After hours of travel by jeep and long walks into the forest, Geneva Call met with high-level officers, legal advisers and military instructors from two of the main armed movements operating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Over three days, Geneva Call encouraged discussions on themes around the protection of civilians. There was a particular focus on the prohibition of sexual violence, child protection and the protection of education in the specific context of the North-Kivu conflict. This workshop followed a meeting with these armed movements earlier this year.
Geneva Call presented the rules and obligations facing armed movements under international humanitarian law (IHL), and the participants detailed their organizations’ policies and practices: We don’t set military positions in schools and we never target schools, stated one of the officers.
Although their level of knowledge of IHL was generally very good—as tested using Geneva Call’s Fighter not Killer mobile phone application— both movements are currently listed among the grave violators of international humanitarian law in several UN reports.
In an effort to enhance their knowledge of IHL, but also and mainly their implementation and respect of IHL in the field, both movements welcomed Geneva Call’s proposal to review their internal regulations and policies from a legal perspective. Geneva Call will visit the two armed movements again soon and provide recommendations on how they can enhance their compliance and implementation of IHL on the ground.