12 August 2015

Campaigners celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Convention on Cluster Munitions

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Sitting volleyball game by Croatian campaigners © MineAid 1 August 2015

While the international community gets ready for the First Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) to be held from 7 to 11 September in Dubrovnik Croatia, Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) members around the world celebrate the fifth anniversary of entry into force of the CCM. The Convention was adopted in 2008 in Dublin, Ireland, and entered into force two years later.

To mark 1 August, worldwide advocacy events were organized in order to encourage governments to pursue efforts towards joining and implementing the global ban on cluster munitions. What you will read below is a snapshot of 1 August campaign actions by CMC members.

In Albania, ALB-AID celebrated the 5th anniversary of entry into force of the CCM through traditional dance in Kukes, and a press conference. The celebration was broadcasted on local TV. Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines (AzCBL) sent a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs urging Azerbaijan to join the convention, encouraging the government to participate in the First Review Conference in Dubrovnik and to condemn recent use of cluster munitions in Libya, Sudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen. AzCBL also held a press conference to mark 1 August and raise public awareness about the issue of cluster munitions. The press conference received large media coverage.

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Hafiz Safikhanov, Head of Azerbaijan Campaign to Ban Landmines speaking to press ©AzCBL 1 August 2015

During the first week of August, Latifa Gono Shohay Angon (LGSA) organized a press conference, as well as discussed the Convention on Cluster Munitions and cluster munition use with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh. To celebrate 1 August and increase pressure on banks and other financial institutions to disinvest from cluster munitions producers in Belarus, the Belarus Support Center for Associations and Foundations (SCAF) organised several cultural and sporting events, including a concert, a film screening and a photo exhibition. Members of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, civil society stakeholders and persons with disability took part in these events, which received wide media coverage.

On 1 August, the Landmine Survivors Initiatives (LSI) organized a photo exhibition on the impact of mines and explosive remnants of war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Entitled "The problem is mine!", the exhibition reminds us that we all share a responsibility for solving the mine and ERW problem. Through this photo exhibition, LSI also reminds relevant institutions of their responsibility to create a secure environment for the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, improve the national legislation, provide financial resources for the smooth operation of mine action, use existing resources more efficiently, lead the operational and strategic management of mine action and actively participate in global meetings on landmines and cluster munitions.

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photo exhibition on the impact of mines by LSI ©LSI 1 August 2015

The Cambodian campaign carried out public actions urging the Prime Minister of Cambodia to join the convention before the First Review Conference. The campaign organised a number of other activities, including a photo shoot for women with disability.

In Croatia where the First Review Conference of the convention will take place, the national campaign together with the government of Croatia celebrated 1 August with an outdoor sitting volleyball game, which took place on the main square in Rovinj. The sporting event was open to passers-by, and information leaflets were distributed. The game was followed by a roundtable where the video “Croatia Without Mines” was screened. Representatives of Mine Aid, Center Mare, Foundation CWM as well as the director of the Office for Mine Action attended the celebrations.

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Roundtable discussion by Croatian campaigners and government authorities ©MineAid 1 August 2015

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Congolese Campaign to Ban Landmines (CCIM) lined up numerous activities to be carried out in August. On August 3, the campaign launched an Action Alert and invited selected organisations to send a letter to the Head of State urging him to complete the ratification process. Campaigners met with a Prime Minister’s Advisor, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the head of the President’s cabinet in order to secure DRC’s high level participation in the Dubrovnik Conference, and to request the Prime Minister’s action regarding the ratification of the convention in advance of the conference. The delegation presented a memo urging the President to complete the ratification process, as well as the letters that were written by several mine action organisations as part of the Action Alert. Campaigners also conveyed their messages on the ratification of the CCM through a national television on 6 August.

Survivors Recovery and Rehabilitation Organization (SRaRO) in Ethiopia contacted several media outlets and met with a key parliamentarian to discuss the CCM and its upcoming Review Conference. In Gambia the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) issued a press release, which was published in All Africa. The press release explained what cluster munitions are, what the CCM has achieved, how significant 1 August is, and urged the government of Gambia to ratify the Convention.

On 1 August, CMC member in Iraq held discussions with representatives of the parliament, the media and a group of survivors on the implementation of the CCM, the upcoming Review Conference, as well as on how to achieve the best possible results with regards to ridding Iraq of all ERWs and implementing victim assistance programmes. The Iraqi alliance for disability (IADO) also met with the Iraqi mine action directorate.

