It is important to note that many of the principles of the Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) mandate are recognized and utilised within Iraq. Actors are working with armed groups who are recruiting children to release them as well as on principles of the Monitoring and Reporting on Grave Violations (MRM) – such as not occupying school buildings and not coercing parents into the enrolment of children. For those children who are associated with ISIS, they are widely regarded as perpetrators instead of victims.
However, while functions under the CAAC mandate like Children Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups (CAAFAG) and MRM are active in the country, there has not been as much engagement with CAAC at a practitioner level and these functions are quite limited in scope. While there are a few actors whose field level staff are trained to report and identify rights violations that should be reported into the MRM, this is an area that can be further improved in the future. This can be done by raising more awareness of the mandate at national level to enable increased participation. Furthermore, for it to be acted upon, the CAAC mandate is in need of being promoted more in national contexts amongst child rights practitioners.
With regards to other recommendations, it will be beneficial to identify areas where civil society are already working towards the aims of the CAAC mandate to ensure the mandate is better utilised and integrated into existing advocacy streams. It is also important that the CAAC mandate is utilised to keep pressure on the government to develop and implement action plans to prevent the recruitment of children and to push the government to take all efforts to address barriers in accessing humanitarian assistance.
Moreover, the detention of children is widely considered to be a pathway to the grave violations currently listed. Even if the detention of children is not added or recognised as a grave violation, this should be an area closely monitored and documented with its own official section in the annual CAAC report.
Lastly, existing frameworks such as the Paris Principles, Vancouver Principles, Safe Schools Declaration need to be better implemented by all States and parties to the conflict to improve the situation for children living in conflict and ensure accountability.