On 17 November 2014 to kick off Geneva Call’s Third Meeting of Signatories to the Deeds of Commitment, two armed groups pledge themselves to abide by humanitarian norms in armed conflict.
Representatives from Burma/Myanmar’s Pa-Oh National Liberation Organization (PNLO) and its armed wing the Pa-Oh National Liberation Army (PNLA) signed Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict, while representatives of the Kuki National Front (KNF) from northeast India signed Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment prohibiting sexual violence and against gender discrimination.
The PNLO/PNLA was created in 2009 as a combined force of the Pa-Oh People’s Liberation Organization (PPLO) and a splinter group of the Shan State Nationalities People’s Liberation Organization (SNPLO). It has been in a ceasefire with the Government of Myanmar since August 2012. By signing the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict, the PNLO pledges, amongst other things, not to allow children under 18 to be recruited or used in hostilities and to strive to ensure children in areas where they exercise authority receive the aid and care they require.
The KNF, formed in 1987, started the Kuki armed struggle for self-determination in Manipur, India. Like several other armed Kuki groups, they currently have a Suspension of Operations Agreement with the Government of India. In a country where sexual violence has often been reported, the KNF affirms its determination to strictly prohibit any form of sexual violence, and to involve women in decision-making and in the on-going peace process.
Khun Myint Tun, Chairman of the PNLO said “to protect the children is to protect the future of the Pa-Oh people.”
“Signing the deed of commitment on sexual violence would not be an exposure of our weaknesses,” said Aaron Kipgen, General Secretary of the KNF, “but rather it is a commitment to continue KNF’s armed movement for the Kukis with honour, dignity and respect for women. Geneva Call has taught us how to start an honourable and dignified arm struggle,” the General Secretary concluded.
These two new signatures bring the number of signatories to 13 armed non-State actors having signed Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict, and to 12 having signed Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment prohibiting sexual violence and against gender discrimination.