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UNITED
NATIONS
A

        General Assembly
Distr.
GENERAL
A/59/695
9 February 2005

Original: English

General Assembly
Fifty-ninth session
Agenda item 101
Promotion and protection of the rights of children
Security Council
Sixtieth year



Children and armed conflict


Report of the Secretary-General


I. Introduction


1. The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1539 (2004), by which the Council requested me to submit a report on the implementation of that resolution and its resolutions 1379 (2001) and 1460 (2003), providing information on compliance and progress in ending the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict by those parties mentioned in my 2003 report (A/58/546-S/2003/1053 and Corr.1 and 2), including information on other grave violations and abuses (see resolution 1539 (2004), para. 15 (a)); the action plan for a systematic and comprehensive monitoring and reporting mechanism (ibid., para. 2); incorporation of best practices for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes (ibid., para. 15 (c)); and measures to control illicit subregional and cross-border activities that are harmful to children (ibid., para. 3).

II. Information on compliance and progress in ending the recruitment and use of children and other violations being committed against children


2. The present report provides information on developments covering the period from the issuance of my last report, on 10 November 2003, through December 2004.

3. The preparation of the present report involved broad consultations within the United Nations, particularly with the Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict at Headquarters, peacekeeping missions and country teams, as well as with Member States, regional organizations and non-governmental organizations. United Nations peacekeeping missions and United Nations country teams were the primary sources of the information contained in the report. Following the adoption of Security Council resolution 1539 (2004), my Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict brought to the attention of United Nations peacekeeping missions and country teams the provisions of the resolution and its implications for their roles at the country level, emphasizing in particular their primary responsibility for ensuring effective follow-up to that resolution and other resolutions related to children and armed conflict.

4. The United Nations field representatives have encountered various constraints in the collection of information, including security problems, non-cooperation of parties and the absence of a coherent and functioning mechanism for monitoring and reporting at the country level. Because of similar constraints, there have been relatively few cases where United Nations representatives in the field have initiated dialogue as specific follow-up to and in implementation of Security Council resolution 1539 (2004). However, in several cases dialogue had been ongoing, typically concerning humanitarian access and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.

5. The experience of the United Nations peacekeeping missions and country teams in seeking to implement the provisions of Security Council resolution 1539 (2004) and to compile information for the present report underscores particularly the urgent importance of establishing a systematic and comprehensive monitoring and reporting mechanism.

6. Progress made by the parties listed in annexes I and II below and named in the body of my 2003 report has been assessed with respect to whether the parties have engaged in dialogue with United Nations field representatives as a follow-up to Security Council resolution 1539 (2004); whether, through this dialogue, or in the context of other processes, such as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration planning, they have developed action plans to end the use of child soldiers; whether they have, in fact, ceased recruiting and using child soldiers; and whether they have refrained from committing other grave violations against children.

7. In the context of the present report, it should be emphasized that there is no universally applicable definition of “armed conflict” in general, and in particular that the mandate of my Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict does not contain a definition of the term. In the performance of his mandate, my Special Representative has adopted a pragmatic and cooperative approach to this issue, focusing on ensuring broad and effective protection for children exposed to situations of concern, rather than dwelling on the definition of the term “armed conflict”. Reference in the present report to any State or situation should not be construed as a legal determination that there exists a situation of armed conflict within the meaning of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols.

A. Information on compliance and progress in situations on the agenda of the Security Council


...

Developments in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel

32. The continued Israeli-Palestinian conflict has had a deep impact on the lives of children. Both Palestinian and Israeli children have been exposed to high levels of violence, including killing, maiming and injury. In several instances, Palestinian children have been wounded or killed while on the premises of schools run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Israeli children have been among the victims of Palestinian suicide bombings and other violence during the reporting period.

...

III. Action plan for the establishment of a monitoring, reporting and compliance mechanism


A. Introduction


58. The present section of the report is in response to the request of the Security Council in its resolution 1539 (2004), paragraph 2, for the devising of an action plan for a systematic and comprehensive monitoring, reporting and compliance mechanism.

