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Complete information and background of the organization

Geneva Call

Overview/Background

Geneva Call works in situations of armed conflict or armed violence where there are one or more armed non-State actors (ANSAs) fighting government armed forces or other ANSAs, whose practices may have a direct negative impact on the protection of civilians. Geneva Call prioritizes engagements in accordance with the sensitivity of each conflict and conducts a needs analysis for each ANSA. We select the ANSAs we engage with based on which of them we believe has the greatest potential to create a positive humanitarian impact on the protection of civilians. Geneva Call focuses on a number of different thematic areas, as explained below, and uses a wide range of targeted awareness-raising and training tools in its engagement with ANSAs and communities. The objective of this humanitarian engagement is to encourage ANSAs to adapt their policies and practices to bring them into line with international humanitarian law, to ultimately better protect civilians from the negative effects of armed conflict.

Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of armed conflict. They may be killed, maimed, abducted, raped, recruited and used in hostilities. Their education may be interrupted or prevented from commencing. Of the parties that are listed as perpetrators of grave violations against children in the last report of the UN Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, most are ANSAs. Many children involved in armed conflict are to be found among the ranks of ANSA forces. Schools have also been targeted or used for military purposes by ANSAs. Geneva Call has been working on the protection of children and education in armed conflict since 2010. To date, 27ANSAs have signed the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict and have taken implementing measures such as the demobilization of child soldiers. Other ANSAs have undertaken similar pledges.

In recent years, cultural heritage has increasingly become the direct target of systematic and deliberate attacks, notably on the part of ANSAs. Examples include the destruction of 14 ancient mausoleums in the World Heritage town of Timbuktu in Mali. In addition, changes in the dynamics of warfare have increasingly transformed urban areas into battlegrounds. As a result, historical monuments, religious buildings and other cultural sites have suffered important collateral damage. Cultural heritage has been further affected by the illegal excavation of archaeological sites, the widespread looting of sites and museums, and the illicit trafficking of cultural objects. As part of its 2017-2019 strategy, Geneva Call has recently started to engage ANSAs on the protection of cultural heritage in armed conflict.

According to UNHCR, by the end of 2018 an unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world were forced from their homes by armed conflict, persecution or violence. Among them are 28.5 million refugees and asylum-seekers and 40 million internally displaced persons (IDP). Direct attacks and ill-treatment, loss of property, sexual violence and restricted access to health care and other essential services are among the common threats to displaced persons. ANSAs are present in most countries where there are high levels of internal displacement. Geneva Call has started to engage ANSAs on displacement issues in 2018.

Who we are?

Geneva Call is a neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian organization working to improve the protection of civilians in armed conflict. We strengthen the respect for the law of armed conflict by armed non-State actors (ANSAs). During conflict, fighters must comply with the “rules of war” as enshrined in international humanitarian law (and the Geneva Conventions in particular). These rules set out the limits that the parties to conflict must abide by to limit the impact of war on civilian populations. Geneva Call engages ANSAs to encourage them to comply with the rules of war.

Since Geneva Call began its work nearly 20 years ago, we have developed a unique methodology to increase awareness of, and respect for, IHL for the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Geneva Call has a unique and unwavering mission to protect civilians. Whilst other organizations also work to improve awareness of humanitarian norms, Geneva Call is the only organization in the world focused exclusively on creating lasting behaviour change among ANSAs to promote the protection of civilians.

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