitions Implementation Support Unit (ISU), “New Guidance on an Integrated Approach to Victim Assistance,” 30 November 2016, bit.ly/CCMISUNewApproach16.
 Convention on Cluster Munitions Coordinators of the Working Group on Victim Assistance and the Coordinators of the Working Group on Cooperation and Assistance, “Guidance on an integrated approach to victim assistance,” (CCM/MSP/2016/WP.2), bit.ly/IntegratedApproachGuidance2016.
 See also, statement of Thailand, Convention on Cluster Munitions Sixth Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 6 September 2016, bit.ly/CCM6MSPVictimAssistThailand; and Convention on Cluster Munitions ISU, “Workshop on an Integrated Approach to Victim Assistance,” 27 May 2016, bit.ly/CCMISUWorkshop16.
 Turkey and Brazil took the floor against a proposal by Italy to have the Convention on Cluster Munitions coordinators’ guidance mentioned in the final report. Greece also spoke against it, reminding the meeting of their statement during the victim assistance session in which it expressed the belief that cluster munition issues, including victim assistance, should be addressed in the Convention on Conventional Weapons. Australia, the Netherlands, and Belgium supported the inclusion of the text, while Chile welcomed the guidance and encouraged further work between the coordinators with the objective to support one of the most important aims of both conventions.
 Dubrovnik Action Plan 4.2, “Increase the involvement of victims,” items (a) and (b). States Parties have obligations to “closely consult with and actively involve cluster munition victims and their representative organizations.” Convention on Cluster Munitions, Article 5.2(f).
 Colombia reported that they have no cluster munition victims but noted that due to the use of antipersonnel mines by non state actors, they have adopted a victim assistance policy that does not discriminate.