Mines Action Canada is pleased to announce that we are now actively recruiting for a new youth position.
This position will support youth engagement in humanitarian disarmament work ensuring that the rights of victims of armed violence are respected and that humanitarian considerations are including in disarmament discussions.
PLEASE note that the DEADLINE for applications is August 8, 2021.
Mines Action Canada is hiring a ten (10) week part-time position starting 30 August 2021, through the Canada Summer Jobs program of the Government of Canada. This position will be based at the Mines Action Canada office in Ottawa, Ontario with remote work possible and may be necessary due to public health restrictions.
Canada Summer Jobs provides funding to help employers create job opportunities for youth. It is designed to focus on local priorities, while helping both young people and their communities. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Canada Summer Jobs program has expanded to include jobs beyond the summer months.
Canada Summer Jobs:
- provides work experiences for youth;
- supports organizations, including those that provide important community services; and
- recognizes that local circumstances, community needs and priorities vary widely.
YOUTH DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
(20 hours per week at $15.00/hour)
The Youth Development Coordinator supports Mines Action Canada’s humanitarian disarmament work by engaging youth in Canada and beyond in efforts to implement the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines and other humanitarian disarmament treaties. This part-time position offers the opportunity to develop leadership, communication, and digital design skills while contributing to creating a safer and more peaceful world.
Reporting to the Program Manager, this position will:
- Design education materials for youth covering disarmament issues.
- Conduct outreach to youth groups and educational institutions to raise awareness of the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines and Canada's history as a leader on disarmament.
- Develop skills training modules so youth can effectively participate in decision-making at the national and international level.
- Provide administrative support to MAC's youth capacity building program.
- Design social media and communications templates for youth engagement.
- Research topics related to humanitarian disarmament as necessary to support youth engagement.
To be eligible to apply, youth must:
- be between 15 and 30 years of age at the start of the employment;
- be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or person to whom refugee protection has been conferred under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act for the duration of the employment; and,
- have a valid Social Insurance Number at the start of employment and be legally entitled to work in Canada in accordance with relevant provincial or territorial legislation and regulations.
Preference will be given to candidates who:
- are studying or have studied social sciences, international affairs, political science, international development, peace and conflict studies, social justice and women’s studies;
- language skills in French, Spanish or Arabic would be an asset;
- possess volunteer or study-related experience in the areas of social justice, international development/relations or mine action;
- have experience coordinating public awareness campaigns;
- have experience working with youth and designing youth activities;
- have experience working or volunteering with a non-profit / non-governmental organization;
- have cross-cultural knowledge and skills (e.g. travel experience, sense of humour, diplomacy, ability to handle stress);
- are computer literate (competent in e-mail, word processing, spreadsheet, and social media);
- have excellent interpersonal skills and writing skills; and
- are very flexible, adaptable, patient and can handle stress.
Compensation: $15 per hour and 20 hours a week for 10 weeks starting 30 August 2021.
- Read the eligibility criteria above thoroughly and make sure you qualify!
- Check the job description carefully. You can also download it here.
- Email your cover letter and resume to [email protected] before 8 August 2021. Please confirm that you meet the eligibility criteria in your application.
Have an inquiry? E-mail Ms. Erin Hunt, Program Manager at [email protected].
Please circulate this announcement widely within your networks.
Project undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Canada Summer Jobs, a component of the Youth Employment Strategy.
 The youth must be 15 years of age at the beginning of the employment period. The youth may be more than 30 years of age at the end of the employment period as long as the youth was 30 at the beginning of the employment period.
 International students are not eligible participants. International students include anyone who is temporarily in Canada for studies and who is not a Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or person who has been granted refugee status in Canada. Youth awaiting a refugee status ruling, as well as those who hold a temporary visitor visa, youth visa or work visa are ineligible. As the objective of the Canada Summer Jobs program is to support youth entering the Canadian labour market, the temporary nature of an international student’s time in Canada does not allow for a long-term connection to the labour market.
On June 14, 2021, the Mines Action Canada Board of Directors issued the following statement:
Landmines have killed or injured some 35,000 women, children, and men in Afghanistan, and vastly more around the world. Their presence in any country or region endangers economic and social progress, and can prevent the long term, meaningful development of a peaceful society.
Fortunately, an international effort is underway to eliminate these mines with a key role being played by deminers employed by the HALO Trust, a charitable organization working globally to end the terror of landmines.
Tragically, and senselessly, one of the HALO Trust teams was attacked by armed terrorists in Northern Afghanistan on June 8, 2021, resulting in 10 deaths and 16 injured.
