18 March 2015

Croatia: A Champion of the Convention on Cluster Munitions

Croatia, which is host of the First Review Conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), to be held in September 2015 in Dubrovnik, has consistently been a strong supporter of the CCM. In 2012-2013, Croatia co-coordinated treaty work on stockpile destruction.  For many consecutive years, Croatia has held regional workshops on universalization and implementation of the CCM in Rakitje, organized by Croatia’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs and the RACVIAC-Centre for Security Cooperation. The workshops were well attended by government representatives from several States Parties  such as Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Lebanon, FYR Macedonia, and Montenegro, and including Serbia a non-signatory.

In 2013, the Government Office for Mine Action took on the role of co-coordinating the multi-sectoral group of government and NGO representatives working to ensure the effective implementation of the CCM’s Article 5 on “Victim Assistance”. Since then, the National Coordinating Body for Helping Mine and UXO Victims has enabled the establishment of a functioning victim database and adequate data collection.

CMC members in the region such as Landmine Survivor Initiatives in Sarajevo, Mine-AID in Zagreb, and Assistance Advocacy Access/Serbia have been joining efforts to support cluster munition and other armed conflict survivors. They organized workshop on peer support and conducted several exchanges. 

 Croatia Story 1

Mine Aid and AAA-Serbia address Serbian media @Medija Centar Begrad

Mine Aid has been contributing with their experience and expertise to consultative meetings between survivors’ organizations and state officials in Serbia, as well by presenting good practices and information on peer support in the rehabilitation and prosthetics to a workshop in Belgrade. Other activities included jointly organizing a sitting volleyball game between teams of survivors and other persons with disabilities from Croatia and Serbia, which was attended by CMC’s spokesperson Branislav Kapitanovic.The Croatian and Serbian teams included many veterans who played a hard and extremely friendly match. 

Croatia Story 2

Regional cooperation expressed through sport @Loren Persi/CMC

During meetings between Government Office for Mine Action and CROMAC with the ICBL-CMC in February and March 2015, Loren Persi, Landmine and Cluster Monition Monitor Victim Assistance Coordinator, met with Maja Dundov-Galli, a staff member of the Croatian Mine Action Center (CROMAC), engaged specifically to coordinate a project that includes survivor data verification, needs assessment and referral for survivors and family members. Ultimately the project would benefit entire affected communities, as it is to be linked to the state employment and professional rehabilitation for employment programmes. Loren, who in previous years was involved in advocacy for improved data collection, was impressed to find that some previously cited challenges had been overcome—the data had been collected from all relevant sources and sorted into a unified database.

Maja explained that the project’s next steps are to trial questionnaires, survey survivors, and to implement related projects for socio-economic empowerment of victims. With the strong support of CROMAC, initial survey is planned to be completed by the Dubrovnik Conference, fulfilling a goal set in 2010 when the Convention entered into force.

 In early March 2015, a meeting was held to discuss preparations for the First Review Conference of the CCM. Croatian civil society organizations Foundation for Humanitarian Demining “Croatia without mines”, DOCUMENTA – the Centre for Dealing with the Past, MineAid associations met with the Government Office for Mine Action and the Croatian Mine Action Centre with the attendance of a representative of Assistance Advocacy Access Serbia and a representative of the CMC. The meeting discussed the presentation of local activities, achievements and challenges in victim assistance at the Dubrovnik Conference.

 Croatia Story 3 Civil society and government meeting, 5 March 2015 @Loren Persi/CMC