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Children and Armed Conflict


1. Latest developments in New York Retour à la table des matières

- On 7 March 2014, the Security Council held a public debate on children and armed conflict with the UN Secretary-general, Mr Ban Ki-moon, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Mrs Leïla Zerrougui, the Executive Director of UNICEF, Mr Anthony Lake, and a former child soldier from Sierra Leone, Mr Al Haji Baba Sawaneh.

The Secretary-general stated that all children deserved to be protected and should be able to go to school and be treated in hospitals. Mrs Zerrougui commended the launch the previous day, in partnership with UNICEF, of the “children not soliders” campaign. This campaign was aiming at putting an end by 2016 to the recruitment and use of children in governmental forces during conflicts. Mr Lake congratulated the Security Council for having continuously treated the subject of children in armed conflicts since the adoption of its first resolution fifteen years ago. Mr Sawaneh, former child soldier of the Revolutionary United Front in Sierra Leone, repeated his demands from his first statement at the UN in 2011 and urged the UN to take strong measures to prevent violence on children in armed conflicts.

The Permanent Representative of France commended the work of Mrs Zerrougui and of Mr Lake on the “children not soliders” campaign. He reminded the necessity to fight against the impunity of those crimes and the essential role of the International Criminal Court on this matter. He encouraged the UN Secretary-general to keep up his efforts on the security sectors reform and on the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration process. He called on all states to endorse the Paris Principles and Paris Commitments, complimentary of the Council’s action.

At the end of this debate, a resolution was unanimously adopted by the Security Council.

- On 17 June 2013, the Security Council convened a debate with Ms. Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of children in armed conflict, Hervé Ladsous, Under-Secretary-General for the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Ms. Yoka Brandt, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and Mr. Gregory Ramm, from the NGO "Save the Children".

The members of the Security Council welcomed the numerous action plans adopted by Member States to put an end to recruitment, killing and violence, including sexual abuse, affecting children in armed conflict. A presidential statement (S/PRST/2013/8) was adopted following the debate.

In his statement, the representative of France called for the rapid implementation of the provisions contained in these action plans, the full cooperation of all States in the fight against impunity and the reinforcement of the dialogue with the International Criminal Court.

- The fifth ministerial follow-up Forum to the Paris Commitments and Paris Principles on children associated with armed forces or armed groups was held on 3 December 2012. The meeting focused on the prevention of child recruitment and on the fight against impunity for those who recruit and use children.

“Today’s endorsements exemplify an international consensus and demonstrate the international community’s resolve to abolish the inhuman practise of child recruitment,” said Mr. François Zimeray, French Ambassador for Human Rights. In order to improve the protection of children, an additional step was taken with the endorsement of the Paris Commitments by five new countries: Bolivia, Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Yemen and Kuwait.

- On 19 September 2012, the Security Council held an open debate on the protection of children in armed conflict, in the presence of Ms. Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Hervé Ladsous, Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Lake, UNICEF Executive Director and Mr. Tolbert, President of the International Center for Transitional Justice.

The Security Council adopted the Resolution 2068 to 11 votes in favor and 4 abstentions (Russia, China, Azerbaijan, Pakistan) in which it reaffirmed its willingness to continue to take up the issue of children in armed conflict armed.

In his speech, the representative of France welcomed the joint action of UN agencies that allowed the demobilization of child soldiers around 10,000 per year. Despite these advances, the violations persisted, particularly in Syria, where children were victims of bombings, or DRC and Mali, where rebel groups recruited child soldiers. In this context, France was in favor of an increased mobilization of the Security Council, which was notably through the strengthening of measures against impunity 32 "persistent violators" on the list of infamy, including based on the recommendations made by Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière in her report commissioned by the Special Representative. In the context of strengthening the dialogue with the ICC, the representative of France proposed that the Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda come make a presentation to the Security Council on this issue.

- On 13 July 2012, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed Ms Leila Zerrougui of Algeria as his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. Ms. Zerrougui replaced Radhika Coomaraswamy.

- On 10 January 2012, the Security Council heard in private consultations the presentation of Mrs Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, on the criteria for listing in Annex 2 of the Secretary General report the groups reponsible for one of the grave violations committed against children in armed conflict: recruitment and use of child soldiers, killing and maiming, rape and sexual violence, threats or attacks against schools or hospitals.

- The fourth forum for monitoring the Paris Commitments on Guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups was held on 26 September 2011, as a side event of the 66th UN General Assembly, under the chairmanship of M . Francois Zimeray, French Ambassador for Human rights.