On behalf of the Mines Action Canada Board of Directors, I would like to offer my deepest condolences and sympathy to these victims, their families, friends, and their dedicated HALO Trust colleagues.
Mines Action Canada stands in solidarity with the HALO Trust in our dedication to ridding the world of landmines, unexploded ordnances, and other weapons that indiscriminately victimize our fellow citizens. We know that this criminal act in Afghanistan will only reinforce the resolve of the HALO Trust and our other partners striving for a better world for all.
Chair, Mines Action Canada
In Canada, we are fortunate to be able to live relatively safe lives, the risk associated with leaving our households to do simple daily tasks is relatively low. Unfortunately, not all countries around the world share this same experience. In some countries, even running errands can be considered a dangerous affair due to frequent attacks on civilians. Every year, the detonation of explosive weapons such as grenades, missiles and bombs, kill and injure thousands of civilians indiscriminately with their blast and fragmentation. However, despite this worrisome trend, many students remain uninformed on the issue of explosive weapons. While not occurring on our home territory, the use of explosive weapons in populated areas is a prominent issue that needs international efforts to be resolved. Here are five of the many reasons why students should expand their knowledge of disarmament issues, specifically the use of explosive weapons in cities and towns and what is being done politically to reduce their impact on civilians
- Effect on Civilians: First, the impact of explosive weapons in populated areas felt disproportionally by civilians, rather than military targets. In 2020, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) recorded 18,747 deaths and injuries as a result of explosive weapons; of those, civilians accounted for 11,056 or 59% of the deaths. When used in populated areas, the percentage of civilians affected was even higher; in 2020, 89% of those harmed by explosive weapons in populated areas were reportedly civilians. In addition to the immediate civilian casualties caused by explosive weapons, casualties can also occur as a result of a disruption of essential services such as damage to essential healthcare infrastructure. The indiscriminate and disproportionate harm these weapons cause to civilians is one reason that students should pay attention to the issue.
- Urbanization and Increasing Threat: Second, with the tactics of war changing and urbanization trends increasing, civilians are more greatly at risk of being affected by explosive weapons than ever before. While wars were traditionally fought strictly between soldiers on open fields, in today’s world, it is not uncommon for wars to take place in city centres and for civilians to experience harm as a result. Civilians now face the burden of war more than ever before with higher risks of experiencing death, injury or displacement. This trend will be exacerbated by the rapid urbanization occurring in developing nations. By 2030, two-thirds of the global population is predicted to be living in cities; 96% of this urban growth is expected to take place in developing countries in cities that are already at a higher risk of experiencing fragility. Together, the trends of wars increasingly being fought in urban areas, and more individuals re-locating to urban areas will cause more civilians to be at risk of experiencing the traumatic effects of explosive weapons in populated areas. Many students may have friends or family who live in the areas that are most affected by explosive weapons; these worrisome trends may put loved ones at risk of being targeted by such attacks.
- Environmental Impact: Third, explosive weapons have negative implications on the environment. Currently, our world is facing a climate crisis that continues to worsen and accelerate. It is well-known that we are quickly approaching a point of no return for global warming, which could have devastating effects on our planet in the future. Unknown to many, explosive weapons can have devastating effects on the environment in numerous ways. One example of such is how explosive weapons leave behind unexploded ordnance, which results in long-term harm and can cause contamination of water, soil and air for years. In Syria, it is believed it will take more than 30 years to clear the contamination. This contamination can as a result hinder agricultural efforts, kill livestock and cause harmful human health effects. In addition, the destruction caused by the crumble of infrastructure can release other hazardous materials into the air and the ground, such as toxic smoke. With explosive weapons having such negative environmental effects on our planet, it is essential students educate themselves on these weapons, so student climate activists can take these negative consequences into account when advocating for climate action and building their climate platforms.
- The Power of Education: Another reason for students to inform themselves on the issue is the power of education and the positive effect it can have. By educating themselves on explosive weapons and the political efforts being put forth to help reduce the consequences they have on civilians, students can help to create change on the issue by raising public awareness, as well as, empowering more individuals and future generations to explore the subject. Education is believed to be crucially important in keeping peace and reducing future risks of violence and is recognized by many NGOs as critical to creating positive change in the world. Another political declaration, the Safe Schools Declaration, focuses on the impact of armed conflict on education and the military use of schools and universities. It has commitments designed to strengthen the protection of education and ensure it continues during armed conflict and those commitments are having an impact on behaviour in conflict. A political declaration on explosive weapons used in populated areas could build on this success further.
