Children and Armed Conflict
Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to discuss the report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict as well as the results of an independent review of the monitoring and reporting mechanism. Although children and armed conflict has traditionally been discussed in open debates with active participation by non-Council members, there is a move this year to discuss the reports in a different format. Some sensitivity about the future use of the monitoring and reporting mechanism is expected.
A presidential statement is likely. However, if there is agreement to change the mandate of the monitoring and reporting mechanism then a resolution is possible.
Key Recent Developments
In July 2005 the Council adopted resolution 1612 which created two significant structures: a formal monitoring and reporting mechanism and a Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.
The monitoring and reporting mechanism is a Secretariat procedure for collecting, organising and verifying information, and for reporting on grave violations against children to the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. It has been set up in the seven situations selected for the first phase of implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism: Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Côte d’Ivoire, Somalia, Sudan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. In addition, nascent monitoring and reporting mechanisms are in place in Uganda and Thailand (to monitor events from Myanmar). The mechanism is located within the UN teams in these countries and an attempt is being made to get first hand information about the parties involved in recruiting and using children in armed conflict. Several governments like Uganda, the DRC and Sri Lanka seem increasingly willing to work with the UN country teams in developing action plans. In Côte d’Ivoire, the military wing of the rebel New Forces (Forces Armées des Forces Nouvelles, or FAFN) and four militia groups have signed a regional action plan to end recruitment of children. However in other countries, getting concrete commitments from the parties has been difficult.
As a result of the recent violence in the Middle East, the Secretary-General’s report includes Lebanon for the first time and more comprehensive sections on the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel as well as Iraq. Given its recent inclusion in the formal agenda of the Council, Myanmar has been moved from Annex II covering situations not on the Council’s agenda to Annex I that lists the parties that recruit or use children in situations already on the Council agenda.
Since resolution 1612 was adopted last year, there are signs that the Council is more willing to include the issue of child soldiers in country resolutions. Resolution 1698 on the DRC, adopted in July, contained the landmark decision to extend the scope of possible sanctions to political and military leaders and individuals recruiting and using children in armed conflict in violation of international law.
The independent review requested in resolution 1612 was originally expected at the end of July, but the deadline was not met due to delays in establishing the Working Group and appointing the current Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict. The review, which is being conducted by the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS) is expected to evaluate the effectiveness of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, assess resource implications and make recommendations on the full implementation of the mechanism.
The most likely option is for the Council to issue a presidential statement highlighting the progress made since resolution 1612’s adoption but it may want further time to consider the recommendations of the OIOS review.
However, if there is quick agreement on some elements, such as expanding the mandate of the monitoring and reporting mechanism a resolution is possible.
If Council members want a more in depth analysis of the recommendations, they may ask the Working Group to assess the recommendations in the review with the possibility of a resolution at a later date. This option could be tied in to the Working Group’s plan to look at its procedures and scope towards the middle of 2007.
The key issue for the Council is whether to agree to the full implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism in all cases. The Secretary-General is suggesting that the Council expand its focus and allow equal attention to children affected by armed conflict in all situations of concern. This would open up the monitoring and reporting mechanism to situations in both Annex I and Annex II, and could mean reporting on parties in countries which are not on the Council agenda.
A related issue stemming from this recommendation is the need to change the criteria for putting parties on the Secretary-General’s “naming and shaming” lists. The recruitment and use of child soldiers is the current basis for the lists. However, the Secretary-General has called for other grave violations to be considered which could result in many more parties being included. These violations include the killing and maiming of children, rape, abduction and denial of humanitarian access. An important consideration for some members is that expanding the criteria in this way would require more resources.
Another issue is how much more the Council is willing to do to ensure the effectiveness of the monitoring and reporting mechanism and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. While there has been some progress in this setting-up phase, the real test will be in the action taken by the Council and the Working Group. The Council will need to determine how much of its energy and resources it is willing to devote to producing concrete results such as time-bound action plans from parties involved in using children in armed conflict.
The scope of the monitoring and reporting mechanism has been a divisive issue in the Council over the years. China and Russia are uncomfortable with completely opening up the monitoring and reporting mechanism to countries in Annex II. Japan and the US are also likely to react cautiously. They have traditionally been reluctant to put more resources into thematic areas. The progress to date may not be enough to convince them that the scope of the monitoring and reporting mechanism should be expanded.
The use of sanctions is a complicated issue for some members. As part of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, China agreed to forward to the Sanctions Committee on the DRC grave concerns about repeated violations by leaders of the Congolese Revolutionary Movement (Movemente Révolutionaire Congolais, or MRC) and by militia leader Laurent Nkunda. But China is less likely to accept recommendations for sanctions on a wider group of parties. (Please refer to our 13 September 2006 Update for more details.)
The dynamic in the Council on this issue is likely to change next year. France has been the driving force behind this issue as chair of the Working Group. If France chooses not to take on another term, the combination of a new chair and five new elected members may result in a settling-in period that could slow down the current momentum on this issue.
Another potential problem is the increasing workload of the Working Group. The frequency of the meetings and the number of reports being considered may result in recommendations not being implemented.
|Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Presidential Statements|
For historical background please refer to our 12 July Profile on Children and Armed Conflict.
Previous Reports on Children and Armed Conflict
Update Report: Children in Armed Conflict No. 2 (13 September 2006)
Children and Armed Conflict (July 2006 Forecast)
Profile Report: Children and Armed Conflict (12 July 2006)