Protecting civilians in armed conflict
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The Philippines: Launch of “Conflict has rules too”, an awareness campaign on the law of armed conflict

22nd October 2018 | Philippines - Humanitarian norms

“Conflict has rules too”: this is the core message of the multimedia campaign that Geneva Call is launching today in Cotabato City in the Philippines, in the presence of national, regional and local Filipino authorities, civil society organizations and the humanitarian community. 

From now on anybody has the opportunity to learn about humanitarian norms in armed conflict. Geneva Call developed a variety of tools which are accessible to all: the mobile application “Fighter not Killer” is available in Tagalog and can be downloaded from Google Play (insert the link). Users can test their knowledge of international humanitarian law and get informed themselves on fundamental principles such as the distinction between civilian and military objects, or the prohibition to recruit children in armed forces. Short animated video clips will also be shared on Geneva Call’s Facebook page.

Informative booklets and card games complement the smartphone application and short videos, allowing those who do not have a smartphone or internet connection to learn about their rights, and the obligations of fighters.

This communication campaign aims to reinforce the culture of humanity in Mindanao, and in the country. The campaign “Fighter Not Killer” was first launched in the Middle East in 2015 and has since been carried out in other countries impacted by armed violence, such as the DR Congo, Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Yemen, reaching more 20 million people to date.    .

Alongside this information campaign, Geneva Call directly dialogues with some of the armed actors in the Philippines on their policies and practices relating to international humanitarian law to promote respect for these norms. Geneva Call makes recommendations and provides international humanitarian law training to armed groups on their obligations to protect the rights and dignity of individuals even at times of war.

While all three main island groups of the Philippines – Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao – are affected by armed conflict, Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago in the South of the country have been most impacted over the past decades. Despite notable developments to peacefully resolve some of the major conflicts, armed confrontations continue with a significant humanitarian impact, especially in Mindanao. The decades-long conflicts are estimated to have killed more than 100 000 and displaced millions in Mindanao alone.