Children and Armed Conflict
Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to have a debate on children and armed conflict in June to discuss the Secretary-General’s latest report on children and armed conflict (S/2013/245). Unlike previous debates on the issue, this will not be an open debate given that it was agreed to late in May when the UK, the Council President for June, had already planned for what is a full programme of work which did not allow a full day for the debate. Briefers are likely to come from the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, UNICEF, Canada in its capacity as chair of the Friends of Children and Armed Conflict as well as a relevant NGO. Other than Council members the other speakers are likely to be only interested parties, i.e. member states mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report.
A presidential statement, which is currently being drafted by Luxembourg, the chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, is likely to be adopted at the debate. A key focus of the debate and the presidential statement will likely be the issue of persistent perpetrators (groups that have been listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report for more than five years).
Key Recent Developments
The 12th Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict covers emerging challenges such as the use of schools, detention of children by security forces and the impact on children of the use of drones in military operations. It also looks at ways of enhancing compliance by armed forces and armed groups and cooperation with regional organisations.
The annexes to the report list nine new parties for recruitment and use of children and six new parties are listed for sexual violence against children. Three parties in Mali have been listed for both violations. All parties in Nepal and Sri Lanka have been delisted following implementation of action plans. The Justice and Equality Movement has been removed from the Chad section and the Armée Populaire pour la Restauration de la Démocratie and self-defence militia in the Central African Republic have been removed as they are no longer active. There are still 54 parties listed, with 29 of them being persistent perpetrators. Nine parties on the annexes have signed action plans. (Secretary-General’s reports contain two annexes: Annex I lists armed conflict situations that are on the Council’s agenda while Annex II consists of armed conflict situations not on the Council’s agenda but considered situations of concern for children.)
The Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict had a formal meeting on 20 May where it discussed the issue of persistent perpetrators. Ambassador Christian Wenaweser (Liechtenstein) presented the report of the 7-8 February Princeton Workshop, organised by Liechtenstein, the Liechtenstein Institute of Self-Determination at Princeton University and the Watchlist for Children and Armed Conflict which focused on approaches to increase pressure on persistent perpetrators. The Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, covered key issues in dealing with persistent perpetrators. She also briefed the Working Group on her 12-14 May visit to Chad and its recommitment to fully implement the action plan to end recruitment and use of children in the national army. The latest report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Myanmar was also introduced and discussed at the meeting.
The Working Group adopted its first set of conclusions on the situation of children and armed conflict affected by the LRA on 22 April. This was the first regional report on children and armed conflict.
The key issue for the Council is how it can increase political pressure to ensure compliance by parties of their international obligations on child rights, particularly in the case of persistent perpetrators.
A related issue is making better use of tools such as existing sanctions and finding ways of imposing sanctions when there is no sanctions committee.
An issue for the Working Group is how to work more efficiently to get conclusions out in a more timely fashion so that pressure is maintained on listed groups. A related issue is the longer reporting cycle for Secretary-General’s reports on children and armed conflict.
A further issue is how to ensure implementation of action plans and to increase the number of action plans for stopping sexual violence, killing and maiming and targeting schools and hospitals.
An emerging issue is the need for more flexibility in dealing with new crisis situations such as Mali. The current reporting cycle means that it may take two to three years before a newly emerging crisis where violations against children are taking place will be taken up by the Working Group.
The most likely option is a presidential statement focused on persistent perpetrators possibly moving the Council towards considering new approaches to the issue of children and armed conflict in 2014.
Options related to persistent perpetrators include:
- signalling greater attention by having a debate dedicated to the issue of persistent perpetrators;
- considering new tools for the Working Group to increase pressure, including a greater oversight role in the implementation of action plans;
- ensuring that all relevant sanctions committees designate violators against children as targets for sanctions and to this end establish as a practice that the Special Representative brief all relevant sanctions committees on a regular basis; and
- improving interaction on the issue of children in armed conflict between the Council, the UN Secretariat, national courts and the International Criminal Court (ICC). For example briefings by the ICC Prosecutor to the Council could be followed up by interaction with the Working Group.
In 2011 and 2012, dynamics within the Council on this issue were difficult, partly as a result of elected members who were either in the body or the annex of the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict. There was also a reaction from some members to what they perceived as an overstepping of the mandate by the Special Representative.
The 2013 composition of the Council appears to be more amenable to this issue, and Luxembourg has worked to create an atmosphere that might allow for less divisiveness. However a number of Council members are still wary of making fundamental changes and it is difficult to tell whether a presidential statement that goes beyond agreed language will be possible.
|Security Council Resolutions|
|19 September 2012 S/RES/2068||Expressed deep concern about perpetrators who persisted in committing violations against children and reiterated its readiness to adopt targeted and graduated measures against them. The Council also called on the Working Group to consider, within the year, a broad range of options for increasing pressure on these persistent perpetrators and asked the Special Representative to brief on the delisting process. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 11 in favour, none against and four abstentions (Azerbaijan, China, Pakistan and Russia).|
|15 May 2013 S/2013/245||This was the report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, covering the period of January-December 2012.|
|1 May 2013 S/2013/258||This was the report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in Myanmar, covering the period 1 April 2009-31 January 2013.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|19 September 2012 S/PV.6838||This was an open debate on children and armed conflict.|
|19 September 2012 S/PV.6838 (Resumption 1)||This was an open debate on children and armed conflict.|
|Security Council Letters|
|13 March 2013 S/2013/158||This was a letter from Liechtenstein transmitting the report from the Princeton Workshop that focused on approaches to increase pressure on persistant perpetrators.|
|Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict Documents|
|22 April 2013 S/AC.51/2013/1||This was the conclusions of the working group on children and armed conflict on the LRA.|