Role of the Security Council
In 1999, the United Nations Security Council placed the issue of children affected by war on its agenda and asked the Secretary-General to report on grave violations affecting children in times of armed conflict.
Security Council Open Debates on Children and Armed Conflict
The Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, on behalf of the Secretary-General, presents his annual report on children and armed conflict during Open Debates of the Security Council on children and armed conflict. During the Open Debate, Member States can comment on the situation of children affected by armed conflict around the world. The Security Council often concludes the debate by the adoption of a resolution or presidential statement, and decides which action has to be taken to address the most pressing child protection issues.
Tools to strengthen child protection compliance
With the adoption of resolutions and several presidential statements, the Security Council has developed important tools to better protect children and to bring perpetrators into compliance with international standards. These tools include:
1. Identifying and naming parties to conflict who commit grave violations against children
In 2001, the Council adopted Resolution 1379 which recommended that the Secretary-General list parties in his annual report who recruit and use children. Killing and maiming, sexual violence in conflict (Resolution 1882 in 2009) and attacks on schools and hospitals (Resolution 1998 in 2011), were later added as criteria for listing.
2. Action plans
Parties to conflict listed in the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict are requested by the Security Council to develop action plans to address grave violations against children.
An action plan is a written, signed commitment between the United Nations and those parties who are listed as having committed grave violations against children in the Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict. Each action plan is designed to address a specific party’s situation, and outlines concrete, time-bound steps that lead to compliance with international law, de-listing, as well as a more protected future for children.
3. Establishment of a monitoring and reporting mechanism (MRM) on grave child rights violations
- Killing or maiming of children;
- Recruitment or use of children as soldiers;
- Sexual violence against children;
- Attacks against schools or hospitals;
- Denial of humanitarian access for children;
- Abduction of children.
4. Creation of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
Under resolution 1612 (2005), the Security Council established a subsidiary body: the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. The group- currently chaired by Malaysia – reviews reports on the situation of children in specific country situations and gives guidance to parties to conflict and the United Nations in how to better protect children.
Since resolution 1539 (2004), the international response also foresees punitive measures against individuals violating the rights of children, which include sanctions such as arms embargoes, assets freeze and travel bans. The commitment to consider sanctions has been reaffirmed in subsequent resolutions and led to targeted measures against individuals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cote d’Ivoire.