Mines Action Canada congratulates 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Mines Action Canada is very pleased to see Nobel Peace Prize go to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali with recognition of stakeholders working for peace in Ethiopia & the region.

We welcome efforts to end the long standing conflict with Eritrea. Landmines and cluster munition remnants from that and other conflicts continue to threaten civilians in Ethiopia

This award recognizes that cooperation, international law and diplomacy work when leaders have the courage to try. African leadership has been crucially important to the bans on landmines, cluster munitions and nuclear weapons so we hope that this award provides Prime Minister Abiy with the platform to lead his country and the region towards a lasting and sustainable peace.

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Humanitarian Disarmament and the 2019 Election

As we have in previous elections, Mines Action Canada submitted surveys on humanitarian disarmament policy to the major political parties - the Conservative Party, the Green Party, the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party. We were unable to reach the People's Party of Canada via telephone or email and thus was unable to send a copy of the survey to them.

With assistance from international experts on each of these topics, we are pleased to provide you with a brief analysis of each response to assist you in making your decision for October 21st. MAC does not endorse any one party as each party's positions on humanitarian disarmament issues have strengths and weaknesses. Overall, we would have liked to see stronger commitments to fund disarmament work and more concrete examples of how policies would be put into practice. 

Before we get into any analysis of the parties' positions, here are the full answers as provided to Mines Action Canada in alphabetical order:

While Mines Action Canada is happy to provide this resource free of charge, please consider making a donation to support our work.

 

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1325 - a tool to reach 2025

The Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda, based on UN Security Council Resolution 1325, and mine action are closely related, but too often the communities working on these two topics are distinct and separate. To achieve the goals of the WPS agenda, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines, states and civil society need to keep both sectors in mind.

As the 2025 goal set by States Parties to the Ottawa Treaty fast approaches and the States Parties to the Convention Cluster Munitions strive to implement the treaty as effectively and efficiently as possible, it is crucially important to capitalize on all intersections between mine action and the WPS agenda. 

Read the short delegate briefing paper on the intersections between the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Women, Peace and Security agenda, released at the 9th Meeting of States Parties of the Convention on Cluster Munitions here.

The expanded paper covering both the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines and the Convention on Cluster Munitions is available here.

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New report shows Cluster Munition Convention is effective

Ban treaty advances progress in eliminating humanitarian threat of cluster bombs, with deadly
exception of ongoing attacks in Syria


(Geneva, 29 August 2019) – As the treaty banning cluster munitions nears its ten-year anniversary since entering into force in 2010, it remains an effective agreement that is making the world safer, according to the Cluster Munition Monitor, an annual monitoring report released today by the Cluster Munition Coalition. 

“As more countries join the Convention on Cluster Munitions and take measures to end the threat cluster munitions pose, we are progressing toward a world free of these inhumane weapons” said Hector Guerra, director of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). “Syria must immediately stop using cluster munitions and Russia must refrain from being complicit in this use, and all countries should commit to addressing the harm caused by these nefarious weapons."

For the first time since 2015, the Monitor did not report new use of cluster munitions in Yemen in the year prior to its publication.

It also found that in Syria the number of reported cluster munition attacks has decreased since mid-2017 as government forces have regained areas previously held by non-state armed groups. In 2018, 80 cluster munition casualties were recorded in the country, the lowest annual figure since use resumed there in 2012. The report warns that the actual number of casualties and instances of use are likely far higher as access to Syria is limited and many activities go unrecorded.

Cluster Munition Monitor 2019 reports that three countries have ratified the treaty in the past year—the Gambia, Namibia, and the Philippines—bringing the total number of States Parties to 106.

“The stigma against cluster munitions is growing stronger by the day, as shown by the dedicated work to destroy stocks, clear remnants, and ensure the ban convention is functioning effectively,” said Mary Wareham of Human Rights Watch, ban policy editor of Cluster Munition Monitor 2019. "States that have not joined this convention should reconsider that position and take steps to accede without delay.”

The Cluster Munition Coalition urges states outside the convention to join the Convention on Cluster Munitions ahead of its milestone Second Review Conference in September 2020.

The annual report also finds that States Parties to the convention have already destroyed 99% of their stockpiled cluster munitions, eliminating a collective total of nearly 1.5 million cluster munitions and more than 178 million submunitions. Since the last edition of Cluster Munition Monitor was published in August 2018, Botswana and Switzerland completed destruction of their stockpiles. Guinea-Bissau, however, did not meet its stockpile destruction deadline of 1 May 2019—the first time a state has violated the treaty's eightyear stockpile destruction deadline.

