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On World Children’s Day, a new hope for children in Myanmar: The Democratic Karen Benevolent Army signs a Joint Action Plan to End & Prevent the Recruitment and Use of Children

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New York, 20 November 2020: On the occasion of the World Children’s Day, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba, witnessed virtually the signature of the Joint Action Plan between the United Nations and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DBKA), the first Action Plan of its kind with an armed group in Myanmar to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children.

“Being a trailblazer takes a lot of courage, and I commend General Saw Mu Shae and all the members of the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army for their commitment to the protection of children,” said the Special Representative during the signing ceremony.  “This is a proof of your willingness to abide by national and international norms and your pursuit of dialogue, which hopefully can also lead to lasting peace,” she added.

“I believe this first Joint Action Plan signed today with an armed group in Myanmar will bring positive change for children while reinforcing the dialogue in the ongoing peace processes,” noted the Special Representative recalling the recent  5th anniversary of the signing of the National Ceasefire Agreement.

She commended the UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR), led by UNICEF and the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, for their tireless efforts to engage with the various parties to conflict in Myanmar, and shared her strong desire for them to continue this important work. She hoped that more Action Plans may soon be signed and implemented with parties listed in annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict.

The Special Representative also thanked His Excellency Dr. Tin Myo Win, the Chairman of the Peace Commission and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar for their continued support to the United Nations in facilitating the implementation of the Children and Armed Conflict mandate in Myanmar. “This high level of support is an indication of the serious commitment of the Government and the National Reconciliation and Peace Center towards the peace process. Protecting children from the devastating effects of armed conflict and supporting those young people who have been associated with armed forces and armed groups to safely return to civilian life through the provision of tailored and long-term reintegration programs will contribute to bringing about sustainable peace in Myanmar,” highlighted the Special Representative.

Lastly, the Special Representative called on all parties to conflict in Myanmar to continue enhancing their efforts to put an immediate end to all violations against children, especially the recruitment and use, killing and maiming, and sexual violence. “I express my sincere hope that other armed groups will enter into Action Plans with the UN in the near future,” she concluded.


Note to editors

In addition to the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA), there are six armed groups listed in the annexes of the annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict for the recruitment and use of children in Myanmar:

  1. United Wa State Army
  2. Kachin Independence Army
  3. Karenni Army
  4. Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council
  5. Shan State Army South
  6. Karen National Liberation Army

The Myanmar Armed Forces, Tatmadaw, have been de-listed from the annexes of the 2020 annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict for recruitment and use, for which they were listed since 2003. The Tatmadaw remain listed for two violations: killing and maiming of children, and rape and other forms of sexual violence against children.


For additional information, please contact:

Soop Mai Tang, Political Affairs Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

+1-929-810-9124 (work) / [email protected]

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