What we do

Geneva Call works in situations of armed conflict or armed violence where there are one or more armed non-State actors (ANSAs) fighting government armed forces or other ANSAs, whose practices may have a direct negative impact on the protection of civilians. Geneva Call prioritizes engagements in accordance with the sensitivity of each conflict and conducts a needs analysis for each ANSA. We select the ANSAs we engage with based on which of them we believe has the greatest potential to create a positive humanitarian impact on the protection of civilians. Geneva Call focuses on a number of different thematic areas, as explained below, and uses a wide range of targeted awareness-raising and training tools in its engagement with ANSAs and communities. The objective of this humanitarian engagement is to encourage ANSAs to adapt their policies and practices to bring them into line with international humanitarian law, to ultimately better protect civilians from the negative effects of armed conflict.

Child protection

Child protection


Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of armed conflict. They may be killed, maimed, abducted, raped, recruited and used in hostilities. Their education may be interrupted or prevented from commencing. Of the parties that are listed as perpetrators of grave violations against children in the last report of the UN Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, most are ANSAs. Many children involved in armed conflict are to be found among the ranks of ANSA forces. Schools have also been targeted or used for military purposes by ANSAs. Geneva Call has been working on the protection of children and education in armed conflict since 2010. To date, 26 ANSAs have signed the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict and have taken implementing measures such as the demobilization of child soldiers. Other ANSAs have undertaken similar pledges.

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Cultural heritage

Cultural heritage


In recent years, cultural heritage has increasingly become the direct target of systematic and deliberate attacks, notably on the part of ANSAs. Examples include the destruction of 14 ancient mausoleums in the World Heritage town of Timbuktu in Mali. In addition, changes in the dynamics of warfare have increasingly transformed urban areas into battlegrounds. As a result, historical monuments, religious buildings and other cultural sites have suffered important collateral damage. Cultural heritage has been further affected by the illegal excavation of archaeological sites, the widespread looting of sites and museums, and the illicit trafficking of cultural objects. As part of its 2017-2019 strategy, Geneva Call has recently started to engage ANSAs on the protection of cultural heritage in armed conflict.

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Displacement

Displacement


According to UNHCR, by the end of 2018 an unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world were forced from their homes by armed conflict, persecution or violence. Among them are 28.5 million refugees and asylum-seekers and 40 million internally displaced persons (IDP). Direct attacks and ill-treatment, loss of property, sexual violence and restricted access to health care and other essential services are among the common threats to displaced persons. ANSAs are present in most countries where there are high levels of internal displacement. Geneva Call has started to engage ANSAs on displacement issues in 2018.

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Gender

Gender


Sexual violence and rape in particular are pervasive in many armed conflicts. Conflict situations create a climate where law and order are disrupted and a sense of impunity may prevail among armed actors. Perpetrators include members of both government forces and ANSAs and both men and women are victims of sexual violence in times of armed conflict. Armed conflict also tends to exacerbate discriminatory practices between men and women, such as access to education, health or other services. Geneva Call has been working on gender and sexual violence since 2004. The Deed of Commitment prohibiting sexual violence and against gender discrimination was launched in 2012 and to date, 24 ANSAs have signed it and have taken measures to implement its provisions.

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Humanitarian norms

Humanitarian norms


Most armed conflicts involve armed non-State actors (ANSAs), either fighting government forces or other ANSAs. Widespread international humanitarian law (IHL) violations occur during conflicts. They include the deliberate attacks on civilians or civilian facilities, such as schools and hospitals; sexual violence; unlawful recruitment and use of children in hostilities; the indiscriminate use of explosive weapons; the forced displacement of civilians; looting; and attacks on humanitarian workers. Many violations—though by no means all of them—are committed by ANSAs. Geneva Call has been engaging and training ANSAs on international humanitarian norms since 2012. A number of ANSAs have undertaken to respect humanitarian norms and have taken measures to implement these commitments.

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Landmine ban

Landmine ban


Anti-personnel (AP) mines maim and kill civilians and combatants indiscriminately, even after hostilities have ended. Hundreds of thousands of people, mainly civilians, have become victims of AP mines and other explosive remnants of war (ERW). In addition to the human cost, AP mines and ERW hinders access to services, the delivery of humanitarian relief, the return of displaced people and economic development. According to the Landmine Monitor, ANSAs are the main users of AP mines and improvised explosive devices in today's armed conflicts. Geneva Call has been working on humanitarian mine action since its inception in 2000. To date, 42 ANSAs have signed the Deed of Commitment banning AP mines and have taken measures to implement them such as stockpile destruction. Other ANSAs have undertaken similar pledges while in some countries, the commitment made by ANSAs was instrumental in the accession of the concerned State to the AP Mine Ban Convention. Geneva Call has also recently begun to work to strengthen the protection of civilians from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas (EWIPA).

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Medical care

Medical care


Attacks on health care facilities, personnel and medical transports have increased significantly in conflict zones in recent years. Besides their immediate impact, such attacks also paralyse the delivery of emergency services and disrupt access to health care for the wider civilian population and wounded fighters. They may also lead to health care staff leaving conflict areas, thus further exacerbating the trend. ANSAs are believed to be responsible for about a third of all such incidents of violence worldwide. As part of its 2017-2019 strategy, Geneva Call has recently started to engage ANSAs on the protection of healthcare in armed conflict. In 2018 it launched a Deed of Commitment on this thematic.

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