In total, Cluster Munition Monitor 2019 identified at least 149 new cluster munition casualties globally in 2018, a continuation of the significant decrease compared to the annual total of 971 in 2016 and 289 in 2017. While all the casualties recorded due to attacks occurred in Syria (65) in 2018, Yemen had the most recorded casualties due to cluster munition remnants (31), surpassing the annual remnants casualties reported for Syria (15) or Lao PDR (21) for the first time. Casualties related to remnants from earlier conflicts were also recorded in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, South Sudan, Ukraine, and Nagorno-Karabakh. Civilians accounted for 99% of all casualties whose status was recorded in 2018, consistent with statistics on cluster munition casualties for all time, and due to the indiscriminate and inhumane nature of the weapon.


"Our reporting demonstrates clearly that each year nearly all victims of cluster munitions are civilians, with children accounting for more than half of the casualties reported in 2018 due to the explosion of deadly remnant submunitions,” said Loren Persi, casualties and victim assistance editor of Cluster Munition Monitor 2019. “States and the international community need to urgently prioritize assistance and increase resources in order to better address the needs of cluster munition survivors, their families and communities."

States Parties with cluster munition victims have obligations to provide adequate assistance and these provisions have improved the situation for victims since the convention was adopted. Significant challenges remain, however. In the last year, for example, declines in funding for community-based work has left local organizations struggling to maintain their operations. As a result some victims in affected states were not able to reach, or access, vital services.

At least 26 states remain contaminated by these weapons, including 12 States Parties to the convention. No state completed cluster munition clearance in the past year. In all, 10 countries, eight of which are States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, have completed clearance of cluster munition-contaminated land.

Cluster munitions are fired by artillery and rockets or dropped by aircraft, and open in the air to release multiple smaller bomblets or submunitions over an area the size of a football field. Submunitions often fail to explode on initial impact, leaving dangerous remnants that pose the same danger as landmines until cleared and destroyed. The Convention on Cluster Munitions was adopted and opened for signature in 2008, and entered into force on 1 August 2010. It comprehensively prohibits cluster munitions, requires destruction of
stockpiles within eight years, clearance of areas contaminated by cluster munition remnants within 10 years, and the provision of assistance for victims of the weapon.

Read the 2019 Cluster Munition Monitor here

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Meet the new ICBL-CMC Director

Today is International Mine Action Day and to celebrate we wanted to introduce you to the new Director of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines-Cluster Munition Coalition (ICBL-CMC), Hector Guerra. 

(c) AIF Serbia

Mines Action Canada volunteer Maureen Hollingworth sat down with Hector to talk about his background and his hopes for the ICBL-CMC. 

You bring both an academic and activist background to international human rights issues. Can you speak a bit about how your career has evolved?

My introduction to organized civil society was with Amnesty International-Mexico, where I worked on different aspects of international human rights law. Eventually my work focused on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and disarmament, both with NGOs and academia. I joined global initiatives like CMC, IANSA, Control Arms and ICAN, while giving lectures on disarmament at the School of Political and Social Sciences (National University of Mexico), and collaborating as part of a group of academic advisers with the ICRC delegation for Mexico, Central America and Cuba. I also joined efforts with some of my Latin American colleagues in founding the Network for Human Security in Latin America and the Caribbean (SEHLAC Network).

I took part in the diplomatic processes that resulted in the Convention on Cluster Munitions, Arms Trade Treaty and Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. In the human rights field, I have worked as an intergovernmental policy and advocacy official, covering over 20 regular and special sessions of the UN Human Rights Council, including the Universal Periodic Review, as well as other human rights treaty bodies.

Through these different steps in my career, I have gained an insight on the interconnection between international human rights law, humanitarian disarmament and sustainable development, and also on the interaction between civil society and governments on these issues.

The campaigns that promote humanitarian disarmament seem to be of particular interest. What is it about the ICBL and CMC that sparked this interest and commitment?

We are at an exciting moment in history when multilateral action on disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control has been increasingly based on human security and international law. This evolution has been facilitated by different approaches working collaboratively – something the ICBL-CMC has exemplified by working effectively with like-minded States, ICRC, and other multilateral actors and members of civil society in the creation and strengthening of the Mine Ban Treaty and the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

I value the opportunity of working with such a diverse community, and am proud to be part of an organization with space for women and men to be recognized leaders (e.g. all the previous ICBL directors have been women), and for people of all generations committed to global action. There are campaigners from affected countries; colleagues from countries that have produced, exported and used these terrible weapons; and many more from countries not implicated in landmines and cluster munitions who are willing to fight and mitigate the destruction and suffering these devises cause.

I have also been drawn to ICBL-CMC as an intellectual hub, admiring how it informs State positions and, through the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, how it has been a source of key data and analysis, following the development and performance of the international norms set by the Ottawa and Oslo conventions.

Finally, I have the utmost respect for the solidarity the organization has demonstrated with sister humanitarian disarmament campaigns, specially emerging ones, by offering advice and assistance.

