The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (SCWG-CAAC) is expected to meet on December 7 to begin conclusion negotiations on Myanmar. In December 2017, the Working Group received the Secretary-General’s (SG’s) fourth report on the situation of children and armed conflict in Myanmar, covering the period from February 1, 2013, to June 30, 2017. The Working Group requested an update that included information on the violence in Rakhine State starting in August 2017, which was publicly released on November 16, and covers the period from July 1, 2017 to August 31, 2018. In the SG’s 2018 annual CAC report, eight parties, including Government forces (Tatmadaw), are listed for recruitment and use; additionally, the Tatmadaw is listed for killing and maiming and rape and other forms of sexual violence against children. Horrific abuses against civilians by the Tatmadaw are verified in both the SG’s country-specific report on CAC and the Human Rights Council-appointed Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) report on Myanmar. The SG’s update report documents 1,166 grave violations against children across all three northern townships of Rakhine State during the reporting period, with the vast majority recorded after August 25, 2017 (S/2018/956, para. 11). The report also states that it is likely that these numbers are a significant underrepresentation of the scale of violence against children in Rakhine, due to the access restrictions put in place by the Government, as well as the fear of reprisals and stigma associated with some grave violations. The report specifically states that children were killed and injured during apparent large-scale, widespread, systematic, and organized attacks on the Rohingya by Government forces, including the Tatmadaw and border guard police. The UN further documented the systematic round-up and gang-rape of women and girls in villages during large-scale massacres by Tatmadaw soldiers, as well as the killing of girls by shooting or being burnt alive in locked houses after they were raped (para. 14). The remaining 129,000 Rohingya left in Myanmar are forced to live in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in central Rakhine, with severe movement restrictions limiting their access to food, jobs, education, health care, and other basic services, and thus making people completely dependent on humanitarian assistance for survival (para. 11). The SG has confirmed that conditions in Rakhine are not conducive for the voluntary, safe, dignified, and sustainable return of Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh (para. 5). In Kachin and northern Shan States, there are also some 105,000 displaced civilians, including approximately 48,000 children (para. 7). In its conclusions, the Working Group should:

  • Condemn in the strongest terms grave violations of children’s rights committed in Kachin, Shan, and Rakhine States, urging all parties to respect their obligations under international law and put in place measures to immediately cease and prevent all future violations;
  • Call upon all parties to grant the UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) full access to Rakhine, Kachin, and Shan States, as well as other relevant areas, for the purposes of monitoring, reporting, and dialogue with parties to conflict;
  • Urge all parties to allow safe, unhindered humanitarian access to children and all civilians in need;
  • Urge the Government to accelerate the age verification and release of children from State security forces, and ensure accountability of perpetrators for the recruitment of children; and to ratify the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC); furthermore, constructively engage with the UN to develop and sign action plans to end and prevent killing and maiming and sexual violence against children;
  • Strongly encourage all parties in the context of peace negotiations to make concrete commitments to protect children, and incorporate inclusive and child protection-relevant language and provisions in any ceasefire or peace agreements;
  • Call on the Government of Myanmar to develop a comprehensive, publicly-available, and time-bound action plan to implement the Rakhine Advisory Commission (RAC) recommendations, and facilitate joint national-international collaboration in its development and implementation with clear accountability for lack of progress;
  • Urge the UNSC to refer the situation in Myanmar to the International Criminal Court (ICC), considering in addition the ICC’s ruling that it has jurisdiction to investigate the forced deportations of Rohingya people from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

This information is based on Watchlist’s Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update: December 2018.


UN Action

Year listed: 2003
Action Plans signed: Myanmar Armed Forces (Tatmadaw Kyi) – recruitment and use of children (June 2012) *Delisted for recruitment and use in 2020, despite UN verification of continued cases, including at least 205 children recruited and used in 2019. Remains listed for killing and maiming and rape and other forms of sexual violence; Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) and Karenni Army (KA) have sought to conclude an action plan but the United Nations has been prevented from doing so by the Government of Myanmar.
Sanctions Committee: No
Secretary-General’s reports on CAAC in Myanmar: 2018; 2017; 201320092007
Security Council Working Group conclusions on Myanmar: 2019; 2013; 20092008

Perpetrators listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual reports on children and armed conflict

2001 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Tatmadaw Kyi (government army) (including integrated border guard forces from 2011 onward)~* a a a a,b,f a,f a a a a a a a a
Karen National Union (KNU) (merged with KNLA in 2012) a a
Karenni National Liberation Army (KNLA) (merged with KNU in 2012)* a a a a a a a a a a a a a
Karenni Army (KA) (merged with Karenni National Progressive Party in 2012)* a a a a a a a a a a a a
United Wa State Army (UWSA)* a a a a a a a a a a a
Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA)* a a a a a a a a a a
Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council* a a a a a a a a a
Kachin Independence Army (KIA)* a a a a a a a a a a
Karenni National People’s Liberation Front (KNPLF) a a a
Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army a a a
Shan State Army-South (SSA-S)* a a a a a a a a a a

a: Parties that recruit and use children
b: Parties that kill and maim children
c: Parties that commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children

d: Parties that engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals
e: Parties that engage in abduction of children
f: Parties that deny humanitarian access to children

~ This party has concluded an action plan with the United Nations in line with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005).
* This party has been in the annexes for at least five years and is therefore considered a persistent perpetrator.