Opening of the 19th Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty | (c)ICBL
Due to the preventive measures to curb the COVID pandemic, the 19th Meeting of States Parties (MSP) to the Mine Ban Treaty was held online from, from the 15th to the 19th of November. Despite a high level of activity and participation, participants regretted the missed opportunities to meet and exchange between the various actors.
The COVID pandemic had an impact on the meeting. The week was planned to take place in The Hague from the 15th until the 19th of November. However, due to new COVID restrictions in the Netherlands the official program and all side events of the MSP had to be changed to a virtual format.
Despite the last minute change to make the MSP virtual, 97 out of the 164 states parties to the MBT participated; even 11 States among the 33 States who are not party to the Convention attended the Conference. Also important UN agencies, international and regional organizations, as well as civil society were well represented at the 19th MSP. But once again a big disadvantage of the week was the missed opportunities to meet and exchange between various actors. Especially, meetings between donor States, affected states and operator organizations to bring forward important mine action activities could not be held.
The past year was marked by an increasing use of mines (including those of an improvised nature) in some countries and a high rate of casualties for the sixth consecutive year. Furthermore, according to the Landmine monitor of 2021, clearance work remains behind target in most affected States Parties. Also gender and diversity perspectives as a core element of mine action have been mentioned many times throughout statements, particularly in relation to Victim Assistance (VA).
The exchange on Victim assistance was an extraordinary extended session. The interest especially of affected states to report on activities and challenges was remarkable. Norbey Chavarro Guzman, a mine survivor and president of the Asociacion de sobrevivientes de Minas Antipersonal del departamento de Caqueté, UNIDOS POR LA VIDA, delivered ICBL statement on VA this year, with the support of HI Columbian program. In spite of increased efforts Guzman’s and ICBL’s conclusion was:
“Only minor progress was made in assisting victims worldwide. Much more needs to be done to implement the Oslo Action Plan!”
One of the main challenges when it comes to providing effective VA is the lack of financial resources: VA requires long-term and sustained engagement. Therefore, all States affected by landmines and explosive remnants called on donors for continuous or increased financial and/or technical support.
In addition, there were also an interesting side event on VA. Elke Hottentot (Armed Violence Reduction Policy Lead of HI) delivered a statement on behalf of the Gender and Diversity Group who:
“Calls on states at the 19MSP to ensure that policies and services are age, gender, disability and diversity sensitive so that victims can access victim assistance in ways that meet their needs, including in remote areas.”
Not only financial resources impeded the progress of effective VA last year, the COVID-19 pandemic has been mentioned as an aggravating factor to mine action in general and VA specifically, and as hampering clearance and mine risk reduction efforts in many contexts.
It is therefore even more important that all actors continue to adhere to the Oslo Action Plan and that financial commitments increase. It is essential in order to reduce the number of mine victims, to make further progress in the clearance work and to guarantee sustainable VA.
Altogether HI participated in 3 sides events:
The 19th Meeting of the States Parties ended with the handing over of the presidency to the representative of Colombia who will organize the 20th meeting in 2022 (21-25 November in Geneva). Further Germany announced its potential candidacy for the presidency of the 21MSP in 2023.