Ambassador Zimeray has announced the endorsement of the Paris Commitments by five new countries: Angola, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Costa Rica and San Marino. One hundred countries have now endorsed the Paris Commitments.

In his opening speech, Mr. François Zimeray highlighted the progress accomplished so far recalling the 10 000 children saved last year and announce that new action plans had been signed (with the Sudan Liberation Army-Free will, with the Sudan Liberation Army-Mother Wing, with the Afghan government, with Chadian gouvernment). But he also stressed the important work that remains to be done to remove the hundreds of thousands of children involved in armed conflicts around the world.


Demobilized Child Soldiers in Democratic Republic of the Congo
25 November 2013 - UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti


Joint communiqué of France, UNICEF and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy - New York, 26 September 2011


100 COUNTRIES ENDORSE COMMITMENTS TO PREVENT THE USE OF CHILDREN IN ARMED CONFLICT

At the UN today, international commitment to protect children in times of conflict was strengthened.

The UN has noted that hundreds of thousands of children worldwide are associated with armed forces, or armed groups in conflict. Many are exposed to tremendous and sustained violence – as witnesses, as direct victims themselves and as forced participants. The impact on their mental and physical well-being breaches the most fundamental human rights and represents a grave threat to durable peace and sustainable development, as cycles of violence are perpetuated.

Five states added their names to the ‘Paris Commitments’ to protect children from recruitment and use by armed forces or armed groups. The number of States to have endorsed the commitments has increased from 95 to 100, the latest coming from Angola, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Costa Rica and San Marino. Over half the member states of the UN have now joined the Paris Commitments.

"The support to the ‘Paris Principles’ and new endorsements of the ‘Paris Commitments’ show that the international community is mobilized to stop this unbearable phenomenon," said Mr. Francois Zimeray, France’s Ambassador for Human Rights. "The time for warnings has come to an end. We have to take into account what is working and what is not. It’s high time to make justice happen" said the Ambassador. A concept that was also underlined in a very moving and personal way by Grace Akallo, Founder and Executive Director of United Africans for Women and Children’s Rights and co-founder of Network of Young People Affected by War.

The Paris Commitments were adopted in Paris in February 2007, and are an expression of strengthened international resolve to prevent the recruitment of children and highlight the actions governments can and should take to protect children affected by conflict. The Paris Principles are the operational guidelines related to sustainable reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces and groups.

“Children associated with armed conflict often bear a burden of shame and tremendous stigma,” said Rima Salah, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF. “It is important that all children have access to vital assistance to help them to be rehabilitated and reintegrated, and to lead empowered and productive lives.”

During the course of 2010 alone, UNICEF and partners have contributed to the release and reintegration of approximately 10,000 children associated with various armed forces or armed groups. Yet one of the most important lessons that is often overlooked is that successful release and reintegration programs for children are long-term and require early, flexible and sustained funding mechanisms.

What is required is a relatively small yet critical investment by governments and donors, which is also an investment in peace and stability in the fragile context where this exists.

The importance of justice for children particularly during times of conflict was a theme for the event.

“Justice must also mean reparations to victims. For children, justice includes far more than punishing a perpetrator,” said Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, “Equally important is the restoration of their rights and an element of reparation to address their loss of childhood, loss of family, loss of education, and loss of livelihood”.


- The Security Council met on 12 July 2011 for a public debate on children and armed conflict, at the initiative of Germany, which holds the Presidency of the Council for the month of July 2011. The meeting was presided by Mr Guido Westerwelle, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany.

The Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 1998, cosponsored by France, which extended the triggers for being named and shamed in the report of the Secretary-General in his reports on children and armed conflict, to attacks on schools, personnel and their personnel (until then the possible crimes were sexual violence, killing and maiming, and the recruitment of child soldiers).

In his statement, the Permanent Representative of France, in his statement said in particular: " The Security Council is sending today a clear message to the parties in conflict that perpetrate such attacks (on schools, hospitals and their personnel), by deciding to act on the basis of information provided by the Secretariat. This a major step forward."


- On 30 June 2011, a side event was organized by Germany to address the issue of "Children and Armed Conflict: Attacks on Schools and Hospitals in Armed Conflict" in preparation of the Security Council debate. The Secretary-General , Mr. Ban Kimoon, Ms Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, and Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, were present (read France’s statement).


