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General Secretary Kwe Htoo Win of the Karen National Union signing Geneva Call's Deeds of Commitment. © Geneva Call

 

Burma/Myanmar: KNU/KNLA commits to the protection of children and the prohibition of conflict-related sexual and gender-based violence 

Geneva, 21 July 2013

On 21 July 2013, the Karen National Union and its armed wing the Karen National Liberation Army (KNU/KNLA), formally signed Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment prohibiting sexual violence and gender discrimination, and its Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict.

 
The signing ceremony, in Pa’an, the capital of Karen/Kayin State, gathered representatives of the senior leadership of the KNU/KNLA, government officials, as well as representatives of the diplomatic community, NGOs, civil society organizations and UN agencies.
 
By signing these two Deeds of Commitment, the KNU/KNLA is formalizing its already long-standing commitment to the protection of civilians and reaffirming its willingness to collaborate with the international humanitarian community.
 
In March 2007, then KNU President Ba Thin Sein signed a declaration prohibiting the use and recruitment of children. In 2010, the KNU/KNLA participated in a Geneva Call workshop on improving the protection of women and girls during armed conflict. The KNU/KNLA started to develop internal rules on the prohibition of sexual violence as a result. The signature today of the two Deeds of Commitment concretizes these undertakings.
 
'We the KNU are honoured to sign these Deeds of Commitment and look forward to co-operating with Geneva Call and other organizations to both ensure that children enjoy the protection and assistance that they deserve and ensure the prohibition of sexual violence and the elimination of gender discrimination' said Kwe Htoo Win, General Secretary of the KNU.
 
For Geneva Call, this signing comes at an important time within the peace process, and maintains the momentum to promote the protection of civilians. Geneva Call hopes that other groups in the country will be inspired to follow suit, and that such initiatives will serve to further build confidence between all parties working towards peace.
 
The Government of the Republic and Canton of Geneva serves as the custodian of the Deeds of Commitment. Geneva Call will support the KNU/KNLA in the implementation of its commitments and monitor its compliance in collaboration with international partners, civil society and the local communities themselves.
 
In 2012, two other armed non-State actors from Burma/Myanmar signed the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict, the Karenni National Progressive Party/Karenni Army, and the New Mon State Party/Mon National Liberation Army.
 
 
For further information
Geneva Call
Katherine Kramer, Programme Director
kkramer@genevacall.org

Pictures of the signature can be downloaded here.

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