As children around the world continue to grow up amidst situations of conflict and violence, as well as to bear the burden of long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to continue to enhance efforts to prevent grave violations against children through partnerships, action plans and other commitments to better protect children, and to tailor our response to better address the gendered impacts of armed conflict, emphasized the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), Virginia Gamba, in her Annual Report to the General Assembly.
The report, covering the period of August 2021 to July 2022, highlights concerning levels of grave violations against children, with particular emphasis on the high increase in the abduction of children, especially girls. The report stresses that the attribution of incidents of killing and maiming caused by explosive weapons and remnants of war remains particularly challenging.
“The suffering of children affected by conflict resulting from the scale and gravity of the violations committed against them is an immense, yet avoidable tragedy. It is critical that all parties immediately end and take all the necessary measures to criminalise violations and abuses against children and strengthen accountability to end impunity and prevent re/occurrence of these violations,” said the Special Representative.
Addressing gendered impacts of armed conflict on children
Gender is one of the key factors that shape the experience of children in armed conflict. To better understand the gender dimensions of the six grave violations, the Office of the Special Representative published the study “The Gender Dimensions of Grave Violations Against Children in Armed Conflict” in May 2022. The study ascertained that the disaggregation of data by sex as part of the CAAC mandate has become more consistent, but there is scope left for applying a more systematic gender-sensitive approach and for a more in-depth analysis of casual drivers and gender and age differentiated risk factors.
The Special Representative encourages integrating a stronger gender perspective in the implementation of the CAAC mandate to better scrutinize how unseen gender norms and biases can affect the protection of children to make it be more context-specific and inclusive of diverse population groups.
“Embedding technical expertise on gender within child protection teams on the ground could strengthen gender analysis and Member States, United Nations partners and non-governmental organizations can all contribute to supporting such efforts,” added Virginia Gamba.
Preventing Violations to Sustainably Protect Children from Conflict
While the report encouragingly points out progress over the past 25 years, it also highlights areas where efforts must be improved to enhance the safety of children from grave violations in armed conflict. It stresses the need to address the risks to children of this and future pandemics and the ongoing violence and distress all leading to their increased vulnerabilities through investment in early warning and preventive action and developing new and creative preparedness measures to prevent grave violations.
“The children and armed conflict agenda benefits from many strong tools and initiatives across the UN and its wider membership, but a cohesive plan of action at the UN General Assembly level would consolidate best practices, legislation, and norms to be put in place in order to prevent and end violations taking into account key themes such as reintegration, education, early warning, and domestic legislation, all centered around the aim of solving the plight of children in armed conflict for sustainable and lasting peace,” Virginia Gamba stressed. “The UN could leverage its technical resources and further build on them towards enhancement of the national, regional, and subregional capacities for prevention and protection including through deployable capacities and stronger collaboration across the system,” she added.
Raising global awareness and building partnerships
The Special Representative continued strengthening partnerships with Member States and other stakeholders, including UN entities, civil society, and academia, reinforcing global alliances and advocacy efforts aimed at ending and preventing grave violations against children. Among others, the Office of the Special Representative, in cooperation with UNICEF, the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, and the Department of Peace Operations, launched the Guidance Note on Abduction of conflict-affected children in July 2022. Furthermore, a Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict to the European Union was launched in Brussels by the governments of Belgium and Italy.
The Special Representative also officially inaugurated an analysis and outreach hub in Doha, which will contribute to building institutional knowledge around current and future child protection efforts, with particular emphasis on child reintegration. The hub will further work on operationalizing the “Practical guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict“, and indispensable tools for mediators to help placing the rights and needs of children at the heart of peace negotiation.
For additional information, please contact:
Fabienne Vinet, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1-212-963-5986 (office) / +1-917-288-5791 (mobile) / firstname.lastname@example.org
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