59. The proposals discussed below represent an action plan for the establishment of a monitoring, reporting and compliance mechanism, composed of various bodies and actors, each of which brings the role and added value of its area of jurisdiction, mandate, competence and expertise. The proposed actions, taken together, are designed to create a critical mass of response to ensure compliance and bring about the “era of application”. This action plan builds on the proposals for monitoring and reporting submitted to the Security Council in 2003 and my report to the General Assembly (A/59/331) of 3 September 2004, and draws on extensive consultations on this issue conducted among all stakeholders, particularly Member States, United Nations entities, regional organizations and NGOs.

60. The Graça Machel report of 1996 on the impact of armed conflict on children laid the foundation for the children and armed conflict agenda and constituted a seminal call to action. In the course of the past several years, my Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict has led collective efforts, involving UNICEF and other United Nations entities, Governments, regional organizations and NGOs, to develop and transform the children and armed conflict agenda into concrete actions and initiatives. These have yielded important, tangible results and generated strong momentum for the children and armed conflict agenda:

(a) There is greatly increased visibility, global awareness and advocacy on children and armed conflict issues;

(b) The protection of war-affected children has been firmly placed on the international peace-and-security agenda;

(c) An impressive and comprehensive body of children and armed conflict norms has now been put in place;

(d) The protection and well-being of children are increasingly reflected in the mandates, training and reports of United Nations peacekeeping operations;

(e) Key regional organizations — such as the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Organization of American States, the African Union, the Commonwealth, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Human Security Network and the Group of Eight industrialized countries — have adopted children and armed conflict concerns as part of their own agendas through important political declarations, advocacy and programme activities;

(f) Children’s concerns are increasingly being considered in peace negotiations, peace accords and post-conflict programmes for rehabilitation and rebuilding;

(g) A major movement for advocacy and operational activities on the children and armed conflict agenda has developed among NGOs;

(h) The mainstreaming of children and armed conflict issues is taking hold in several institutions and mechanisms, within and outside the United Nations;

(i) Transitional justice processes and mechanisms have incorporated children and armed conflict concerns to hold accountable those responsible for crimes against children;

(j) Important local initiatives on children and armed conflict issues have been developed in several countries;

(k) The establishment of the role of child protection advisers, and their deployment, in peacekeeping operations represents an important innovation designed to ensure that children and armed conflict concerns are integrated in a significant way into all aspects of peace operations;

(l) The practice of listing offending parties in the Secretary-General’s annual reports to the Security Council represents a landmark development for monitoring and reporting;

(m) The systematic practice of obtaining concrete commitments and benchmarks from parties to conflict is being developed;

(n) There are initiatives to develop the systematic documentation of abuses against children in conflict situations, such as the databases on abduction in Uganda and on recruitment in Sri Lanka, developed by UNICEF.

61. In spite of these advances, the situation for children remains grave and unacceptable on the ground. The international community is now faced with a cruel dichotomy. On the one hand, clear and strong children and armed conflict protection standards and important concrete initiatives, particularly at the international level, have been developed. On the other hand, atrocities against children and impunity for violators continue largely unabated on the ground.

62. The key to bridging this gulf lies in a systematic campaign for the “era of application”. My Special Representative has made the campaign for the era of application a leitmotif of his advocacy, urging 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.

63. The call for the era of application has been endorsed by the Security Council, and in its resolution 1539 (2004), the Council called for the urgent establishment of a monitoring and reporting mechanism.

64. The campaign for the era of application encompasses four key components: advocacy and dissemination of children and armed conflict norms; developing and strengthening local civil society networks for protection, monitoring and rehabilitation; mainstreaming children and armed conflict issues into the programmes and mechanisms of key institutions, within and outside the United Nations; and the establishment of a monitoring, reporting and compliance mechanism to ensure compliance with children and armed conflict norms.

B. Monitoring and reporting, leading to action

65. The purpose of a monitoring, reporting and compliance mechanism is to provide for the systematic gathering of objective, specific and reliable information on grave violations committed against children in situations of armed conflict, leading to well-informed, concerted and effective responses to ensure compliance with international and local children and armed conflict protection norms. An objective of the present report is to set out an action plan for the development of such a mechanism.

66. The present section of the report addresses several pertinent issues concerning the establishment of a monitoring, reporting and compliance mechanism, in particular the following:

(a) The most grave violations that should be particularly monitored;

(b) Standards that constitute the basis for monitoring;

(c) Parties whose activities should be monitored;

(d) The gathering and compilation of information at the country level;

(e) The review and integration of information and the preparation of reports at the Headquarters level;

(f) Bodies that constitute “destinations for action” for monitoring reports.

67. The proposed monitoring, reporting and compliance mechanism draws on existing resources at both the national and the international level. Thus, no new entity or structure will be established for this purpose. The mechanism operates at three principal levels: information-gathering, coordination and action at the country level; coordination, scrutiny and integration of information and preparation of reports at the Headquarters level; and concrete actions to ensure compliance, to be taken particularly by bodies that constitute “destinations for action”. My Special Representative and UNICEF will play a particularly important role in the establishment and implementation of this mechanism.

C. The most grave violations that should be particularly monitored


68. Certain practices should receive priority attention, both because they constitute especially egregious violations against children and because they can be monitored. Specifically, monitoring efforts should focus on the following six grave violations:

(a) Killing or maiming of children;

(b) Recruiting or using child soldiers;

(c) Attacks against schools or hospitals;

(d) Rape or other grave sexual violence against children;

(e) Abduction of children;

(f) Denial of humanitarian access for children.

Although some of the above-stated abuses may occur in non-conflict situations, the monitoring and reporting regime proposed here is specific to situations of armed conflict. Within this framework, particular priorities may vary according to specific situations.

D. The standards that constitute the basis for monitoring


69. A credible monitoring, reporting and compliance mechanism must be based on specific and clear standards. There is now a comprehensive body of such instruments and norms in place for the protection of war-affected children. These standards, listed below, are specific and provide well-defined yardsticks for monitoring and reporting violations against children in situations of armed conflict.

70. At the international level these standards include the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and its Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2000); the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998); International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (1999); the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the African Child (1999); the Geneva Conventions (1949) and their two Additional Protocols (1977); and Security Council resolutions 1261 (1999), 1314 (2001), 1379 (2001), 1460 (2003) and 1539 (2004), which are devoted to the subject of children and armed conflict.

71. In addition to these international instruments and norms, national legislation exists that provides for the protection, rights and well-being of children. There are also concrete commitments on children and armed conflict which have been entered into by parties to conflict.

72. Peace accords incorporating children and armed conflict commitments, such as the 1998 Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland, the 1999 Lomé Peace Agreement on Sierra Leone, the 2000 Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement for Burundi and the 2003 Accra Peace Agreement on Liberia, also constitute clear standards for the protection of children and their prioritization in post-conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction.

73. Significantly, various societies can draw on their own traditional norms governing the conduct of warfare. Societies throughout history have recognized the obligation to provide children special protection from harm, even in times of war. Distinctions between acceptable and unacceptable practices have been maintained, as have time-honoured taboos and injunctions proscribing the indiscriminate targeting of civilian populations, especially children and women.

E. Parties whose activities should be monitored


74. An effective monitoring, reporting and compliance regime must monitor and seek to influence the conduct of all parties to conflict, Governments as well as insurgency groups. In this respect, it is also important to monitor the conduct of international peacekeeping and humanitarian personnel.

