Optional Protocol:
Not signed
Compulsory recruitment age:
No conscription in law
Voluntary recruitment age:

Children in Myanmar have been widely used in armed conflict by both state armed forces and non-state armed groups. Despite a minimum age of 18 for military recruitment, over the years many hundreds of boys have been recruited, often forcibly into the national army (Tatmadaw Kyi) and deployed to areas where state forces have been fighting armed opposition groups. Border guard forces, composed of former members of armed opposition groups and formally under the command of the Myanmar military, also have under-18s in their ranks.

In June 2012, after protracted negotiations with the UN, the Myanmar government signed up to an action plan under which it has committed to release all under-18s present from Tatmadaw Kyi and border guard forces.

Child recruitment and use by armed opposition groups is also reported. These include: the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), Karen National Union/Karen National Liberation Army (KNU/KNLA), Karenni National Progressive Party/Karenni Army (KNPP/KA), Shan State Army South (SSA-S), United Wa State Army (UWSA). The KNU/KNLA and KNPP/KA have sought to conclude action plans on child soldiers with the UN, but the UN has been prevented from doing so by the Government of Myanmar.

Our current work in Myanmar aims to:

  • Identify legal, policy and practical measures needed to end child recruitment and use by Tatmadaw Kyi and border guard forces, and to advocate for full and effective implementation of the action plan.
  • Seek tangible progress on armed opposition groups’ compliance with international standards on child soldiers.


Community Vanguards: Civil Society as Child Rights Defenders” is a documentary produced by Save the Children in Myanmar. It depicts the work of child protection groups who actively defend the rights of the most vulnerable children in Myanmar. Click here to watch it.

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Displayed below are Reports and News Items from our archive relating to Myanmar.