Children and Armed Conflict: Sustaining the Agenda
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This is Security Council Report’s (SCR) eighth research report dedicated to tracking the UN Security Council’s involvement with the issue of children and armed conflict. This report covers key developments during 2016 and through mid-October 2017. It pays particular attention to the role of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, with an account of its evolution since it was established in 2006, and highlights the activities of the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.
As in our previous research reports on this thematic issue, this publication examines how the children and armed conflict agenda has been integrated into resolutions, presidential statements, Secretary-General’s reports, and Council visiting missions, and reflects on developments that have affected mainstreaming of the issue.
This report comes at a time when the politicisation of the listing process, where perpetrators of violations against children are named in annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual report, called into question the mechanism to gather information and monitor violations against children, a mechanism which has been fundamental to this mandate. In spite of this, the system set up to maintain pressure on perpetrators of violations against children continues to function, and this report shows that in some areas there are signs of progress.
In the special feature on the evolution of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict under successive chairs, we have attempted to illustrate the role this subsidiary body has played in the development of the children and armed conflict agenda and the resilience it has shown over the years in continuing with its primary tasks—in spite of Council dynamics that have had a direct impact on its output. Today, the Working Group shows signs of functioning more effectively than it has in years.
A key observation of this research report is that when the political environment is right, the tools available for the protection of children in armed conflict can be effectively deployed. This was the case for Colombia, which we present as a case study in the report. Similarly, we show how a number of parties have been willing to employ these tools in order to be delisted when the right factors are in place. We describe situations which illustrate some of the reasons that have motivated parties to comply with action plans.
Protection of children has proved particularly difficult in the face of new types of threats, including the activities of extremist non-state actors. Over the years, the interaction between the Council, the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, and the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict has been crucial to the development of the mandate. In this changing environment, the architecture for the protection of children needs to be used more creatively. It is time to see how the information already within the children and armed conflict monitoring and reporting mechanism can be used to deal more effectively with these new challenges.
The last two years have not been easy for this mandate, but there are signs of an interest in developing new approaches and considering innovative ideas that could help shape its future.