75. The international instruments and standards listed above, which constitute the normative yardsticks for monitoring violations, address and place obligations at the doorsteps of all parties to conflict. It is crucial to engage in protection dialogue with all entities whose actions have a significant impact on children, without any implications as to their political or juridical status. My Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF have developed a systematic practice of engaging in dialogue with and obtaining concrete commitments from all parties to conflict, and the Security Council has called on all parties to conflict to observe the concrete commitments they have undertaken.

76. The lists submitted to the Security Council, which identify the offending parties, encompass all offending parties, while preserving a clear distinction between parties in situations on the agenda of the Security Council and parties in situations not on the agenda of the Council and other situations of concern.

77. At political and practical levels there are levers of influence that can have significant sway with all parties to conflict. In today’s world, parties to conflict cannot operate as islands unto themselves. The viability and success of their political and military projects depend on networks of cooperation and good will that link them to the outside world, to their immediate neighbourhood as well as to the wider international community. There are, consequently, powerful factors that can influence all parties to conflict: the force of international and national public opinion; the desire of the parties for acceptability and legitimacy at the national and the international level; international accountability as enforced by the International Criminal Court and ad hoc tribunals; restrictions on the external provision of arms, financial flows and illicit trade in natural resources; the growing strength and vigilance of international and national civil societies; and media exposure.

F. Gathering, vetting and compiling information at the country level


78. At the forefront of efforts to advocate, monitor and ensure compliance for the era of application are country-level child protection actors, some of which are already engaged in various levels of monitoring and reporting activities. United Nations peacekeeping operations and United Nations country teams, under the leadership of Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and resident coordinators, respectively, are present and active in virtually all conflict-affected situations. Their presence, knowledge and ongoing operations provide unique opportunities for advocacy, monitoring and reporting. As reaffirmed in Security Council resolution 1539 (2004), the primary responsibility for follow-up, coordination and monitoring of children and armed conflict issues at the country level belongs to the United Nations field teams, both peacekeeping operations and country teams, consistent within their respective mandates.

79. Child protection networks, which bring together all stakeholders concerned with child protection and rehabilitation in informal networks and forums for dialogue and collaboration, now exist in several war-affected countries and situations. These informal networks should provide resources for building a structured and concerted children and armed conflict monitoring and reporting system on the ground. Child protection networks are typically composed of United Nations actors, relevant Government ministries or institutions, international NGOs and local NGOs and civil society organizations, which undertake a range of advocacy and programmatic activities for the benefit of children. Where they are not yet in place, UNICEF and United Nations peacekeeping operations (child protection advisers) should undertake to facilitate the formation of child protection networks in those war-affected countries.

80. In each country where children and armed conflict is an issue, a task force on monitoring and reporting will be constituted, involving key members of the child protection network. The task force on monitoring and reporting should be the primary focus and locus for action on monitoring and reporting at the country level — gathering, vetting and integrating field-level information and providing reports to the country Special Representatives of the Secretary-General or resident coordinators, who, in turn, transmit the reports to my Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

81. It is crucial to support and strengthen national institutions for the protection and rehabilitation of children in conflict and post-conflict situations. The development and strengthening of civil society networks for advocacy, protection, monitoring and rehabilitation, at the national and the subregional level, should become a particular priority. This is the best way to ensure local ownership and sustainability. It will require enhanced support and assistance from international partners.


Actions to be undertaken by United Nations field teams

82. Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and resident coordinators are ultimately responsible for ensuring United Nations-wide follow-up, mainstreaming, coordination and monitoring and engaging in dialogue with parties to conflict on children and armed conflict issues; they are the focal points at the country level. They may delegate day-to-day responsibility for these tasks to the task forces on monitoring and reporting. The direct leadership and personal involvement of Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and resident coordinators, in consultation with UNICEF, is critical with respect to key issues such as dialogue, action plans and specific political démarches at the country level with Government authorities and other concerned parties.

