New York, 22 April 2009- The Annual Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict (A/63/785-S/2009/158) has been issued today. It will be examined by the Security Council during an Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict scheduled for 29 April 2009.

The report covers compliance and progress in ending 6 grave violations against children by parties to armed conflict: recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming of children, rape and other grave sexual violence, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access to children.

The Secretary-General's report documents grave violations against children in 20 situations of concern, including Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Georgia, Haiti, Iraq, Lebanon, Myanmar, Nepal, Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, the Philippines, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand and Uganda.

Furthermore, the report explicitly lists in its annexes 56 parties, both State and non-State actors, committing grave violations against children. The annexed lists include 19 persistent violators who have been listed for more than 4 years. Although progress has been made through action plans to release child soldiers in several situations of concern, such as in Burundi, the Central African Republic, Côte d'Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, children continue to suffer in many conflicts.

In order to halt violations and ensure greater protection of children in conflict situations, the Secretary-General recommends targeted measures by the Security Council against repeat violators. He also encourages national and international justice mechanisms to take strong actions in the fight against impunity for crimes against children within their jurisdictions. "Accountability for perpetrators will create a sense of justice for the victims and it will also have a deterrence effect. Persistent violators have to realize that their crimes will not remain unpunished," stated Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict.

The report recommends expanding the protection framework by adding rape and other grave sexual violence against children as a gateway to the annexed lists, which are currently limited to recruitment and use of children as soldiers. It also stresses the need to allow contact between the United Nations and non-State parties for the purposes of preparing action plans to stop recruitment and use of children and undertake specific measures to address all other grave violations committed against children.

According to the report, other emerging concerns should also be prioritized for action such as internally displaced children and their particular risks for recruitment; terrorism and counter-terrorism measures and its impact on children; and measures to achieve sustainable reintegration of children affected by conflict, among others.

With regard to the Open Debate planned for 29 April 2009, Radhika Coomaraswamy said that the child protection community was waiting for a strong signal from the Security Council on its commitment to tackle the protection of children during armed conflict. She highlighted the need for targeted measures against persistent violators and expanding the criteria for listing. "Opening the gateway to the annexed lists could lead to successes similar to those that we have begun to see on the issue of child soldiers. It would give hope to the thousands of child victims of sexual violence around the world," concluded the Special Representative.

# # #

For further information, please contact:

Laurence Gérard, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict – +1212-963-0984–