Statement by Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun at the UN Security Council High-Level Open Debate
Statement by Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, Permanent Representative of Myanmar to the United Nations at the UN Security Council High-Level Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict
Monday, 28 June 2021, New York
At the outset, I would like to thank the Presidency of Estonia for convening today’s Security Council High-Level Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict. I also appreciate all the briefers for their insightful and valuable contributions to the meeting.
The United Nations has played a pivotal role in advocating for children and working towards a world in which our children can live and grow away from conflict, suffering and despair. Children are the future leaders. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Children and Armed Conflict agenda, including the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about one of the worst tragedies in humanity. Besides the loss of millions of lives, the pandemic exacerbated children’s vulnerability to serious violations. Subsequently, its long-term negative impact will greatly continue to disturb our efforts to prevent grave violations against children in conflict situations.
Myanmar expresses its deep concern about a sustained number of 23,946 grave violations that affected 19,379 children in armed conflict in 21 situations worldwide as unveiled in the Secretary-General’s report (S/2021/437) covering the period of 2020. We are particularly alarmed by the trends of increased attacks on schools, continued denial of humanitarian access and the underreporting of sexual violence, of which 98 per cent was perpetrated against girls.
The protection of children needs to be ensured first and foremost by a legal framework that guarantees their rights and wellbeing. Conflict parties’ compliance with international law, including international humanitarian law and international human rights law is essential. Efforts to monitor and verify grave violations against children must be strengthened at all levels especially at the national level. All perpetrators must be held accountable.
Despite the constitutional constraint with regard to the armed conflicts, the elected civilian government, with its strong commitment, led by President U Win Myint and State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi implemented a number of significant initiatives to enhance child protection capacity, inter alia, the enactment of a new Child Rights Law, the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and the ILO Minimum Age Convention, 1973, and the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee for the prevention of the six grave violations during armed conflict. The government fully cooperated with the United Nations entities including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict. Taking this opportunity, we wish to commend the Special Representative for her relentless efforts and hard work, and thank her for the continued support towards the people of Myanmar.
However, in 2020, 1,012 Myanmar children including 88 girls experienced 1,039 grave violations. I wish to express our profound sadness and sympathy for all affected children. As verified by the Secretary-General in his report, more than 80 per cent of these grave violations were perpetrated with impunity by the military known as the Tatmadaw.
Last year, we cautiously welcomed the delisting of Myanmar military from the violation of recruitment and use of children, one of the six grave violations against children, hoping that such a positive gesture might lead to the improvement of their behaviours. However, the military’s recruitment and use of children in 2020 increased to 726 from 17 in 2019. They continued to commit grave violations of killing and maiming children and rape and other forms of sexual violence against children as reported by the Secretary-General.
Given the widely known brutality and inhumane acts of the military and its total disregard for human life, the military has been relisted under Section B of annex I of this annual report of the Secretary-General for the recruitment and use of children. The military continues to be listed in Section A as in previous years.
A safe and bright future for children can only be realized by a peaceful environment which can only be enabled by the rule of law, justice and respect for human rights. Since the illegal military coup on 1 February 2021, the military has destroyed our nascent democratic transition, and has ruined the rule of law. Justice has been out of reach. Violence and atrocity crimes have been committed by the military security forces on daily basis. The impact of the atrocities on the people in particular children by the military is deeply disturbing and heartbreaking. Nearly 900 people were ruthlessly murdered by the military. According to UNICEF, as of 21 June, at least 60 children have been killed since February, while countless others have been seriously injured. The military forces tortured and threatened healthcare professionals and teachers for their opposition to the military coup. We unequivocally condemn all kinds of attacks on schools and hospitals as a grave violation against children. The security forces continue to occupy many schools and hospitals throughout the country, making it impossible in enabling a safe environment for learning and health care.
In light of the rapidly deteriorating situation in my country, Myanmar, after the illegal military coup, I wish to appeal to the Security Council, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict as well as to the Secretary-General and his Special Representative as follows:
1. Prevent further grave violations by the military forces of killing and maiming children and rape and other forms of sexual violence against children in Myanmar.
2. Ensure that the military forces stop indiscriminate and excessive use of force and comply with the obligations under international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law.
3. End impunity and hold the perpetrators of grave violations against children accountable.
4. Ensure that the country task force on monitoring and reporting receives sufficient support and strengthens its monitoring, reporting, prevention and response efforts regarding all violations and abuses against children in Myanmar.
5. Demand the military for unhindered humanitarian access to civilians including children displaced by armed clashes.
6. Call upon the United Nations and donors to work with the National Unity Government of Myanmar, civil society organizations and other stakeholders to provide short- and long-term humanitarian support to children especially in conflict affected areas and IDP camps.
7. Demand that the military forces stop using schools and hospitals for military purposes so that a safe and secure environment for children’ education and health can be ensured.
8. Demand the immediate end of military coup and the restoration of democracy in Myanmar.
In conclusion, Mr. President, children in Myanmar have suffered enough from prolonged conflicts. History tells us that the brutal military dictatorship only exacerbates the people’s sufferings in various ways. The fundamental solution to building a peaceful future for our children is the emergence of a federal democratic union where human rights are fully respected, justice and the rule of law upheld, the military be professional through the establishment of a federal army. With this goal in mind, the National Unity Government together with the people of Myanmar will do everything we can to eradicate the military dictatorship and build a peaceful, democratic and federal union.
I thank you.