83. Task forces on monitoring and reporting should be constituted and, whenever possible, draw particularly from child protection networks on the ground. A task force on monitoring and reporting should be a selected and cohesive group of those United Nations actors (peacekeeping operations, UNICEF, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNHCR, UNHCHR, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)) and NGO actors that have experience in and are most directly concerned with monitoring and reporting. The task force on monitoring and reporting would serve as both the locus and the focus of action, responsible for determining the division of labour; coordinating the gathering of information on the ground; vetting and confirming the accuracy of information received; integrating and providing quality control for the information received; providing feedback to local communities and civil society organizations; providing guidance and training in methodology, as well as in ethical and security matters, to information gatherers; making determinations on practical and political constraints, with recommendations to Special Representatives of the Secretary-General or resident coordinators, as necessary; and preparing the monitoring and compliance country reports. Where there is a peacekeeping mission, the task force on monitoring and reporting would be coordinated and co-chaired by the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and a UNICEF representative, with the former serving as the reporting conduit to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. In a country without a peacekeeping mission, the UNICEF representative would chair the task force and report in this regard to the resident coordinator.

84. In order to perform effectively the functions of protection, monitoring and reporting, UNICEF, UNHCR, peacekeeping operations, UNHCHR and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, as United Nations entities with important child-protection mandates, will take concrete steps to strengthen the capacities of their field presence in terms of personnel, training and funding. Similarly, NGOs involved in monitoring and reporting should also strengthen their capacities for this purpose.

85. In peacekeeping missions, advocacy and monitoring and reporting on child protection should constitute a core function for child protection advisers. Other personnel, such as human rights officers, humanitarian affairs officers and military observers, should be fully briefed on child protection issues during their pre-deployment and in-mission training with a view to facilitating their mainstreaming into the mission’s activities. Within United Nations country teams, these functions depend particularly on UNICEF providing leadership, in close cooperation with UNHCR, UNHCHR and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. In carrying out their respective roles, a collaborative division of labour should be developed to ensure inter-agency coordination at the country level.

86. To ensure the reliability of information and devise a system for quality control and confidentiality, each task force on monitoring and reporting should establish a rigorous and systematic procedure for vetting information gathered, protecting sources and ensuring the security of the raw data. Although general monitoring and reporting practices may be the same across country situations, country-level particularities will necessitate specific approaches by the task force. Ultimately, it is critical that information transmitted be objective, accurate and precise. Typically, such information should include concise descriptions, specifying incidents of violations, where and when the incidents occurred and the identity of parties responsible for committing the violations.

87. Task forces on monitoring and reporting should prepare annual country reports, monthly reports on relevant developments and alert reports as necessary.

88. Under the coordination and management of UNICEF, a task force on monitoring and reporting should establish and maintain a monitoring and reporting information database at the country level, which feeds into the central monitoring and reporting information database at the Headquarters level.

89. In order to encourage and develop effective “neighbourhood initiatives” to address cross-border and subregional children and armed conflict concerns, it is necessary to constitute a neighbourhood consultation framework — “neighbourhood watch” — that would periodically bring together UNICEF, United Nations peacekeeping operations (child protection advisers) and other child protection actors within neighbouring countries to address common challenges, strengthen collaboration, share information and explore joint initiatives and reporting, in cooperation with the Governments concerned.

90. Task forces on monitoring and reporting should undertake periodic assessments of best practices and lessons learned, in the context of children and armed conflict monitoring and reporting. Lessons learned at the country level should be shared with Headquarters and the “neighbourhood watch”.

91. In order to promote children and armed conflict protection and mainstreaming, the Security Council should, when necessary, consider including child protection in the mandates of peacekeeping missions, and Special Representatives of the Secretary-General should take concrete steps, consistent within their mandates, to ensure that their country reports devote specific sections to child protection, as stipulated by the Council in its resolutions 1460 (2003) and 1539 (2004).

