Geneva Call celebrates its tenth anniversary in a spirit of humility and gratitude towards its donors and partners. To be sure, a great deal has been achieved: Since 2000, 41 armed non-State actors on three continents have pledged not to use anti-personnel mines. In its 10 years of activity, Geneva Call has gone from non governmental outlier to a respected partner of many of the actors who work in the area of the protection of civilians caught up in conflict. It has extended its operations towards non-State actors and the protection of women, and children in armed conflict.
It wasn’t always so. In the beginning, Geneva Call’s proposal was met with disbelief in some quarters. The international community was skeptical: “Armed non-State actors have never been formally invited to sign humanitarian agreements, and it will never work”, was a comment heard. Dire predictions were made at the beginning of the project: “Armed non-State actors will manipulate the situation for political purposes or in order to obtain legitimacy”. The criticisms could be summed up in a phrase: “It can’t be done”.
Events on the ground quickly proved that Geneva Call was on the right path. The Moro Islamic Liberation Front from the Philippines was the first to sign the Deed of Commitment banning AP mines the same month that Geneva Call was officially launched. A year and a half later the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army signed the same deed and thereby induced the government in Khartoum to sign the Mine Ban Convention one year later. [Read More...]