UN Security Council Establishes First Comprehensive Monitoring And Reporting System To Protect Children Affected By Armed Conflict

UNITED NATIONS, New York – In a major and ground-breaking development, the UN Security Council today voted unanimously for a series of measures, including the establishment of a comprehensive monitoring and reporting mechanism, to ensure the protection of children exposed to armed conflict. (See attached executive summary on the mechanism.) The mechanism will monitor grave violations by all parties, both governments and insurgents, focusing particularly on:

– killing or maiming of children

– recruiting or using child soldiers

– attacks against schools or hospitals

– rape or other sexual violence against children

– abduction of children

– denial of humanitarian access for children

The Security Council has endorsed the continued naming and listing of all offending parties, both insurgents and governments, which are responsible for grave violations against children. In the same resolution, the Security Council ordered offending parties which have already been listed, to prepare and implement right away, concrete action plans and timelines for ending violations against children. The Security Council also decided to establish its own special Working Group to oversee implementation of these measures and to monitor progress in ending on-going violations against children. The adoption of this resolution by the Security Council followed several months of intensive negotiations on a package of measures and recommendations submitted to it by the Secretary General in his report (S-59/695) of February, 2005.

"We have now entered the ‘era of application' ", commented UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara A. Otunnu. " For the first time, the UN is establishing a formal, structured and detailed compliance regime of this kind. This brings together all the key elements we have been developing, in the last few years, to ensure accountability and compliance on the ground. This is a turning point of great consequence."

Under the new mechanism, UN-led task forces will be established in phases, ultimately covering all conflict situations of concern, to monitor the conduct of all parties, and to transmit regular reports to a central task force based at UN headquarters in New York. These reports will serve as triggers for action against the offending parties.

The Security Council has directed UN peacekeeping missions and UN country teams to enter into immediate dialogue with offending parties listed in the Secretary-General's latest report , in order to prepare and implement, concrete time-bound action plans for ending the violations for which they have been cited. The latest report lists 54 offending parties, governments as well as insurgents, drawn from 11 situations of conflict. These included: the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) from Sri Lanka; Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) from Colombia; Janjaweed from Sudan; the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (CPN-Maoist) from Nepal; Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) from Uganda; Karen National Liberation Army from Myanmar; and government forces from DRC, Myanmar and Uganda. (See attached lists annexed to the Secretary-General's report)

The Security Council's special Working Group, composed of all 15 members, will review reports and action plans, and consider targeted measures against offending parties, where insufficient or no progress has been made. Such measures might include travel restrictions on leaders, and their exclusion from any governance structures and amnesty provisions, the imposition of arms embargoes, a ban on military assistance, and restriction on the flow of financial resources to the parties concerned.

In his statement to the Security Council, Mr. Otunnu said, "The time has come for the international community to redirect its energies from the normative task of the elaboration of standards to the compliance mission of ensuring their application on the ground. Today, as never before, we have the necessary norms, institutions, and means to realize the ‘era of application' for the protection of all children exposed to armed conflict."

In the last decade, 2 million children have been killed in situations of armed conflict, while 6 million children have been disabled or injured. Over a quarter of a million child soldiers are being abused and exploited today in situations of armed conflict around the globe. Since 2003, over 11 million children have been displaced within their own countries, and 2.4 million children were forced to flee conflict and take refuge outside their home countries. Abductions are becoming more widespread, as witnessed, for example, in Darfur, Northern Uganda, Nepal and Burundi. Thousands of children, particularly girls, are subjected to rape and other sexual abuses in situations of conflict. Landmines kill or maim 8, 000 to 10, 000 children every year.