A workshop organized by the Yemen Center for Human Rights Studies, in partnership with Geneva Call, was held on Saturday, 4 May 2019 to establish a partnership network called the “Friends of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Network (FoIHLN)”. The primary purpose of the network is to raise awareness around the promotion and the respect of international humanitarian norms in Yemen. During the workshop, the network’s members stressed the importance of respecting these norms in order to ensure that all parties to the conflict take all necessary measures to protect civilian populations. This includes especially vulnerable groups such as children, who are susceptible to recruitment as child soldiers, or women, who may experience gender-based violence.
The meeting’s participants, who included heads of civil society organizations, public figures, human rights activists and lawyers from the Yemeni community and from different governorates, stressed the importance of working with Geneva Call as a recognized partner for the advocacy and the protection of IHL in armed conflicts. They also highlighted the importance of the creation of this kind of partnership between individuals, civil society organizations and international non-governmental organizations to foster a connection between all levels of society to address humanitarian emergencies, and principally the issue of protection.
Mr. Mohammed Qasem Noman (President of the Yemen Center for Human Rights Studies) pointed out the need for all parties involved in the conflict to understand that violations of IHL norms leading to civilian casualties, suffering and grave human rights violations are not acceptable, neither for Yemeni civil society nor for the international community. Wars and armed conflicts have rules and perpetrators of grave IHL violations are accountable to both Yemeni society and to the international community, whether they belong to the government, the opposition or non-governmental actors. In addition, Mr. Noman highlighted the importance of raising awareness around IHL amongst all sectors of Yemenite society.
Mrs Amal Hamidallah, Head of the Near and Middle East region at Geneva Call took this opportunity to introduce the participants to the 15 rules of behavior for fighters in internal armed conflict. She also explained that the Friends of IHL Network will comply with several core principles of IHL: humanity, neutrality, independence, non-discrimination, non-profit, transparency, inclusiveness and collective action. Its actions will comprise a large range of activities, including media campaigns, the establishment of IHL/legal information centres, legal assistance for victims of IHL violations and capacity building of various actors on IHL.