Collaborative efforts between the Office of the Special Representative, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and key United Nations entities, as well as Member States, regional organizations, NGOs and other civil society groups, have resulted in significant advances, actions and tangible results for children.
These advances include increased global awareness of the issues concerning children affected by armed conflict; development and strengthening of international norms and standards
for the protection of children; consistent focus and prioritization of this issue by the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council; placing children and armed conflict on the international peace and security agenda through systematic engagement of the Security Council; and deeper mainstreaming of children and armed conflict in the United Nations system and concerted advocacy.
Important precedents are being set through the application and enforcement of international norms and standards in the fight to end impunity and achieve accountability for grave child rights violations by National Tribunals such as in DRC and International Tribunals including the International Criminal Court and the Special Court of Sierra Leone.
The strength of the Security Council’s proactive process, combined with the application of international standards, has considerably enhanced the work carried out by child protection advocates. In the last three years political-level child protection advocacy dialogue has resulted in tangible outcomes in the form of commitments by parties to conflict, which has also translated into specific results for the protection of children on the ground.
A key partnership between the Office of the Special Representative and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has resulted in the incorporation of children’s issues in peacekeeping operations through child rights and protection in training for peacekeepers and the deployment of child protection advisors in peacekeeping missions.
The Special Representative has also initiated important conversations with the Peacebuilding Commission on child demobilization, longer-term reintegration needs, education and youth employment strategies.
Field visits by the Special Representative have been a central element of her advocacy strategy to bring high-level visibility to the situation and rights of children affected by armed conflict. In the past three years, the Special Representative has undertaken 12 country visits.
Beyond the United Nations, regional organizations such as the African Union and the European Union have begun to implement the commitments that they have made to children in the context of their own peacekeeping, peacemaking and peacebuilding initiatives. Notably the European Union adopted a strategy for the practical implementation of the European Union Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict.
Another significant political-level initiative is the strong commitment expressed by Member States to the Paris Commitments and the Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated With Armed Forces or Armed Groups, which provide guidelines on the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of all categories of children associated with armed groups.
It cannot be stressed strongly enough that action at the international and regional levels must be underpinned by a commitment to address impunity at the national level. Member States, as a matter of most urgent priority, must ensure that they undertake appropriate reforms of national legislation for the protection of children.