The armed non-State actor Barisan Revolusi Nasional Melayu Patani (BRN), active in southern Thailand, adopts a unilateral declaration on the protection of children. Geneva Call has been engaging BRN for several years on humanitarian issues. Recently, dialogue has focused on planning for the concrete implementation of the Deed of Commitment for the Protection of Children from the Effects of Armed Conflict.
Representatives of the military and political councils of BRN signed the Deed of Commitment, with counter-signatures by Alain Délétroz, General Director of Geneva Call, and Michèle Righetti, Chancellor of the Republic and Canton of Geneva. The ceremony, chaired by Jean Luc Chopard, Chief of Protocol of the Republic and Canton of Geneva, was held on 19 February 2020 (the documents were prepared in English and Malay on 15 January 2020).
The Government of the Republic and Canton of Geneva reiterated its support for the efforts of Geneva Call to protect children in armed conflict and was pleased to witness and serve as guardian for this commitment. Mr. Chopard recalled BRN is now the twenty-eighth armed non-State actor that has pledged to protect children by undertaking this Deed and congratulated BRN for their endeavours to protect children and education.
The BRN representative acknowledged that they undertook to sign the Deed of Commitment as a result of hard work between BRN and Geneva Call throughout the past years. He stressed that BRN is pleased and honored that the continuous humanitarian engagement between their movement and Geneva Call for greater protection of children reached a peak point with their adoption of this significant commitment. They are looking forward to strengthening their efforts to align their policies and practices with international norms to protect children by systematically carrying out their corresponding implementation plan with the technical advice of Geneva Call.
Mr. Délétroz welcomed this commitment by BRN, saying, “This is a memorable step towards increasing ownership over international norms for the protection communities. Geneva Call is convinced that BRN will exert efforts towards sparing communities from the harmful effects of violence, beginning with the increased protection of children and education across Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat provinces, as well as parts of the neighbouring Songkhla province.” This also marks a new phase in the ongoing humanitarian engagement between BRN and Geneva Call, and launches a joint monitoring process to support BRN in adhering to policies that promote the protection of children and education.
This unilateral commitment opens a door to sustained and strategic protection of children in Thailand and BRN remains engaged in dialogue with Geneva Call on other international norms for the protection of communities.
BRN is an armed non-State actor (ANSA) operating in Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat provinces, as well as parts of the neighbouring Songkhla province in Thailand. Separately, official talks between the Thai government and BRN were relaunched with an announcement of the dialogue process in January, 2020.
The Deed of Commitment is a formal commitment that ANSAs sign to ensure respect for international norms to protect communities. The signature of this commitment does not give any political or legal recognition to these actors. Geneva Call respects the principles of neutrality and impartiality in its work, and strictly limits itself to increase compliance with international norms by armed non-State actors in order to ensure a greater respect for communities in situations of violence.