Children's Rights Under Siege: Escalating Humanitarian Crisis in Myanmar Demands Urgent International Action
East and South Asia Human Rights Researcher
Global Human Rights Defence
The protracted conflict in Myanmar has led to grave human rights violations, with children disproportionately affected by the ongoing violence (Umer Beigh, 19 September 2023).
As of September 2023, the conflict in Myanmar has resulted in the tragic loss of life, including 97 people, among them 34 children, in an indiscriminate bombing incident (Umer Beigh, 19 September 2023). Since the military coup in February 2021, children in Myanmar have endured extensive suffering, as documented by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews. The report indicates that at least 382 children have been killed or maimed, with 1,400 arbitrarily arrested since the coup (Umer Beigh, 19 September 2023). Moreover, junta forces have subjected minors to physical and psychological abuse, including torture during interrogations, removal of teeth and fingernails, and mock executions (Umer Beigh, 19 September 2023).
This alarming situation in Myanmar raises concerns under various international human rights instruments that are binding Myanmar:
- Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC): Article 6 of the CRC emphasizes the right to life, a fundamental principle violated by the indiscriminate violence targeting children. Article 37 further prohibits the use of torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment against children.
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): Article 3 of the UDHR underscores the right to life, which is infringed upon by the loss of innocent lives, particularly children.
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): Article 6 of the ICCPR safeguards the right to life and condemns any arbitrary deprivation of life, which has been a recurring tragedy in Myanmar.
- International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR): The conflict has led to the denial of the right to education (Article 13) and the right to an adequate standard of living (Article 11) for many children as they are forced into labor due to economic hardships.
- Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict: Myanmar's military recruitment and utilization of child soldiers constitute a flagrant violation of this protocol.
In light of the undeniable human rights abuses, it is imperative that the international community and relevant stakeholders take immediate action to address the crisis in Myanmar. Concrete steps must be taken to protect the rights and well-being of Myanmar's children, and accountability mechanisms should be established for those responsible for these violations. The situation calls for a comprehensive and coordinated response, adhering to the principles enshrined in international human rights instruments.
Umer Beigh. (19 September 2023). Children face the brunt of conflict in Myanmar. People’s Dispatch. Available at https://peoplesdispatch.org/2023/09/19/children-face-the-brunt-of-conflict-in-myanmar/.