In November, the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) adopted by consensus two resolutions relevant to children and armed conflict: a resolution on the situation of human rights in Myanmar and a thematic resolution on the Rights of the Child (minor oral amendments made on adoption are not incorporated in the draft resolutions). The resolutions will be submitted to the General Assembly plenary where they are expected to be adopted.
The resolution on the Rights of the Child is a recurring resolution touching on a wide range of human rights issues including children and armed conflict. As in previous years, the resolution condemns violations against children affected by armed conflict, urges parties to cease violations and to protect children, reaffirms the roles of various United Nations bodies in the promotion and protection of children’s rights, and expresses appreciation for steps taken by the Security Council, the Secretary-General and United Nations child protection advisers within the context of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism established by Security Council resolution 1612 (2005). Following the emphasis on accountability in this year’s Security Council Open Debate and Security Council resolution 2068, this year’s resolution on the Rights of the Child includes a new paragraph which “takes note of the efforts taken to end impunity by ensuring accountability and punishing perpetrators of the most serious crimes against children under national and international law, and stresses the need for the alleged perpetrators of those crimes to be brought to national justice and, where applicable, international justice”.
The situation of human rights in Myanmar has been a recurring agenda item of the General Assembly for twenty-one years. This year’s resolution welcomes the action plan on child soldiers signed by the Government of Myanmar with the United Nations and calls upon the Government to take immediate steps towards ending the recruitment and use of child soldiers by all parties in full collaboration with the SRSG on Children and Armed Conflict and to grant unhindered access to all areas where children are recruited. Unlike previous years, the resolution does not include a call on the Government of Myanmar to facilitate access for dialogue on action plans with listed non-State actors. However, the the action plan between the UN and the government of Myanmar does include a provision paving the way for dialogue on action plans with listed armed groups. Therefore, the resolution should be interpreted to require the Government to permit unhindered access to the United Nations for the purpose of negotiating such action plans. After two decades of recurrent resolutions, this year’s text will in principle be the last. The drafters agreed – at the request of Myanmar – to remove from the resolution the traditional call to “continue consideration of the matter” at the following General Assembly session.