Protecting civilians in armed conflict
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Interview with Elisabeth Decrey Warner, Executive President of Geneva Call

29th August 2017 |

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Elisabeth Decrey Warner has headed Geneva Call since she co-founded it back in 1998. From its status of humanitarian “UFO”, she went on to create an organization renowned in its domain. It is now active in fifteen countries and employs over 40 people.

You’re soon going to change your role within Geneva Call. What will you be doing?

I’ll be leaving my role as executive president of the organization, i.e. the general management, to become a member of the Foundation’s Board. I remain deeply attached to Geneva Call and will be just as involved in the life of the organization. The wonderful adventure of working at Geneva Call is something I won’t forget.

What led you to take this decision?

I co-founded Geneva Call almost twenty years ago and have always been at the helm. I think that it’s healthy after such a long time to make room for new ideas, new perspectives and new approaches. There comes a moment when it’s right to step back. But you all know me… I will continue to get involved in just causes and will help in any way and any place I can make a difference.

How do you feel about this change?

I must admit it was a difficult decision to take – I didn’t have to leave – but I wanted to give Geneva Call the best possible chance. And although I’m leaving, I hope I have contributed to Geneva Call’s success story. I’ve had some wonderful, unforgettable experiences, albeit challenging at times. Today, the organization is doing very well. It now has more than forty highly motivated employees, its annual budget increased by 45% last year and our operational regions and thematic areas have also increased. But above all, the cause that Geneva Call promotes, i.e. the commitment of armed actors to better protect civilians, is now a widely accepted international principle, which was not the case when we first started.

How do you see Geneva Call’s future?

Geneva Call occupies a unique niche position in the world and must continue to develop. It won’t always be easy – it never was – but the organization must consistently continue to innovate while remaining pragmatic. I’ve always said – and I’ll say it again – you need to look at what is happening in the field and the nature of the conflict to find practical, realistic solutions to support civilians who ultimately are paying the price of armed conflict today.