While protests gather momentum in India against rape, which is one of the most common crimes against women in this country, an armed non-­‐State actor (ANSA) operating in the country, the Zomi Re-­‐unification Organization (ZRO), has signed the “Deed of Commitment for the prohibition of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict and towards the elimination of gender discrimination”.

Rape and abuse of power are currently strictly prohibited under the internal rules of this ANSA. The leaders of ZRO will enforce these policies and seek to allow a greater participation of women in its internal decision-­‐making processes.

“Immoral conduct against women is strictly prohibited and punished by our organization. We decided to sign the Deed of Commitment to show our engagement towards the enforcement of these fundamental human rights and to be some kind of model for other armed groups”, stated Calvin H., in charge of External Affairs for the ZRO. In 2010, this movement participated in a Geneva Call workshop on « Improving the protection of women and girls during armed conflict » where it first entered into dialogue with Geneva Call on this question. ZRO demonstrated a strong interest in the issues of sexual violence and gender discrimination and as a result approached Geneva Call in order to sign this Deed of Commitment.

The ZRO has been active in promoting humanitarian norms towards other ANSAs and is the sixth ANSA to sign this Deed of Commitment. The signing ceremony was held on 7th May and attended by representatives of the political and military wings of the ZRO. Katherine Kramer, Asia Programme Director of Geneva Call, welcomed “the active and open collaboration with the ZRO and their zero tolerance policy in regards to any form of sexual violence”. It is to be hoped that ZRO commitment will raise the interest of other ANSAs in the region, and future initiatives to place a ban on such harmful and degrading practices.

The ZRO already signed the “Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-­‐Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action” in 2009.

The Government of the Republic and Canton of Geneva serves as the custodian of the different Deeds of Commitment. Geneva Call will support the ZRO in the implementation of its commitment and monitor compliance.

 

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