Children and Armed Conflict Resolution
Council members at expert and deputy permanent representative level have been negotiating a draft resolution on children and armed conflict this week. Significant differences over some issues have emerged and need to be resolved before the open debate next Tuesday, 12 July. A revised draft was apparently circulated last night (Thursday, 7 July) following a meeting of the deputy permanent representatives and a meeting at permanent representative level is expected later this afternoon. The Tuesday debate will be presided over by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. (Germany is the president of the Council this month and also the chair of the Council working group on children and armed conflict.)
It seems the draft resolution expands the criteria for inclusion in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict to include parties that engage in attacks on schools and hospitals in a situation of armed conflict. (Currently Annex 1 lists parties that recruit, kill or maim, or commit sexual violence against children in situations of armed conflict and are on the Council’s agenda, and Annex II lists parties responsible for the same violations in situations of armed conflict not on the Council’s agenda or in other situations of concern.) While there are some questions over the language used to define these expanded criteria the bigger problem seems to revolve around a more fundamental issue of whether situations which are not on the Council’s agenda should be listed in annexes to the Secretary-General’s reports.
The annexes were created following resolution 1379 (2001) which asked for the Secretary-General to attach a list of parties to armed conflict that recruit or use children in situations that are on the Security Council’s agenda or that may be brought to the attention of the Security Council by the Secretary-General, in accordance with Article 99 of the Charter of the United Nations, which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security. While establishing the practice of the inclusion of situations not on the Secretary-Council’s agenda in a Secretary-General’s report caused some controversy in the early years, over time there appeared to be an acceptance of listing these situations.
It appears that some members of the Council have raised the issue of Annex II in the discussions on the draft resolution. It seems that there have been suggestions that Annex II should be removed altogether or at least limited to situations of armed conflict not on the agenda of the Council thus removing any situations that are “of concern” but not defined as armed conflict.
It appears that another area in the resolution that some members are not comfortable with is the idea of requesting recommendations from the Secretary-General on ways of imposing sanctions in contexts where there are no existing Council sanctions committee.
Members are aware that they have very limited time to resolve this issue and it appears that one option might be to adopt a resolution with the new trigger but agree to leave out the larger issues which have been raised to be discussed further in the Working Group. It seems that some members feel that until there is some agreement these issues will continue to be a problem anytime a new resolution is discussed. Others like the French, who have historically been very active on this issue, appear to feel strongly that this resolution should not in any way roll back the existing language or open up a debate on Annex II.
While not having a resolution is also an option, it does not appear to be one that is being seriously considered at this point.