Laos: AAR Japan Participates in Third Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions

The Third Meeting of States Parties to the Convention on Cluster Munitions was held in Oslo, Norway, from September 11th-14th, 2012. The treaty came into effect in August 2010, and as of October 1st, 2012, it has been signed by 111 countries and ratified by 76, including Japan, Afghanistan and Laos, where AAR Japan is active.
Government representatives from more than 120 countries, including 31 non-signatory states, participated in the meeting. AAR Japan sent two observers, Yoshino HORIKOSHI from the Tokyo office and Yumiko YAMASHITA from the Xien Khouang office, who attended the meeting and provided information on AAR’s multinational landmine/UXO (unexploded ordnance) efforts in the exhibition booth. In a side-event on the second day of the meeting, AAR made a presentation focusing on our victim assistance efforts in Southeast Asia.

60% of Bombs Destroyed in States Parties, But More Bombs Used in Other Nations

September 11th, 2012 - The conference hall in Oslo.
In the annual meeting, the States Parties make reports concerning the elimination of cluster bombs, the clearance of UXOs, and victim assistance. A major achievement highlighted during this meeting was that of all the cluster bombs that the States Parties had possessed, 75 million have been destroyed. This accounts for 60% of the cluster bombs in the States Parties, and helped us see the real progress of our efforts toward the elimination of these weapons.

Some non-signatory states, including Laos’ neighbors such as Cambodia and Vietnam, also expressed support for the treaty, and made some effort towards the elimination of cluster bombs. During the discussion on victim assistance, a Japanese government representative noted AAR’s victim assistance program, implemented in Xieng Khouang in Laos, as one of the contributions made by Japan.

On the other hand, undetonated cluster bombs continue to pose a major threat. The possibility that cluster bombs may have been used in Syria and Sudan between the second meeting held last year and this latest meeting drew some criticism during the meeting. We were further saddened by news that a worker was killed  while removing cluster bombs in Serbia even as the meeting progressed. To prevent ongoing generations of damage, it is vital that larger countries such as the United States and China accede to the treaty as soon as possible.

AAR Japan Reports on Victim Assistance Programs

While the effort towards the elimination of cluster bombs has seen progress, what remains crucial is assistance to victims, estimated to be tens of thousands worldwide. Victims of UXOs require a variety of forms of assistance, from immediate emergency medical care to social rehabilitation over a lifetime. However, this is not practiced nearly enough today.
With this being the reality, AAR Japan provides assistance to persons with disabilities, including victims of landmines and UXOs, in different parts of the world. In the side-event program, Ms. HORIKOSHI and Ms. YAMASHITA made a presentation about AAR’s assistance programs. Emphasizing victim assistance in severely damaged areas of Southeast Asia, they discussed AAR’s diligent efforts and the challenges encountered in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar (Burma). They spoke to the government representatives and supporting countries regarding the importance of victim assistance, the need for additional financial aid, and the need for improvement in the systems that support NGO programs.

September 12th, 2012 - Yumiko YAMASHITA of AAR’s Xieng Khouang office makes a presentation on AAR’s victim assistance programs.

Renewed Determination for UXO Action
Oslo, which hosted the meeting this year, is also where the Signing Ceremony of the Convention on Cluster Munitions was held in 2008. It is also the city where the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony is held every year. In 1997, the Peace Prize was awarded to Jody Williams and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), in honor of which Yukie OSA, president of AAR Japan, attended the ceremony. Simply being present in such a historic place reinforced our conviction of the necessity of landmine/UXO action. AAR will continue to provide educational services aimed at reducing the occurrence of landmine/UXO accidents, as well as providing first aid training to prepare for accidents and making ongoing efforts toward full victim assistance.

September 14th, 2012 - In the booth at the meeting venue, Yoshino HORIKOSHI (right) from AAR’s Tokyo office shares information on AAR’s programs with attendees.

Yumiko YAMASHITA, AAR JAPAN Xieng Khouang Office, Laos
Has worked in the Xieng Khouang office in Laos since October 2010. After graduating university, worked as a hospital nurse. Studied health system management in graduate school in the United Kingdom, then joined AAR after returning home.