-  Ministerial Forum on the Paris Commitments, 27 September 2010

The third meeting of ministerial Forum on the Paris Commitments took place on 27 September 2010 on the sidelines of the General Assembly. France co-host this third Forum, along with the Special Representative on children and armed conflict, UNICEF, and other partners. France was represented by Mr François Zimeray, Ambassador in charge of Human Rights.

Eleven new Member States (Saudi Arabia, Cape Verde, South Korea, Gabon, Georgia, Iceland, Latvia, New Zealand, Serbia, Togo, Uruguay) endorsed the Paris Commitments at the Forum, bringing the total number to 95 States.

“The Paris Commitments are an expression of strengthened international resolve to prevent child recruitment,” said Mr Zimeray. “We are pleased to receive new commitments coming from all continents, demonstrating worldwide support for the reintegration of former child soldiers".

Despite growing international efforts to reduce the number of children, thousands of children continue to be recruited by both government forces and armed rebel groups in situations of armed conflict and insecurity.

“The use of children in armed conflict is not only morally reprehensible, but it is a war crime,” said Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. “To protect the children of today and tomorrow, we must work collectively to ensure that armed forces and rebel groups cannot continue to get away with this egregious violation.”

Three main objectives of the Ministerial forum were to assess the implementation of the Paris Commitments and the Paris Principles, examine the need for additional funds to support proven prevention and reintegration programmes as well as to monitor compliance by parties to armed conflict, and to review the status of Member States’ endorsements and encourage new governments to sign on.

“The Paris Principles reaffirm our collective commitment to protect the most fundamental right of a child: To be a child,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “If we do not succeed in reintegrating these children into their communities and supporting them once they return, we cannot hope to break the cycle of violence.”

The Paris commitments are accompanied by the Paris Principles: operational guidelines designed to help sustainable reintegration into their communities of children formerly associated with armed forces and groups.

- Meeting of the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict, June 2010

The Security Council met on 16 June 2010 for a public debate on children and armed conflict, at the initiative of Mexico, which held the Presidency of the Council for the month of June 2010 and has presided over the Working Group of the Security Council on children in armed conflict since 2009. The debate was chaired by Ms Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico.

In his statement, the Permanent Representative of France stressed the need for strong, targeted sanctions against parties who persist in violating the rights of children in armed conflicts.

A Presidential Statement (S/PRST/2010/10)was adopted after the debate. It underlines the willingness of the Security Council to adopt, through its Sanctions Committees or directly through a resolution under Chapter VII, targeted measures against parties that violate children’s rights.


MONUSCO Peacekeepers in Town of Pinga, North Kivu, DRC
4 December 2013 - UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti


- Ministerial Forum on the Paris Commitments, 29 September 2009

During a ministerial forum chaired by Mr. Alain Joyandet, Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, a number of United Nations Member States added their names to the ‘Paris Commitments’ to protect children from recruitment and use by armed forces or armed groups today, at a Ministerial level meeting at UN Headquarters. The number of States to have endorsed the commitments has increased to 84, the latest being Albania, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Guinea, Jamaica, Liechtenstein, Panama and Senegal.

The Paris Commitments (see below) were adopted in Paris in February 2007, and are an expression of strengthened international resolve to prevent the recruitment of children and highlight the actions governments can and should take to protect children affected by conflict. The Paris Principles are the operational guidelines related to sustainable reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces and groups.

“The support to the ‘Paris Principles’ and new endorsements of the ‘Paris Commitments’ show that the international community is mobilized to stop this unbearable phenomenon,” said Mr. Alain Joyandet, French Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie.

Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, then Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict explained that the political determination that underlay the ‘Paris Commitments’ strengthened the existing child protection framework. She added that groups that recruited or used children in armed conflict must be held accountable. “Holding perpetrators of such a crime accountable has an important deterrence effect. The stronger the message, the more children will be saved.”

The event also served as an exchange of lessons-learned on the implementation of the ‘Paris Principles’. Mr. Walter A. Fullemann, ICRC Head of Delegation to the United Nations, speaking on behalf of the Paris Principles Steering Group, called for a holistic approach that includes national legislative reforms and successful reintegration of children formerly associated with armed groups and armed forces into their communities as a preventive measure. “Vulnerable children are more exposed to recruitment. We need long term prevention and reintegration programs to better protect them.”

“It is important that all children, whether they have joined an armed group by force or by circumstance, have access to vital assistance to help them reintegrate and lead empowered and productive lives,” said Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF. “Reintegration for children is a long-term process and can only be successful if it is sustainable, inclusive and community-based.”


