Killing and Maiming
Killing and maiming children during conflict is one of the six grave violations identified and condemned by the UN Security Council. The six grave violations form the basis of the Council’s architecture to monitor, report and respond to abuses suffered by children in times of war.
The killing and maiming of children is a trigger to list parties to armed conflict in the annexes of the annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict.
War is, and has always been, dangerous for children. Many girls and boys are killed and maimed during conflict. The changing nature of conflict, the use of landmines and unexploded ordnance pose particular threats to children.
Changing nature of conflict putting children at risk
The humanitarian principles of distinction and proportionality require fighters to distinguish between combatants and civilians, and they prohibit civilian damage beyond the scope of military advantage. However, in current warfare, this principle is eroding among armed forces and groups because of the changing nature of conflict. Children are often killed and injured in the course of military operations, including in cross-fire, aerial bombardment and shelling.
Another worrisome trend is the rise in suicide attacks, and the use of children to carry them out, that lead to the death or serious injuries of children.
Landmines and unexploded ordnance
Although thousands of children are injured and killed during military operations, many are also victims of landmines and unexploded ordnance.
Prohibition under International law
The right to life and the prohibition of killing and maiming civilians are principles enshrined in humanitarian law, human rights treaties, and jurisprudence. With Security Council resolution 1882 (2009), the Council defined patterns of killing and maiming of children in contravention of international law as a trigger for inclusion in the Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict.
“This is a major step forward in the fight against impunity for crimes against children and a recognition of the reality of conflict today, where girls and boys are increasingly targeted and victimized, killed and raped, as well as recruited into armed groups,” Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative at the time, declared in a press statement issued when resolution 1882 was adopted.