Geneva Call

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Geneva Call
GCLogoPuzzle.png
Motto "Protecting civilians in armed conflict"
Formation March 2000
Type NGO
Legal status Non-profit making organization[1]
Headquarters Geneva, Switzerland
President
Elisabeth Decrey Warner
Staff
18 full-time staff (2012)[2]
Website http://www.genevacall.org

Geneva Call is a neutral and impartial non-governmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. The NGO is dedicated to promoting respect by armed non-State actors for international humanitarian norms in armed conflict and other situations of violence, in particular those related to the protection of civilians. Geneva Call is currently focusing its efforts on banning the use of anti-personnel mines, protecting children from the effects of armed conflict, prohibiting sexual violence in armed conflict and working towards the elimination of gender discrimination.

Creation[edit]

Some members of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines were concerned that the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, also known as the Ottawa Treaty, was only binding on states. Geneva Call was created in 1998, one year after the Ottawa Treaty was signed, to begin engaging armed non-State actors on the subject of landmines.

However, Geneva Call took little action until March 2000, at a conference organized by the Swiss Campaign to Ban Landmines called Engaging Non-State Actors in a Landmine Ban. This conference, the first of its kind, created a foundation for approaching armed non-State actors about a landmine ban, and served as the official launch of Geneva Call.[3]

Structure[edit]

Geneva Call is a non-profit organization under Swiss law.[3] It is headed by a board composed of local personalities with expertise in international law, in the thematic issues that compose Geneva Call's mission, in business or politics. One member of the board, Elisabeth Decrey-Warner, also serves as the executive president of Geneva Call. The board is organizing an advisory council consisting of further experts in Geneva Call's work.

Geneva Call's headquarters staff is divided into three divisions: Operations, Administration and Finance and Communications[4]

Notable Members[edit]

Board members
Micheline Calmy-Rey, Member of the Board, was Switzerland's Foreign Minister as head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. She was a member of the Swiss Federal Council from 2003 to the end of 2011, and was President of the Swiss Confederation in 2007 and again in 2011.

Elisabeth Decrey-Warner, the Executive President and co-founder of Geneva Call,[4] has worked for over 25 years with NGOs on issues relating to refugees, torture, disarmament and humanitarian norms. Her work was recognized in 2005 when she was nominated for Switzerland as one of the 1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize. Ms Decrey Warner was a member of the Parliament of the Republic and Canton of Geneva for 12 years and was elected its President in 2000. She is currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) as well as of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD). Ms. Decrey Warner was nominated among the 100 most influential people in violence reduction in armed conflict and was awarded the prestigious Hessen Peace Prize in 2012. In 2013, she was awarded the French Legion of Honour.[5]

Priscilla Hayner, Vice-Chair of the Board of the Geneva Call, was one of the co-founders of the International Center for Transitional Justice and until 2010 served as a program director and then head of the ICTJ Geneva office.

Staff members
Armin Köhli, Geneva Call’s Programme Officer for Middle East, is a double amputee and accomplished cyclist, who placed fifth in the road race event at the 2000 Paralympic Games and won two bronze medals, five silver medals, and two gold medals in the Swiss cycling championships between 1997 and 2003. Mr. Köhli uses cycling competitions as an opportunity to promote awareness for mine action.[6]

Mission[edit]

Geneva Call engages with armed non-State actors to encourage them to comply with international humanitarian norms, improving the protection of civilians in armed conflict. These international humanitarian norms are enshrined in the Geneva Conventions and other international treaties. While initially focusing on the ban of anti-personnel mines, Geneva Call has expanded its work into additional areas that deserve specific attention, namely the protection of children in armed conflict – notably from recruitment and use in hostilities – as well as the prohibition of sexual violence and gender discrimination. This expansion was envisioned in Geneva Call’s founding statutes[3] and has also been encouraged by armed non-State actors themselves. Geneva Call has also increasingly provided International Humanitarian Law (IHL) training to armed non-State actors, and advice on how to incorporate IHL rules into their codes of conduct and other internal regulations.

Geneva Call developed an innovative mechanism, the Deed of Commitment that allows armed non-State actors to pledge to respect specific humanitarian norms and be held publically accountable for their commitments. They cannot become parties to relevant international treaties, and are generally precluded from participating in norm-making processes. Consequently,they may not feel bound to abide by rules that they have neither put forward nor formally adhered to. Sometimes they are simply not aware of their obligations under IHL.

