Two years of negotiation have led to the formal commitment by five armed non-State actors (ANSAs) from Iran of Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment for the Prohibition of Sexual Violence in Situations of Armed Conflict and towards the Elimination of Gender Discrimination and Deed of Commitment for the Protection of Children from the Effects of Armed Conflict
The documents were signed on 14 December by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, the Komala Party of Kurdistan, the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, the Komalah – Kurdistan Organization of the Communist Party of Iran and the Kurdistan Democratic Party – Iran.
These five ANSAs are the first signatories to Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment for the Prohibition of Sexual Violence in Situations of Armed Conflict and towards the Elimination of Gender Discrimination. The ANSA delegations were comprised of 50% women; two of the delegations were headed by women who signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations.
While these ANSAs already have policies in place prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination, they are now committed to promoting much greater political participation for women as well, and will have a strong positive role to play in addressing these issues in Kurdish society. Geneva Call’s action focuses on ANSAs and sexual violence in the context of armed conflict, yet it can be hoped that signing the Deed may also have some positive indirect influence on the problem of domestic violence.
The new signatures of the Deed of Commitment for the Protection of Children from the Effects of Armed Conflict send a signal to other groups active in the Middle East whose practice in respect of the protection of children in armed conflict may fall short of international standards. For one of the new signatories, for example, the military recruitment age will be raised from 16 to 18.
Today, the example set by signing this Deed of Commitment strengthens the groups’ standards in child protection and protects hundreds of children from being mobilized into military service.
Geneva Call’s action towards ANSAs on child protection makes the point for education not militarization. Signatory ANSAs of the Deed of Commitment for the Protection of Children from the Effects of Armed Conflict also agree to seek to provide children in areas where they exercise authority with adequate food, health care and education.
42 ANSAs have signed Geneva Call’s first Deed of Commitment banning anti-personnel mines, seven have to date signed the Deed protecting children in armed conflict, and now the first five have signed the Deed prohibiting sexual violence in armed conflict and gender discrimination. Geneva Call seeks to ensure all signatory ANSAs implement their commitments, through training, supporting higher internal standards, media work and continuous monitoring.