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Cooperating to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions

16 March 2017 - 17 March 2017

Landmines and cluster munitions’ survivors : A testimony by Khun Wiboonrat Chanchoo (Thailand)

« It is a great honour for me to be here today. As all of you are aware, I’m not a cluster munitions survivor, but landmine survivor. For me, there is no difference between cluster munitions and landmine survivors or other remnants of wars. We are the same. We are victims.

I myself became person with disability nearly 20 years ago. That day, I went in to the forest near the Thai-Cambodian border to collect bamboo to bring home. I was not aware that there were landmines hidden in that area. All I well recalled was that all of a sudden there was loud noise and my body was catapulted into the air. When I looked at my left leg, I saw it was shattered with dangling fractured bones. I screamed to warn others not to come near while I crawled myself to safety. Though I did not lose my life, but life has changed dramatically after that. My husband by that time could not deal with it and felt ashamed of my physical condition so he abused me, abandoned me and left our family taking with him all the money and assets we had. But he left the most valuable assets for me, our two daughters.

I have been sharing my story, which is of course not a pleasant one, several times. I am aware that sometimes people feel uncomfortable when listening. But I have to continue doing this because I would like people to really know the lives of survivors. It’s not like we received support one time and all have been done so that case can be closed. Not only survivors receive affect, but also our family members. There are too many people with disabilities who still have difficulties in their lives. Some of them are in worse conditions. They still need support. Some of them don’t even have rice on the table.

After having accident, I did not give up, I continued working in the paddies and plots, growing rice and vegetables, and raising my two kids on my own.

As time went on, I came to realise that a person with disability not only can live a normal life with the proper care and support from those around them; but they can also contribute meaningfully towards others. I decided to join a local support group for people with disabilities. It is a platform where we can work together to help improve our living conditions.

Our self-help group started from small group of landmine survivors and people with disabilities in my village. The group expanded to neighbouring villages, and finally become a sub-district group. This group then connects with other survivors’ groups in other districts and provinces.

My self-help group now comprises over 100 landmine survivors. Most recently, I have expanded the scope of my activities to include persons with various disabilities, orphans, children with HIV infected parents, and the abandoned elderly.

Activities of our self-help groups in the past and at present include mushroom planting, micro-credit loan among group members, promotion of income generating activities, setting up a local network to deliver assistance is a much more efficient and sustainable approach in providing assistance, and more. Some activities become successful for example mushroom planting, but some are not successful including raising animals.

After 20 years of being a person with disability, believe it or not, the needs of survivors I have been observing remain the same, which are very basic needs. Survivors need prostheses. Survivors need financial support and micro-credit. Survivors need to accessibility and modification of accommodation and public facilities for appropriate use by persons with disabilities. Survivors need to know about their rights.

I would like to thank the Governments of Thailand for a lot of good work happening. My voices are louder. I would like also to thank other Governments including Lao PDR, Cambodia, Vietnam, and more for lots of good work happening in my survivors’ friends’ countries. We all know that government support and understanding for victims is vital to ensuring our full and equal participation in the society. I wish the international community continue working together to ensure that no one will have to suffer from this indiscriminate weapon ever again. I wish Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam acceding to the CCM very soon. We need protection of the rights of victims in an all-inclusive and sustainable manner.

Aside from Government of Thailand, I would like to thank International Campaign to Ban Landmines-Cluster Munitions Coalition, Handicap International, Jesuit Refugee Services, COERR and Norwegian People’s Aid for supporting me all along. »

Khun Wiboonrat Chanchoo, International Campaign to Ban Landmines – Cluster Munition Coalition, Thailand, 17 March 2017


The closed seminar on “Cooperating to implement the Convention on Cluster Munitions: the country coalition concept” was held in conjunction with the Permanent Representation of Germany to the Conference on Disarmament. It was funded by the European Union and jointly organised by the European External Action Service through the EU Non-proliferation Consortium, and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).

It took place on the premises of the UNESCAP, Bangkok, Thailand, on March 16 and 17, 2017. The participants included both government officials, International organizations representatives and non-governmental experts from the South-East Asia region, the EU member states and beyond.