The Deed of Commitment process gives them the opportunity to formally express their agreement to abide by humanitarian norms and take ownership of these rules.

To date, Geneva Call has developed three such documents:

  • Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action,[7] launched in 2000 ;
  • Deed of Commitment for the Protection of Children from the Effects of Armed Conflict,[8] launched in 2010 ;
  • Deed of Commitment for the Prohibition of Sexual Violence in Situations of Armed Conflict and towards the Elimination of Gender Discrimination,[9] launched in 2012.

Geneva Call’s mission is currently divided into four thematic issues: banning anti-personnel mines, protecting children in armed conflict, prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination and respect of humanitarian norms.

Landmine ban[edit]

The struggle against anti-personnel mines was the original focus of Geneva Call. Geneva Call engages armed non-State actors to reduce the impact of anti-personnel mines on the civilian population by promoting the ban and encouraging cooperation in mine action.

In 2000, Geneva Call launched a first Deed of Commitment under Geneva Call for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action.[7]

By signing the Deed of Commitment banning anti-personnel mines, armed non-State actors agree, inter alia, to:

  • Prohibit under any circumstance the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of anti-personnel mines;
  • Undertake and cooperate in stockpile destruction; mine clearance; victim assistance; mine awareness; and various other forms of mine action, in cooperation with specialized organizations.

In November 2003, the Deed of Commitment banning anti-personnel mines mines was included in the UN Mine Action Guidelines for Ceasefire and Peace Agreements as a mechanism for armed non-State actor engagement.

Child protection[edit]

Geneva Call has been involved with child soldiers as early as 2001, when it invited the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers to a conference on engaging non-state actors to discuss their experiences in that field.

Geneva Call engages armed non-State actors to reduce the effects of armed conflict on children by promoting respect for children’s rights, in particular the prohibition of the recruitment and use of children in hostilities.

In November 2010, Geneva Call launched a second Deed of Commitment, the Deed of Commitment under Geneva Call for the Protection of Children from the Effects of Armed Conflict.[8]

By signing the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict, armed non-State actors agree, inter alia, to:

  • Prohibit the use of children in hostilities;
  • Ensure that children are not recruited into, or forcibly associated with, armed forces;
  • Release or disassociate children in safety and security;
  • Protect children from the effects of military operations;
  • Do their best to provide children with the aid and care they need, in cooperation with specialized child protection agencies.

Gender issues[edit]

Geneva Call engages armed non-State actors to reduce conflict-related sexual violence, to eliminate gender discrimination and to promote greater participation of women in decision-making processes.

In June 2012, Geneva Call launched a third Deed of Commitment, the Deed of Commitment under Geneva Call for the Prohibition of Sexual Violence in Situations of Armed Conflict and towards the Elimination of Gender Discrimination''.[9]

By signing the Deed of Commitment prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination, armed non-State actors agree, inter alia, to:

  • Prohibit all forms of sexual violence;
  • Prevent and sanction acts of sexual violence;
  • Provide victims with access to the assistance and care they need;
  • Ensure confidentiality and protection of victims of sexual violence;
  • Eliminate discriminatory policies and practices against women or men;
  • Ensure greater participation of women in decision-making processes.

Humanitarian norms[edit]

In addition to engagement on specific norms (anti-personnel mines ban, protection of children from the effects of armed conflict and prohibition of sexual violence and gender discrimination), Geneva Call seeks to build armed non-State actors knowledge of broad IHL rules, and their capacities to implement them.

In recent years, Geneva Call has increasingly provided trainings and technical advice to armed non-State actors on how to incorporate IHL into their policies, codes of conduct and other internal regulations and on implementation. In some cases, especially where Geneva Call’s current themes of engagement are not priority issues or best starting points for dialogue, activities around IHL can serve as a method for engagement.

Impact[edit]

Success[edit]

From its inception in 2000, Geneva Call has engaged with about 90 armed non-State actors worldwide and sensitized thousands of their leaders and members on international humanitarian norms. As of today, 43 armed non-State actors have signed the Deed of Commitment banning anti-personnel mines, 9 have signed the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict, and 7 have signed the newly launched Deed of Commitment prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination.

Overall, their compliance record has been good. Except in one case, no conclusive evidence of violation of the Deeds of Commitment has been found to date. Signatories have taken implementing measures and cooperated in the monitoring of their compliance by Geneva Call. In addition, a number of armed non-State actors that have not signed the Deeds of Commitment have nevertheless taken steps towards compliance with international standards, for example by limiting mine use and/or facilitating mine action in areas under their control.

Over the past 14 years, Geneva Call has gained international recognition and support from many quarters, including States Parties to the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention, the United Nations, the European Union, and the African Union, and is seen today as a global leader and a pioneer in its field.

List of former or current armed non-State actors who have signed one or several Deeds of Commitment[10]

Name of armed non-State actor Location (Country) Deed of Commitment Date of Adherence
Conseil National pour la Défense de la Démocratie-Forces de Défense de la Démocratie (CNDD-FDD) Burundi Banning anti-personnel mines 15 December 2003
Banadiri Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
Hiran Patriotic Alliance/Somalia Reconciliation and Restoration Council (HPA/SRRC) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
Jowhar Administration Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
Juba Valley Alliance (JVA) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 30 January 2005
Puntland State of Somalia (PSS) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
Rahanweyn Resistance Army / Somalia Reconciliation and Restoration Council - Hassan Mohamed Nur “Shatigudud” (RRA/SRRC-Shatigudud) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
Rahanweyn Resistance Army / Somalia Reconciliation and Restoration Council - Sheykh Adan "Madobe" (RRA/SRRC-Madobe) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
Somali African Muki Organization / Somalia Reconciliation and Restoration Council - Nakuru (SAMO/SRRC/Nakuru) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
Somali National Front / Somalia Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SNF/SRRC) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
Somali Patriotic Movement / Somalia Reconciliation and Restoration Council - Aden Abdullahi Nur “Gabyow” (SPM/SRRC-Gabyow) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
Southern Somali National Movement / BIREM (SSNM/BIREM) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
Southern Somali National Movement/ Somalia National Army / Somalia Reconciliation and Restoration Council (SSNM/SNA/SRRC) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
Transitional National Government (TNG) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
United Somali Congress / North Mogadishu/ Somalia Reconciliation and Restoration Council (USC/North Mogadishu/SRRC) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
United Somali Congress / Somali Salvation Army (USC/SSA) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
United Somali Congress / Somalia National Army/ Somalia Reconciliation and Restoration Council (USC/SSA/SRRC) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
United Somali Congress / Somalia National Army/ Somalia Reconciliation and Restoration Council / Nakuru (USC/SSA/SRRC/Nakuru) Somalia Banning anti-personnel mines 11 November 2002
Justice and Equality Mouvement (JEM) Sudan Banning anti-personnel mines 20 April 2012
Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) Sudan Banning anti-personnel mines 4 October 2001
Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) Sudan Banning anti-personnel mines 29 August 2013
Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front) Western Sahara Banning anti-personnel mines 5 November 2005
Arakan Rohingya National organization (ARNO) Burma/Myanmar Banning anti-personnel mines 17 October 2003
Chin National Front/Army (CNF/CNA) Burma/Myanmar Banning anti-personnel mines
Prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination
Protecting children in armed conflict
31 July 2006
19 March 2014
19 March 2014
Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army (KNU/KNLA) Burma/Myanmar Protecting children in armed conflict
Prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination
21 July 2013
21 July 2013
Karenni National Progressive Party/Karenni Army (KNPP/KA) Burma/Myanmar Protecting children in armed conflict 2 August 2012
Lahu Democratic Front (LDF) Burma/Myanmar Banning anti-personnel mines 16 April 2007
National Unity Party of Arakan (NUPA) Burma/Myanmar Banning anti-personnel mines 17 October 2003
New Mon State Party/Mon National Liberation Army (NMSP/ MNLA) Burma/Myanmar Protecting children in armed conflict 2 August 2012
Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF) Burma/Myanmar Banning anti-personnel mines 16 April 2007
Pa'O Peoples Liberation organization (PPLO) Burma/Myanmar Banning anti-personnel mines 16 April 2007
Kuki National organization (KNO) India Banning anti-personnel mines 9 August 2006
National Socialist Council of Nagalim (Isaac Muivah) (NSCM-IM) India Banning anti-personnel mines 17 October 2003
Zomi Re-unification organization (ZRO) India Banning anti-personnel mines
Prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination
20 February 2009
15 May 2013
Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Philippines Banning anti-personnel mines 7 April 2002
Revolutionary Workers Party of Mindanao (RPM/RPA) Philippines Banning anti-personnel mines 11 September 2003
Revolutionary Workers Party of the Philippines/ Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Bocayo (RPM/RPA-AB) Philippines Banning anti-personnel mines 10 September 2002
Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) Iran Banning anti-personnel mines
Protecting children in armed conflict
Prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination
7 September 2007
14 December 2012
14 December 2012
Free Life Party of Kurdistan/ Liberation Forces of Eastern Kurdistan (PJAK) Iran Banning anti-personnel mines 15 April 2010
Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KPIK) Iran Banning anti-personnel mines
Protecting children in armed conflict
Prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination
16 June 2009
14 December 2012
14 December 2012
Komala Party of Kurdistan (KPK) Iran Banning anti-personnel mines
Protecting children in armed conflict
Prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination
7 April 2009
14 December 2012
14 December 2012
Komalah-Communist Party of Iran (Komalah-CPI) Iran Banning anti-personnel mines
Protecting children in armed conflict
Prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination
7 April 2009
14 December 2012
14 December 2012
The Kurdistan Democratic Party – Iran (KDP-Iran) Iran Banning anti-personnel mines
Protecting children in armed conflict
Prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination
13 April 2007
14 December 2012
14 December 2012
Kurdistan Regional Government-Erbil (KRG-Erbil) Iraq Banning anti-personnel mines 11 August 2002
Kurdistan Regional Government-Sulaimanyia (KRG-Sulaimanyia) Iraq Banning anti-personnel mines 10 August 2002
People's Defences Forces / Kurdistan Worker's Party (HPG / PKK) Turkey Banning anti-personnel mines
Protecting children in armed conflict
24 June 2006
5 October 2013

