The mandate of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict was created by the UN General Assembly in December 1996 to strengthen the protection of children affected by armed conflict, raise awareness, promote the collection of information about the plight of children affected by war and foster international cooperation to improve their protection.
Strong engagement from the international community and the United Nations’ highest bodies has enabled the Special Representative’s mandate to remain in constant evolution to better address the needs of children affected by war.
The mandate of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict has been renewed and expanded by the General Assembly since 1996, with the latest Resolution (A/RES/72/245) adopted on 24 December 2017.
With this Resolution, the General Assembly renewed the SRSG-CAAC mandate for three years and among other things, requested the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to: “increase her engagement with States, United Nations bodies and agencies, regional organizations and especially subregional organizations and to increase public awareness activities, including by collecting, assessing and disseminating best practices and lessons learned, in accordance with the existing mandate.”
1996 – Graça Machel Report, ‘’The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children’’
In her ground-breaking report presented to the General Assembly, Graça Machel, a former Minister of Education of Mozambique, highlighted the disproportionate impact of war on children and identified them as the primary victims of armed conflict. The report led to the adoption of the General Assembly’s Resolution 51/77, which created the mandate and recommended that the Secretary-General appoint a Special Representative on the impact of armed conflict on children. The resolution also requested that the Special Representative prepare reports on the situation of children affected by armed conflict to be presented to the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council.
1998 – First debate of the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict. The Security Council expressed its support for the mandate of the Special Representative in a Presidential Statement.
The first resolution adopted by the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict placed the issue of children affected by war on the agenda of the Security Council. The Council identified and condemned grave violations committed against children in times of conflict, and requested the Secretary-General to submit a first report on children and armed conflict as an issue that affects peace and security to be presented the following year.
The second resolution on children and armed conflict reaffirmed that the deliberate targeting of civilians, including children, may constitute a threat to peace and security and requested the Secretary-General to continue to report to the Security Council on violations against children taking place in times of conflict.
On 25 May, 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted this Optional Protocol to protect children under 18 from recruitment and use in hostilities.
The Security Council requested the Secretary-General to list parties to armed conflict that recruit or use children in violation of the international obligations applicable to them, in situations that are on the Security Council’s agenda or that may be brought to the attention of the Security Council by the Secretary-General, in accordance with article 99 of the charter of the United Nations.
2002 – The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict entered into force on 12 February.
The date is now known as the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers
Supports the Secretary-General’s call for “an era of application” of international norms and standards for the protection of children affected by armed conflict. Expresses the Security Council’s intention to enter into dialogue or to support the Secretary-General to begin dialogue with parties to conflict that recruit or use children to develop clear and time bound action plans to end this practice. Calls on parties to conflict listed by the Secretary-General to provide information on steps taken to halt the recruitment and use of children.
Requests the Secretary-General to devise a systematic and comprehensive monitoring and reporting mechanism to provide timely, accurate and reliable information on the recruitment and use of children and other violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict. Calls upon parties to conflict listed by the Secretary-General to prepare concrete, time-bound action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children in close collaboration with the United Nations. Expresses its intention to consider imposing targeted and graduated measures (sanctions) against parties that fail to develop an action plan or fail to meet the commitments included in their action plan.
Endorses the monitoring and reporting mechanism proposed by the Secretary-General to collect timely and reliable information on violations committed against children affected by armed conflict. The Security Council creates a subsidiary body, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to review information provided by the monitoring and reporting mechanism on country situations and make recommendation to the Council on measures to promote the protection of children affected by armed conflict.
Killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence against children become triggers to list parties to armed conflict in the annexes of the annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict
Attacks on schools and hospitals and attacks and threats of attacks against protected personnel become triggers to list parties to armed conflict in the annexes of the annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict.
Reiterates the Council’s readiness to adopt targeted and graduated measures (sanctions) against persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children.
Encourages Member States to consider concrete measures to deter the military use of schools and endorses “Children, Not Soldiers”, a campaign to end child recruitment and use by government armed forces in conflict by the end of 2016.
Establishes the “abduction of children” as a trigger to list parties to armed conflict in the annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict.