Protecting civilians in armed conflict
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Geneva Call advocates for a dialogue with armed groups on humanitarian issues at the Munich Security Conference

20th March 2017 | Child protection - Humanitarian norms

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Since the beginning of 2017, Geneva Call has been invited to participate in four international conferences to share its expertise in engaging armed non-State actors on the protection of civilian populations. The need of this kind of humanitarian engagement is now internationally recognized and considered as being necessary and effective.

On 17 February, Elisabeth Decrey Warner, Geneva Call’s President, was invited to participate in a panel co-organized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Chatham House at the Munich Security Conference.

The participants reflected on how the world might address the outbreak of an infectious disease with pandemic potential in conflict areas. Geneva Call advocated for a sustained dialogue with armed non-State actors on health issues as some of them control large areas in which epidemics can spread.

On 21 February, Hichem Khadhraoui, Geneva Call’s Director of Operations, took part in the Conference on Human Rights Approach to Conflict Situations in the Arab Region in Doha, Qatar. He was a guest speaker at a round table organized by Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC) around the theme of children in armed conflict, where he presented Geneva Call’s experience in engaging armed non-State actors on the protection of children and education.

He urged all parties to armed conflict, including armed non-State actors, to protect education and children in armed conflict.

In January, Pascal Bongard, Geneva Call’s Head of the Policy and Legal Unit, was invited as a panelist at a Humanitarian Liaison Working Group (HLWG) debate on how to ensure the respect of International Humanitarian Law. Chaired by the European Union, the HLWG is a group of Member States, major donors, UN agencies, the Red Cross Movement, and INGOs who meet on a regular basis in Geneva.

Geneva Call insisted on the importance of the promotion of International Humanitarian Law in conflict situations as a prevention measure, as humanitarian assistance is often considered a priority at the expense of protection of civilians.