Victim Assistance Policy Planning:
Decentralization as a Key?
This issue may be outdated. Click here to view the most recent issue.
assistance is becoming an increasingly familiar topic for signatories
of the Mine Ban Treaty, the problem remains of how best to implement
such programs. The author suggests that it is time for a switch from
“top down” to “bottom up” implementation.
by Dr. Philippe
Chabasse, Co-director, Handicap International
Three years after the entry into force of the Mine Ban Treaty, a major
difficulty remains concerning implementation, evaluation and
consequently funding of mine victim assistance programs. The following
paper presents a regional initiative that encourages national actors
to determine what they consider as priorities and locally applicable
criteria for victim assistance policies and projects.
conceptual advances have been made through the intersessional process,
which is leading to an international consensus on an inclusive
definition of mine victims as well as agreement on the main components
of victim assistance covering emergency aid, hospital care, physical
rehabilitation, and social and economic reintegration.
activities must be integrated into national policies of public health
and social assistance. They must be adapted to local environmental,
social and physical factors and offer the most appropriate services to
the people. They must respect existing institutional and sectoral
frameworks, and ensure the permanence of commitments through the
implementation of partnerships. They will rely as much as possible on
appropriate techniques and technologies and on available resources at
the national and regional level.
these concepts come from the top down and are generated by
international expertise. The time may have come when, from policy
planning through implementation, “bottom up” processes must be
A Southeast Asia Regional Initiative
In mid-2001, Handicap International (HI) began an initiative to strengthen the capacity to develop policy planning and effective
implementation of projects in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam by
identifying, supporting and linking actors at national and regional
From July to
October 2001, national workshops on victim assistance have brought
together governments, ministries, provincial actors, non-governmental
organization (NGO) and international organization (IO)
representatives, and associations of disabled persons. These national
workshops prepared a regional conference held in November 2001 in
conference concluded with agreement on the necessity of the following:
a living regional network highlighting “best practices,” maintaining
contacts, collecting information, and producing and updating a
directory of service providers from governments, NGOs and IOs.
national actors work in a collaborative manner and developing a
prioritized portfolio of programs for each country.
the results of this ongoing process to future intersessional
meetings in order to enlist further technical and financial support
for victim assistance in the region.
of National Coordination
In Cambodia, such a coordination mechanism among all actors in victim
assistance already exists through the Disability Action Council (DAC)
and will soon be reinforced. In Laos, the National Council for
Disabled Persons (NCDP) is instrumental in bringing all national
actors together regularly. In Vietnam, the process is currently
underway through the Ministry of Health and concerned NGOs and IOs.
It is worth
noting that representatives from Laos and Vietnam, two non-signatory
states, participated in the last intersessional meetings in Geneva.
On the eve of
the Fourth Meeting of States Parties, one can assess positive results
from the intersessional process as it has enabled the international
community to develop a shared common understanding of the framework of
victim assistance strategies. As far as implementation is concerned,
however, the driving force no longer lies in Geneva or New York, but
rather in Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Hanoi or Bangkok.
are not the ones to best determine national policies. Appropriation of
national priorities and projects by a wide range of national actors
remains the key for effective implementation and sustainability.
Dr. Phillipe Chabasse, Co-director
14 Avenue Berthelot
69007 Lyon, France
Tel: 33 (0)4 78 69 79 79