AbstractMyanmar (formerly Burma) is notorious for its long running armed conflicts. Following its independence from the UK in 1948; failure ensued upon attempting on filling the power vacuum with a stable political settlement to address the multi-party (usually ethnic minority groups) quest for power.
As of 2011, a transition to a civilian government begun, however , the people had previously dealt with a 50 year long repressive military dictatorship led by public governmental forces.During these internecine conflicts, multiple violations of human rights have been detects with Burma committing ethnic cleansing, mass displacement and attack of pedestrians- where children (individuals under 18) are used on both sides of the conflict.Description and Definition of the IssueAccording to the war child organisation: “In June 2013 The UN set a goal to have no child soldiers anywhere in the world by 2016. This, however, we know not to be true. Armed Conflict is defined as any difference arising between two States and leading to the intervention of armed forces; when children are involved, they can suffer severe physical injuries and psychological trauma. As a result of child recruitment on both the Governments and the resistance side, thousands of children are being displaced from their families or orphaned to join wastelands in armed conflicts, where they suffer from bullet wounds, mines, knives and more.
In the last 10 years alone, over 1 million children were separated from their families. Most child soldiers are recruited with promises of wealth, free education and a high status (children are more susceptible to indoctrination), but within their battalions they are immediately given combat training for active efforts in military warfare. Recruits that are not used within active combat roles are often sexually abused, with some girls being used as “wives” (ie sex slaves) for adult male personnel.The government of Burma’s armed forces is known as The Tatmadaw; which literally translates to “armed forces,” and is made up of the Army (Tatmadaw Kyi), Air Force (Tatmadaw Lay), and Navy (Tatmadaw Ye). The Government of Myanmar signed a Joint Action Plan with the United Nations on 27 June 2012 to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by the Tatmadaw Kyi; despite slight progress, multiple human rights violations are still occurring. Children are also present in Burma’s myriad armed opposition groups, although child recruitment is generally decreasing as many opposition groups have shrunk in size and resources in recent years. The reason for decrease is accounted to multiple ceasefires being stabilised between an armed opposition group and the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council.
Despite this, many large oppositions still remain, the ones of particular interest to you would be the The United Wa State Army, The Kachin Independence Army, The Shan State Army and Karen National Liberation Army. International law prohibits government forces or armed groups from recruiting children under the age of fifteen. Such recruitment has been recognized as a war crime under the statute for the International Criminal Court. Additionally, there was an optional statute to raise this age to 18 in 2000, which the Burmese government naturally failed to ratify.
The Burmese government currently claims that their forces are voluntary based, however, high desertion rates and increasing pressure on superiors to find recruits against the growing resistance make this impossible.Glossary of the IssueThe Tatmadaw: The official name of the national army in MyanmarSPDC (State Peace and Development Council): Originally the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), which imposed martial law over the country since 1988. It became the new ruling body, and all state organs, including the People’s Assembly and the Council of State, were abolished and their duties assumed by the SLORC. It was a military junta which was turned into the SPDC in 1997 and lasted until 2011.
Note that the SLORC took power by force, it even hosted an election in 1990 where it lost to the NLD (National league for Democracy) that won four fifths of the votes and yet was not allowed to assume power. Convention on the Rights of the Child,1989: Gives minors (individuals under the age of 18) protection from all forms of physical and mental violence regardless of the source in which it came from, however, allowed those age 15 and over to be able to apply for voluntary service for their country, even if it involves being an active combatant. Optional protocol for the Convention on the Rights of Child,2002: Allowed the option to ratify increasing the previously mentioned age to 18 for conscription. Further embarked to increase the minimum age for voluntary service to 16.SC Resolution 1612 , 2005: Strongly condemning the recruitment and use of child soldiers by parties to armed conflict ,the council underlined that such a mechanism, proposed by the Secretary-General in his report on Children and armed conflict of 9 February (document S/2005/72), will collect and provide timely, objective, accurate and reliable information of the recruitment and use of child soldiers in violation of applicable international law and on other violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict.
