Children and Armed Conflict
Expected Council Action
In October, the Council will hold an open debate to discuss the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict. France, the president for October, has indicated an interest in also having a discussion during the meeting on the Paris Principles and Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces and groups. A presidential statement, which would be drafted by Sweden, the penholder and chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, is a possible outcome. At press time, the annual report had not yet been published.
Secretary-General António Guterres, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba and a civil society representative are expected to speak.
Key Recent Developments
There has been heightened interest in the two annexes in the Secretary-General’s report, which list parties that have committed either one or more of the violations against children that can lead to this listing, i.e. recruitment and use, sexual violence, killing and maiming, attacks on schools and hospitals, and abduction. Last year, then-Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon removed from the listing, pending a review, the Saudi-led coalition, which had been listed for the first time for the killing and maiming of children and attacks on schools and hospitals in Yemen. This raised questions about the integrity of the listing mechanism. Earlier in the year, there had been indications that the report, which was due out in August, might be delayed to give the Saudi-led coalition more time to show progress or that the listings would be frozen so that there would be no change from 2016.
Gamba and Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng briefed Council members on 6 July under “other matters” on the impact on children of the conflict in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On 26 July, Ntabo Ntaberi Cheka, leader of the Nduma Defence of Congo/Cheka, surrendered to the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Mutongo, North Kivu. Cheka’s militia and two other armed groups were implicated in the rape of at least 387 civilians, including 55 girls and nine boys, during the attacks on 13 villages in Walikale territory between 30 July and 2 August 2010.
On 15 September, the Civilian Joint Task Force in Nigeria signed an action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children, making it the 29th party to sign such an action plan.
On 21 February, a conference was held in Paris to mark the tenth anniversary of the Paris Principles. Myanmar became the 107th country to sign the Paris Principles.
Developments in the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
Since January, the Working Group has negotiated and adopted conclusions on the Secretary-General’s reports on Colombia, the Philippines, Somalia and Sudan. There have generally been two rounds of negotiations with adoptions about every two months. The Working Group is currently negotiating its conclusions on the first report on children and armed conflict in Nigeria.
Ahead of negotiating the Sudan conclusions, the Working Group was briefed on 2 May via video teleconference by the co-chairs of the Sudan Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting on the situation of children and armed conflict in the Sudan. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, also attended the meeting.
Key Issues and Options
A key issue is how to use the children and armed conflict monitoring and reporting mechanism and the Secretary-General’s annexes as tools for engagement and prevention of conflict. How children in post-conflict situations fit into the sustaining peace agenda should be further explored.
A related issue is assessing whether the children and armed conflict mechanism is equipped to address today’s complex conflict situations. A lessons-learned study of ten years of the functioning of the mechanism might help illustrate its strengths and weaknesses. A rigid work cycle, based on the reports on the situations in the annexes, makes it difficult for the Working Group to react swiftly to a deteriorating crisis. An option for the Working Group in this context would be to seek regular briefings from the Special Representative’s office and relevant UN agencies, to provide information that could be conveyed to the Council.
Deepening relationships with regional and sub-regional organisations is a continuing issue. Options include an Arria-formula meeting with representatives from regional and sub-regional organisations or inviting them to brief the Council.
Denial of humanitarian aid to children needs further discussion, along with the possibility of adding humanitarian access as a trigger for listing in the Secretary-General annual report.
A continuing issue is the implementation of action plans and of Council resolutions. High-level UN engagement, focused Council attention, and bilateral representations might encourage parties to move on action plans.
An issue for the Working Group is ensuring a steady stream of reports. The next report, which is on children and armed conflict in Myanmar, has been delayed.
Sweden has brought new energy to this issue since taking on the chair of the Working Group in January. Negotiations of the three conclusions documents this year have gone relatively smoothly, resulting in a significant increase in the output of the Working Group. Members appear more open to the need for up-to-date information from the field as evidenced by the video teleconference with the Sudan country team. The negotiations on a Council outcome for the debate will reveal positions on potentially sensitive issues, including the importance of the monitoring mechanism and listings, as well as whether a new approach to the mandate is needed.
UN DOCUMENTS ON CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT
|5 April 2017 S/2017/294||This was the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict in the Philippines.|
|6 March 2017 S/2017/191||This was a report by the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Sudan.|
|Security Council Meeting Records|
|2 August 2016 S/PV.7753||This was an open debate on children and armed conflict.|
|Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict Documents|
|11 September 2017 S/AC.51/2017/4||This was the conclusions on the Philippines.|
|31 July 2017 S/AC.51/2017/3||This was the conclusions on Sudan.|
|13 July 2017 S/AC.51/2017/2||This was the conclusions of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict on children and armed conflict in Somalia.|
|7 March 2017 S/AC.51/2017/1||This was the conclusions on Colombia.|