- Immigration / Past Experiences: Lastly, while explosive weapons may not be a large threat within Canada, the country’s large immigration numbers mean that it is likely that most students have a relative or a friend who has in some way been impacted by the use of explosive weapons. In Canada, immigrants make up around 9 percent of the total population, meaning that Canada is compiled of individuals from all different walks of life with different experiences. In 2019 alone, Canada welcomed 10,121 new permanent residents from Syria, that same year, 7,268 civilian casualties were recorded in Syria as a result of explosive weapons, the most of any country. This is one current example of Canada welcoming individuals who have possibly experienced first-hand the negative consequences of explosive weapons. For other individuals, the connection to explosive weapons may date back further to their grandparents or great-grandparents fleeing bombings from World War II or other conflicts since then. Regardless, most students likely have at least one connection to someone who has in some been negatively impacted by the use of explosive weapons, whether they be a friend, family member, neighbour, or simply an acquaintance. By educating themselves on the topic of disarmament of explosive weapons, students can show empathy and compassion for their fellow Canadians who may have been exposed to explosive weapons in their family histories.
It is essential for students to remain invested in the progress being made in the disarmament of explosive weapons. It is through the expansion of knowledge on this subject that progress can be made, so that future generations can live in a world without the dangers associated with explosive weapons that many individuals around the world know and fear today.
Danika Brown is an Undergraduate Student at the University of Ottawa and completed an extracurricular volunteer placement as a Research Assistant at Mines Action Canada.
In Canada, MPs and Senators are key contacts for changing Canada’s policy on humanitarian disarmament issues. They are also supposed to represent you and your views so let them know what you are thinking!
HOW TO CONTACT YOUR PARLIAMENTARIAN:
In Canada, you can find contact information for:
- Your MP by going to www.ourcommons.ca/Members/en and typing in your postal code.
- Senators in your area by going to www.sencanada.ca/en/senators-list/. Once there, you can see which Senators are in your area by filtering the list by Province.
DIFFERENT WAYS TO APPROACH YOUR GOVERNMENT
There are several different ways you can let your government hear your voice on this issue:
- Send an email, letter or tweet detailing your concerns and the actions you want taken.
- Book a face-to-face meeting with your MP or local Senator. Go alone or with other constituents to discuss your concerns.
- Call and let your concerns and request for action known to staffers. Also take the opportunity to ask about the official position on the issue.
WHAT TO PREPARE BEFORE YOU MAKE CONTACT
Before you make contact with your government official – whether by email, phone or in person – it is useful to prepare yourself ahead of time by outlining a short case statement:
- Background: a couple paragraphs on the facts and history of the problem
- Core issues: note the main areas of concern are currently and why it needs to be addressed now. Tell them why you personally care about this issue!
- Recommendations: Specifically what action is being requested and how it will address the problem.
KEY POINTS TO MAKE
On landmines and cluster munitions:
- Landmines and cluster munitions are lethal barriers to development.
- Canada should finish the job on landmines and cluster munitions.
- One dollar per Canadian per year to mine action projects around the world will save lives and return Canada to a global leader on landmines and cluster munitions.
On explosive weapons in populated areas:
- When explosive weapons are used in populated areas over 90% of the casualties are civilians.
- Policy and practice change can save lives and protect civilians during armed conflict.
- Canada should be working for a strong international Political Declaration that increases the protection of civilians in conflict by avoiding use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in populated areas
- Parliamentarians should join the International Network on Explosive Weapons’ International Parliamentary Appeal.
On fully autonomous weapons:
- A majority of Canadians are opposed to fully autonomous weapons.
- Canada needs to ensure that our investments in artificial intelligence are not tainted by the development of fully autonomous weapons.
- The Minister of Foreign Affairs has a mandate to advance international efforts to prohibit fully autonomous weapons but Canada has not yet spoken up.
On nuclear weapons:
- Nuclear weapons put us all at risk. We are not equipped to respond if nuclear weapons are ever used again by accident or intention.
- Canada should join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in accordance with our stated goal of nuclear disarmament.
- It is possible to join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and belong to NATO.
- Parliamentarians should join the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons’ Parliamentary Pledge. Use this template email to ask them to join.
At Mines Action Canada, we believe that Ordinary People having an Extraordinary Impact is the key to building a safer and more peaceful world for us all. We work to end the suffering caused by indiscriminate and inhumane weapons such as landmines, cluster munitions, autonomous weapons, explosive weapons in populated areas and nuclear weapons with colleagues from around the world.