- Security Council : resolution 1882 (August 2009)

Of the six crimes against children in situations of armed conflict subject to special monitoring in the resolutions of the Security Council, so far only the recruitment of child soldiers could lead to registration of parties suspected or convicted of these crimes on the "blacklists" of the Secretary General.

The Security Council met on 29 April 2009 for a public debate on children in armed conflict. On this occasion, it adopted a presidential statement (S/PRST/2009/9) in which it pledged to act within three months to expand the possibilities for inclusion on blacklists of people who committed rape and other sexual violence and killings and mutilations on children prohibited by international law. Such an extension of the criteria for blacklisting corresponded to what France has been advocating.

The Security Council met three months later, and adopted unanimously on 4 August 2009 Resolution 1882, co-sponsored by France along with 45 other states. This resolution allows, as desired by France, the extension of the monitoring mechanism created by resolution 1612 to sexual violence and to murder and mutilation committed against children.


2. Action by France Retour à la table des matières

There are an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 child soldiers in the world. Publication of the Machel report in 1996 on “The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children” was a milestone with regard to the international community’s awareness of the issue.

1 - France has made this issue one of its priorities within the Security Council.

Since 1999 the Security Council has adopted 8 thematic resolutions that deal specifically with the fate of children in armed conflict (the most recent to date being resolution 1998 of 12 July 2011). In particular, resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005), adopted based on France’s initiative, establish a mechanism for monitoring and communicating information on six types of violations against the rights of children and a Security Council working group responsible for monitoring the issue and recommending concrete measures. They call for the parties to conflicts that use children to establish action plans to release them and reintegrate them.

Resolution 1882 (August 2009) co-sponsored by France along with 45 other states, allows, as desired by France, the extension of the criteria for inscription on the "black lists" to sexual violence and to murder and mutilation committed against children (until then the only criterion was the recruitment of Child soldiers; see above).

France chaired the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict from its creation in November 2005 until December 2008 before handing over the chairmanship to Mexico.

France fully supports the United Nations’ actions and, in particular, those of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, whose position was created by the General Assembly in 1997.


France considers the NGOs’ contribution to this issue to be essential. The creation in 1998 of the “Coalition to stop the use of child soldiers,” then the “Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict” in 2001 were critical. Today, the NGOs are fully linked to the mechanisms for gathering information on the ground which supply information to the Secretary-General’s reports.

Six categories of crimes against children in situations of armed conflict are closely monitored under the Security Council resolutions:

- Recruiting or using child soldiers
- Killing or maiming of children
- Rape and other grave sexual violence against children
- Abduction of children
- Attacks against schools or hospitals
- Denial of humanitarian access for children


2 – Guidelines for France’s action:


- The importance we attribute to the universal implementation of the “Convention on the Rights of the Child” and its “Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict,” as well as their translation into national laws;

- Reaffirming the importance of the contribution of the International Criminal Court as an instrument to fight against impunity for those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against children, and as an instrument of deterrence with respect to potential violators;

- Promoting a comprehensive approach to the problem that deals with issues of development, humanitarian conditions, security and human rights, and in which the Security Council, the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, UNICEF and other UN agencies, funds and programs, NGOs, regional organizations and national authorities play complementary roles;

- The resolute commitment of the Security Council, including in the definition of the mandates of Peacekeeping Operations, which must systematically consider the protection of children—notably through the appointment of advisors to protect children and better coordination on the ground to take into account the cross-border dimension of the problem when necessary;

- Support for the Secretariat’s efforts, particularly with respect to strengthening the reporting and monitoring mechanism, inter-agency coordination and the growing involvement of new partners such as WHO, UNESCO and regional organizations, as well as the coordination of activities promoting the release of children and programs to reintegrate and assist the victims;

- The promotion, in partnership with UNICEF, of the Paris Commitments and Principles on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups, agreed to in February 2007. More than 87 States (June 2010) have already signed on to these commitments. They aim in particular to promote best practices developed on the ground to reintegrate the children;

- Support for the reintegration of children within the framework of specific bilateral programs. In its embassies in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan, France has created two attaché positions specializing in the issue of children in armed conflict, each with its own budget and regional jurisdiction. It contributed to the reintegration of 340 children who were released in Burundi in April 2009.