G. Review and integration of information and the preparation of reports at the Headquarters level


92. Information gathered at the country level is transmitted to the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict by Special Representatives of the Secretary-General or resident coordinators, for review, consolidation and compilation into monitoring and compliance reports. This Headquarters exercise is spearheaded by the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, which is the focal point for the preparation of the Secretary-General’s report and the convener of the Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict. The Task Force, established since May 2000, consists of the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, UNICEF, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Political Affairs, the Office of Legal Affairs, UNHCHR, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), 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, UNHCR, UNDP and ILO.

93. Working in close consultation with the Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict, the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict will be responsible for scrutinizing and consolidating the country reports and compiling the information into an annual monitoring and compliance report. In the preparation of this report, the Office of the Special Representative will coordinate the consolidation of information and the preparation of monitoring reports; scrutinize information received and seek necessary clarification from United Nations field teams; draft the monitoring and compliance reports; prepare lists of offending parties, while maintaining a clear separation between parties in situations on the agenda of the Security Council and parties in situations not on the agenda of the Council; distribute draft reports to members of the Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict for their review, inputs and comments; convene the Task Force for reviews of and consultations on structure, content, monitoring lists and scrutiny of draft reports; and consult with and solicit inputs and comments from delegations, regional organizations, ICRC and NGOs.

94. The annual report should be comprehensive in approach, encompassing the aforementioned six categories of grave violations, in situations of armed conflict and other situations of concern. It should provide concise, objective and accurate information on violations. Where applicable, the report should also record concrete examples of protection and compliance measures undertaken by parties to conflict.

95. A steering committee of the Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict will be convened to undertake a regular review of overall progress in monitoring and reporting, focusing particularly on the implementation and functioning of the mechanism. The steering committee, which will meet at the level of principals twice a year and at the level of experts every month, will be composed of the following members of the Task Force: the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict UNICEF, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, UNHCR and UNHCHR.

96. 96. In the context of preparing monitoring reports and lists, it should be emphasized that there is no universally applicable definition of “armed conflict” in general, and in particular that the mandate of my Special Representative does not contain a definition of the term. In the performance of his mandate, my Special Representative has adopted a pragmatic and cooperative approach to this issue, focusing on ensuring broad and effective protection for children exposed to situations of concern, rather than on the definition of the term “armed conflict”. The mention or discussion of any particular State or situation should not be construed as a legal determination that there exists a situation of armed conflict within the meaning of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols.

97. Monitoring lists are not intended to name countries as such; the purpose is to identify particular parties to conflict that are responsible for specific grave violations against children. In this respect, the names of countries are cited only in order to indicate the locations or situations where the offending parties are committing the violations in question.

Actions to be undertaken by the Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict at the Headquarters level

98. The Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, working with the Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict, will continue to prepare an annual monitoring and compliance report, which will be submitted to the following “destinations for action” for their review and action in the context of their respective mandates and competences: the Security Council, the General Assembly, regional organizations, national Governments, the International Criminal Court and the Commission on Human Rights.

99. The Office of the Special Representative and the Task Force will also compile ad hoc reports as necessary for transmission to other “destinations for action”, in particular, the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the proposed working group of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights.

100. The Office of the Special Representative and the Task Force will monitor progress concerning the integration of children and armed conflict issues into key peace-and-security activities, particularly in relation to mandates of peace operations, planning of new peace missions, reports from peacekeeping missions and country-specific and relevant thematic Security Council resolutions.

101. The Office of the Special Representative and the Task Force will keep under regular review significant children and armed conflict developments in specific situations, in order to propose actions and raise timely alerts as necessary.

102. The Office of the Special Representative and UNICEF will establish and manage a central monitoring and reporting information database on behalf of the steering committee, drawing on the monitoring databases compiled at the country level.

103. Each United Nations entity that is a member of the Task Force will designate a senior-level or mid-level dedicated departmental focal point for children and armed conflict, and the focal points should become regular participants in the Task Force.

104. In order to provide common approaches and guidelines for the monitoring and reporting mechanism, the Office of the Special Representative and UNICEF will compile monitoring and reporting guidelines, drawing on experience to date and working with the Task Force, United Nations peacekeeping operations, United Nations country teams and NGOs.

