Children, Not Soldiers: Myanmar Fact Sheet


The information below is based on the Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict (A/70/836–S/2016/360) issued on 20 April 2016.

Conflict continued in Kachin and Shan States and the south-east between government armed forces (Tatmadaw) and armed groups. On 15 October, the Government and eight armed groups, including four listed parties, signed a nationwide ceasefire agreement.

The United Nations received reports of 217 cases of recruitment, of which 95 were verified. Five verified incidents took place in 2015, with three attributed to the Tatmadaw (those recruited were subsequently released) and two to the Kachin Independence Army. Twenty-six incidents verified in 2015 had taken place in 2014. Furthermore, the United Nations received seven reports of the use of children in support functions by the Tatmadaw, including two verified cases in Rakhine State. The Government indicated that action had been taken against 382 military personnel, including 73 officers, for failing to adhere to recruitment procedures. A civilian was also sentenced to a year’s imprisonment for aiding underage recruitment. Credible information indicates that children were recruited and used by armed groups however, five reported incidents could not be verified owing to limited access to the areas. Reports of recruitment involved the Karen National Liberation Army, the Kachin Independence Army, the Shan State Army-South and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army in Kachin, Kayin and Shan States.

The United Nations documented three children held in military detention. Two were released after notification to the Tatmadaw and the other was returned to his regiment pending age verification. In addition, three children were reportedly detained at the battalion level and subsequently discharged.

The United Nations documented 37 incidents of killing and maiming (25 killed and 50 injured), of which 23 were verified and which resulted in the killing of 15 children and injury of 37. More than half of the verified cases were related to landmines and explosive remnants of war (10 killed and 24 injured).

The United Nations verified three cases of sexual violence against girls, aged between 5 and 10 years, by Tatmadaw soldiers. In a grievous case, an 8-year-old girl was raped by a soldier and died after being taken to hospital. The perpetrators were court-martialled for being absent from duty and intoxicated, and two were convicted of rape by civilian courts.

The United Nations received 11 reports of attacks on schools. Three verified incidents were attributed to the Tatmadaw, the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army and an unknown armed group. Six verified cases of military use of schools were attributed to the Tatmadaw.

Five incidents of abduction were verified, with three leading to the disappearance of 11 children, which were attributed to the Tatmadaw, and two incidents involving three children were attributed to the Kachin Independence Army. Additional reports of abduction by armed groups in Kachin, northern Shan and Rakhine States, including for recruitment and use, could not be verified owing to access restrictions.

The United Nations received two reports of humanitarian personnel being caught in crossfire during engagement between the Tatmadaw and armed groups. Humanitarian access to areas outside government control in Kachin and Shan States was reduced compared with 2014, owing to limited government authorization.

Positive steps continued to be taken by the Government to advance the implementation of the joint action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by the Tatmadaw, including training on age assessment in recruitment centres, increased access to military battalions and units for monitoring missions and monthly case review meetings with the United Nations for the verification of suspected child recruits. In 2015, 146 former child soldiers, including 28 still under 18 years of age, were released and reintegrated into their families and communities.

My Special Representative visited Myanmar in July. While acknowledging the progress made, she noted that gaps remained in the systematic prevention of and accountability for the recruitment and use of children. Criminalizing recruitment and use by both military personnel and civilians is critical. The passage of the revised Child Law, including a chapter on children and armed conflict and a corresponding penalties section, would be highly important. The enforcement of existing accountability mechanisms also needs to be strengthened for all grave violations, including through legal clarity to ensure consistency in decisions, improved witness protection and follow-up of cases in civilian courts.

In September, Myanmar signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. I strongly encourage its ratification.

My Special Representative engaged in dialogue with three armed groups listed in the annexes to the present report, to encourage the development of action plans to address the recruitment and use of children and other grave violations. The United Nations has pursued further dialogue with these groups, and one listed party, the Karenni National Progressive Party/Karenni Army, is ready to sign an action plan. I urge the Government to allow the signing and implementation of action plans with listed armed groups, which is a critical component of its commitment to end the recruitment and use of children throughout Myanmar, in line with its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the commitment made by signing the Optional Protocol.

Parties in Myanmar

  1. Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA)a
  2. Kachin Independence Army (KIA)a
  3. Karen National Liberation Army (KNU/KNLA)a
  4. Karen National Liberation Army Peace Councila
  5. Karenni Army (KNPP/KA)a
  6. Shan State Army South (SSA-S)a
  7. Tatmadaw Kyi, including integrated border guard forcesa,•This party has concluded an action plan with the United Nations in line with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005).
  8. United Wa State Army (UWSA)a

*The parties underlined have been in the annexes for at least five years and are therefore considered persistent perpetrators.

(a) Parties that recruit and use children.

Click to read a summary of the Annual Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict