Update Report No. 2: Children and Armed Conflict
Expected Council Action
The Council will consider the issue of children and armed conflict in a range of meetings in the remainder of the month.
The Council is scheduled to meet on 23 July to consider the Annual Report of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict set up under resolution 1612.
The chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict is also expected to report on the conclusions coming out of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict’s consideration of the Secretary-General’s reports on children and armed conflict in Uganda and Somalia in July. As has become customary this is likely to be discussed under “Other Matters”.
The Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict is to meet to consider the report of the Secretary-General on Chad and the DRC on 19 July. At this meeting the Working Group will also consider its conclusions from the May deliberations of reports of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Uganda and Somalia.
On 17 July France will host an Arria formula meeting with local NGOs engaged in child protection in the DRC and global coalitions active on children and armed conflict like the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict and Save the Children Alliance.
No formal Council action is expected to result from these activities.
Key Recent and Upcoming Developments
On 10 May the Working Group met to discuss its conclusions from the discussion of the Secretary-General’s reports on children and armed conflict in Nepal and Sri Lanka first taken up in February. The Council will consider the Working Group’s recommendations later this month.
Among the key recommendations regarding Nepal is that the Council write to the government of Nepal to urge the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) (CPN(M)) leadership:
to immediately end the practice of recruiting and using children;
to separate children from its ranks; and
to engage with the UN country team in Nepal regarding an action plan for the release of all children from the People’s Liberation Army and other CPN(M)-affiliated organisations.
In the case of Sri Lanka the chairman of the Working Group released two statements in June directed at the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE) and the Karuna faction. The statements condemned the recruitment and use of child soldiers by the two groups and called on them to stop recruitment, release children and respect “safe areas”. The Working Group also recommended that the Council ask the Secretary-General to prepare another report to the Council on children and armed conflict in Sri Lanka by 31 October on the follow-up by the parties to the messages conveyed by the chair of the Working Group in his statements.
In May the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict also examined two new reports on children and armed conflict in Uganda and Somalia. The Working Group will consider conclusions coming out of its discussions of these reports on 19 July. Among the recommendations on Uganda is a request for a specific report on activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army related to children and armed conflict.
During the 19 July meeting, the Council will also consider the Secretary-General’s report on the DRC. The DRC report marks the first time that the Working Group is reviewing a children and armed conflict situation for the second time. The first report on children and armed conflict in the DRC was released in May 2006 and the Working Group’s recommendations were published in September 2006. The Working Group singled out the Movement Revolutionaire Congolais (MRC) and General Laurent Nkunda as targets for sanctions. In this second report on the DRC the Secretary-General urges the DRC government and MONUC to act on the arrest warrants for Laurent Nkunda and also confirm the charges against Kyungu Mutanga. He also asks the Rwanda government to stop all recruitment of Congolese children from refugee camps in Rwanda and the recruitment of Rwanda children for use as soldiers in the DRC.
Another report likely to be discussed on 19 July will be the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict in Chad. In it the Secretary-General expresses his deep concern about the recruitment and association of children with the Chadian armed forces and groups, including government forces.
The Annual Report, which is expected out in mid-July, will likely be a factual document covering the activities of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict over the year. It will focus on the substance of the discussions and provide information on briefings given by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, and UNICEF during the Working Group’s meetings. The Council will discuss this report on 23 July.
The Arria formula meeting with national DRC NGOs and international NGOs working on the issue children and armed conflict scheduled for 17 July will likely have as speakers representatives of NGOs from the DRC. They are expected to provide Council members with eye-witness accounts of the issue of children and armed conflict in the DRC. The international NGOs will be presenting recommendations regarding next steps by the Council and its Working Group on this issue.
The Council’s most likely option is not to take any formal action after either the briefing of the chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict or the discussion of the Annual Report.
One option after considering the recommendations on Sri Lanka and Nepal is to issue a press statement containing the key messages sent to the LTTE and Karuna from the Chairman of the Working Group and to highlight the possibility of further action if these messages are not acted upon.
If the Council wishes to send a stronger message and play a more proactive role on this issue it has the following options after the Annual Report discussion.
Issue a presidential statement reinforcing its commitment to improving the situation of children caught in armed conflict and highlighting key achievements of the Working Group.
Inscribe regular briefings from the chair of the Working Group into the formal programme of work. (This is now done under “Other Matters”.) This would serve to raise the profile of the recommendations being made.
Request the Secretary-General to report on the follow-up to the recommendations made so far by the Working Group.
The key issue facing the Council is how to ensure that recommendations made by the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict over the last year have been carried out. Currently there is no system for monitoring the follow-up to the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict’s recommendations making it difficult to measure their effectiveness and impact.
A related issue is whether there is a need to strengthen the recommendations made last year. As the situation on children and armed conflict in the DRC has shown even imposing sanctions on individuals involved in recruiting and using children in armed conflict may not be enough to have a direct impact on the situation. Greater cooperation from MONUC and neighbouring countries is clearly needed. The Council will be keeping this in mind when it discusses the renewal of the sanctions regime in the DRC this month.
Another issue is the need for the Council to take advantage of the fact that at present, the parties most involved are acutely aware of being regularly monitored and reported upon. If the Council does not seize this opportunity and demonstrate that it is willing to go further if it sees no change in the situation, the impact on those involved in recruiting children for armed conflict will dwindle.
Another issue is getting countries such as Colombia and the Philippines, that are on the Working Group’s work programme, to be more open to having a monitoring and reporting mechanism set up in their countries. Other Annex 2 (the second annex to the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict listing parties that recruit or use children in situations not on the Council’s agenda) countries like Uganda and Sri Lanka have proved cooperative and participated actively in Working Group meetings on the situation of children and armed conflict in their countries.
Regular meetings have created productive working relationships among members of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. This has helped reach consensus on conclusions of all the reports considered so far in spite of significant differences, such as whether the issue of children and armed conflict should be on the Council’s agenda and the appropriateness of considering Annex 2 situations.
Over the year, the Working Group’s working methods have become clearer. This has helped convince countries in Annex 2 situations that it would be beneficial to be part of the process. Allowing representatives of governments whose situations are being discussed to attend Working Group meetings has created a useful feedback mechanism.
The current chair, Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sablière of France has played a leading role in shaping the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. He leaves his post at the end of July and it remains to be seen if this will change the dynamic of the group.
|Security Council Resolution|
|Selected Presidential Statements|
|Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict Documents|
For historical background and a complete list of documents please refer to our May 2007, July and November 2006 Forecasts, 12 September 2006 Update and 12 July 2006 Profile on children and armed conflict.
Useful Additional Source
Early to War: Child Soldiers in the Chad Conflict, Human Rights Watch, 16 July 2007