posted on Thu 12 May 2011 10:54 AM
Insights on Children and Armed Conflict

The Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict was released yesterday. The report provides information on grave violations committed against children, updates on progress made by parties to conflict on dialogue and action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children and the patterns of killing and maiming of children as well as rape and other sexual violence against children.

It highlights the increasing trend of attacks against schools and hospitals and notes that of the 22 conflicts that are being monitored, attacks against schools and hospitals were reported in at least 15. A key recommendation of the report is to include attacks on schools and hospitals as criteria for identifying state and non-state parties that could be included in the Secretary-General’s “list of shame” in his reports. Currently the triggers for listing are: recruitment or use of child soldiers, killing or maiming children or committing acts of sexual violence against children. (Regular Secretary-General’s reports since 2002 have contained two annexes of parties to armed conflict that recruit children. Annex 1 is made up of situations that are on the Council’s agenda and Annex II are those that are not on the Council’s agenda.)

This year no parties were taken off the Secretary-General’s list of shame. Two parties in Yemen have been listed for the first time and two new groups, the armed youth wing of Al-Qaida in Iraq and the Islamic State of Iraq have been added to the parties in Iraq.

This report is likely to be taken up in July during a high-level debate on children and armed conflict during the German presidency of the Council. Germany is also chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. It seems that one possible option for a draft resolution is expanding the criteria for placement on the Secretary-General’s annexes to attacks on schools and hospitals.

There are a number of related activities planned in the next two months. Members of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict are expected to visit Afghanistan in June. It seems members of the Working Group will be following-up on the progress made in the protection of children and to focus on remaining challenges such as the increasing number of attacks on schools and hospitals.

In addition there will be a focus on the situation on children in Somalia. The Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict will be briefing the Somalia Sanctions Committee on 23 May. This will be the second time she has briefed a sanctions committee – the first time was to the DRC Sanctions Committee in May 2010.