June 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 May 2010
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Children and Armed Conflict

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to discuss children and armed conflict on 16 June in an open debate to be presided by Mexican Secretary of Foreign of Affairs Patricia Espinosa.

The debate will focus on the Secretary-General’s ninth report on children and armed conflict, which was published on 13 April.

A presidential statement is a likely outcome of the debate.

Security Council Report will publish its third Cross-Cutting Report on Children and Armed Conflict on 3 June.

Key Recent Developments
In August 2009 the Council adopted a significant new resolution on children and armed conflict. Resolution 1882 expanded the scope for parties to be included in the Secretary-General’s reports. This now includes parties to armed conflict that, in violation of applicable international law, engage in patterns of killing and maiming of children and rape and other sexual violence against children.

The 2010 Secretary-General’s report therefore includes for the first time parties that not only recruit children but also kill, maim, rape or commit sexual violence against them. However, the expansion of the criteria has not resulted in any new parties to the annexes. (Secretary-General’s reports since 2002 have contained two annexes of parties to armed conflict that recruit children: Annex I is made up of situations that are on the Council’s formal agenda and Annex II are those not on the Council’s agenda.) Given the short time since the adoption of resolution 1882 and the need for UN teams on the ground to become familiar with the criteria to be used, a conservative approach was adopted for this report. However, there are some changes to the list. The delisting of the Forces nationales de liberation took Burundi off the list. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka were also removed through a technical delisting following the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009. Also for the first time, the report has a section listing 16 “persistent violators”, or parties that have been listed in the annexes for at least five years.

The bulk of the report provides information about grave violations committed against children in armed conflicts. Under this criterion three new conflict situations were added to the report this year: India, Pakistan and Yemen. Other significant subjects in the report include measures taken by parties previously listed in the annexes to end violations against children in armed conflict, such as dialogue and action plans and disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration processes; progress made in the implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism; and the criteria and procedures used for listing and delisting parties to armed conflict in the annexes.

On 29 April the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict agreed on a set of conclusions in response to the Secretary-General’s 2009 reports on Uganda and Sri Lanka. It is currently discussing its conclusions regarding the report on Colombia, published on 28 August 2009. Two Secretary-General’s reports on children and armed conflict were published in 2010: the Philippines in January and Nepal in April. (For more information on the Working Group’s activities in 2009 please see our forthcoming Cross-Cutting Report on Children and Armed Conflict.)

In early 2010, the Working Group held an informal meeting to discuss ways of improving its working methods. Areas covered included the need for more timely conclusions, better follow-up to past conclusions and greater transparency. One idea that has been floated is to partially open the Working Group’s formal meetings to a wider UN audience.

Since the last debate in August 2009, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has made three field trips: Sudan in November, Nepal in December and Afghanistan in February. Her Special Envoy for Sri Lanka, Patrick Cammaert, visited Sri Lanka in December. Her visit to Nepal was particularly significant as it culminated in the signing of an action plan for the release of former child soldiers, which was completed by February.

Coomaraswamy briefed the Democratic Republic of Congo Sanctions Committee on 21 May. This was the first briefing of a sanctions committee on the issue of children and armed conflict.

On 7 January Coomaraswamy testified as an expert witness before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the case of Thomas Lubaga, who is being tried for the conscription and use of children in active hostilities.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is whether it has scope for an active role to ensure full implementation of resolution 1882.

A related issue is whether and when the monitoring and reporting mechanism is adequate and whether it needs to fully document incidents and trends in killing and maiming and sexual violence against children.

Another issue is whether and when there should be a further expansion of the criteria for parties to be placed on the Secretary-General’s annexes.

A continuing issue is how to be sure that the recommendations of the Working Group are having an impact.

Also, a continuing issue is persistent violators. Resolution 1882 requested enhanced communication between the Working Group and relevant sanctions committees. However, there has been little evidence that this is taking place.

A persistent administrative issue is the lack of compliance by the Secretary-General with Council decisions in resolution 1882 and the 29 April 2009 and 17 July 2008 presidential statements on children and armed conflict for administrative and substantive support for the Working Group.

The most likely option is a focused presidential statement picking up key issues from resolution 1882. Possible elements include:

  • reiterating the importance of preparing and implementing action plans for all parties on the Secretary-General’s annexes;
  • reiterating the need for administrative and substantive support for the working group (if there is no follow-up by the time of the debate); and
  • reaffirming the intention to take action against persistent perpetrators.

Other possible elements are:

  • requesting the Secretary-General to provide the working group with a mid-term review of the conclusions of each situation;
  • requesting the working group chair to regularly share information collected and reported through the monitoring and reporting mechanism as background information for the ICC;
  • encouraging field visits by the chair of the Working Group (or the full working group) to some situations on the annexes; and
  • requesting a review of the children and armed conflict infrastructure by June 2011 to coincide with the sixth anniversary of the setting up of the working group and the monitoring and reporting mechanism.

A possible, but less likely, option is a resolution if Council members are open to adding new triggers for including parties in the Secretary-General’s annexes.

Other options include elements in the statement which would address:

  • the overlap of the different thematic issues;
  • new ways of working that would allow for more effective Council oversight of these issues;
  • the need to include protection of children in future Council outcomes on peacekeeping and peacebuilding; and
  • non-state actors and how to deal with them more effectively.

Council Dynamics
The intense focus on adopting a new resolution in 2009 created energy among members of the Working Group that some members believe needs to be reinforced, lest it dissipate. However, some members are in a consolidation mode and have little appetite to embark on new initiatives.

Other factors that have affected the Working Group include the departure last year of a number of experts from the permanent missions who had been involved with this issue for some years. This, coupled with the usual influx of five new elected members in January, has led to a situation where many of the responsible delegates are new to the children and armed conflict framework. In addition, compared to 2009, some of the new members appear less interested in this issue or lack the capacity to participate very actively.

UN Documents

Selected Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/1882 (4 August 2009) was the latest children and armed conflict resolution, which expanded the trigger for inclusion in the Secretary-General’s annexes to include killing,maiming and sexual violence.

Selected Presidential Statement

  • S/PRST/2009/9 (29 April 2009) recognised the importance of including in the Secretary-General’s annexes those that commit acts of killing, maiming and sexual violence in situations of armed conflict and asked for the Council to take action within three months.

Selected Secretary-General’s Reports

  • S/2010/181 (13 April 2010) was the ninth report on Children and Armed Conflict.
  • S/2010/36 (21 January 2010) was on the Phlippines.
  • S/2010/183 (13 April 2010) was on Nepal.
  • S/2009/462 (15 September 2009) was on Uganda.
  • S/2009/450 (10 September 2009) was on Burundi.
  • S/2009/434 (28 August 2009) was on Colombia.
  • S/2009/158 (26 March 2009) was the eighth annual report.

Security Council Debate Records

  • S/PV.6176 (4 August 2009) was the meeting that adopted resolution 1882.
  • S/PV.6114andres. 1 (29 April 2009) was a debate on children and armed conflict.

Conclusions of the Security Council Working Group

Selected Letter

  • S/2009/378 (22 July 2009) was the letter from the chair of the working group submitting his report on its activities from 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009.


  • S/2006/275 (2 May 2006) set out the terms of reference for the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

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