On 30th June 2017, the military leaders of four brigades of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) signed Geneva Call’s Deeds of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict, prohibiting sexual violence and against gender discrimination. The signing ceremony took place at the Geneva town hall in the presence of representatives of the Government of the Geneva Canton and members of the humanitarian community.
On February 8, the UN General Assembly held an informal meeting marking the 20th Anniversary of Resolution 51/77 (1997) on the promotion and protection of the rights of children. This resolution established the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG-CAAC). In his opening remarks, President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, called the resolution “a landmark development in our global efforts to improve the protection of children in conflict situations.” A high-level panel discussion was moderated by SRSG-CAAC Ms.
On 14th February 2017 Geneva Call is launching a 10-day video campaign on social media – mainly Facebook and Twitter – to raise awareness on the issue of recruitment and use of children during armed conflict and the protection of children during hostilities, but also on humanitarian norms as a whole.
From 22 to 24 November 2016, 31 leaders, commanders and advisers of 21 armed movements from 11 countries, including Syria, Iraq, Colombia, Yemen, and Burma/Myanmar, participated in workshops and discussions around the issue of child protection in armed conflict.
« We thank Geneva Call for this meeting on international norms to protect children, and for recognizing our role to promote human values in armed conflict, and this even though we are considered outlawed in our country » said a representative of an armed movement.
As the military operations around Mosul enter their 16th day, Geneva Call is continuing in its efforts to raise awareness about the protection of civilians with the main armed actors involved, particularly the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Shia Popular Mobilization Forces.
Training of trainers for Peshmerga forces
On 18th October, Geneva Call in partnership with Un Ponte Per, Public Aid Organization and Norwegian People's Aid, organized a conference in Dohuk on the protection of civilians during the military operations in Mosul.
As humanitarian actors increasingly operate in situations of internal armed conflict, the importance of negotiating with ANSAs to ensure access has come to the forefront. Yet humanitarians on the ground and the broader international humanitarian community often fail to understand ANSAs’ perspectives and motives and, as a result, struggle to engage with them effectively.
Tomorrow, 12 February 2015, is the International Against the use of Child Soldiers. Geneva Call is working in 10 countries to prohibit the use of children in hostilities by armed groups. Our countries of operations include Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia.
Against the complex backdrop of a fragmented ceasefire and momentous political developments, Geneva Call continues to push for compliance with international humanitarian norms in Burma/Myanmar.
Geneva, 28 June 2015
The Kurdistan Freedom Party from Iran, (Parti Azadi Kurdistan, PAK), signed Geneva Call’s Deeds of Commitment banning AP mines, prohibiting sexual violence and against gender discrimination and protecting children in armed conflict on 28th June 2015 in the Kurdish region of Iraq. The PAK was represented by its Vice President Hussein Yazdanpana.
On 30th June 2015, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-Sudan (SPLM (Sudan)) signed Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment for the Protection of Children from the Effects of Armed Conflict, and became the first African armed non-State actor (ANSA) to commit to child protection through this tool.
Children in Armed Conflict
Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of armed conflict. They may be separated from their caregivers, their education may be interrupted or prevented from commencing, and in many respects they are less able to withstand physical and mental trauma. Children are more easily recruited into armed forces or armed non-State actors (ANSAs), and in addition to combat roles, may be used as spies, porters, informants, even in some cases for sexual purposes.
Following the establishment of first contacts last February, Geneva Call recently conducted a field visit to two major national and foreign armed movements operating in the Masisi and Walikale territories of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both armed movements can muster several hundred combatants, and they conduct regular military operations in the area.
Since the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) signed the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict in July 2014, Geneva Call has maintained a constant dialogue with them in order to monitor the situation. Following several allegations about the use of children in hostilities, particularly in a United Nations report on the Human Rights situation in Syria, Geneva Call recently conducted two field visits to the territories controlled by YPG-YPJ in Northeast Syria.
2014 was marked by an increase in the number and intensity of non-international armed conflicts in different contexts and countries. These conflicts are taking a dramatic toll on civilian populations, forcing families to leave their homes or children to enrol as fighters. More than ever, dialogue with armed non-State actors (ANSAs) is necessary for the protection of civilian populations from the effects of armed conflict.
Can a hospital be targeted if the enemy is inside and targeting you? Can you enrol young people as combatants without being sure they are 18? Can you pretend to surrender in order to attack your enemy by surprise? These are the types of questions—and they sometimes involve complex answers—that many combatants in armed groups might ask themselves in conflict areas. Geneva Call’s new mobile application quiz – called Fighter, not Killer- is available in English, French and Arabic and provides the answers to these questions in a simple yet meticulous way.
Geneva, 30 April 2015
After four years of dialogue with Geneva Call, the East Kurdistan Defence Forces (YRK) and the Women’s Defence Forces (HPJ)—also known as the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK)—have signed Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict. On 25 April 2015, in the Kurdish region of Iraq, a delegation from Geneva Call met with the highest representatives of the YRK–HPJ to formalize this commitment.
Following an invitation from the FARC-EP delegation, a new meeting between Geneva Call and members of this delegation took place between 4 and 7 April 2015 in Havana, Cuba. Representatives of FARC-EP and Geneva Call clearly expressed their interest in working more closely on the protection of the civilians in Colombia.
On 30 March, the Polisario Front destroyed a stockpile of anti-personnel (AP) mines in Tifariti, Western Sahara. The total number of destroyed AP mines still has to be confirmed. This is the fifth destruction since the Polisario Front decided to ban this weapon in 2005 by signing Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment banning AP mines.
Geneva Call welcomes the humanitarian agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC–EP) “on the cleaning and decontamination of the territory of the presence of antipersonnel mines […], improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and unexploded ordnance (UXO), or explosive remnants of war (ERW) in general.” This agreement was concluded on 7th March 2015 in Havana, Cuba.