From 8 to 12 October 2017, Geneva Call organized a three-day training session on the law of armed conflict and a two-day thematic workshop on child protection, the ban on anti-personnel mines and the prohibition of sexual violence in armed conflict. The event took place in Amman, in Jordan, and gathered 17 women representing 16 Yemeni women’s organizations working on peacebuilding, human rights and youth empowerment.
The conflict in Yemen opposing the Houthis / Saleh forces to the Hadi Government, is now in its third year; it has caused more than 5,000 deaths, and around two million people have been displaced. “To increase respect for the law of armed conflict, it is necessary to disseminate these norms, not only among armed actors but also throughout society. These 16 civil society organizations are influential and will disseminate these norms among their communities,” said Mehmet Balci from Geneva Call.
Participants came from all over the country, notably from areas affected by the conflict, such as Sana’a, Hudaydah, Ta’aiz, Ibb, Abyan, Marib, Aden, Al-Mukalla and Hadramou; they represented varied political sensitivities.
This diversity created an interesting dynamic. “It is amazing how Geneva Call was able to gather such a diverse group, coming from all over Yemen; it is the first time that I have attended such a workshop with so many different views on the situation in the country. At first, I was afraid that the workshop would become politicized, but boundaries were put in place by the host organization and the context was kept strictly humanitarian. I am glad to be a part of this,” said one participant.
Geneva Call presented several topics, including the rules related to gender issues and the prohibition of sexual violence. “This workshop helped me a lot in understanding how these international norms address gender issues. I was surprised to learn how these norms seek to mitigate violence and human rights violations against men, women, boys and girls in armed conflict. What I liked the most was listening to Geneva Call’s experience of its work with armed non-state actors to reduce these abuses,” added another participant.
Participants were keen to understand how they could use different international mechanisms to reinforce the respect and implementation of the law of armed conflict on the ground.
At the end of the workshop, participants and Geneva Call together prepared action plans and activities to raise awareness of humanitarian norms on the ground. Geneva Call will support and follow up on the implementation of these plans in different areas of Yemen, mainly targeting local communities, religious leaders, university teachers and other influential actors.