Working with Partners
The agenda for children and armed conflict has in recent years been strengthened through a more coordinated and collaborative effort between United Nations entities and their partners. Systematic engagement with Member States is an essential aspect of the work of the Office of the Special Representative, in the context of a number of different frameworks and forums, including the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Human Rights Council, with regional organizations and groupings, and in bilateral contacts with the Member States most actively engaged or affected.
The Special Representative also relies on those Member States that have, for several years, formed the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict. The Friends Group serves an important advocacy role at critical moments in the development of the agenda, and will continue to be essential in this regard as we enter the “era of application” of standards for the protection of children.
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The Special Representative will continue to work through the Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict to foster discussion, collaboration and cooperation to advance the agenda. The Task Force consists of UNICEF, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Political Affairs, the Office of Legal Affairs, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, the Department for Disarmament Affairs, the Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and Advancement of Women, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
With the closest United Nations partners on the agenda, such as UNICEF, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, OHCHR, UNHCR, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and UNDP, more effective collaboration depends on identifying complementarity and ensuring clarity on division of labour on an issue that cuts across the mandates and responsibilities of multiple actors in the United Nations system.
A key partnership between the Office of the Special Representative and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations has evolved over several years. The Department has significantly expanded the incorporation of children’s issues in peacekeeping operations, including child rights and protection in training for peacekeepers and the deployment of child protection expertise in peacekeeping missions. The long-standing collaboration that the Office of the Special Representative has built with UNICEF is crucial to better protection of children in conflict situations. UNICEF remains a key operational partner with which the Office of the Special Representative works closely both at the headquarters and field levels.
The mandate and role of the Special Representative is to provide leadership, visibility and greater global awareness of the rights of children affected by armed conflict and to mobilize political support and facilitate collaborative efforts on the issue across the United Nations system and beyond. The Office of the Special Representative does not have a field presence but promotes and supports the efforts of operational partners.
The Special Representative is also committed to facilitating closer relations on this issue between Member States and NGOs. Early in the agenda, the Special Representative facilitated direct contact between child protection NGOs and the Security Council through the “Arria formula” on children and armed conflict, which has now become a regular practice of direct exchange prior to the annual open debate of the Security Council devoted to children and armed conflict. Deepening such engagement between Member States and NGOs is also essential. The Special Representative has also established a structure for consultation with NGOs at United Nations Headquarters level on monitoring and reporting as well as all other aspects of the agenda.
The Advisory Group of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) includes:
- Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers
- Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict
- Save the Children
- Human Rights Watch
- Women Commission
- Norwegian Refugee Council
- International Crisis Group
- Refugees International
- World Vision
- International Rescue Committee
- Oxfam International
- Quaker Office at the United Nations
- Caritas International