Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

STANDING COMMITTEE ON THE GENERAL STATUS AND OPERATION OF THE CONVENTION
UPDATE ON THE SPONSORSHIP PROGRAMME

SPONSORSHIP PROGRAMME COORDINATOR - AUSTRALIA

30 MAY 2013

The Sponsorship Programme is one of the Convention’s oldest implementation mechanisms, having been established on a voluntary basis by an interested group of States Parties in 2000, in advance of the 2MSP.

The purpose of the programme is to support widespread participation in the work of the Convention, particularly by States Parties with few means which are in the process of clearing mined areas, assisting the victims and destroying stockpiles.

Without a doubt it has been fundamental to the effective work of the Convention at the international level.

The value we attribute to the Sponsorship Programme was recorded in the final documentation of the Second Review Conference.

And our commitment to continue to support this effort was made in the Cartagena Action Plan, which states that “States Parties in a position to do so will contribute to the Sponsorship Programme thereby permitting widespread representation at meetings of the Convention, particularly by mine-affected developing States Parties.”

The programme is both effective and efficient, with sound strategic advice provided to the programme’s donors’ group by the ISU and with the GICHD administering the programme at no cost.

We are thankful for the support provided by the ISU and the GICHD.

We are concerned, though, that the programme is no longer receiving the funding it needs to fulfil its primary purpose.

In 2012, only four States Parties – Australia, Denmark, Italy and Norway – provided contributions.

The reduction in total contributions in 2012 meant that we started 2013 with virtually no resources in the sponsorship fund.

The level of sponsorship for a set of meetings under this Convention normally involves the programme covering the costs of approximately 50 sponsored delegates at a cost of approximately CHF 175,000. These capital- and field-based delegates are selected on the basis of their expertise with the aim to enhance information sharing in our discussions.

With virtually no funds at the beginning of the year, and with only one contribution having been received since that time – from Germany – we were only able to offer sponsorship to a much smaller number of States Parties for this week’s meetings.

In total, only 20 delegates have been sponsored this week, down from a normal total of approximately 50.

We are hopeful that our sponsorship effort will be enhanced for the 13MSP given that agreements are in place or are being finalised with Australia, Denmark, Netherlands and Norway.

However, the burden of this programme cannot be shouldered by such a small number of States Parties, nor is it logical that only handful of States Parties would in a position to act in accordance with our Cartagena commitment to contribute to the programme.

It is even more important that I highlight this point given the potential associated with a “Maputo Summit on a Mine-Free World” in 2014.

The opportunity presented to us by the Maputo Review Conference can only be achieved by widespread participation, and, to ensure this, we need to ensure that a greater number of States Parties invest in this invaluable programme.

I should also highlight that living up to our commitment to support the sponsorship programme also means living up to our commitment through Action #29 of the Cartagena Action Plan to “ensure the continued involvement and effective contribution in all relevant convention related activities by health, rehabilitation, social services, education, employment, gender and disability rights experts.

Most affected States concerned would not be able to take part in the victim assistance deliberations of this Convention by such experts without the sponsorship programme, making this an additional compelling reason to support this programme.

Finally, I note the suggestion put forward by Canada and supported by others to hold next year’s intersessional meeting and preparatory meeting for the Review Conference back to back with the intersessional meeting of the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the Mine Action Directors meeting, if possible.

We agree that not only could this help reduce the costs of States Parties in arranging participation for capital-based colleagues for these meetings, but would also help reduce the costs to sponsor delegates who would also attend this suite of meetings, and would leave more funds available in the Sponsorship Programme for the Maputo Review Conference.

Thank you.