The Karen National Union (KNU) is a democratic political organisation, seeking equality and self-determination, human rights, democracy and equality in a Federal Union of Burma.  The KNU is the leading political organisation representing the aspirations of the Karen people. The KNU was founded in 1947. The main aim of the KNU is a genuine Federal Union based on equality and self-determination. Our mission is to establish a genuine Federal Union in cooperation with all the Karen, and all the ethnic peoples in the country for harmony, peace, stability and prosperity for all.

Our objectives are:
• To gain the rights of equality and self-determination for the Karen people;
• To establish the Karen state with a just and fair territory and self- determination;
• To establish the Federal Union based on democracy and self-determination;
• To gain basic rights, democracy and equality for the Karen people and all ethnic nationalities of Burma.

In our march towards our objectives we uphold the four principles laid down by our beloved leader, the late Saw Ba U Gyi, which are:

•For us surrender is out of the question.

•The recognition of the Karen State must be completed.

•We shall retain our arms.

•We shall decide our own political destiny.

We strongly believe in the Charter of the United Nations, its Declarations on Human Rights, the principle of Self-Determination and the Democratic Rights of Peoples – all causes for which we are fighting.

The Karen National Union leadership is a democratically elected body with individuals elected at a four-yearly congress. The KNU Congress is recognized as the KNU’s supreme legislative body and it is here that the President, Vice-President, General Secretary, Joint Secretaries 1 and 2 and the Central Executive Committee (CEC), the Central Standing Committees (CSC) and candidate members are elected. The seven KNU districts are responsible for electing their own District Chairmans and District Standing Committee leaders every two years. As the District Chairmans and Brigade Commanders are elected at local levels, they are automatically appointed as Central Standing Committee Members. The District Chairmans and Brigade Commanders together with nominated District Standing Committee Members attend the KNU congresses. In addition, elected Central Standing Committee members would provide the ministers for 14 Departments including Culture, Defence, Education, Forestry, Foreign Affairs, Health and Mining etc. (See departments). The CEC is made up of 11 members that are responsible for the day-to-day running of the KNU. The CSC meets annually, however when issues arise that either directly affect the KNU policies and/or the existence of the KNU organisation, the CEC will call a CSC Emergency Meeting.

Additionally the Foreign Affairs Department appoints KNU representatives. These representatives are based among the Karen communities who support KNU political goals and objectives in their respective countries.

The current Executive Committee members elected at the 15th Congress are:

1. General Saw Mutu Sae Poe                   – Chairman

2. P’doh Naw Zipporah Sein                       – Vice-chairperson

3. P’doh Saw Kwe Htoo Win                       – General Secretary

4. P’doh Saw Thawthi Bwe                         – Joint Secretary (1)

5. P’doh Mahn Mahn                                   – Joint Secretary (2)

6. P’doh Saw Roger Khin                            – Committee Member

7. P’doh Mahn Nyein Maung                       – Committee Member

8. P’doh Saw Tha Main Htun                       – Committee Member

9. P’doh Saw Tah Doh Moo                         – Committee Member

10. Brigadier General Saw Jonny                – General Officer Commanding

11. Brigadier General Saw Baw Kyaw Hei  – Vice Chief of Staff