Amended NMSP constitution to include child rights

November 12, 2012

HURFOM: As a recent signatory of Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) released a statement pledging to amend their constitution to include the protection of child rights in armed conflict. On November 5, an NMSP committee met with Mr. Chris Rush, Geneva Call’s Senior Programme Officer for Asia, to negotiate the inclusion of child rights protections in Mon law. Members of the NMSP and its judiciary plan to jointly draft the amendments prior to the party’s next big conference in 2015.

The head of NMSP’s Foreign Affairs Department, Nai Hong Sa Boung Khine, said, “Although it’s easy to say [that we uphold child rights], we need to clearly explain [the commitment] to each NMSP member and the armed wing of the party, the MNLA, to make them obey it as the law. We also need to publish a handbook in Burmese so that they are thoroughly informed. We have to share the handbook with and explain the situation to village headmen and members of CBOs [community-based organizations] in our area to ensure that they watch for people who are breaking the rules. [That way,] we can find out about a situation [of abuse] if our people make a mistake. We will provide a workshop to our people and can get help from Geneva Call with suggestions and materials. When Geneva Call asks to undertake both internal and external monitoring, we have to allow them. This applies to third party monitoring groups as well. We believe that the monitoring process can help us be transparent in our child rights implementations.”

Geneva Call, a humanitarian organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, established its “Deed of Commitment for the protection of children from the effects of armed conflicts” as part of their efforts to improve armed non-state actors’ adherence to international humanitarian and human rights laws. Signatories agree to 16 provisions that enshrine a ban on the recruitment of children in armed forces, child protection from the dangers of military action, and respect for human dignity and international norms surrounding child rights.

Two armed ethnic resistance groups, the New Mon State Party (NMSP) and the Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), signed Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment on August 2.

According to their 2011 report, Geneva Call discussed anti-personnel mines, the use of children in armed conflict, and the prevention of sexual violence with nine of Burma’s armed non-state actors last year, namely the NMSP, KNPP, the Karen National Union (KNU), Palaung State Liberation Front (PSLF), Chin National Front (CNF), Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), Pa-O National Liberation Organization (PNLO), Shan State Army–South (SSA-S), and Kachin Independence Organization (KIO).

The NMSP’s decision to reinforce their obligation as a signatory of the Deed of Commitment is a welcome indication of their support for child rights. The Human Rights Foundation of Monland (HURFOM) congratulates the NMSP for accepting third party monitoring and for formalizing their devotion to children in conflict-affected areas.

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