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Statement by the Chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict on the visit to Myanmar
Statement by the Chair of the Security Council Working Group
on Children and Armed Conflict,
H.E. Ms. Sylvie Lucas, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations
on the visit of the Working Group to Myanmar
(30 November – 4 December, 2013)
Upon the invitation of the Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict paid a visit to Myanmar from 30 November to 4 December 2013. The delegation was composed of the following 8 Council Members: Azerbaijan, Australia, France, Guatemala, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Luxembourg as the Chair of the Working Group.
During the very constructive visit, the delegation met with Government Ministers, Members of Parliament, United Nations officials, civil society representatives and affected children themselves as well as with the international and donor community. The delegation was briefed on the Government’s implementation of the action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in the Tatmadaw, including the Integrated Border Guard Forces, signed in 2012, and visited the Tatmadaw Recruitment Unit Number One.
Established pursuant to Security Council resolution 1612 (2005), the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict has a mandate to review reports of the UN Secretary-General and other pertinent information concerning grave violations against children in armed conflict around the world, and to make recommendations to Governments and other parties to armed conflict with regard to such violations.
In line with its mandate, the Security Council Working Group undertook this visit to Myanmar with the following objectives:
- Review progress in the implementation of the action plan which was signed on 27 June 2012 by the Government and the UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting and witnessed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
- Assess remaining challenges and issues for monitoring and reporting under Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) and subsequent resolutions.
- Interact with the concerned Ministries and other Government officials, child protection actors, NGOs, and children and obtain first-hand knowledge of the situation of children affected by conflict in Myanmar, with special attention to Tatmadaw’s compliance efforts and remaining challenges, including with regard to non-state actors listed in the Secretary-General’s annual report.
- Assess challenges and opportunities for the re-integration of children associated with armed forces and groups in Myanmar.
The delegation was encouraged by the strong commitment shown by the Government and the Tatmadaw and the actions undertaken so far, in cooperation with the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting, including the release of 176 children and young people since the signing of the action plan in June 2012, the recently launched awareness campaign on the prevention of child recruitment, the measures taken to ensure that those who recruit children are held accountable as well as the access given to areas and facilities where children are or may be present, including military bases, training facilities and recruitment units and the setting-up of procedures for the identification and registration of children.
Key areas where further progress is still needed to ensure full compliance with the core commitments of the action plan were also discussed, including increased access for monitoring and reporting, timely and proactive identification, registration and discharge of children, including those who have fled military units, as well as reintegration efforts. The delegation also raised the issue of continued reports of the use of civilian brokers in the recruitment of children and the need for enhanced prevention and accountability measures. A further concern brought up was the relaxation of age restrictions for military service for minors who have passed the 10th standard examination.
In order to attain the common goal of ending the recruitment and use of children in the armed forces, the importance of continued cooperation in the framework of the action plan was discussed with all relevant stakeholders. Recognizing the importance of the action plan, and the existence of remaining challenges, the authorities have indicated that they are favorably considering an extension of this crucial instrument.
The delegation also raised the need to address the issue of the 7 non-state armed groups active in Myanmar listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict. In this regard, the delegation met with Minister Aung Min and representatives of the Myanmar Peace Center, Members of Parliament and various civil society organizations active in the ongoing peace process. The delegation was encouraged by the willingness of the actors involved in the peace process to facilitate contacts with non-state actors and to include child protection concerns in the cease fire and peace negotiations, in particular the issue of recruitment and use of children in armed forces and groups.
The establishment of a mine risk education working group in 2012 and the importance of addressing the impact of land mines on children were also discussed and further efforts in this regard encouraged.
Finally, the delegation expressed the hope for an early ratification of the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict in line with the commitments contained in the action plan not to recruit anyone under 18 years of age. In this regard, the delegation welcomed the continued implementation by the Government of the comprehensive plan of action to end forced labour by 2015 and its commitment to ratify ILO Convention 182 on the worst forms of child labour.
Yangon, 4 December, 2013