Interactive Dialogue regarding children in armed conflict
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 16:33


The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, Ms Radhika Coomaraswamy, presented her report noting significant progress made on children and armed conflict in the past year.


Particularly positive developments included the adoption of relevant action plans in Burundi, Nepal and the Sudan and the creation of protection bodies in the Sudan and Sri Lanka. In Nepal these efforts resulted in the release of 3,000 child combatants and initiatives towards their rehabilitation. Other conflicted regions of the world[i] also saw the release of children associated with armed groups.


During Ms Coomaraswamy's visit to the Sudan, constructive dialogue with the national authorities resulted in a binding agreement with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) to end the recruitment of child soldiers. Similarly, in Uganda the Special Representative is cooperating with the national army to implement procedures for the release and repatriation of children associated with the Lord's Resistance Army.


Ms Coomaraswamy stressed that nevertheless much remains to be done and drew attention to the recent incidents of mass rape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).


There was broad agreement among States on the necessity to address the issues affecting children as a result of armed conflict, especially the challenges to internally displaced children. The report said children were particularly vulnerable to becoming victims of grave violations, given the majority of child soldiers are recruited from internally displaced camps.


In this vein, Ms Coomaraswamy recommended steps for national authorities, to enhance the protection of internally displaced children. Ms Coomaraswamy also put forward a working paper on the rights and guarantees of internally displaced children in armed conflict. The paper aims to provide guidance to governments and other authorities on their responsibilities to provide protection to children.


It was largely acknowledged that it remains the central responsibility of States to ensure the protection of children, especially during conflicts. Although Bangladesh was in agreement with this statement, it joined Brazil in mentioning the important role of the international community in addressing the root causes of armed conflict, such as poverty. The State said it hopes the international community will assume its responsibility to address the political, social and economic factors that facilitate the recruitment and use of children. Security Council Resolution 1882 of 2009 strengthened the protection framework for children in conflict, by expanding the monitoring and reporting mechanism to include those who kill and maim children and commit sexual violence against them.


Finally, despite an impressive array of international and national human rights instruments in place, perpetrators of crimes against children are all too often not held to account. Ms Coomaraswamy highlighted the UPR process as a useful way of putting pressure on States under review to live up to their responsibilities.


[i] Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and the Sudan

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 September 2010 17:09
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