Children and Armed Conflict “Arria Formula” Meeting
On Monday (9 July) Council members and representatives from civil society and UN organisations will exchange ideas in an “Arria formula” meeting on how to deal with parties to conflict committing grave violations against children that have been listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict for more than five years, otherwise known as persistent perpetrators. The event will be co-chaired by Ambassadors Gérard Araud (France) and Peter Wittig (Germany) with briefings by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, as well as Professor Cecile Aptel, affiliated with the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and PPCC, an NGO-network from Nepal which has been involved in monitoring grave violations against children in armed conflict.
Resolution 1998 adopted on 12 July 2011, directed the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (chaired by Germany) and the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict to look into “a broad range of options for increasing pressure on persistent perpetrators of violations and abuses committed against children in situations of armed conflict.” It seems that some Council members felt that it would be appropriate to have a discussion with NGOs and UN organisations to gather a wider range of ideas on how to deal with this problem. The suggestions from this meeting are expected to form the basis for further discussion in the Working Group.
The Secretary-General’s latest report (S/2012/261) published last month, voiced concern about the growing number of persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children: 32 parties have been listed for five years or more. In the report, the Secretary-General encourages the Council to put increasing pressure on persistent perpetrators and to consider applying targeted sanctions, expanding designation criteria on grave violations against children to all relevant sanctions committees and to consider ways of imposing sanctions when there is no existing sanctions committee. He also suggests that greater cooperation between the Working Group and national and international courts may also help address the problem of persistent perpetrators.
The “Arria formula” meeting on Monday may discuss some of the suggestions included in a recent report on the way forward for Council engagement on this issue prepared for the Special Representative’s office by Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliére, a former French UN Permanent Representative and the first chair of the Working Group.
The report makes a number of recommendations for increasing pressure on persistent perpetrators of violations against children in armed conflict, including looking at ways of imposing sanctions when there is no sanctions committee and working more closely with national courts and the International Criminal Court as a way of signalling that those responsible must be brought to justice.