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27 June 2008
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Agenda item 3
PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF ALL HUMAN RIGHTS, CIVIL,
POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS,
INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT
Annual report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General
for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy*
* The annexes to the present document are reproduced as received, in the language of submission only.
ISSUES OF CONCERN AFFECTING CHILDREN IN SITUATIONS OF ARMED CONFLICT
SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN IN ARMED CONFLICT
REMAINING CHALLENGES INVOLVING CHILDREN IN ARMED CONFLICT
WORKING WITH THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM
List of parties that recruit or use children in situations of armed conflict on the agenda of the Security Council, bearing in mind other violations and abuses committed against children
List of parties that recruit or use children in situations of armed conflict not on the agenda of the Security Council, or in other situations of concern, bearing in mind other violations and abuses committed against children
1. The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 51/77 and other subsequent resolutions of the Assembly on the rights of the child, including its most recent, resolution 62/141, in which the Assembly requested the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to continue to submit an annual report to the Human Rights Council on the progress achieved and the remaining challenges on the children and armed conflict agenda. The present report should be read in the context of the report of the Special Representative to the Assembly (A/62/228), in which she provided a comprehensive account of activities undertaken by the Office of the Special Representative in 2007, and the seventh report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict (A/62/609-S/2007/757). The report, which included the findings of a strategic review of a study by Graça Machel of 1996 on the impact of armed conflict on children and the recommendations provided therein, should form the primary basis for discussion by the Human Rights Council of the work of the Special Representative in the period under review.
II. ISSUES OF CONCERN AFFECTING CHILDREN IN SITUATIONS OF ARMED CONFLICT
12. In certain situations, children are being detained for alleged association with armed groups in violation of international standards. Many of the children are detained without charge or trial, usually not separated from adults, and are subjected to ill-treatment and forceful interrogation methods. They are denied family visits and, in some cases, deprived of food and education. In certain situations, some children have been used as guides and informers for Government military operations, usually under coercion. In Iraq and Israel, military administrative detention of children remains a serious concern. The children lack recourse to prompt and appropriate legal assistance. Their imprisonment only hardens attitudes and reinforces the cycle of violence.
13. The issue of forced displacement is another alarming manifestation of a humanitarian situation where children are often denied shelter, access to education and basic social services. The recruitment of children and internal displacement in Colombia, for example, are closely linked, as too often displacement becomes the only avenue left for families in certain areas to avoid the recruitment of their children by illegal armed groups. In the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the most serious consequence of the barrier and its associated regime, and its damaging humanitarian ripple effect, is an increase in forced internal displacement, violations of associated rights and induced poverty, where the majority of affected persons are children. The Special Representative is pleased to note that the Council addressed the issue of forced displacement of children and their families in its resolution 7/29.
III. SIGNIFICANT DEVELOPMENTS IN THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN IN ARMED CONFLICT
19. Apart from the sustained engagement and pressure placed on parties to conflict by the Working Group and other relevant bodies of the United Nations and its partners, country visits by the Special Representative have also provided the opportunity for high-level advocacy and opened doors for follow-up dialogue with military and political authorities by the United Nations country task forces on monitoring and reporting, and have elicited several key commitments by the parties to address the issues of recruitment and use of children and their protection from other grave violations during armed conflict. These visits also serve to highlight national efforts to advance child rights concerns in armed conflict. In 2007, the Special Representative made eight country visits, including to the Sudan (January), the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi (March), Lebanon, the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel (April), Myanmar (June) and Côte d’Ivoire (September). The visits to Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Côte d’Ivoire were primarily to follow up the recommendations of the Working Group.
20. The visits by the Special Representative to the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Israel and Lebanon followed the fact that grave violations against children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel were recorded, as distinct situations of concern, in the 2005 and 2006 reports of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict (A/59/695-S/2005/72 and A/61/529-S/2006/826). In Lebanon, the conflict between Lebanon and Israel of July and August 2006, which witnessed the worst fighting since the end of the Lebanese civil war, was also recorded as a specific situation of concern in the report of the Secretary-General in 2006. The Special Representative had the express purpose of seeing for herself the impact of armed conflict on children in the region, and deemed it critical that the problem of the protection of children from the adverse effects of the conflict in those situations be addressed. In particular, the Special Representative engaged with parties, including Governments, United Nations and civil society, in order to garner commitments for the protection of children, as reflected in international humanitarian and human rights instruments applicable to children in armed conflict.
Commitments from Governments and other parties to conflict
27. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Minister for Foreign Affairs Ziad Abu Amr agreed to revive the code of conduct among Palestinian groups not to involve children in political violence, and to engage with UNICEF to devise a plan of action to prevent the use of children in such violence.
28. The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tzipi Livni, stated that the Government of Israel was committed to investigating and taking appropriate action on the case of renewed attacks by settlers on schoolchildren in al-Tuwani village. Further, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major-General Yosef Mishlev, was committed to investigating the routing of the barrier and its effect on the daily lives of the children of Azzun Atma and al-Nu’man villages, to investigating fully the cases of harassment and attacks on children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the difficulties of access for health professionals and patients to East Jerusalem hospitals owing to the barrier and its associated restrictive permit system.