In July 2019, the Republic of the Union of Myanmar enacted the new Child Rights Law. The law aligns the country’s local legislation with the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Rights of the Child which it ratified in 1991.
The key changes to the new Child Rights Law when comparing it with the previous Child Law (1993) include:
• A child is defined as anyone below the age of 18
• All children born in Myanmar are guaranteed the right to register at
• Minimum age of employment is 14
• Minimum age of marriage is 18
• All forms of violence against children are prohibited
• Diversion and alternative mechanisms for children in conflict with the
law are outlined
• The law criminalises the six grave violations against children affected
by armed conflict
The Child Rights Law is an exemplary accomplishment resulting from years of collective work between the Myanmar government and civil society partners to reach effective legislative reform which will have tangible results for the children of Myanmar.
The new Child Rights Law prioritises family-based care, including foster and kinship care and highlights that training schools and residential care facilities should be used at a last resort. The law outlines penalties for those who establish shelters or temporary care ‘stations’ without permission from the government, in an attempt to ensure a minimum standard of care and safety for children is adhered to.
The Government of Myanmar has acknowledged that major reform to the child care system will be required to curb the increasing numbers of children growing up in some form of institutional care. As well as a foster care pilot program, the government has developed a minimum standard of care and protection for children in residential care facilities and is collecting data on the current situation of residential care in Myanmar to ensure a system based on a robust evidence.
The Government of Myanmar is now working to develop by-laws that will support the implementation of the new Child Rights Law as well as a National Child Protection Policy, to ensure a holistic system of child protection in the country.