Protecting civilians in armed conflict

Niger

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Niger1

The Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ), a predominantly Tuareg ethnic group, began an armed insurgency against the Government in 2007, calling for more autonomy and a greater share of wealth for the northern regions.

Along with two splinter factions, the MNJ agreed to a ceasefire in 2009 brokered by Libya.

Anti-vehicle (AV) mines were used by both parties to the conflict, causing substantial suffering to civilians, who make up half of the 300-plus mine victims and whose freedom of movement and livelihood activities have been hampered as a result. Though there was no confirmed use of anti-personnel (AP) mines, the Niger army collected thousands of AP mines through disarmament schemes during and after the conflict. Alleged violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) were also reported during the conflict including extra-judicial killings.

Activities 

Geneva Call engaged the MNJ – and its splinter factions – on the AP mine ban from 2007 through to the 2009 ceasefire. Concerned by the disproportionate effects of AV mine use, particularly on civilian populations, Geneva Call also advocated compliance with international norms regulating the use of these weapons.

The North was still affected by AV mines after the end of the armed conflict, so Geneva Call’s attention turned to facilitating cooperation in demining between the Government and the former rebels in the post-conflict period.

Banning AP mines

While the MNJ had an internal policy in place regulating landmine use, its commanders were not aware of international standards. Through regular meetings and briefings, Geneva Call worked to improve MNJ practice. This included obligations to keep records of the locations of AV mines, being aware of the rules of proportionality and taking precautions to avoid civilian casualties.

Geneva Call also engaged the local media to disseminate international norms on AP and AV mines in order to raise the awareness of civilians of risks in areas where the MNJ was operating.

Geneva Call brought together Government authorities, former rebel commanders and international mine action bodies at a workshop in Agadez in October 2011. Discussions centred on how to improve information sharing about mined areas and cooperation in demining. It was the very first time the two former belligerents had met to discuss such issues. The workshop’s key recommendations were implemented in 2012. These notably included the successful training and integration of former MNJ combatants, who had laid mines during the conflict, into Government demining teams alongside military engineers who had been active in the Niger armed forces during the same period. 50 former combatants were recruited as community liaison officers to contribute to the identification of hazardous areas while 15 others have been taking part in mine clearance operations. Since demining operations began, more than 800km of roads have been demined.

Main achievements

  • Geneva Call raised awareness and understanding of the AP mine ban such that the MNJ and splinter factions did not use AP mines during the 2007-2009 conflict. Likewise the armed non-State actors (ANSAs) took measures to mitigate the potential impact of AV mine use on civilians.
  • Geneva Call’s work has been instrumental in increasing cooperation between the Government and former rebels – who have also participated in demining activities – to ensure a northern Niger free of mines.

 

In Niger, Geneva Call works or has worked with the following armed non-State actors:

Organization Active Thematic areas
Landmine ban Child protection Gender issues Humanitarian norms
Mouvement des Nigériens pour la Justice (MNJ) No
Click on the ticks to display the signed Deeds of Commitment
 

The ANSA is being engaged by Geneva Call on this thematic area

 

The ANSA was engaged by Geneva Call on this thematic area

 

The ANSA has signed the Deed of Commitment on this thematic area

 

Related news

 
 

Theirwords.org

  • Theirwords.org is a directory of armed non-State actors commitments. Check out the documents concerning this country on theirwords.org.
 
 

Related Medias

 
 

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