Annual Report to the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict

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Ms. Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary- General for Children and Armed Conflict presented the Annual Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict (A/32/609-S/2007/757) during a press conference today. It will be examined by the Security Council during its Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict that should take place on 12 February 2008.

The report highlights progress in the implementation of SC Resolution 1612 and its monitoring and reporting mechanism. It includes information on compliance in ending recruitment and use of children by armed groups and other grave violations. Its annexes contain a naming and shaming list of parties (states and non state actors) committing these grave abuses. The report also raises concern about a number of other situations of concern and cross-cutting issues that seem to have worsened around the world due to the changing nature of conflict.

“Thanks to the commitment of the Security Council and the sustained political will on this issue, the monitoring mechanism on violations against children in armed conflict in place is leading to positive results”, announced Ms. Coomaraswamy. She referred to the de-listing of parties in Cote d’Ivoire from the annexes of the report and to progress on development of action plans to demobilize children from armed groups in Uganda, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Myanmar.

However, recruitment and use of children is taking place in 13 situations of concern including Burundi, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Somalia, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Uganda and, more lately, in Afghanistan and Central African Republic.

The Special Representative confirmed initial evidence that due to the changing nature of warfare, children are increasingly suffering from the consequences of armed conflict. The Secretary General’s report raises serious concerns about a series of cross-cutting issues such as the increasing cases of recruitment or re-recruitment of children across borders and in refugee or internally displaced camps due to lack of security around the camps in DRC, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Chad. She also said that more support should be given to the reintegration and the rehabilitation of children who have been associated with armed groups to avoid these re-recruitments and to ensure proper reintegration in their communities.

The use of various forms of sexual violence and gender-based violence as a weapon of war against children has become alarming. For example, in the DRC, 60% of the recorded cases involved victims between the age of 11 and 17.

Increasingly, children are being detained for alleged association with armed groups in violation of international standards.

Systematic and deliberate attacks on schoolchildren, teachers and school buildings have escalated in certain countries.

The Secretary-General also deplores the use of indiscriminate weapons such as cluster munitions during attacks in areas of civilian concentration, which has a severe impact on civilians, particularly children, even long after the conflict ended. Children are caught in the crossfire in too many situations as victims of indiscriminate mortar shelling of residential areas, of bomb attacks or suicide cars bombs.

“The fight against impunity through accountability for perpetrators of grave violations against children is crucial to halt these unacceptable acts. Major milestones are being set by the Special Court of Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Court in this regard but much more still needs to be done”, said Ms. Coomaraswamy.

The report calls for effective targeted measures against parties to armed conflict who continue to systematically commit grave violations against children in defiance of recommendations by the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and of Security Council resolutions. Member States concerned also should take effective action to bring to justice individuals responsible through national justice systems. The Security Council is encouraged to refer to the International Criminal Court, for investigation and prosecution, for violations against children in armed conflict that fall within its jurisdiction.

Ms. Coomaraswamy stated that the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism set in place by SC Resolution 1612 is unique and is beginning to show positive results. “Equal attention should, however, be given to all situations of concern and the 6 grave violations, especially sexual violence. We must also ensure that all parties listed in the naming and shaming list begin, as a matter of urgency, preparing action plans in collaboration the UN Country Teams in order to halt violations of children in armed conflict”, she concluded.

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