Deed of Commitment
The Deed of Commitment is an innovative mechanism that allows armed non-State actors (ANSAs) to pledge to respect specific humanitarian norms and be held publically accountable for their commitments. ANSAs cannot become parties to relevant international treaties, and are generally precluded from participating in norm-making processes. Consequently, ANSAs may not feel bound to abide by rules that they have neither put forward nor formally adhered to. Sometimes they are simply not aware of their obligations under international humanitarian law.
The Deed of Commitment process gives ANSAs the opportunity to formally express their agreement to abide by humanitarian norms and take ownership of these rules. To date, Geneva Call has developed three such documents:
- Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Anti-Personnel Mines and for Cooperation in Mine Action launched in 2000;
- Deed of Commitment for the Protection of Children from the Effects of Armed Conflict, launched in 2010;
- Deed of Commitment for the Prohibition of Sexual Violence in Situations of Armed Conflict and towards the Elimination of Gender Discrimination, launched in 2012.
The three Deeds of Commitment mirror international standards. The Deeds of Commitment are signed by the ANSA leadership and countersigned by Geneva Call and the Government of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, usually at a ceremony in the Alabama Room in Geneva’s City Hall, where the first Geneva Convention was adopted in 1864. The signed documents are deposited with the Canton of Geneva, which serves as custodian of the Deeds of Commitment.
Signatory ANSAs agree to take the necessary measures to enforce their commitment, and to allow and cooperate in the verification of their compliance by Geneva Call. They also recognize the commitment as a first step towards a wider acceptance of humanitarian norms. After a signature, Geneva Call supports and monitors the implementation of the signed Deeds.
To date, 49 ANSAs have signed the Deed of Commitment banning AP mines, 23 have signed the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict, and 20 have signed the Deed of Commitment prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination.
By signing the Deed of Commitment banning AP mines, ANSAs agree, inter alia, to:
- prohibit under any circumstance the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of AP mines
- undertake and cooperate in stockpile destruction; mine clearance; victim assistance; mine awareness; and various other forms of mine action, in cooperation with specialized organizations
By signing the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict, ANSAs agree, inter alia, to:
- prohibit the use of children in hostilities
- ensure that children are not recruited into, or forcibly associated with, armed forces
- release or disassociate children in safety and security
- protect children from the effects of military operations
- do their best to provide children with the aid and care they need, in cooperation with specialized child protection agencies
By signing the Deed of Commitment prohibiting sexual violence and against gender discrimination, ANSAs agree, inter alia, to:
- prohibit all forms of sexual violence;
- prevent and sanction acts of sexual violence
- provide victims with access to the assistance and care they need
- ensure confidentiality and protection of victims of sexual violence
- eliminate discriminatory policies and practices against women or men
- ensure greater participation of women in decision-making processes