UN Photo/Myriam Asmani





Some of the children at the Goma Children Rehabilitation Centre in the DRC. 09 March 2007 - UN Photo/Myriam Asmani






3 – The international community must still respond to many challenges:


- France welcomes the extension of the criterias for adding parties to the United Nations Secretary-General’s list so that they now also include sexual violence and murder and mutilation, thanks to resolution 1882 of 4 August 2009, in addition to the recruitment of child soldiers.

- France welcomes the fact that the Security Council has expressed its willingness (in its presidential Declaration of 16 June 2010) to adopt sanctions that target those parties that refuse to cooperate with the United Nations.

- France would like to work more closely with the main donors (World Bank, etc.) so that their financial planning takes the rehabilitation of the children into account;

- The third meeting of the Follow-up of the Paris Commitments took place on 27 September 2010 on the sidelines of the General Assembly. France co-hosted this third Forum, along with the Special Representative on children and armed conflict, UNICEF, and other partners. Eleven new Member States endorsed the Paris Commitments at the Forum, bringing the total number to 95 States.


(Mars 2014)

3. French statements Retour à la table des matières

- 7 March 2014 - Security Council - Children and armed conflict - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 17 June 2013 - Security Council - Children and armed conflict - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 19 September 2012 - Security Council - Children in armed conflict - Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 12 July 2011 - Security Council - Children and Armed Conflict- Statement by Mr Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 30 June 2011 - Children and Armed Conflict - Side event on "Attacks on Schools and Hospitals in Armed Conflict" - Statement by Mrs Béatrice Le Fraper, Counsellor for Legal Issues of the Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations

- 16 June 2010 - Security Council - Children and armed conflict: Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 29 September 2009 - Ministerial Follow-up Forum on the Paris Commitments - Statement by Mr. Alain Joyandet, French Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie

- 29 April 2009 - Security Council: children and armed conflict - Stakeout by M. François Zimeray, Ambassador of France for Human Rights

- 29 april 2009 - Security Council public debate on children and armed conflict - Statement by Mr. Jean-Maurice Ripert, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

- 14 January 2009 - Debate on the Protection of Civilians at the Security Council - Speech by Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert, France’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations

- From 29 September to 2 October 2007 - Conference on children and armed conflict co-chaired by French Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights, Mrs Rama Yade

4. Reference documents Retour à la table des matières

- 7 March 2014 - Resolution 2143

- 17 June 2013 - Presidential statement of the Security Council

- 19 September 2012 - Resolution 2068

- 16 June 2010 - Statement by the President of the Security Council (S/PRST/2010/10)

- 29 April2009 - Statement by the President of the Security Council (S/PRST/2009/9)

- 4 August 2009 - Resolution 1882 (2009) extension of the monitoring mechanism created by resolution 1612 to sexual violence and to murder and mutilation committed against children.

- 26 July 2005 - Resolution 1612 (2005) - In addition to the establishment of the surveillance mechanism, creation of a Security Council working group tasked with the issue of children in armed conflicts. First, the monitoring mechanism reviews the conflicts involving children on the Security Council’s agenda.

- 22 April 2004 - Resolution 1539 (2004) - aims at a more effective implementation of the existing standards by establishing a monitoring mechanism. The United Nations players present in the field will be responsible for assessing the progress made by the forces or groups included in the first part of the “black list”, so that the Security Council can take possible measures against them on the basis of reliable, accurate information. Sanctions are provided for in the event of non-cooperation. Finally, the resolution encourages regional organizations, such as ECOWAS and the EU, to act to protect children in armed conflicts.

- 30 January 2003 - Resolution 1460 (2003)- extends its scope by setting the stage for targeted sanctions against the perpetrators. It also provides for the more systematic integration of the protection of children in peacekeeping operations.

- 20 November 2001 - resolution 1379 (2001) - the Security Council asks the Secretary-General to annually present it with a “black list” of the parties involved in an armed conflict recruiting or using child soldiers: it is both a way to bring the attention of the international community to flagrant abuses and an instrument for development programmes. The first such list was submitted to the Security Council in 2003 and targeted 23 countries. In addition, resolution 1379 calls on international financial and development institutions to support rehabilitation, demobilization and reintegration actions.

- 25 August 1999- Resolutions 1261 (1999) and 1314 (2000) - condemning the recruitment of children and inviting the States to sign the additional protocol on the participation of children in armed conflicts.

5. Useful links Retour à la table des matières

- File on Children’s Rights on France-Diplomatie

- Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict

- Security Council Working Group

- The Paris Commitments

- The Paris Principles



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