She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “For successful commitment, confident enthusiasm overcomes a lack of time and money”.
She says also: “I let my convictions speak for me, but that also means that when a negotiation breaks down I am hurt because it means my convictions could not overcome the problem. To be engaged with the heart means that setbacks are also felt with the heart”.
Elisabeth Reusse-Decrey – Switzerland
She works for Geneva Call.
Elisabeth Reusse-Decrey started Geneva Call in 1998 as an independent, humanitarian non-governmental organization (NGO) to complement the work of the Ottawa Treaty to ban landmines by States. At that time, she was a member of the Geneva Parliament (chosen to be its President in 2000-2001) who was most active in disarmament and peace issues.
In 1995, she became involved in the Swiss Campaign Against Mines and was sensitized to the human destruction caused by mines from her vantage point as a professional physiotherapist.
The purpose of Geneva Call is to engage armed non-state actors (NSAs) to renounce the use of landmines and to respect humanitarian norms. Since the Ottawa Treaty only deals with States, she developed a Deed of Commitment that NSAs can sign to show their willingness to destroy stockpiles and renounce using mines.
To date (fall 2005), 27 groups in Africa, the Middle East and Asia have voluntarily signed the Deed which is registered with the Republic and Canton of Geneva, Switzerland. Several signings have taken place in the historic Alabama Room of the City Hall of Geneva.
Driven by a strong sense of justice which imbues her with conviction as well as patience, she has curtailed her activities as a physiotherapist and stopped her political career after 12 years in Parliament to devote herself fully to negotiating with armed groups throughout the world.
Supported by Governments, particularly the Swiss, and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) such as the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) and the European Union, Geneva Call has a unique position in dealing with armed groups. Its Deed has become an example for IGOs in dealing with groups and is a source of research and policy analysis by those searching for ways to use “soft law” in holding armed groups responsible for their actions.
Her strength is her conviction that mines are destructive for all elements in society and are counter productive to those who use them. Geneva Call has become a vibrant NGO that is recognized by the international community for its independence and neutrality.
As Geneva Call continues to grow with dedicated collaborators, she has been able to juggle fundraising, negotiating with armed groups, and looking after six children and a grandchild. “My children have been an enormous support throughout all I have done,” she recognizes. “In addition, I work better under stress and with deadlines.”
Geneva Call’s success has led researchers to look for ways to use a similar Deed for other humanitarian norms. As Elisabeth modestly notes, “I live my experiences and do not give lessons to others. The Deed seemed to be a solution to how to get NSAs to stop using mines. It required some creativity that has had some success. Geneva Call is exploring other norms that the armed groups might sign on to.” Negotiations about mine clearance have also demonstrated that a process of confidence-building on one issue can be a stepping stone to peace talks in general. (1000PeaceWomen).
Involvement of Armed Non-State Actors in the Landmine Problem and Recommendations for their Positive Contribution to a Landmine Ban and Mine Action.
In December 1997, the Ottawa Convention or Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) was signed by 144 states. As with other international treaties and conventions, the MBT can only be acceded to by states. It does not contain any provisions dealing with armed non-state actors, nor does it provide them with the opportunity to express their commitment to the ban. Seeking to complement the state-centric process, Geneva Call launched a new tool to engage armed groups in a landmine ban: the Deed of Commitment. (full text).
Prohibition of anti-personnel mines, Persuading rebel armed groups to pledge their support.
During its first annual meeting, the Executive Council of OMCT has registered the resignation of Elisabeth Reusse-Decrey from her position as President, to which she had been elected in 2001. As she explained to the members of the Executive Council, Elisabeth Reusse-Decrey intends to continue her collaboration with OMCT. (full text).
Elisabeth Reusse-Decrey initia l’Appel de Genève en 1998 en tant qu’ONG indépendante et humanitaire pour compléter le travail du Traité d’Ottawa et bannir les mines antipersonnel. Le but de l’Appel de Genève est d’engager les acteurs armés non-étatiques à respecter et à adhérer aux normes humanitaires, à commencer par l’interdiction des mines antipersonnel. A ce jour, vingt-sept groupes en Afrique, au Moyen Orient et en Asie ont signé l’Acte d’engagement qui est enregistré auprès de la République et Canton de Genève en Suisse. (voir tout le texte).
Elisabeth Reusse-Decrey, Appel de Genève: ”Appeler les groupes armés actifs dans le monde entier à signer une déclaration unilatérale les engageant à adhérer à une interdiction totale des mines antipersonnel”. (full text).