Mines Action Canada is Canada's leading humanitarian disarmament organization. Humanitarian disarmament seeks to prevent and remediate arms-inflicted human suffering and environmental harm through the establishment and implementation of laws and norms. This approach to disarmament puts people at the centre of policy and practice. Humanitarian Disarmament is an umbrella term for a collection of disarmament initiatives driven by humanitarian imperatives to strengthen international law as well as protect civilians. By advancing disarmament from a humanitarian perspective, governments and civil society work together to prevent further civilian casualties, avoid socio-economic devastation, and protect and ensure the rights and livelihoods of victims. The main purpose of humanitarian disarmament is the prevention of needless suffering and injury through the regulation and restriction of weapons that pose significant risks for civilian populations both during and after conflict.
Humanitarian disarmament initiatives have included the Ottawa Treaty banning anti-personnel landmines, the Arms Trade Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. We know it works!
Humanitarian disarmament allows all of us to have a say in global peace and security. No one needs to be an expert on security theory to understand that weapons which are indiscriminate and inhumane should not be used. Communities affected by these weapons are the experts but everyone can speak up. Together, we can make change.
A large majority of Canadians want the government to join the nuclear ban.
A new poll released by Nanos Research on 6 April 2021 shows strong support for the nuclear ban among the Canadian public with 74% of respondents expressing support for joining the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
Commissioned by three civil society organizations, Hiroshima Nagasaki Day Coalition, The Simons Foundation Canada and le Collectif Échec à la Guerre, the poll follows an Appeal to Parliament published in the Ottawa Hill Times on January 18 and 20 that was endorsed by over 400 individuals and organizations including Mines Action Canada. Ever since the Treaty’s Entry into Force, more and more voices are questioning the government’s position towards the TPNW. The poll results indicate that only 14% of respondents agreed with the current Government of Canada position towards the treaty.
Support for the nuclear ban treaty remained high even in the face of potential American pressure. The poll found that about 73% of Canadians agreed that Canada should join Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, "even if, as a member of NATO, it might come under pressure from the United States not to do so.” The Government of Canada has frequently (and incorrectly) said that Canada’s obligations under NATO and the alliance with the United States prevent the country from joining the TPNW. These poll results from Canada are similar to the results from a 2020 poll of six European NATO countries. It seems that Canadians, also, want the government to stand strong and make our own decisions on nuclear weapons.
Support for a ban is strong amongst all demographic groups with young Canadians, ages 18 to 34, having the highest level of support for the TPNW.
With young Canadians already facing the existential threat of climate change, it stands to reason that this demographic would also want to end the risk posed by nuclear weapons.
It is not only government policy towards nuclear weapons that Canadians are concerned about. Canadian financial institutions need to pay attention. The poll also found that 71% of respondents would withdraw money from any investment or financial institution that was investing funds in anything related to the development, manufacturing or deployment of nuclear weapons. The Don’t Bank on the Bomb report has found 16 Canadian financial institutions with investments in nuclear weapons producers. Financial institutions just like governments need to be responsive to public opinion. Canadians do not want to profit off a weapon of mass destruction.
Released days just after Montreal and White Rock, BC, became the 13th and 14th Canadian cities to join the ICAN City Appeal, this poll is clear evidence that momentum towards the ban treaty is growing in Canada.
If Canada’s 3 largest cities and ¾ of its citizens support The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, it is time for the Government of Canada to take action. The Canadian government should:
- Study the TPNW in Parliament, it is a logical topic for the House of Commons and Senate Standing Committees on Foreign Affairs;
- Send a delegation to participate as an observer in the 1st Meeting of States Parties of the TPNW which must take place within the next year; and
- Support the positive obligations found in the TPWN with regards to victim assistance and environmental remediation through our international cooperation efforts.
These steps are necessary for Canada to begin to follow the direction of its people. For too long, Canadian policy towards nuclear weapons has been divorced from the will of the Canadian people. It is time for Canadian leaders to listen to their citizens and join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
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Every year, explosive weapons harm and kill thousands around the globe. In 2019, there were at least 29,499 documented civilian deaths from explosive weapons, while in 2018 a total of 32,110 people were reportedly killed or injured by the weapons.
Taking many forms, such as bombs, grenades, missiles and more, these weapons use explosive force to affect the area surrounding their detonation, killing and injuring individuals indiscriminately with their blast and fragmentation. When used in populated areas, these weapons are known to disproportionately affect civilians with both immediate and long-term effects. Specifically, civilian deaths and injuries account for approximately 90% of casualties when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, compared to 20% when they are used in other areas. Particular concern exists over the higher risk posed to civilians by the use of explosive weapons with “wide-area effects.” This concern is due to their increasingly dangerous characteristics such as their inaccuracy, the scale of their blast or their use of multiple warheads.
