1. The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 51/77, in which the Assembly established the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and requested the submission of an annual report on the situation of children affected by armed conflict. The Assembly has since extended the mandate of the Special Representative three times, most recently by its resolution 60/231. This is the tenth report submitted to the Assembly on children and armed conflict.
2. Part one of the present report focuses on some of the major themes and developments relating to children and armed conflict during the reporting period. A number of significant developments are highlighted in the fight to end impunity through the application of international standards for the protection of children, as well as tangible results of political-level child protection dialogue. Part one outlines progress on mainstreaming the subject of children and armed conflict in the work of the United Nations, particularly in the peace and security sector and United Nations peacekeeping. It also focuses on the field visits of the Special Representative and resultant commitments made by parties to conflict to address child rights violations.
V. Visits of the Special Representative to situations of concern
Context and objectives of the missions
25. Since assuming my role as Special Representative in February 2006, I have committed myself to undertaking field visits as a central element of my advocacy strategy to bring high-level attention to the plight and circumstances of children affected by armed conflict.
28. In 2007, I have visited the following areas where there are situations of concern: the Sudan (January 2007), the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi (March 2007), Lebanon and Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories (April 2007) and Myanmar (June 2007).
Critical themes stressed during the visits
Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories
46. In Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, I also chose to spend most of my time interacting with the children. As in Lebanon, I noted that they were playful and resilient, but I was disturbed by their expressions of fear, anxiety, anger, revenge and hopelessness. I met with the Foreign Minister and other high-level Israeli officials, and while recognizing their legitimate security concerns, I expressed my deep reservations about the barrier erected to separate the West Bank from Israel and pointed out its humanitarian consequences for children’s health, education and right to freedom of movement. I also called for the release of customs and tax revenues due to the Palestinian Authority for health and education expenditures. I raised the issue of detained Palestinian children and urged that a different approach be taken to children found responsible for minor offences. I noted that there were approximately 400 children in detention, and my conversations with some of them indicated that they were extremely hard and bitter after the experience, thus feeding the cycle of violence. While meeting with the Palestinian authorities, I expressed my concerns about the use of children for political and armed violence and about the need to engage with UNICEF to devise a plan of action to prevent the use of children in such violence.
47. During my visit, the following commitments were made:
(a) President Abbas and Foreign Minister Abu Amr committed to reviving among Palestinian groups the code of conduct by which children are not to be involved in political violence;
(b) They expressed their willingness to devise a plan of action with UNICEF to prevent the use of children in such violence;
(c) Both the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government indicated that they were ready to review school curricula to prevent incitement to violence and hatred, and to explore ways of reviving the tripartite commission to ensure cooperation in this field, including the integration of peace education.