On 16 August 2013, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict adopted its conclusions on Myanmar. The Working Group welcomed the signature by the Government of an action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in the Tatmadaw (national armed forces), and it urged the Government to take measures towards the full implementation of the action plan. It also urged all non-state actors “to take all necessary action towards the full implementation of their commitments and obligations and to expeditiously develop action plans”. The Working Group is currently considering a visit to Myanmar for late 2013 which would provide an opportunity to review progress in implementation of the conclusions.

In its conclusions, the Working Group agreed on specific steps the Government of Myanmar should take to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by the Tatmadaw. These include identifying, registering and discharging all children; ceasing the arrest, harassment and imprisonment of children attempting to leave the army; allowing access of the United Nations to military facilities including operational regiments and battalions; discouraging recruitment incentives that increase the risk of recruitment of children; and raising awareness of child recruitment among military personnel and the civilian population including through dissemination of information on the action plan. The Working Group also agreed that the Government should facilitate access of the United Nations to non-state actors in order to expedite their development of action plans.

Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict had made specific recommendations to the Working Group in its Monthly Updates. In particular, Watchlist had highlighted the need for the Government to allow United Nations access to non-state actors, a long-standing issue in Myanmar, and Watchlist had called for dissemination of action plan commitments to the civilian population, a key factor in the success of action plan implementation identified in Watchlist’s discussion paper on action plans. These points were taken up by the Working Group in its conclusions as reflected above.

The Working Group also directed recommendations to the Secretary-General, encouraging the strengthening of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism and encouraging outreach by the United Nations to non-state actors with a view to their developing action plans to end recruitment and use of children. The Working Group further agreed to send letters to the World Bank and donors requesting funding aimed both at preventing the recruitment and use of children, such as establishing an effective age verification mechanism, and at providing rehabilitation and reintegration support to children associated with armed groups.

Due to significant delays and a backlog in the Working Group, these were the first conclusions adopted on Myanmar in over four years. Adoption of the conclusions took three and one-half months from the publication of the report, and actual negotiation time was just under three months. This is the fastest negotiation of conclusions since the adoption in July 2011 of conclusions on the Central African Republic. However, negotiations still exceeded the target of two months. To ensure meaningful follow-up of situations, the Working Group must continue to increase the pace of negotiations.