As the world is paying tribute to former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who passed away on 18 August 2018, the Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) Office remembers his engagement for global peace, human rights and child protection, but moreover the crucial role he played in the establishment of the CAAC office.

The Children and Armed Conflict Office was indeed created under Kofi Annan’s leadership, with the appointment in August 1997 of the first Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu. This nomination followed the adoption of resolution 51/77 by the General Assembly, establishing the CAAC mandate in December 1996.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan addresses Security Council open debate on Children and Armed Conflict, 2006

Throughout his tenure, Mr. Annan remained committed to the plight of children, especially those affected by armed conflicts. “Children are our future. To accept the use of child soldiers in conflict is to accept the destruction of our future, and we must fight for this future one child at a time. We must reclaim them, every one of them“, emphasized Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the “Reclaiming Our Children” event on child soldiers in 2002.

In 2003, in a major development, Secretary-General Kofi Annan submitted a report for consideration to the Security Council listing parties to conflicts on the Council’s agenda that continue to recruit and use child soldiers. The list, said the former Secretary-General in his report, represented “an important step forward in our efforts to induce compliance by parties to conflicts with international child protection obligations.

The Children and Armed Conflict mandate continued to be strengthened throughout Kofi Annan’s leadership, with the adoption of additional resolutions by the General Assembly and the Security Council, as well as other legal instruments.

As the CAAC mandate enters its third decade of existence, the office will keep moving forward to reinforce child protection, enlightened by the spirit and vision of Kofi Annan.  As he was himself saying: “We need to keep hope alive and strive to do better.”