Virtual open meeting of the Friends of Reintegration/Launch of the briefing papers
Recording of the meeting available here
The Global Coalition for Reintegration – an alliance of Member States, UN agencies, the World Bank, civil society organizations and academia – was launched in September 2018 to innovate new ideas to sustainably address support for child reintegration programmes. It is co-chaired by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and UNICEF.
Through a 12-month research process, the Global Coalition for Reintegration was able to identify the main gaps and needs in child reintegration funding and programming. This process resulted in the publication of three briefing papers in 2020, which recommendations focus on new modalities and mechanisms for child reintegration to ensure long-term and sustainable funding for this strategic post-conflict intervention.
“This series of papers makes a new contribution to [our] awareness and knowledge by demonstrating how it is the responsibility of all the international community to join together and act. Thousands of children recruited and used by armed groups, and other affected children in their communities, do not receive the minimal care or services to reweave the fabric of a torn society.” UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed
Summary of findings from three reports
This document presents a summary of the three briefing papers and contains actionable recommendations to stimulate thinking and action to assist these vulnerable children and their communities.
Paper I: Gaps and Needs for the Successful Reintegration of Children Associated with Armed Groups or Armed Forces
This first briefing paper considers the key barriers that hinder children’s successful reintegration (i.e. programmatic and financial constraints) and provides good practices for implementing reintegration. It particularly highlights that a rights-based approach is essential throughout all phases of reintegration, from the earliest phases of the humanitarian response throughout development and peacebuilding activities.
Paper II: Reframing Child Reintegration: From the Humanitarian Action to Development, Peacebuilding, Prevention and Beyond
This second briefing paper reframes reintegration by situating it within a better-funded, longer-term, more sustainable approach to reintegration by a wider range of stakeholders across the Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus (HDPN) and recognizes that the success of each domain is dependent in part on the performance of the others. It underlines the centrality of reintegration to the SDGs – and the SDGs to reintegration – and the ability of conflict-affected countries to prevent children from experiencing harm in the future.
Paper III: Financing Support for Child Reintegration: Issues & Options Study
This third briefing paper puts forward the types of funding instruments used in the different fragile contexts, outlines a number of overarching principles relevant to financing, and describes alternative and innovative financing instruments relevant to reintegration programming. In particular, it emphasizes that a multi-year and predictable funding is crucial to allow for the development of relationships at program level between stakeholders, including enhancing national ownership and capacity-building of governments (national and local) where possible and appropriate.
To support the development of these three thematic papers, the Global Coalition for the Reintegration of Child Soldiers organized a series of consultations with experts from various background which exchanged knowledge and experiences on reintegration programming.
Consultations with global academia, local and international NGOs, financing experts, UN/international organizations and former child soldiers/children affected by armed conflict contributed to innovate new ideas to enable all children formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups to access the short- and long-term services they need to fully reintegrate into society and contribute to a lasting and sustainable peace.
The first consultation meeting with former child soldiers and children affected by armed conflict took place in June 2019 in New York with partners from South Sudan, Sierra Leone and UK, among others. This consultation convened a group of children who had been associated with armed forces and armed groups and/or affected by armed conflict to learn from people directly involved in reintegration activities either as a participant or an observer. Several issues were covered as part of the consultation including community acceptance, education, economic activities, psychosocial support, length of reintegration programming, best practices, and gender-sensitive programming among others. The consultation also aimed at highlighting the contribution of child reintegration programmes to overarching societal goals such as breaking the cycle of violence, reducing risk of and vulnerability to rerecruitment, and increasing resilience.
The participation of children in conflict bears serious implications for their physical and emotional well-being. They are commonly subject to abuse and most of them witness atrocities such as killing, maiming, abduction, and sexual violence. Many are forced to commit violent acts, and some suffer serious long-term psychological consequences. The reintegration of these children into civilian life is an essential part of the work to help them rebuild their lives. Their reintegration to the community in a non-discriminatory manner is furthermore beneficial for the society as a whole.
Regardless of how they are recruited and regardless of their roles, children associated with armed forces or armed groups (CAAFAG) must be primarily considered as victims.
According to the Paris Principles and Commitment, “Child Reintegration” is the “process through which children transition into civil society and enter meaningful roles and identities as civilians who are accepted by their families and communities in a context of local and national reconciliation .”
Within the UN system, UNICEF is in charge of the reintegration of CAAFAG to prepare them for a return to civilian life. Psychosocial support, education and/or vocational training are important aspects of reintegration programmes. Attempting to reunite children with their families and communities is also essential, but sensitization and reconciliation efforts are sometimes necessary before a child is welcomed back at home.
While the needs are significantly on the rise, dependable and predictable funding for reintegration programming, particularly in emergency situations, has been steadily decreasing. In the past five years, UNICEF reports that over 55,000 boys and girls were released and disassociated from armed forces and armed groups globally; however only 70% (42,000) of these children could benefit from reintegration packages.
Investing in child reintegration is fundamental for these children to fully realize their rights, but also to build more equitable and inclusive societies and achieve social cohesion, democracy and economic and productivity gains. The United Nations and World Bank study Pathways for Peace: Inclusive Approaches to Preventing Violent Conflict asserts that longer-term efforts to strengthen national systems and institutions that prevent the recruitment and use of children (e.g.
education) is more cost-effective and appropriate than a response alone. Supporting child reintegration is a strategic intervention for ALL stakeholders interested in reducing conflict—governments, donors and agencies—and moving towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and lasting peace and prosperity in conflict-affected countries.
As called for by the Security Council in resolution 2427 (2018) and the Paris Principles, reintegration programmes must be long-term and sustainable, must be gender and age-sensitive, and must provide children with access to health care, to psycho-social support and to education. The Paris Principles further stipulate that reintegration programming is needed for at least three years, perhaps longer; meanwhile many programmes currently run for as few as six months. To strongly address the reintegration gap, an innovative and radical new approach is needed. Business as usual for funding reintegration programmes can no longer suffice: we need to harness significantly more resources for more ambitious programmes and sustainable effects.
The Group of Friends on Reintegration, comprised of 28 Member States to date*, was created to increase support to child reintegration, acknowledging that durable peace cannot be achieved if children are left behind and not fully reintegrated into civilian life.
* Andorra, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, China, Djibouti, Dominican Republic, France (Co-chair), Germany, Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Kazakhstan (Co-chair), Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Malta (Co-chair), Mexico, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay.