The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba,  concluded a two-day visit to The Gambia, where she took part in the African Union Ministerial and High-Level Open Session on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights and Welfare of the Child, which took place on 4 and 5 December, under the leadership of The Gambia in its role as Chair of the African Union Peace and Security Council for the month of December.

The meeting was opened by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad of the Republic of the Gambia, Dr. Mamadou Tangara, and attended by African Union Peace and Security Council members, African Union Member States, the Africa Platform on Children Affected by Armed Conflicts (AP-CAAC), African Union institutions, partners, think tanks, civil society, and child representatives. In addition to remarks by the African Union Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, Member State interventions, and several panel discussions, the event included a briefing by the Special Representative, in which she elaborated on the situation of conflict-affected children in Africa and approaches to end and prevent grave violations against them. The Special Representative commended the African Union for taking important steps towards strengthening and mainstreaming child protection in continental peace and security efforts.

‘I am very encouraged by the momentum seen at this meeting and look forward to further building on the AU-UN collaboration on the issue of children and armed conflict’, she said.

In her will to engage in the protection of conflict-affected children in Africa, prior to this, on 21 and 22 November, the Special Representative attended the 56th Meeting of the United Nations Standing Advisory Committee on Security Questions in Central Africa, held from 21 to 24 November in Kigali, which was chaired by São Tomé and Príncipe and hosted by the Republic of Rwanda. During a dedicated session on human and child rights in Central Africa, the Special Representative provided a briefing on children and armed conflict trends globally and in the Central Africa region, stressing that the rights and needs of children must be central to all discussions and decision-making on peace, security, and development. In this regard, she highlighted the important role regional organizations can play. The Special Representative expressed encouragement over the constructive interventions made by members of the Committee, who expressed strong support to the protection of children.

Engaging with regional organizations on children and armed conflict remains of high importance to the Special Representative, and, with support by the United Nations Peace and Development Trust Fund, funded by China, her Office has been able to enhance its work in this area, along the priority areas of prevention, child-sensitive early warning and mediation, and youth-led advocacy.

‘Member States of the same region often experience similar child protection challenges, which makes regular exchanges of information and good practices as well as joint initiatives so important. There is great potential that can be unlocked by increasing regional cooperation on children and armed conflict, and I remain committed to supporting and finding synergies with the important African regional initiatives put in place’ stressed Ms.Virginia Gamba.


For media inquiries, please contact:

Ariane Lignier, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, New York.