Democratic Republic of Congo: a dialogue on the protection of civilians has started with two major armed movements
30 May 2015
Following the establishment of first contacts last February, Geneva Call recently conducted a field visit to two major national and foreign armed movements operating in the Masisi and Walikale territories of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Both armed movements can muster several hundred combatants, and they conduct regular military operations in the area.
Despite dangerous security conditions and difficult logistics, Geneva Call’s representatives met with these ANSAs’ highest representatives. They presented the organization to political leaders, military commanders and legal advisers and started a dialogue on the protection of civilians in times of conflict.
Discussions focused on humanitarian issues and the respect of international humanitarian law (IHL) by the armed movements. While the groups’ leaders have a basic knowledge of IHL, they clearly expressed their need to better understand its implementation framework and reporting mechanisms, such the United Nations reports on the protection of children in armed conflict. They also showed great interest in getting technical support from Geneva Call on the dissemination of knowledge of IHL among their rank-and-file and how to implement it.
Both armed movements agreed to work closely with Geneva Call on their internal procedures and policies for ensuring that they are compliant with IHL. They also requested to be trained on specific issues, such as the treatment of prisoners and impartial assistance to their constituencies. More meetings are planned for the coming few months.