Role of the General Assembly

Strong engagement since the 90s

Since the 90s and beginning with the groundbreaking report of Graça Machel in 1996 as well as the establishment of the mandate of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict in December 1996, the General Assembly has succeeded in placing the issue of children and armed conflict firmly on the international agenda.

The General Assembly has adopted important treaties and several resolutions to better protect children from the effects of war. These resolutions are annually negotiated within the third committee of the General Assembly on social, humanitarian, and cultural affairs.


  • The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1998)
  • The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2000)
  • The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (2000)

Interaction with the Special Representative

Every year, the Special Representative presents her report to the General Assembly with information on her field visits, the progress achieved and the challenges remaining on the children and armed conflict agenda. With the submission of the report, the Assembly can be kept abreast of the most pressing and emerging issues. The 3rd Committee session in October each year also serves as an interactive debate between Member States and the Special Representative.

Group of Friends

Some Member States also have formed the so-called “Group of Friends on Children and Armed Conflict” that provides a venue to discuss related issues and to advocate for the rights of children in support of the Office. Canada has been chairing the group since 2006.