The Karen National Union (KNU) has agreed to sign two ‘Deed of Commitment‘, on the protection of children and women, with the Switzerland based Geneva Call in Hpa-an on July 21.
Geneva Call is a humanitarian organization dedicated to engaging armed non-State actors (NSAs) towards compliance with the norms of international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights law (IHRL).
Padoh Saw Aung Win Shwe, head of the KNU foreign affair department said that the two ‘Deed of Commitment‘, includes the protection of children affected by armed conflict, prohibiting the use of sexual violence in armed conflict and ending gender based discrimination.
Speaking to Karen News, Padoh Saw Aung Win Shwe said.
“The KNU is signing an agreement not to use child soldiers and to protect women and children.”
KNU sources said that its delegation led by Padoh Saw Aung Win Shwe, head of its foreign affairs department, KNU general secretary Padoh Saw KweHtoo Win and the KNU’s Chief-of-Staff, General Johnny, left for Hpa-an this morning – July 20th.
Padoh Saw Aung Win Shwe added that in past years, the KNU leaders tried to eliminate the use of child soldiers in the KNU’s armed wing, the Karen National Liberation Army, and by signing this agreement it would show the KNU’s commitment to ridding its army of child soldiers.
Padoh Saw Aung Win Shwe said that KNU policy since 2003 has been that there was not to use child soldiers in its army. Contrary to the KNU’s official position, Padoh Saw Aung Win Shwe agreed that the international community, non-government organizations and the media have all reported that the KNU was still using child soldiers in their organizations.
Padoh Saw Aung Win Shwe said that by signing Geneva Call’s ‘Deed of commitment’, should be proof to the international community that the KNU is serious and completely committed to the protection of women and children.
KNU sources said that its general secretary, Padoh Saw Kwe Htoo Win would lead the signing of the documents and that senior officials from Geneva Call will attend the signing in Hpa-an. U Zaw Min, the Minister of Karen State, U Aung Min, the deputy chairman of the Union Peacemaking Working Committee and other related government officials have been invited to the signing. The KNU has invited other ethnic organizations and civil society groups to attend the signing.