Elisabeth Decrey Warner started Geneva Call in 1998 as an independent, humanitarian NGO to complement the work of the Ottawa Treaty to ban landmines. The purpose of Geneva Call is to engage armed non-state actors to respect and to adhere to humanitarian norms, starting with the ban on anti-personnel mines. To date, 27 groups in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia have signed the Deed of Commitment which is registered in the Republic and Canton of Geneva, Switzerland.
Why is a 50-year-old mother of six children (four adopted) climbing up a mountain in Iraqi Kurdistan all by herself to meet rebel leaders? What is the former president of the Geneva Parliament doing in a high security prison in Colombia eating fried grasshoppers with the imprisoned leader of the National Liberation Army (ELN)? In 1995, Elisabeth Decrey Warner accepted to replace a friend in the Swiss campaign against mines for two months – and ten years later she is the founder and executive president of Geneva Call. Driven by a sense of revulsion at the injustices in the world and strongly involved in associations dealing with peace and disarmament as an active politician, she has put together a vibrant NGO with dedicated collaborators that reaches throughout the world where landmines are used by non-state actors. Seeing a road demined with safe access for farmers and children drives her to try to come to terms with groups often considered terrorists by government officials. Her strong convictions about safety and physical handicaps, coming from her background as a physiotherapist, allow her to successfully negotiate with armed leaders from the Southern Sudan to the Philippines. Her vision of a mine-free world is not one of perpetual peace, but one in which humanitarian norms are respected and innocent non-combatants allowed the freedom and liberty she enjoyed as a child roaming freely in the forests of her mountains of Valais.