Olara Otunnu

Former Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict 1997-2005

On 19 August 1997, Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Olara Otunnu, from Uganda, for an initial period of three years as his first Special Representative to study the impact of armed conflict on children.

From 1997 to 2005, Mr. Otunnu served as UN Under-Secretary General and Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. In that capacity he led a campaign to develop and mobilize international action on behalf of children affected by war, serving as boys and girls’ advocate, promoting measures for their protection in times of war and for their healing and social reintegration in the aftermath of conflict.

His work and advocacy led to several major innovations, including:  placing child protection on the agenda of the UN Security Council; a comprehensive body of protection norms and standards; child-specific war crimes in the Rome Statute; Child Protection Advisers; The listing of parties to conflict who recruit and use children in the annexes of the report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict; international monitoring and reporting mechanism; and the ‘Era of Application’.

He was the architect of the ground-breaking compliance regime for the protection of children, adopted by the UN Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005). The compliance regime formally established a comprehensive, international monitoring and reporting system to document grave violations against children, seeks to identify and publicly list offending parties, holding them accountable, and seeking to ensure compliance ‘on the ground’ with international legal standards. In the course of his advocacy, Mr. Otunnu undertook field trips to several countries in the grip of conflict or in the process of recovery.

*Ms. Karin Sham Poo served as Interim Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict in the Fall of 2005, during which time she presented the report of the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict to the General Assembly.