Geneva Call is launching a monitor of armed non-State actors’ responses to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The last few weeks have seen numerous conflict areas affected by the spread of the COVID-19. In these contexts, it has been unsurprising that several armed non-State actors (ANSAs) have adopted measures to contain the spread of the virus in the territories they control. ANSAs have closed business, established lockdowns, increased health checks, imposed travel controls and other restrictions to the freedom of movement. Some of them have publicly requested support from governments and aid agencies to respond to this crisis. In certain conflicts, ANSAs have also announced unilateral ceasefires due to the COVID-19. While some of these practices resemble those adopted by States, they have been conditioned by the specific nature, objectives and organizational capacities of each actor. Yet systemic information on which ANSA has taken which measures, and when, and how these measures evolve over time, has nonetheless remained scarce, even if this could serve humanitarian organizations and other decision-makers to adopt strategies for the protection of populations living in those territories.
Geneva Call has continued working towards this goal (see examples of its activities in Ukraine, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria) and the COVID-19 ANSAs’ Response Monitor aims at filling this gap. By making information on ANSAs’ measures from Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East available, the Monitor’s goal is to enhance the understanding of the situation taking place in ANSAs’ controlled areas in order to generate a more comprehensive response. Furthermore, this information may serve for further studies on ANSAs’ responses to international crises that also affect other contexts than their own.
It is hoped that the Geneva Call COVID-19 ANSAs’ Response Monitor will provide the international community with a clearer picture of the situation in ANSAs’ controlled areas and other conflict-affected areas. As the international support has largely focused on States, thus overlooking the populations living in territories controlled by ANSAs, this initiative aims to develop better humanitarian avenues to this global pandemic.
The measures that are publicly available are those adopted by ‘armed non-State actors’. This category encompasses organized armed entities that are not under the effective State control and lack legal capacity to become parties to relevant international treaties. In this context, ANSAs comprise various types of actors, such as de facto authorities, non- or partially internationally recognized States, armed opposition movements, movements of national liberation, paramilitary units, vigilante groups or self-defence militia, armed gangs and cartels. Formal statements and measures adopted by ANSAs as well as information found in reliable public sources are being collected and verified by Geneva Call. Yet the Response Monitor does not purport to be comprehensive or exhaustive. Geneva Call uses a variety of methods to collect response and to verify their accuracy, both at field and headquarter levels. Nonetheless, the information and materials offered by the Monitor may contain inaccuracies or errors and Geneva Call expressly excludes liability for any such inaccuracies or errors. Geneva Call welcomes suggestions for additions.