Effects of Conflict

Introduction

Children are the primary victims of armed conflict. They are both its targets and increasingly its instruments. Their suffering bears many faces, in the midst of armed conflict and its aftermath. Children are killed or maimed, made orphans, abducted, deprived of education and health care, and left with deep emotional scars and trauma. They are recruited and used as child soldiers, forced to give expression to the hatred of adults. Uprooted from their homes, displaced children become very vulnerable. Girls face additional risks, particularly sexual violence and exploitation. All of these categories of children are victims of armed conflict. All of them deserve the attention and protection of the international community.

Children are innocent and especially vulnerable. Children are less equipped to adapt or respond to conflict. They are the least responsible for conflict, yet suffer disproportionately from its excesses. Children represent the hopes and future of every society; destroy them and you have destroyed a society.

In stark opposition to the commitments of the international community and the significant progress that has been made on the children and armed conflict agenda, grave violations against children in situations of concern continue to be perpetrated on an alarming scale.

The violations that continue to be perpetrated against children shock the human consciousness and compel us to act. The Secretary-General’s words to the Security Council articulate our collective imperative:

“We must send a strong signal to the world that those committing appalling crimes against children in conflict situations will be brought to justice” (Statement at the Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict on 29 April 09 – S/PV.6114). “The protection of children in armed conflict is a litmus test for the United Nations and the Organization’s Member States. It is a moral call, and deserves to be placed above politics. It requires innovative, fearless engagement by all stakeholders” (Statement at the Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict on 17 July 2008 – S/PV.5936).