UNICEF: The United Nations Children’s Fund, mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential.History of the Issue:Myanmar has been going through armed conflicts for the past 60 years, with all groups in power attempting to neutralise the resistance groups through ceasefires on multiple occasions, however, as history has shown- ceasefires are more a military “white flag” rather than a solution to a prolonged degenerating political aura. From early 2009, Burma made multiple attempts from ceasefire agreements to fuse with numerous ethnic groups and form the BGF (Border Guard Forces) which are supplied by government ammunition and follow under the Tatmadow Kyi.
. After elections in 2011, the new government began more ceasefire talks, inducing a decrease within the military clashes. More ethnic groups have ceasefired, however, the larger opposition groups still pursue coup’s, clashes in the northern shan states (Shan State Army) and Kachin states (Kachin Independence Army) have particularly intensified. In 2014, the NLD (which boycotted the 2011 elections as protest to previous bans) and the 88 Generation Peace and Open society began a joint campaign to alter Article 436 of the 2008 Constitution, which allows the tatmadaw veto power over constitutional amendments.
This failed, however, many believe the decision to guarantee a quarter of parliamentary seats to serving military officers is effective in preventing a coup, despite not being representative of the population.Current Status:The Joint Action plan (JAP) with the UN in June 2012 was ratified to eliminate recruitment of child soldiers in the Tatmadow Kyi and in Sep 2014, a conforming work plan was adopted to accelerate this process was created.As part of their recruitment, children are sometimes forced to kill or maim a family member – thus breaking the bonds with their community and making it difficult for them to return home. In 2015, the Government signed a nationwide ceasefire agreement with 8 armed groups, including 4 listed parties. 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. The ongoing peace process, coupled with historic elections in 2015 and the political transition, offer opportunities to strengthen the Government’s engagement on the protection of children affected by conflict.
As of 2016, the JAP took slow but steady progress, with over 800 child soldiers being released from the Tatmadow. Nevertheless, constant verifications have been made on new cases where children are recruited by the tatmadaw, with deserters being faced arrest, sometimes at the age of 12 or less. The previously mentioned Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict was signed in 2015 but has not of yet been ratified.
The commitment would follow: States will not recruit children under the age of 18 to send them to the battlefield.· States will not conscript soldiers below the age of 18.· States should take all possible measures to prevent such recruitment –including legislation to prohibit and criminalize the recruitment of children under 18 and involve them in hostilities.
ConclusionWithin the ministry of defence, certain steps have been taken to bring recruitment more into the public eye by centralizing battalions, this allows close monitoring by the UN on a monthly basis and improved aged assessment within the recruitment process. In accordance with the Action Plan, suspected minors should be identified and released immediately without conditions. Poverty is a key driving factor of underage recruitment in Myanmar; as part of your resolution think also about potential economic factors that could aid the process- Myanmar remains one of the poorest and most underdeveloped nations in the world with 149 out of 187 states in its Human development Index. There is high polarity within socio-economic groups between rural and urban areas, with poverty twice as common in rural areas (29%). Keep in mind, however, that all resistive forces to the government are ethnic minority groups dating back from the kingdom ages, these groups live in more rural areas and if investment is to be used as a means of solving the problem, then there must be adequate expenditure in social and infrastructure development. Other temporary fixes to the issue would be the allowance of honorable discharge to those who were once recruited as a child.
In a country with low social development, in depth birth certificates can also be initiated. On a larger note, your resolution should ideally have a means of destroying any incentive for the recruitment of child soldiers; many of the burmese believe they are under repressive rule and therefore enquiries about specific children are often kept silent. Pay close attention to the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (International Labour Organization Convention No. 182), which can be potentially be ratified to exemplify the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court, which includes the recruitment or use of children under the age of 15 is technically a war crime.Bibliographyhttps://www.hrw.org/news/2002/10/16/burma-worlds-highest-number-child-soldiershttp://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/children/https://www.child-soldiers.org/myanmarhttps://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/countries-caac/myanmar/https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/26/us-return-burma-iraq-child-soldier-listhttps://uscampaignforburma.org/about-burma/conflict-and-human-rights/child-soldiers.htmlhttps://www.warchild.org.uk/what-we-dohttps://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/child-soldiers-betancourt/http://srsg.violenceagainstchildren.org/category/document-type/srsg-reportshttps://www.unicef.org/sowc2016/