The purpose of this seminar was to discuss future developments impacting the implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM). It focused on the concept of establishing “country coalitions” (i.e. with a country specific focus) as a means to enhance international cooperation and thus support the implementation of the Convention in South-East Asia. A coordinated approach concerning destruction and clearance (including mapping and securing of contaminated areas) of cluster munitions and assisting victims, involving donor states and operators will support States Parties to fulfil their commitments under the Convention. Lastly, a country specific approach is required to help ensure progress in implementation of the CCM.

Against this backdrop the concept of establishing “country coalitions” as a means to enhance international cooperation and thus promote the CCM seems to have considerable potential. The South-East Asia region is the location of the heaviest cluster munition contamination globally. It includes both States Parties and Non-States Parties to the CCM, including countries who are addressing contamination, stockpile destruction, etc. Within the region, Lao PDR, Vietnam and Cambodia are all dealing with very high levels of contamination. Lao PDR has the highest levels of contamination.

The seminar consisted of five sessions:

Session 1 offered to all the countries of the region the opportunity to share their perception of the issue (risks and threats, entry into force and implementation of the CCM, etc.).

Session 2 focused on cooperation and assistance by introducing the country coalition concept, discussing and refining this approach. The relevant actors for such a coalition would include representatives of: the affected country, donor states, international organizations, operators on the ground and other relevant experts, such as the GICHD.

Session 3 addressed the issue of the cooperation and assistance by introducing the country coalition concept.

Session 4 and 5 explored the practical implications of the country coalition concept on the challenge of article 4 obligations and on victim assistance.

Agenda

Thursday 16 March 2017

09:00 – 09:15Welcome and Introduction – Setting the scene
Michael Biontino (Germany)
Frank Meeussen (EEAS/EU)
Benjamin Hautecouverture (France/EUNPC)
09:15 – 11:15Session 1: Challenges of Cluster Munition Remnants contamination in the region
Chair & Introduction: Megan Burke (CMC)
Cambodia
Lao PDR
Malaysia
The Philippines
Sri Lanka
Thailand
11:15 – 11:30Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:45Session 2: Introducing the country coalition concept
Chair: Benjamin Hautecouverture (France/EUNPC)
Speaker 1 Michael Biontino (Germany)
Speaker 2 Megan Burke (CMC)
12:45 – 14:00Lunch
14:30 – 16:30Session 3: Cooperation and assistance – The connection between affected countries and donor countries – Best practices in coordination/cooperation
Chair: Frank Meeussen (EEAS/EU)
Speaker 1 Genevieve Clune (Australia)
Speaker 2 Khampheng Douangthongla (Lao PDR)
Speaker 3 Vidya Abhayagunawardena (Sri Lanka Campaign to Ban Landmines)
18:30 – 21:00Reception, German residence

Friday 17 March 2017

09:00 – 10:00Session 4: Practical implications 1 – Victim assistance
Chair: Aksel Steen-Nilsen (NPA Programme Director, Cambodia)
Speaker 1 JJuan Carlos Ruan (Ottawa ISU)
Speaker 2 Sheila Mweemba (CCM-ISU)
Speaker 3 Benoit Couturier (Handicap International Lao PDR)
10:00 – 11:00Session 5: Practical implications 2 – Clearance
Chair: Maarten Broekhof (The Netherlands)
Speaker 1 Maarten Broekhof (The Netherlands)
Speaker 2 Touch Pheap (Cambodia)
Speaker 3 Bounpheng Sisawath (Lao PDR)
11:00 – 11:15Coffee Break
11:30 – 12:30Wrap up and recommendations
Sandra de Waele (EU)
Balasubramaniam Murali (UNDP – Lao PDR)
Stefano Toscano (GICHD)
Benjamin Hautecouverture (France/EUNPC)
12:30 – 13:30Farewell lunch

Details

Start:
16 March 2017
End:
17 March 2017
Event Category:

Venue

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
United Nations Conference Center , Meeting Room A - Rajadamnern Nok Avenue
Bangkok,Thaïlande