Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


2013 Intersessional Meetings


Statement by Australia
29 May 2013

Thank you Mr Co-Chair

As a state in a position to assist, Australia is increasingly focusing its efforts on ensuring our assistance builds appropriate and sustained capacities within affected states to address both the immediate and the long-term challenges of victim assistance.
We know that to enhance the sustainability of victim assistance, our efforts should be multi-sectoral and should be integrated within broader health and disability plans and programs.

It is also increasingly apparent that disability and victim assistance needs to be integrated into national programs and bilateral and multilateral dialogue and cooperation to attract the resourcing it needs to build national capacities and sustain programs.

As a donor, the first challenge we often face in programming victim assistance is that a disability or victim assistance perspective is not highlighted as a priority development issue for donor assistance at the national level by affected governments. Put simply, if victim assistance is not prioritized at the national level then it will be difficult to prioritise within our aid program.

As Australia’s funding for victim assistance is primarily drawn from our bilateral aid budgets, we encourage the inclusion of disability or victim assistance perspectives as a priority in national development planning and development cooperation dialogues.

Cambodia is an example of a country where victim assistance and disability programs has been raised as a national priority and put forward as a priority for cooperation between Australia and Cambodia.

Australia is pleased to assist Cambodia to develop a new National Disability Strategic Plan 2014 – 2018 and supports this opportunity for Cambodia to use the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) as the guiding framework in developing the new Strategic Plan. The new disability program, developed in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, has evolved from the Landmine Survivor Assistance Program and the Cambodia Initiative for Disability Inclusion.

Mr Co-Chair

Australia has supported the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention Implementation Support Unit (ISU) to carry out research on the experience to date of mine action programmes / national authorities as concerns victim assistance.

One outcome of this research will be a compilation of cases where mine action programmes have demonstrated good practice with respect to playing an important contributing role in the integration of victim assistance in broader contexts.

This research has already documented a wealth of good examples that could be replicated elsewhere. As we have heard from the statements made today, these examples include:

Tajikistan – where the mine action programme has, for example, disseminated guidelines and undertaken efforts to promote mainstreaming of disability, including through programmes that should benefit affected individuals and also affected communities.

Afghanistan – where the Mine Action Coordination Centre has played an instrumental role to support survivors by promoting a comprehensive response to disability, including by providing technical support to build the capacity of the Government of Afghanistan on disability issues.

Mozambique – where UNICEF, the UNDP and Handicap International have teamed up to access funding from the CRPD Trust Fund to advance efforts related to landmine survivors but in a way that should benefit Mozambique’s approach to disability generally.

And South Sudan – where, in a country where data to back up evidence-based policy formulation is lacking, mine action funding was obtained to carry out disability survey activities which will be fundamental to informing disability strategies.

Mr Co-Chair

We believe that documenting such good practice will provide a substantive input to our further understanding of victim assistance at the Third Review Conference.

While humanitarian demining will have an end point, the imperative of States to ensure the well-being of their populations, including mine victims, and to guarantee their rights, will remain an ongoing State responsibility.

We therefore need to be concerned about sustainability, victim assistance roles and responsibilities and ongoing funding and priority setting. Given the breadth of what the States Parties understand victim assistance to be and our understanding of its place within existing frameworks such as healthcare, disability and human rights, it is unnecessary to hold a narrow perspective of what counts as support to victim assistance.

In 2010, the President of the Convention’s Second Review Conference noted that the bulk of financial support for the breadth of victim assistance provided is through bilateral cooperation between States to enhance healthcare systems, physical rehabilitation programmes, mental health services, and the exercise of rights by persons with disabilities.

Further, dialogue on enhanced cooperation and victim assistance could be improved if those in a position of giving and receiving development assistance could provide greater clarity regarding the true magnitude of the effort being made to assist States in developing responses for all individuals who are injured or who live with disabilities.

Much of the data necessary for this clarity exists in the form the OECD Development Assistance Committee’s (DAC) database on development assistance flows. Australia has commissioned the ISU to draw upon this valuable information source. Some of the initial findings of this research have enriched our understanding of the magnitude of our collective effort to assist all individuals who are injured or who live with disabilities, including landmine survivors.

For example, between 2007 and 2011, the States Parties to the Convention which are OECD DAC members, plus the relevant EU institutions, provided over US$ 350 million to Afghanistan for basic health care, basic health infrastructure, medical services, medical education / training, and health personnel development. This US$ 350 million from a subset of donors to one country for only some of the OECD’s health-care categories stands in contrast to the US$ 160 million that was provided from all identified sources to all countries for what was denominated as “victim assistance funding.”

Australia believes there is great value in targeted initiatives that we often specifically label as “victim assistance.”

However, as these initial findings demonstrate, relevant development assistance flows that are not listed as “victim assistance” are probably playing an even bigger role.

For example, Australia’s total victim assistance contributions between 2007 and 2011 – to a variety of countries and for a variety of purposes – amount to only about half of the assistance Australia provided to only two States – Afghanistan and Iraq – over the same period for basic health care, basic health infrastructure, medical services, medical education / training, and health personnel development.

Much, if not all, of this was directed to efforts that should be of benefit not only to the population as a whole but also to landmine survivors.

We look forward to the outcomes of this research work and ongoing deliberations under the Convention on a comprehensive and sustainable approach to victim assistance.

With the Convention’s Third Review Conference a little more than a year away, the time is now to review our understandings of victim assistance and look at how it should be developed and supported under this Convention in the future.