A key partnership between the Office of the Special Representative and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has evolved over several years. The Department has significantly expanded the incorporation of children’s issues in peacekeeping operations, including child rights and protection in training for peacekeepers and the deployment of child protection expertise in peacekeeping missions. There are currently over 60 staff members of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations involved in child protection tasks in nine peacekeeping missions, four political missions and two peacebuilding missions. These child protection personnel ensure systematic training for peacekeepers and in many locations have been instrumental in the implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism and documenting child rights violations, engaging in dialogue with parties to conflict and conducting advocacy on politically sensitive issues, thereby supporting operational partners who may be unable to do so at the risk of jeopardizing their programmes on the ground.
It is critical to continue to include and enhance the presence of child protection advisers in the mandates of all relevant United Nations peacekeeping and political missions. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations’ evaluation on the impact of child protection advisers in peacekeeping operations, which was highlighted in the 2007 report of the Special Representative to the General Assembly (A/62/228), underlined some of the main lessons learned. As a follow-up to that study, the Department has recruited a child protection focal point at the headquarters level to develop its child protection policy and to interface with child protection advisers in the field and with key partners, including the Office of the Special Representative, the Department of Political Affairs and UNICEF.
In June 2009, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Department of Field Support adopted a policy directive on mainstreaming the protection, rights and well-being of children affected by armed conflict. This groundbreaking policy reinforces the crucial role of peacekeeping missions in the protection of children.