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Conference on implementation of the CCM by IADO ©IADO

The Italian Campaign to Ban Landmines (ItCBL) in collaboration with PAX (The Netherlands) organized a conference to promote disinvestment from cluster munitions producers. The conference “No money 4 bombs”, organized in cooperation with the Municipality of Pomezia (Italy) aimed to promote the online “Stop Explosive Investments” petition and to raise awareness.

The Japanese Campaign to Ban Landmines (JCBL) contacted the Embassies of Cambodia and Uganda in Japan urging them to promptly join the CCM and to attend the Dubrovnik Conference. In Lao PDR, the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) together with the government authorities and other stakeholders held a 5th anniversary celebration at the Lao Plaza Hotel, which included speeches by a H.E. Mr. Bounheuang Douangphachanh, Minister to the Prime Minister's Office and Mrs Kaarina Immonen, UNDP Resident Representative. The campaign also organised a friendly football tournament with the participation of UXO operators as well as government officials.

Campaign members, RAVIM and FORMICRES in Mozambique published a press release in the newspaper Noticias on 1 August. The press release encourages the government of Mozambique to register for and actively participate in the First Review Conference of the CCM. It also calls for renewed efforts to achieve effective peace in Mozambique.

Humanitarian Mine Action Initiative (HMAI) in Myanmar sent a letter to the President of Myanmar regarding the invitation letter sent by the Prime Minister of Croatia, and urged Myanmar to send a delegation to the First Review Conference. Moreover, HMAI’s Chairman Col Thant Zin and Secretary Thein Han Thu were interviewed by Skynet TV about humanitarian mine clearance and mine action in Myanmar.

In Nepal a state not party to the CCM yet, the celebration of the 5th anniversary of the Convention took the form of a symposium on the theme “Voluntary Article 7 Report on MBT and CCM”, jointly organised by Ban Landmines Campaign Nepal (NCBL) and the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction. During the symposium, the Coordinator of NCBL made a presentation on every aspects of the CCM, as well as on the upcoming Review conference. The symposium was attended by officials from the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Home, the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction, the Nepalese Army, the Armed Police Force, the Nepalese Police, the ICRC and Handicap International.

Association of Landmine Survivors and Amputees of Rwanda (ALSAR), the CMC member in Rwanda marked 1 August by holding meetings with officials from the parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding the ratification of the CCM. To follow up ratification of the CCM, a seminar will be organized by ALSAR on 14 August.

A press conference was organised in Serbia by Assistance Advocacy Access – Serbia (AAAS) to provide the public with an update on the necessity for Serbia to join the CCM, and on the cluster munition contamination problem in Serbia. During the press conference, AAA-S also informed the media about the First Review Conference.

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Dejan Ivanovic, director of AAA-S on TV calling on Serbia to join the CCM ©AAAS

In Somalia, the Somalia Coalition to Ban Landmines (SOCBAL) met with the Director General of the office of the Prime Minister. The purpose of this meeting was to encourage Somalia to complete the ratification of the CCM, and participate in the upcoming Review Conference. In South Africa, campaigners will launch a new initiative – the International Disarmament Initiative of South Africa (IDISA) – as part as 1 August celebration. There will be a discussion, cultural events, as well as a screening of the ICRC video entitled “Time to Act”.

A regional simultaneous events were organised in Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and Suriname to promote the universalization of the convention in the Caribbean region. The Caribbean Coalition for Development and the Reduction of Armed Violence (CDRAV) in collaboration with the Embassy of Costa Rica in Trinidad and Tobago and the United Nations Information Centre hosted a screening of the video "On safer Ground". The screening of the video was followed by a regional discussion regarding the CCM and the need for all Caribbean countries to join the convention.

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Folade Mutato (R), head of CDRAV with UN representative and Costa Rica's Ambassador in Trinidad and Tobago speaking about importance of the CCM for Caribbean countries. ©UNIC 28 July 2015

A global action on Uganda was launched around 1 August by Uganda Landmine Survivors Association(ULSA) and the CMC, to urge the President of Uganda to complete the ratification of the CCM. Within the framework of this global action, a letter was sent to the President of Uganda, which was signed by 45 campaigns members and supporters, and certain States Parties of the CCM were approached to demarche Uganda. On 4 August the Director of ULSA, Ms. Margaret Arach Orech together with other campaigners met with the Parliament of Uganda to push for the ratification of the CCM by the time of the First Review Conference.

Campaigners in many more countries including Canada, India, Liberia, Switzerland, Togo, UK, and USA carried advocacy activities on the ratification/accessions or implementation of the CCM around 1 August.