As a result of the trauma endured by experiencing explosive weapon attacks, civilians often experience psychological and psychosocial harm, in addition to physical harm. The suffering of civilians is also exacerbated due to the destruction of infrastructure, such as sanitation systems or energy networks, within their communities that occur as a by-product of attacks. Consequently, this destruction causes indirect effects, referred to as “reverberating effects,” on essential services, such as healthcare, that individuals within the community depend on. From an environmental standpoint, these destructive weapons are harmful to the natural environment, as they can contaminate the air, the soil, and other natural resources.
While international law offers a series of protections to civilians during armed conflict to help reduce the harm inflicted on them, the legal perimeters for the use of explosive weapons is thought to be “incoherent and fragmentary,” with inadequacy to sufficiently regulate the use of the dangerous weapons. Due to this gap in the legal framework, several states and international actors have expressed a desire to urgently enhance the protection of civilians from explosive weapons through other means. In total, 112 states and territories, as well as, numerous UN actors, have publicly acknowledged the harm caused by explosive weapons in populated areas.
The International Network for Explosive Weapons, INEW, is an international network of NGOs that plays a large role in working towards reducing human suffering as a result of explosive weapons. Through research, policy and advocacy, the network’s members work to increase awareness of the negative effects of these destructive weapons, while also taking concrete steps to address their negative implications. Mines Action Canada is a co-founder of INEW and we continue to work closely with the network. This work on explosive weapons is directly related to and informed by our efforts to end the suffering caused by landmines and cluster munitions.
Because much of the international community is concerned about the humanitarian harm caused by the use of explosive weapons, particularly in populated areas, discussions are currently underway to create a political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA). The declaration intends to emphasize the importance of offering protection to civilians from such weapons and the importance of compliance with international humanitarian law. While not new international law, a political declaration has the ability to change behaviours. Additionally, it seeks to provide tools that could reduce the impact of such weapons, such as the implementation of policies and changes to practices by militaries to reduce civilian harm. Such a political declaration can reinforce and enhance current international humanitarian law and the obligations that come with it.
From Nepal to Uganda, Iraq to Bosnia, Argentina to Zimbabwe, women are leading the way towards a safer and more peaceful future by advocating for disarmament and for the rights of victims of indiscriminate weapons. In small communities and on the world stage, women leaders are making change each and every day. Women clear landmines, provide services to survivors, advocate for nuclear disarmament and push governments to disarm despite large gender inequality in disarmament decision making. Today as every other day of the year, we #ChooseToChallenge the idea that disarmament is “men’s work” and salute the world-changing women and their allies working to eliminate inhumane and indiscriminate weapons.
Learn more about how the humanitarian disarmament community is marking the day and how women's leadership is paving the way towards a world without indiscriminate and inhumane weapons by checking out these articles and posts.
- Conflict and the Environment Observatory interviewed women working in mines action around the world on their work and its links to the environment profiling a number of the Mine Action Fellows. Read it here.
- The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is re-sharing posts and stories on gender and autonomous weapons all week. They started with a post from our Program Manager, Erin Hunt. Read it here.
- The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) has a great briefing paper and video on gender and nuclear weapons. Read and watch here.
- The Gender Working Group has so many resources on gender in mine action. Check out the page here.
- Watch this film from Norwegian People's Aid in Laos.
- Listen in as Beatrice Fihn of ICAN and Susi Snyder of PAX talk about International Women's Day on this Instagram Live.
- Read more about what MAC and our partners in the Feminist Foreign Policy Working Group hope to see from Canada's Feminist Foreign Policy here.
- Mines Advisory Group has a number of stories out. You can check them out here.
- Watch this panel discussion on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons
On the second day of informal consultations on the draft political declaration the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, Mines Action Canada took the floor to share our views on Section 4 of the draft text.
Here is the statement:
Thank you Ambassador.
One strength of a political declaration over a legal document is the increased availability of descriptive and human-centred language. Section 4 of the draft Political Declaration allows states to commit to making real life-saving change using language that puts civilians at the centre of their actions. We support INEW’s stamen on this section but would like to highlight a few key points.
In particular Paragraph 4.4 should be strengthened significantly to put civilians at the centre. Revising this paragraph with more detail of what victim assistance includes will avoid creating differential obligations towards victims of different weapons. INEW, HRW and HI have all made excellent suggestions so I will put our support behind those.
The reference to urban warfare in paragraph 4.1 should be deleted since not all populated areas can be considered urban. The mention of urban here focuses the paragraph too narrowly on civilians who live in urban areas rather than civilians living in all populated areas.
