Cambodia is hosting the three day “Third Global Conference on Assistance to the Victims of Anti-Personnel Mines and Other Explosive Ordnance in a Disability Rights Context”, in Phnom Penh from October 17-19.

The Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority (CMAA) has taken the opportunity to reiterate its commitment to working with state actors to tackle global mine-related challenges and support survivors.

Ly Thuch, CMAA first vice-president, addressed the conference on October 17. He explained that Cambodia’s mine action principles revolve around mercy and ensuring no survivor is overlooked, adding that the Kingdom’s dedicated efforts in mine clearance and survivor rehabilitation programmes underscore this commitment.

He described the participation of attendees from 45 nations as demonstrating their dedication to fulfilling the obligations of the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and Their Destruction.

He believed that the support extended to survivors aligns with the responsibilities outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), while also contributing to the attainment of the UN’s 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

“We must not view the survivors of landmines as mere data, but as living individuals – as mothers and fathers striving to protect their families, as young children nurturing dreams, as diligent farmers earning their livelihoods. We must regard them as innocent souls who have endured a grievous fate,” he said.

“Landmines have etched scars on their bodies and minds, and their lives have been shattered in an instant,” he added.

He explained that supporting survivors is both a humanitarian effort, and a human rights and public health concern. It demands commitment and collaboration, notably from state signatories to the Ottawa Convention, to enable victims to lead fulfilling lives. This essential work not only enhances the well-being of survivors, but also of their families and communities.

“We believe that this conference serves not only as a platform for exchanging experiences and knowledge but also as a moment to manifest the spirit of unity in accomplishing our worldwide rescue missions,” he added.

The conference was first held in Colombia in 2014, and subsequently in Jordan in 2019.

This year’s summit welcomed 200 attendees from 45 nations, including survivors, individuals living with disabilities, and specialists from many related fields, including human rights, healthcare and development.

During an October 17 joint press conference, held to share the purpose of the conference, participants explained that the event aimed to serve as a global forum for communities and victims of landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), and hoped that it would drive further success in the domain of mine clearance and survivor rehabilitation.

During the 79th annual session of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), held last May in Bangkok, the Cambodian delegation proposed the inclusion of the landmines and ERW issue to the conference agenda.