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SPLM-N becomes first African non-state body to commit to child protection

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June 30, 2015 (GENEVA) - The Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM - N) on Tuesday signed the Geneva Call’s Deed of Commitment for the Protection of Children (DCPC) and become the first African armed non-State actor (ANSA) to commit to child protection.

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SPLM-N SG Yasir Arman signs the Deed of Commitment protecting children in armed conflict in Geneva on 30 June 2015 (Photo Geneva Call)

The Commitment is a mechanism developed by the Geneva Call, allowing the signatories from the rebel groups that cannot become parties to international treaties, to agree to respect a set of norms related to child protection and provide them with the aid and care they require.

In a ceremony held at the headquarters of the Swiss group in Geneva, the text was signed by the SPLM-N secretary-general Yasir Arman and its head of political training, Orwa Hamdan Zaid and the Geneva Call’s executive president, Elisabeth Decrey Warner.

In line with the signed document, the SPLM-N "is committed to prohibit the use of children in hostilities, ensure that children are not recruited into or forcibly associated with armed forces, release or disassociate children in safety and security, protect children from the effects of military operations, and do their best to provide children with the aid and care they need, in cooperation with specialized child protection agencies," says a statement released after the Geneva Call.

The signing comes after several meetings between the two sides to discuss ways to implement the Commitment. The SPLM-N chairman and his person were in Geneva two weeks ago to finalize the text with the non-governmental group.

In his speech, Arman reiterated the SPLM-N commitment to observe human rights and protect children and women rights particularly, stressing they are part of the movement’ goals and objectives in a democratic Sudan.

"In the past two year we have established a commission of children, women and civilians, we have a special court for the protection of human rights, and also we have engaged in developing our basic rules and documents related to the advancement of human rights," he said.

The SPLM-N secretary general revealed they would destroy soon their stocks of land-mines.

He was referring to an agreement they signed with the Swiss based group in August 2013 where the rebel group committed themselves to ban the use of anti-personnel land-mines; which it claimed to have captured during military operations.

FIRST AFRICAN GROUP

From her side, Warner in her speech congratulated the SPLM-N for the committing itself to protect children and stressed that they are the first African armed movement to sign the DCPC.

"You are the first Africa movement in Africa to sign the Deed of Commitment for the Protection of Children, so you can be proud of that. But this also means you will be under scrutiny of many people," she said.

The president of Geneva Call said she wrote to the Special Representative of the UN secretary-general for children and armed conflict Leila Zerrougui, UNICEF and other concerned agencies to inform them about the SPLM-N’s commitment.

She also expressed the readiness of her organization to provide the rebel group with the needed support to implement the DCPC, including assistance and training.

In a report to the UN Security Council, the UN chief accused all armed actors active in Sudan including the SPLM-N of using and recruiting children. But Armed dismissed the accusation during the meeting.

Since 2000, Geneva Call has been engaging armed non-state actors to seek their compliance with international humanitarian norms.

The deeds of commitment are a set of documents that mirror international treaties and allow armed non-state actors to declare their adherence to humanitarian standards, as these actors cannot sign international treaties.

(ST)

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