Killing and Maiming

War is, and has always been, a dangerous place for children. Many girls and boys are killed and maimed during conflict. The changing nature of conflict and the use of landmines and unexploded ordnances also pose a particular threat to children.

Changing nature of conflict putting children at risk

The humanitarian principles of distinction and proportionality require fighters to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and they prohibit civilian damage beyond the scope of military advantage. However, in current warfare, this principle is eroding among armed forces and groups because of the changing nature of conflict. Children are often killed and injured in the course of military operations, including in cross-fire, aerial bombardment and shelling.

Another worrisome trend is the rise in suicide attacks, and the use of children to carry them out, that lead to the death or serious injuries of children.

Landmines and unexploded ordnances

Although thousands of children are injured and killed during military operations, many are also victims of landmines and unexploded ordnance.

Prohibition under International law

The right to life and the prohibition of killing and maiming civilians are principles enshrined in humanitarian law, human rights treaties, and jurisprudence. With Security Council resolution 1882 (2009), the Council defined patters of killing and maiming of children in contravention of international law as a trigger for the Secretary-General’s annual list of shame.