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Burma’s Release of Child Soldiers: Promising, but Not Enough
Posted By Olivia Enos On August 12, 2013 @ 12:30 pm In International | Comments Disabled
This past week, Burma announced the release of 68 child soldiers  from its ranks. This latest action is promising, but progress toward ridding the army of its estimated 5,000 child soldiers  is likely to be a long and arduous process. The U.S. should maintain pressure on Burma to ensure that it ends its practice of recruiting and maintaining child soldiers in its army.
Last year, Burma signed a Joint Action Plan  with the United Nations to discontinue its recruitment of child soldiers and release those already serving in the army. The plan gives Burma until December 2013 to rid the Burmese military of all of its child soldiers, but so far, only 170  children have been released.
The Burmese military has repeatedly denied U.N. forces  access to military facilities for the purpose of evaluating the scope of the child-soldier epidemic. And subsequent U.N. reports have suggested that the Burmese military has taken insufficient steps to register and identify children among their ranks.
In addition to child recruitment in the Burmese army, there are also opposition groups  that informally recruit child soldiers, such as the Karen National Liberation Army/Karen National Union, the Kachin Independence Army, and the Democratic Karen Benevolent Army. While many of the minority Karen groups  have cooperated with the U.N., the Burmese government has not.
Child soldiers are just one of many ongoing human rights  violations  occurring in Burma. The Obama Administration has rewarded “reformers” in Burma by removing sanctions with little regard for the country’s continued human rights violations. The Administration should ensure that it maintains a level of credibility regarding its use of soft power in Burma.
Without continued dedication to cooperation with the U.N., Burma is unlikely to rid its ranks of child soldiers by December 2013. It’s up to the U.S. and international community to maintain pressure on the Burmese military and ensure that Burma discontinues its recruitment of child soldiers.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2013/08/12/burmas-release-of-child-soldiers-promising-but-not-enough/
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://blog.heritage.org/wp-content/uploads/BurmaMilitary130606.jpg
 68 child soldiers: http://reliefweb.int/report/myanmar/sixty-eight-more-children-and-young-people-released-myanmar-armed-forces
 5,000 child soldiers: http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-myanmar-army-releases-child-soldiers-20130807,0,7398316.story
 Joint Action Plan: http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs/2012/120705_Guest.doc.htm
 denied U.N. forces: http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/05/28/burma-failing-demobilize-child-soldiers
 opposition groups: http://www.child-soldiers.org/country_reader.php?id=4
 Karen groups: http://www.child-soldiers.org/research_report_reader.php?id=663
 human rights: http://blog.heritage.org/2013/01/17/atrocities-in-burma-a-reminder-of-human-rights-concerns/
 violations: http://blog.heritage.org/2013/05/29/opposition-to-burmas-two-child-policy-mounting/
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