Praise[edit]

Ban Ki-Moon, United Nations Secretary General has mentioned Geneva Call and its work on multiple occasions,[11][12] including a speech where he identified the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment as a "successful example" of special commitments with non-state actors. The International Forum on Armed Groups and the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, held by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers in July 2006, recognized the Deed of Commitment as "one of the most innovative forms of persuading armed groups to make unilateral declarations to abide by IHL norms".[13] In 2013, Geneva Call was recognized in the world’s Top 100 NGOs by the Global Journal.[14]

Criticism and Controversy[edit]

At the Seventh Meeting of States Parties to the Ottawa Treaty, Turkey accused Geneva Call of signing a Deed of Commitment with the Kurdistan Worker's Party without knowledge or consent from the Turkish government, describing the act as "inappropriate and unacceptable." Geneva Call claims that it informed Turkey of the engagement. Turkey refuses to allow Geneva Call into its borders to conduct verification missions with the Kurdistan Worker's Party.[15]

The 2010 United States Supreme Court case Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project ruled that organizations providing international law training to organizations recognized as terrorist groups by the Department of State are committing a crime. Because of Geneva Call's work with the Kurdistan Worker's Party, some of the organization's activities could be considered illegal under American law. Geneva Call President Elisabeth Decrey-Warner responded that "civilians caught in the middle of conflicts and hoping for peace will suffer from this decision. How can you start peace talks or negotiations if you don’t have the right to speak to both parties?"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Non-profit making Foundation, Geneva Call, 2014
  2. ^ Annual Report 2012, Geneva Call, 2014
  3. ^ a b c Geneva Call's Statutes, Geneva Call, 2014
  4. ^ a b Structure of Geneva Call Geneva Call, 2014
  5. ^ La Légion d’honneur l’habille La Tribune de Genève, 19 September 2013, Retrieved 3 February 2014
  6. ^ Tour d'Armin - Armin Köhli Retrieved 3 February 2014
  7. ^ a b Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment banning anti-personnel mines, Geneva Call, 2014
  8. ^ a b Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment protection children in armed conflict , Geneva Call, 2014
  9. ^ a b Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination, Geneva Call, 2014
  10. ^ List of armed non-State actors that have been engaged by Geneva Call, Geneva Call, 2014
  11. ^ Ban Ki-Moon, Report of the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara, United Nations Security Council, 2007, Retrieved 3 February 2014
  12. ^ Ban Ki-Moon, Ban Ki-Moon, Report of the Secretary General on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, United Nations Security Council, 2009, Retrieved 3 February 2014
  13. ^ International forum on armed groups and the involvement of children in armed conflict: Summary of themes and discussions, Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, 2007, Retrieved 3 February 2014
  14. ^ Communiqué 2013 : Geneva Call recognised in the world’s Top 100 Best NGOs, Geneva Call, 2014, Retrieved 3 February 2014
  15. ^ Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor Retrieved 3 February 2014