Eleventh Conference of High Contracting Parties to Protocol V on Explosive Remnants of War, 20 November 2017
General Exchange of Views - Statement of Australia
Australia congratulates you on your appointment as President of the Eleventh Conference of High Contracting Parties to Protocol V. You have our full support and we look forward to a successful Conference.
We thank you for the initiatives you have already progressed for this Conference. We affirm the importance of national reporting as a means of enhancing understanding of the challenges faced by States Parties in implementing Protocol V, building confidence amongst States Parties, reaffirming commitment to the Protocol and facilitating the provision of international cooperation and assistance. We support your proposal to provide expert assistance, through the Implementation Support Unit, to states parties to assist them to complete their reporting requirements.
We welcome also the convening of panels to discuss the implementation of Article 4 of the Protocol which deals with recording, retaining and transmission of information on explosive remnants of war. We look forward to sharing Australia’s own experience.
With regard to Article 8 of Protocol V on cooperation and assistance, Australia supports international agencies working globally across all areas of mine action, including clearance, stockpile reduction, standards maintenance, risk education and victim assistance. Amongst our key partners are: the United Nations Mine Action Service, to which we have contributed over US$35 million since 2011; the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining; the International Committee for the Red Cross; Handicap International; the Landmine and Cluster Munitions Monitor; and Geneva Call.
Australia also funds mine action in through contributions to multilateral programs and bilaterally, including to Afghanistan, Colombia and Cambodia.
We are also making an enduring contribution to explosive remnants of war clearance in the South West Pacific through the Australian Defence Force’s Operation Render Safe. Operation Render Safe removes explosive remnants of war which remain from the Second World War and continue to pose a danger to local communities. Last year’s operation focused on three areas in Solomon Islands. Australian Defence Force personnel participated alongside specialists from New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom, with the full cooperation of the Solomon Islands Government and in close partnership with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force.
Australia’s support for mine and explosive remnants of war clearance has recently been expanded to include a contribution of $120,000 for each of the next two years to support the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining to establish Non-Technical Survey standards. The project includes the development of on-line training and accreditation for surveyors. This project will help to increase the efficiency and value of Non-Technical Surveys, providing a common standard for determining the extent and nature of contamination, and therefore the cost of clearance.
In a further demonstration of Australia’s commitment to supporting cooperation and assistance in mine action, we are also pleased to be serving as Coordinator for International Cooperation and Assistance for the Convention on Cluster Munitions, together with Peru.
Australia places particular importance on supporting the implementation of the provisions on victim assistance under Protocol V.
In order to ensure sustainable support for victims, it is essential to fulfil victim assistance obligations in a non-discriminatory manner both through specific initiatives, and also through broader development, human rights, and humanitarian efforts under national plans, policies and frameworks. This dual approach to victim assistance, involving both specific and broader efforts, supports an integrated approach to victim assistance.
Australia is contributing AUD600,000 over three years to support Handicap International’s work to promote an integrated approach to victim assistance. As part of this project, Handicap International has assisted Australia, with support from Chile, Italy, Iraq and Austria, to draft Guidance on an Integrated Approach to Victim Assistance. The guidance, which was launched at the 15 Meeting of States Parties of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction (otherwise known as the Ottawa Convention) is intended for use across the disarmament conventions, including Protocol V.
Australia continues to support the provision of assistance to victims of landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war through a number of other global and bilateral initiatives.
We are providing AUD1.9 million over three years to the ICRC’s MoveAbility program. This supports MoveAbility’s work rehabilitating persons with disabilities, including survivors of explosive remnants of war, in 32 rehabilitation centres and prosthetic and orthotic schools in 14 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We also contributed AUD500,000 to the ICRC’s Special Appeal on Disability and Mine Action in 2016. And we contributed AUD2.5 million to the Disability Rights Initiative Cambodia.
In closing, let me assure you that Australia remains fully committed to working to reduce the devastating impacts of explosive remnants of war.
Thank you, Mr President