Children and Armed Conflict
Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to receive recommendations from its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict regarding children affected by conflict in Sri Lanka and Nepal. The chairman of the Working Group is expected to convey the Working Group’s recommendations, including suggestions for possible Council action, and to brief the Council in informal consultations. As Sri Lanka is not on the Council’s formal agenda, this will likely be under “other matters”.
Key Recent Developments
Over the last year the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, set up under resolution 1612, has considered the Secretary-General’s reports on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, Nepal and Sri Lanka. It has made recommendations to the Council on the first four. On 10 May the Working Group is due to discuss reports on Somalia and Uganda. Recommendations for Somalia and Uganda are likely to be made to the Council only in July as the Working Group usually takes two months to agree on what should be done.
On 9 February the Working Group discussed the reports on Nepal and Sri Lanka, which were released in December. The report on Sri Lanka was the first situation in Annex 2 (which lists the parties that recruit or use children in situations not on the Council’s agenda) to be considered by the Working Group. The report recommended targeted measures against the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam’s (LTTE) political and military leadership and highlighted Sri Lankan military involvement in the recruitment of children for armed conflict by the Karuna group.
In February the Working Group agreed on a work plan which will take the Group through to February 2008. It will consider the remaining situations in Annex 2-Chad, Philippines, Myanmar and Colombia-and review progress in situations already covered.
One option, if the Working Group recommends possible targeted sanctions against the LTTE, is for the Council, having discussed it in informal consultations, to task experts with preparing a draft resolution bearing in mind the novel situation of applying sanctions based on a thematic situation in a country not on its formal agenda.
If the Council wishes to move more cautiously there are several options for a phased approach.
Council members could agree to hold off a decision for a defined period and ask, in the interim, the chair of the Working Group to communicate a warning to the LTTE that unless progress was made Council action would follow.
A warning could be issued by way of a Council press statement.
If a stronger warning is desired, members could agree to open a formal agenda item, perhaps using the device of a letter from the chair of the Working Group as the title. They could couple that with communication of a warning by:
o issuing a presidential statement; or
o holding a public meeting of the Council at which the chair of the Working Group could give an introduction of the recommendations.
The immediate issue is procedural: how to handle recommendations from the Working Group that allow the Council to discuss a matter which comes within a thematic item on its agenda, but is not covered by a country-specific situation agenda item.
Although Sri Lanka is unlikely to oppose Council action directed at the LTTE, a second issue is whether the unusual nature of the situation-combined with the reluctance of some members to support sanctions-may lead to a desire to proceed in a phased way.
Another issue is highlighted by a joint letter dated 9 April in which Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda stressed that any dialogue between the UN and non-state armed groups on this issue needed to be within the context of peace processes.
A longer term issue is ensuring that recommendations have been implemented and their effectiveness measured. There is no system to monitor follow-up action. A related issue is what sort of “carrot” should be offered if there is progress.
Council and Wider Dynamics
The change in composition of the Council in January produced new dynamics. Africa, which used to have a united position on this issue, is now more divided, with South Africa urging caution.
European members continue to be active, particularly France which has led the process from the beginning. Having the Working Group chaired by a member of the P5 appears to have given impetus to the process.
Differences continue over procedure. Past concerns that issues not on the Council’s agenda are slipping through the backdoor remain. However, members of the Working Group have been able to find enough common ground to keep the process going.
|Security Council Resolutions|
|Selected Presidential Statements|
For historical background and a complete list of documents please refer to our November 2006 Forecast, 12 September 2006 Update and 12 July 2006 Profile on children and armed conflict.