Promoting the rule of law through regulatory mechanisms has been an important part of your career to date. While many governments currently seem to be downplaying the effectiveness of multilateralism, why do you feel multilateral approaches to global problems still have value?

The rule of law, at the national and international levels, has shown its potential in responding to fear and want. Balancing evidence of the evils of unrestricted power against the benefits of moderation, negotiation, agreed rights-based standards and rules, I believe in the democratic creation and implementation of multilateral agreements.

It is clear that from their inception the United Nations Charter, Geneva Conventions, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court, along with other global initiatives, have made a difference for humanity. However, they have also been threatened, in some cases even by the countries that helped create them.

We need to give multilateralism a chance. It has been largely built around the ideal of preventing war and building peace. We need a just, democratic, efficient, inclusive and creative multilateral system in the face of existential threats at the planetary level ― such as global warming, armed violence, pandemics, nuclear weapons and potentially emerging military technologies like lethal autonomous weapons. It is with this in mind that I have chosen to work in the field of international relations.

You are beginning your job as Director of the ICBL-CMC in a time of amplified global tensions. What are the current challenges facing global humanitarian disarmament efforts?

The buildup of geopolitical tensions (e.g. around Korean Peninsula, Syria, Ukraine, Venezuela, Yemen,) will continue to drive weapons development, production, modernization, transfer and use ― all major obstacles to disarmament and arms control. We are seeing an increased militarization of security and an arms race that is reinvigorated by the consolidation of emerging military technologies. This is a difficult context for the advancement of global humanitarian disarmament efforts, both for current treaties and new initiatives.

Civil society, which is a major catalyst in multilateral disarmament, is facing growing challenges with respect to harassment, threats and interference in their work by certain governments and corporations; a decrease in resources from traditional sources; and, in some countries, competing socio-economic priorities at the local level (e.g. lack of water, health services, food security).   

… and what are the specific challenges facing the ICBL-CMC and how will you address them?

Campaigning over so many years poses challenges, both in keeping our membership engaged on our collective limited resources, and in maintaining public attention on landmine and cluster munition issues. Unfortunately the big delegations of sponsored campaigners to MBT and CCM meetings of States Parties are past, although that sort of presence allowed our members to exchange information and good practices, and plan joint projects.

To make up for these limitations we need to scale up our communications through existing and innovative channels. For instance, through the communications; webinars; translation, and through mechanisms that may allow campaigners to have their voices heard directly from their localities in the formal proceedings and informal activities of diplomatic conferences.

I see ICBL-CMC giving continuity to solid advocacy, research and campaigning that builds on our successes in the promotion and defence of treaty universalization and implementation, including our work with survivors and promoting the participation of youth.  

I also see an organization that is open to exploring new avenues. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in its thematic diversity and universality, offers an interesting framework to consider in which humanitarian disarmament ― including mine action ― has a place, allowing for linkages with issues such as environmental protection, food security, rights of women and the rule of law. This approach might help open new channels of communication and collaboration, resulting in partnerships with institutions from other sectors and new donors.

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You can follow Hector on Twitter @HGuerraV and learn more about the ICBL at www.icbl.org and the CMC at www.stopclustermunitions.org

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Gender Balance for Better Disarmament

For International Women's Day, let's look back at some of our contributions this year to discussions about gender in disarmament and women's empowerment. The theme of this year's International Women's Day is #balanceforbetter and we know that the outcomes are better when disarmament efforts have gender balance.

In August, we were part of the first ever UN briefing on gender and autonomous weapons at the Convention on Conventional Weapons' Group of Governmental Experts meeting and launched a new briefing note on bias and autonomous weapons. We were so pleased to have the Canadian Ambassador chair the event. 

Canada and the European Union hosted the first ever meeting of Women Foreign Ministers in Montreal and we were there, working with Canadian civil society and our colleagues at the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons to highlight humanitarian disarmament.

With the support of the Government of Ireland, we launched our new Mine Action Fellows program at the 17th Meeting of States Parties to the Ottawa Treaty with two of our Fellows addressing a lunch time briefing.

Just last month, our Program Manager presented on gender equality and youth engagement in mine action during a plenary panel at the National Mine Action Directors Meeting in Geneva. 

Humanitarian disarmament is often led by women and the meaningful participation of women from around the world is crucial to making progress towards a safer, more peaceful world. International Women's Day gives us an opportunity to look back at what we've accomplished and reiterate our commitment to diversity in disarmament.

 

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Stepping up for inclusive mine action

From February 5th to 8th, Mines Action Canada attended the National Mine Action Directors' Meeting for the first time. The National Mine Action Directors' Meeting is a technical meeting focused on field operations rather than the Ottawa Treaty but this year, our Program Manager, Erin Hunt, was asked to address the plenary during a panel discussion on Building Stronger Communities: Youth and Women in Mine Action. Her presentation focused on our youth programming and on gender equality. 