We welcome the commitment to make data collected public in paragraph 4.2, however, we would like to see the phrase “where possible” deleted as it weakens this paragraph. Data is crucial for understanding how explosive weapons impact civilians and for providing life-saving services as mentioned by MAG therefore that data should be available widely.
Paragraph 4.3 like others, should refer to all use of explosive weapons, not just that with wide area effects. Our efforts to limit the harm caused by explosive weapons should not exclude some types of these weapons. Additionally, the word “relevant” in qualifying civil society should be removed from this paragraph. We share Chile and Mexico’s questions about this language.
We support the suggestion by the Conflict and Environment Observatory to include language encouraging state signatories to support the work of the United Nations and other international and domestic stakeholders in identifying and implementing best practices in the assessment and environmentally sound management of conflict debris and pollution resulting from the use of explosive weapons.
We also support the inclusion of civil society in section 4.6 as mentioned by New Zealand, Chile, Mexico, Italy, Switzerland and others. We agree with Canada’s suggestion to ensure participatory and gender sensitive inclusion of civil society at all levels.
Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to strongly encourage states to be ambitious as we move towards a final version of this declaration. An ambitious document like the treaties adopted in Oslo in 1997 and Dublin in 2008 will save lives. Please keep people at the centre of your work here today and in the future.
Thank you Ambassador for your able and open chairing of week. We look forward to continuing the process.
On the second day of informal consultations on the draft political declaration the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, Mines Action Canada took the floor to share our views on Section 3 of the draft text.
Here is the statement:
Thank you Ambassador.
We support the comments from INEW on this section which will be delivered later.
Like our colleagues at Norwegian People’s Aid, we believe risk education should be added to paragraph 3.5. The Mine Ban Treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions and CCW Protocol V have all shown the need for and the value of risk education.
Because our purpose this week is to protect civilians, we note that there is no need to wait for the end of active hostilities to conduct risk education especially because explosive weapons use causes new contamination and during armed conflict civilians are often forced to undertake risky activities or travel to new areas with contamination due to displacement or infrastructure damage.
Finally, I would like to make a general comment. Yes it is important to take into account the views of states with operational experience and of civil society but it is crucial to include the experiences of states and communities living with the long term and extensive impact of explosive weapons use.
On the first day of informal consultations on the draft political declaration the use of explosive weapons in populated areas, Mines Action Canada took the floor to share our views on Section 1 of the draft text.
Here is the statement:
Thank you Ambassador and thanks to the whole Disarmament Ireland team for their work to keep this process going.
The purpose of this political declaration is to change behaviour and therefore the text must go beyond merely restating International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The evidence gathered over the past decade has shown that civilian harm continues even when IHL is applied. IHL is the bare minimum and all actors must take additional measures to prevent harm to civilians when using explosive weapons. As a member of INEW, Mines Action Canada has the following suggestions for strengthening section 1.
As many state and civil society speakers have noted, the word “can” in the title and in paragraphs 1.2, 1.3 and beyond should be removed because there is significant evidence of the harm caused by explosive weapons. We have noted a small number of states have said that explosive weapons use in populated areas do not necessarily result in civilian harm but we have not seen any evidence to that extent, the evidence shows that when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, civilian harm will result. Like others in INEW, we would also recommend removing the qualifier “with wide area affects” throughout the declaration.
On the title specifically we support INEW’s detailed comments.
Articulating the harm caused by explosive weapons use in populated areas in paragraph 1.2 is a key part of the political declaration. This paragraph should clearly outline the direct, indirect and reverberating effects of explosive weapons used in populated areas as mentioned by many of my colleagues. Adding a direct mention of the gendered impacts in this paragraph would be beneficial here. Though we would also support Mexico, Chile and Spain’s suggestion of a specific paragraph on gendered impacts.
Reference to environmental harm in paragraph 1.3 is welcome. This point could be strengthened by referring to the environment rather than the natural environment. Also, as mentioned by Finland and perhaps others replacing the word urban with populated would strengthen this paragraph by not limiting the declaration to one type of populated area.
Like Switzerland we believe that in Paragraph 1.4 the term “unexploded ordnance” should be changed back to the appropriate technical term “explosive remnants of war,” which includes both unexploded ordnance and abandoned ordnance since they both cause harm to civilians. This change is also in line with the mention of explosive remnants of war in paragraph 3.5.
We welcome the reference to the need for additional data on the gendered impacts of explosive weapons made in paragraph 1.8, however, WILPF has said the word “potential” should be removed as there is significant evidence that there are gendered impacts of explosive weapons use.
