TerraViva United Nations

Myanmar’s Armed Forces Sign Agreement for Child-free Military

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 28 2012 (IPS) - Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, travelled to Myanmar for the signing of a Security Council-mandated action plan for the release of children from the country’s armed forces, known as Tatmadaw Kyi.

The signing ceremony took place in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar (also known as Burma).

The Special Representative witnessed the signing, along with the Minister of Defence, Lieutenant General Hla Min and high ranking officials of Myanmar’s armed forces. After the signing, Coomaraswamy met with President Thein Sein, as well as members of the government and parliament.

“This is an ambitious plan agreed by the government and the United Nations to deal with this long standing issue, and the international community must support it. This is a testament but also a test of Myanmar’s engagement for children, and I hope to see it through,” said Coomaraswamy.

Myanmar is listed, along with 22 other countries in this year’s U.N. annual report on Children and Armed Conflict. Seven parties are listed for recruiting and use of children, one of them is the Tatmadaw Kyi, which includes the border guard forces.

According to the report, since October 2010, there has been seven meetings for the negotiation of the action plan.

The country task force reported the release of 109 underage boy recruits from the Tatmadaw Kyi in 2011. Moreover the Myanmar government provided a report to the task force accounting the rejection of 417 potential new recruits between January and the end of September 2011 because they were under 18 years of age.

Some of the complains – to the Committee for the Prevention of Recruitment of Underage Children in Myanmar – about minor recruitment included children as young as 15 years old. This reflects the rise of public awareness on the issue.

However, some issues remain to improve such as the access of the task force to the children victims of violations and the consent to have additional international personnel for monitoring.

Coomaraswamy will travel from Myanmar to Brussels next week to seek financial support for activities related to the newly signed agreement.

This action plan was negotiated following the mandate of the Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) which establishes Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism to systematically monitor, document and report n the six grave violations of children’s rights in armed conflict situations.

 
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