The presentation explored MAC's understanding of empowerment and our TEAM approach to youth engagement before speaking about how masculinity affects who belongs in mine action. This image which includes phrases from over 15 languages all outlining a narrow understanding of masculinity.

The presentation included the following ideas about how the mine action sector can step up for a more inclusive mine action which will be a more successful mine action.

  • One take away from our youth program is the importance of mentorship and action –getting to work with a leader who looks like you and seeing your work have an impact in empowering.
  • We need to seek out and hear from expertise that looks and sounds different.
  • We need to be careful that efforts to highlight diversity are not inadvertently cementing limiting stereotypes. For example, if you are profiling a female staff member, don’t refer to her as one of the few women or one of a select number of women working in mine action. Women in mine action are just regular women doing a job. Making it sound like women have to be special to work in mine action reduces the likelihood a woman would see themselves in the job and answer your job posting.
  • Please remember youth and women are not homogenous groups and make sure that all sorts of people from those demographics are consulted and included.
  • We should learn and talk about gender/diversity more. We often see the same faces at side events about gender or youth – and usually they are women. It would be great to see more people especially men showing up for these sessions so I’m issuing a challenge for everyone in this room to attend at least one meeting, lecture, side event, panel or training on gender or diversity this year.
  • When in doubt talk to the Gender and Mine Action Program.
  • Finally, if the structures, systems and environment we work in do not have space for youth, women or anyone else who doesn’t fit the current understandings of who belongs in mine action, we need to think creatively, adapt and change the structures.

 You can read the whole presentation here and the audio recording of the session is available here

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The Cluster Munition Coalition is 15!

We're celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). To mark this anniversary, we have been sharing facts about the CMC on our Facebook and Twitter. In 15 years, the CMC successfully campaigned for the negotiation and implementation of a ban on cluster munitions. The work isn't done yet but today we get to celebrate how far we've come.

 

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Human Security Requires Environmental Security

NGOs including Mines Action Canada and academics have used the UN’s International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict to urge governments to increase the protection of people and ecosystems by strengthening measures to enhance environmental security before, during and after armed conflicts.

The 55 organisations and experts from the fields of the environment, health, human rights, humanitarian disarmament and sustainable development argue that protecting people and ecosystems means that governments and the international community must move faster and further to address the environmental causes and consequences of armed conflicts.

The statement comes as conflicts around the world, and their aftermath, are continuing to take an enormous toll on people and the environment through pollution, infrastructure damage and the collapse of governance. But it also comes as our understanding is increasing over how stresses linked to climate change, water and food insecurity, environmental degradation or the unsustainable use of natural resources can contribute to insecurity.

The concept of environmental security includes a variety of issues involving the role that the environment and natural resources can play across the peace and security continuum, and their relationship to human well-being, development and security.

Acknowledging the interconnection between the environment and security provides insights into how the societal tensions over natural resources that can lead to conflicts can be reduced, how civilians could be better protected during conflicts, and how peace can be built and sustained in their wake.

Environmental issues are increasingly visible in countries affected by conflict. In southern Iraq, protests erupted over water contamination that has affected 110,000 people and which had been caused by years of conflicts, increasing water scarcity and mismanagement.[1] The UN Security Council has recognised the role that climate change and environmental degradation have played in fuelling conflict in the Lake Chad region.[2] In Somalia, the long-running conflict is being sustained by a vicious cycle of overharvesting for the charcoal trade and the degradation of agricultural lands.[3]

The signatories argue that recognising the importance that environmental security plays for human security before, during and after conflicts is vital and should drive policy development. In doing so, they highlight the importance of properly integrating the environment into conflict prevention, into the analysis of conflicts, into humanitarian response and into post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding.

Find the statement here. 

 

[1] NRC (2018) Basra Fact Finding Mission Report #3: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/NRC%20Basra%20Key%20Findings%203_FINAL.pdf

[2] UN (2018) Better Governance of Underfunded, Poorly Managed Lake Chad Basin Key to Resolving Conflict, Suffering across Region, Speakers Tell Security Council: https://www.un.org/press/en/2018/sc13259.doc.htm

[3] UN Environment (2018) Somalia calls for international cooperation to stop illegal charcoal trade https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/somalia-calls-international-cooperation-stop-illegal-charcoal-trade

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Mines Action Canada Congratulates the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates

Mines Action Canada joins our colleagues in the International Campaign to Ban Landmines and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons in warmly congratulating Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize co-laureates. We are especially pleased to see that the Nobel Committee chose to recognize the impact of armed conflict on women this year. Both laureates embody our belief that ordinary people can have an extraordinary impact. 

Read more about these deserving laureates here.© Nobel Media

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