In the last three decades there have been numerous additions to IHL in response to the changing nature of conflict and human settlement. These changes have been motivated by preventing death, injury and destruction from different weapon systems. They have been welcome additions to IHL making it more robust. Nevertheless, we should not be afraid to do more than existing IHL requires to protect civilian populations.
In 2017, Canada became the one of only five countries to commit to developing an explicitly feminist foreign policy. So far, this effort includes multiple specific directives, including the Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP), but an official outline of the feminist approach to Canada’s foreign policy has yet to be published.
During this period, the world has seen continued conflict in multiple regions, with frequent use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA). The use of EWIPA poses specific humanitarian threats to civilians. In addition to immediate death and injury, EWIPA causes severe damage to critical infrastructure including roadways, electrical grids, schools, water and sanitation centres and hospitals. Many people are forced to flee from unlivable and dangerous conditions, including women and children.
The international community took notice of this humanitarian problem and has come together for negotiations of a political declaration to protect civilians in populated areas from explosive weapons. This declaration has the potential to set a benchmark for Canada’s feminist foreign policy. The text of the agreement adopts a non-partisan, rights-based, humanitarian centred approach to restricting the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The political declaration aims to be transformative to those living in conflict affected areas by having states commit to updating military policy to protect civilians in populated areas from explosive weapons.
The draft declaration also supports policy coherence for Canada by reinforcing not only several action areas in FIAP, but also Canada’s commitments to the Women, Peace and Security Agenda and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals generally known as the SDGs. Multiple SGDs are endangered by the use of EWIPA; specifically, goal 4 of good health and well-being and goal 16 of peace, justice and strong institutions. This declaration supports the achievement of these goals. The declaration also reinforces the government’s commitment to the Safe Schools Declaration, which aims to protect education in conflict by restricting schools as military targets. Due to infrastructure loss, education is often disrupted when explosive weapons are used in populated areas.
The Feminist Foreign Policy Working Group, a team of individuals from multiple civil society and academic organizations, has recently published a set of suggested core policy principles, including adopting a rights-based approach and upholding policy coherence, for Canada’s feminist foreign policy and the text of this declaration is in alignment with those core principles. While being a feminist document, it also promotes feminist outcomes; specifically, non-violence and sustainable development.
More and more people are moving to and living in populated areas, making them critical locations for sustainable development. The use of EWIPA is catastrophic to this ambition. Not only is infrastructure lost, but the economy grinds to a halt, the health of the population is endangered, and the next generation is forced out of school. This turns back the clock on the economic and social development strides that have been made in the last two decades; but this declaration allows for significant gains in development to be recovered and built upon.
We know what a future free from the impacts of EWIPA can look like. From the incredible work of humanitarian mine clearance organizations and others, including the Canadian government for their leadership with the Ottawa Treaty, areas that were once uninhabitable from landmine contamination are now thriving cities. Including Huambo, Angola, where Princess Diana made her famous landmine walk in 1997. Fast forward to today and women, men and children are safe, can get an education, can contribute to the economy and can continue to develop in a sustainable way. What was done once with landmines can be done again with explosive weapons in population areas.
Combating humanitarian consequences of the use of EWIPA must be central to Canada’s feminist foreign policy. As a first step, Mines Action Canada calls on Canada to lend its support and leadership to the Draft Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences that can arise from the use of Explosive Weapons with Wide Area Effects in Populated Areas negotiations and to implement the Feminist Foreign Policy Working Groups core policy principles in the official policy. Mines Action Canada has specific suggestions on how Canada and other states can improve the Draft Political Declaration in line with a feminist foreign policy available here.
Blog post by MAC Research Associate, Madison Hitchcock who is a graduate student in globalization and international development at the University of Ottawa.
Erin Hunt is the Program Manager at Mines Action Canada. She has been doing public education on the Ottawa Treaty banning landmines since 2003 and working in humanitarian disarmament in various capacities since 2006.
Erin's areas of expertise include the humanitarian impact of indiscriminate weapons, victim assistance, gender in disarmament and Canadian disarmament policy. She contributes to the work of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, the Cluster Munition Coalition, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. Erin contributes to the Women, Peace and Security Network - Canada and to national and international working groups on feminist and gender sensitive approaches to foreign policy and mine action. She also spent two years as a senior researcher on casualties and victim assistance for the Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor. Erin was a member of the civil society negotiating team during the 2017 process to negotiate the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons with the Nobel Peace Laureate International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons.
Prior to joining Mines Action Canada, Erin worked on victim assistance programs for landmine survivors in Uganda, implemented sport-based peacebuilding programs for youth in a post-conflict setting and worked in child welfare. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the University of Victoria and a Masters Degree in Human Security and Peacebuilding from Royal Roads University.
Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan has lived and worked in a dozen countries, spending most of his adult life in Southeast Asia. In 1995 he co-founded the Thailand Campaign to Ban Landmines. He has been involved in Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor since its inception in 1998, first as a country researcher (Myanmar/Burma, Lao PDR & Singapore).
Since 2005 Yeshua has worked for Mines Action Canada, providing Ban Policy Research Coordination to the Landmine & Cluster Munition Monitor for Asia, the Pacific, and the Middle East and North Africa regions, and on Non-State Armed Groups globally.
Previous to working for Mines Action Canada, from 1992 to 2005, Yeshua was the Southeast Asia Regional Representative for Nonviolence International, an ICBL and CMC member organization. He was also a co-founder of the International Action Network on Small Arms- a global civil society network focused on decreasing the suffering caused by small arms and light weapons.
Yeshua currently serves on the Board of Nonviolence International Canada, and is also a member of the international Board of the International Peace Bureau in Geneva, and is a member of the grant making Advisory Board of the International Nonviolence Trainers Fund of the AJ Muste Institute in New York.
Yeshua studied for an MA in Peace and Reconciliation from Coventry University, UK and a PhD in Peace Studies from Gujarat Vidyapith in Ahmedabad, India.
US born, in 1971 he refused military conscription during the close of the US War on Indochina. Subsequently he has worked to promote pragmatic nonviolent alternatives to address human problems. Yeshua has organized, or participated in, people power or civil resistance initiatives, from the local to the national level, on four continents, and in a score of countries.
Yeshua is a skilled nonviolence trainer, activist, and independent scholar on humanitarian disarmament, human rights and nonviolent direct action. His articles have appeared in several European, Pacific and Asian language journals and he has penned Opinion Editorials encouraging adherence to the landmine ban in papers published in India, Iran and Singapore. He has co-authored reports on nonviolent direct action methods used by popular struggles in Tibet and Burma, and on international peace teams. Most recently he has been involved in peacekeeping training for nonviolent direct actions in his home province, opposing pipeline construction in British Columbia, Canada.
Yeshua works remotely from the Ottawa office of Mines Action Canada, located in either Victoria, British Columbia or Bangkok, Thailand.
Paul Hannon is the Executive Director of Mines Action Canada (MAC), the Canadian member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), which was the co-winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. MAC is a founding member of the international Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC), launched in 2003, and is also the Canadian member of the CMC. The CMC was nominated for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize. In 2011 he led the process to merge the CMC and ICBL.
Paul became the Executive Director of Mines Action Canada in July 1998 and represents MAC on the ICBL-CMC’s Governance Board of which he is the Vice-Chair. He is also a member of the Monitoring and Research Committee which oversees the research and production of the annual Landmine Monitor report and its sister publication the annual Cluster Munition Monitor report.
Paul led Mines Action Canada to co-found the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) along with a number of likeminded civil society organizations. INEW has been key actor in the process towards a political declaration on the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.
In 2012 Mines Action Canada along with six other organizations co-founded the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots. The Campaign now has over 170 international, regional, and national non-governmental organizations in 65 countries. Paul is the Treasurer for the Campaign and a member of its Steering Committee.
Paul brought to the campaign 15 years of experience with the Canadian development sector including working and consulting with Africa Emergency Aid, AlterNET Communications, Canadian Council for International Cooperation, International Development Research Centre, Mozambique Task Force, Oxfam Canada, the Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Fund (CCIC) and Partnership Africa Canada. He has also worked for the federal government and one of Canada’s major financial institutions.
Paul was born in Guelph, Ontario and is a graduate of Carleton University in Ottawa. He resides in Ottawa. In 2002 he was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.
The Government of Canada is drafting a new statement of their Feminist Foreign Policy. Mines Action Canada has joined Above Ground, Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, Amnesty International Canada, The Equality Fund, Equitas, Inter Pares, Oxfam Canada, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, and Women, Peace and Security Network Canada to form the Feminist Foreign Policy Working Group.
The Feminist Foreign Policy Working Group is pleased to release our submission to the Government of Canada containing specific recommendations for Canada's Feminist Foreign Policy. Each member of the Working Group was responsible for drafting their own section and recommendations to the government. Please read the submission here.
Additionally, the Working Group hosted a series of engagement sessions on the topic of a Canadian feminist foreign policy. The report from these engagement sessions is now available online here.
For more on this work and the Feminist Foreign Policy Working Group please visit: www.amnesty.ca/ffp