Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict

About the author(s):

Katharine Fortin is an Associate Professor at Utrecht University where she teaches IHL and IHRL. Before joining Utrecht University, she worked at the ICTY, ICC and Norton Rose Fulbright. She is the author of The Accountability of Armed Groups under Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2017) which won the 2018 Lieber Prize. She has written widely about the framework of law that applies to armed groups in non-international armed conflicts and is one of the editors of the Armed Groups and International Law blog.

Page 1 from Children and Armed Conflict June 2015Last Thursday, the UN Secretary General published his Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict. The report (which can be found here) highlighted that mass abductions of children in situations of armed conflict became particularly prevalent during the reporting period (January-December 2014).

It also reported that situations of extreme violence had lead to a dramatic increase of grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict. It stated that children were disproportionately affected by armed conflict and were often the direct targets of acts of violence intended to inflict maximum casualties, terrorize entire communities and provoke worldwide outrage. The report highlighted in particular the following violations:-

  • the targeting of schools
  • military responses to extreme violence
  • deprivation of liberty of children due to their alleged association with extremist groups.

The report notes that fifty-one armed groups are listed in the annexes to the report because they have committed grave violations against children. It noted that engaging with armed groups is inherently challenging, given their variety, number and often changing nature. The emergence of extremist groups has compounded the challenge. Notwithstanding those limitations, the Secretary General reported that the United Nations has sustained dialogue with armed groups in several situations of conflict during the period under review with the aim of ending and preventing violations, negotiating the separation of children and facilitating their reintegration.

As a result of that engagement, the report noted that the following had been achieved:-

  • the leadership of a number of armed groups have issued command orders to prohibit and sanction child recruitment and use and other grave violations against children
  • it had been possible to integrate the protection of children into peacemaking initiatives
  • it had been possible to secure commitments from a number of non-State actors to end the recruitment and use of children and prevent other grave violations throughout the reporting period.

The report concludes by providing a detailed update on situations on the agenda of the Security Council including Afghanistan, CAR, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Israel and the State of Palestine, Lebanon, LRA, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Yemen. It also provides a detailed update on the following situations which are not the agenda of the Security Council: Colombia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines and Thailand.

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