Training combatants on humanitarian norms
In May 2016, Geneva Call’s partner organization, the AFAQ Academy, started a new series of training sessions for four Syrian armed movements active in the north of Syria. The First Coastal Division (FCD), present in the Lattakia countryside, the Failaq al-Sham brigade, active throughout Syria, and the Levant Front and the Noureddine Zenki Brigade, both operating in Aleppo, will participate in these training sessions on humanitarian norms.
In a first training session for about 15 military and civilian members of the FCD, AFAQ presented and explained Geneva Call’s 15 key rules of behaviour for fighters in an armed conflict. During that training, a religious leader from this movement addressed the issue of Islamic sources of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Muslims’ obligations to abide by it. In addition, the AFAQ Academy has trained 77 members of the Levant Front in Aleppo on humanitarian norms, including commanders, officers or civilians.
Since starting to work with AFAQ in 2013, Geneva Call has provided several training of trainers sessions to strengthen AFAQ’s capacity and expertise on IHL. In 2015, AFAQ’s work focused on the brigades of the Free Syrian Army and the Islam Army, and it trained more than 300 members of armed non-State actors, both combatants and civilian members.
Free Syrian Lawyers Association
Geneva Call also carried out a training of trainers session on humanitarian norms in partnership with the Free Syrian Lawyers Association, for 18 lawyers, members of the Free Syrian Army from Idlib and A’zaz, doctors, teachers and members of local councils. Five of the 18 lawyers were women.
The Free Syrian Lawyers Association is an NGO which seeks to strengthen the rule of law in Syria and works closely with local councils and civil administrations to provide them with legal expertise. Its membership includes a large network of lawyers throughout Syria.
The training session was part of a larger project run by Dan Chuch Aid which aims to strengthen the capacity of Syrian lawyers, members of the Free Syrian Army and members of local councils in Syria to deal with the explosive remnants of war and strengthen their knowledge of IHL.
Following the training session, participants went back to Syria and conducted workshops with key people within their communities to share knowledge on IHL and the protection of civilians in armed conflict. Inspired by Geneva Call’s “Fighter Not Killer” campaign, trainees also developed their own material to be used in awareness raising sessions with their communities.