The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba together with Anna Maria Corazza Bildt, European Parliament Coordinator for the Rights of the Child, launched today the campaign ACT to Protect Children Affected by Conflict in Brussels, with the strong support of the European Institutions, Member States and partners. The SRSG welcomes the commitment of the European Parliament to act to protect children from the impact of hostilities following the signature today of a Memorandum of Understanding to increase cooperation on the issue.

The need to stop the recruitment and use of children in, by and for armed conflict is now well understood in Europe and beyond; yet, the same cannot be said for other types of violations committed against children in these circumstances. The ACT to Protect campaign seeks to shed light on the other five violations, namely killing and maiming, abductions, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals and the denial of humanitarian assistance in situations of armed conflict. A better understanding will lead to action at national, regional and international levels. More actions are needed to protect children and to ensure that programmes are put in place to prevent their victimization in the first place.

“Children in armed conflict are the most vulnerable to violence and displacement and are those who are paying the highest toll. I think about millions of children whose lives have been shattered by conflicts around the world. Every child has the right to grow up in a family. Children should go to school not to war, they should play not shoot.  I support wholeheartedly the work of Virginia Gamba, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflicts. We agreed to strengthen our cooperation and work together with the UN family to ending and preventing the six grave violations against children in armed conflicts,” said Ms. Corazza Bildt.

“European Institutions have consistently put the issue of children and armed conflict high on their agenda and this additional commitment is crucial for the protection of children and for the mandate I represent,” said Ms. Gamba. “European Institutions are key partners in several country situations on my agenda and their commitment to protect civilians, their expertise and resources are multiplying UN efforts to end and prevent all grave violations from affecting children.”

The ACT to Protect campaign aims to translate existing consensus on the importance to protect children in situations of conflict from grave violations into tangible actions that will sustainably improve their situation. Until the end of 2022, the campaign will advocate for more tangible actions and commitments ranging from how to provide justice and to ensure proper reintegration programming is put in place for children released from armed groups and armed forces. It will also assist in unpacking the national and regional implementation of the obligation under Security Council Resolution 2427 to prevent violations in the first place and it will ensure the coordination of UN, regional and national efforts to better protect children, including those unaccompanied, alone or on the move from the scourge of armed conflict.

Just recently, the Philippines signed the Vancouver Principles, Moldova endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration and 500 children were released from armed elements in the Central African Republic. These positive developments, some in challenging contexts, are a small illustration that our collective efforts can lead to concrete progress for boys and girls living in conflict areas.

The protection of children in situation of armed conflict is a fundamental part of the peacebuilding agenda in many conflict situations, such as Mali or the Central African Republic. The European Institutions’ active support for this cause can positively impact the possibilities to achieve peace and a sustainable future where it is most needed.

Collective advocacy can ensure that the protection of children remains high on the agenda and that our efforts have a sustainable impact on the most vulnerable in times of war: children.


Note to editors:

The Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict gathers information and reports on how and where children are affected by armed conflict. Parties who commit grave violations against children in any of the 20 conflict situations on her agenda are added to the annexes of the Secretary-General Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict.


Fabienne Vinet / Stephanie Tremblay, Communications Officers, SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict: /

Emilio Puccio, coordinator of the European Parliament Intergroup on Children’s Rights: