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Children and Armed Conflict
Presidency of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
It is unconscionable that we so clearly and consistently see children’s rights attacked and that we fail to defend them. It is unforgivable that children are assaulted, violated, murdered and yet our conscience is not revolted nor our sense of dignity challenged. This represents a fundamental crisis of our civilization. The impact of armed conflict on children must be everyone’s concern and is everyone’s responsibility
The United Nations has given increased attention to the matter of Children and Armed Conflict after the presentation in August 1996 of a damning report by human rights defender Graça Machel, entitled Impact of Armed Conflict on Children. This report highlighted the fact that evolutions in warfare made unarmed civilians and notably children ever more frequent victims. In the year following the report, the Secretary-General created the post of Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and, in 1999, the Security Council adopted resolution 1261 condemning firmly the violations of children's rights. This resolution remains the cornerstone of the normative construction which has continued to grow over the years and which is today defining the framework for action of the United Nations.
The Secretary-General presents an annual report on children affected by armed conflict, which contains two annexes which list parties guilty of grave violations against children. The first annex concerns armed conflicts on the agenda of the Council, the second concerns those situations of which the Security Council is not actively seized. Initially, the criteria for inclusion in the annexes were limited to parties recruiting and using child soldiers, but they were gradually widened to include since 2011 killing and maiming of children, sexual violence against children, as well as attacks against schools or hospitals. Countries listed in the two annexes are periodically subject to scrutiny in the context of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism.
The Working Group on children and armed conflict, of which Luxembourg has the presidency since 1st January 2013 for a two-year mandate, was created in 2005 by resolution 1612. This subsidiary body of the Council has the role of examining all situation reports, assessing progress made in the implementation of action plans and making recommendations to the Council on measures to be taken with regard to involved parties. The Working Group can also make any other recommendation it deems necessary for the protection of children in armed conflict, including by making recommendations for mandates of peacekeeping operations.
Luxembourg has chaired the first formal meeting on January 18th, 2013, at which the report on the situation of children victims of the Lord's Resistance Army was introduced. A thematic debate on the question of persistent perpetrators is foreseen for May 2013.
Documentation and useful links:
Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict (formed by five international NGOs)