When compared to the over 70-year history of the United Nations, the ever-evolving concepts and definitions of child protection are relatively new. Like all new concepts in established institutions, child protection needs to be thoroughly integrated into all relevant aspects of the United Nation’s programmes and work. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General has been given the responsibility by the General Assembly and the Security Council through multiple resolutions to mainstream child protection into all areas of the United Nations work.

Mainstreaming in Peacekeeping and Political Affairs

Those working in the field, in conflict and post-conflict areas are best placed to protect the most vulnerable. By protecting children, who have known violence throughout their lives, peacekeepers can break the cycle of violence and lay the foundations for durable peace.

The Security Council has addressed this issue since 1999 and protection of children in conflict has been included in the mandates of peacekeeping operations since 2001. In these past ten years peacekeeping operations have helped release thousands of child soldiers and advocate for legislative reform.

Peacekeepers, both civilian staff and soldiers, have a specific and significant role to play. Child Protection Advisors alert the Special Representative to violations against children. They collect and verify data for the Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict. They develop action plans with armed groups and forces for the release of children. Judicial Affairs Officers also work with the local population to ensure that the protection of children is included in national legislation.

Mainstreaming within the United Nations System

Many agencies, funds, and programmes such as UNICEF, OHCHR, UNHCR, ILO, UN Women, UNDP, UNESCO, UNFPA among others, are also well placed to contribute to the protection of children including the monitoring and reporting of violations against children as well as the reintegration and rehabilitation of former child soldiers.