105. Members of the Task Force, particularly the Office of the Special Representative, UNICEF, UNHCHR, UNHCR and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, will continue to play their respective advocacy roles actively, drawing on the information provided through the mechanism.

106. After the launch of the mechanism, its smooth implementation and full operationalization will require intensive interaction, including regular field visits by the Office of the Special Representative and UNICEF, and regular guidance between the Task Force and United Nations field teams, to ensure ongoing review, feedback and a smooth two-way flow of information. A formal assessment of the implementation of the mechanism will be conducted one year after its launch.

H. Bodies that constitute “destinations for action”, with responsibility for taking necessary action based on the monitoring reports


107. Reports compiled should serve as triggers for action on the part of the appropriate international, regional and national bodies, each employing the means and levers of influence at its disposal to ensure the protection, rights and well-being of war-affected children. Such actions may range from calls for compliance to condemnation of violations to the application of targeted measures. The key “destinations for action” are national Governments, the Security Council, the General Assembly, the International Criminal Court, the Commission on Human Rights and regional organizations.

1. National Governments

108. Governments have the most direct formal, legal and political responsibility to ensure the protection of all children exposed to armed conflict within their countries. It is important to stress both the centrality and the immediacy of the role of national authorities to provide effective protection and relief to all children in danger. In this regard, national Governments constitute the first “destination for action”, the first line of response. Any actions by United Nations entities and international NGOs at the country level should always be designed to support and complement the protection and rehabilitation roles of national authorities, never to supplant them. In situations where national protection institutions have been greatly weakened by the experience of protracted armed conflict, international partners should make it a priority to support the rebuilding of local institutions and capacities for protection and rehabilitation.

Actions to be undertaken by national Governments

109. National Governments should enact and apply relevant national legislation to ensure the protection, rights and well-being of children and should ensure the protection and rehabilitation of war-affected children within their jurisdiction. Whenever appropriate, relevant Parliamentary committees, such as committees covering human rights, development, humanitarian action and foreign affairs, should be encouraged to receive periodic national and international monitoring and compliance reports on children and armed conflict, for their own review and action. In the context of their international responsibility, Governments should promote the children and armed conflict agenda within multilateral organizations and in their bilateral cooperation.

2. Security Council

110. Because of its primary responsibility for peace and security, the Security Council has a special responsibility for ensuring the protection and well-being of children exposed to armed conflict. With respect to ensuring compliance with children and armed conflict protection norms, the Security Council is by far the most important international “destination for action”.

Actions to be undertaken by the Security Council

111. The Secretary-General’s annual report to the Security Council serves as the primary vehicle for transmitting monitoring and compliance information. The annual debate by the Security Council on children affected by armed conflict is intended to serve as a systematic review of the state of monitoring and compliance on the ground.

112. It is recommended that the Council review monitoring and compliance whenever a specific country situation is under consideration and ensure that children and armed conflict concerns are incorporated into ensuing resolutions.

113. Whenever the Council conducts fact-finding field missions, it may wish to include a checklist of specific children and armed conflict monitoring and compliance concerns in its briefs and discussions.

114. In order to promote children and armed conflict protection, mainstreaming and monitoring, the Council should consider the inclusion of child protection in the mandates of all peacekeeping missions.

115. Monitoring and compliance reports received by the Security Council serve as triggers for action. In order to end impunity, it is critical that grave and persistent violations lead to targeted and concrete measures of response by the Council. The Council may wish to consider targeted and concrete measures where insufficient or no progress has been made by parties listed in my reports, in accordance with its resolutions 1379 (2001), 1460 (2003) and 1539 (2004). Such measures could include the imposition of travel restrictions on leaders, their exclusion from any governance structures and amnesty provisions, a ban on the export or supply of small arms, a ban on military assistance, restrictions on the flow of financial resources to offending parties and a ban on illicit trade in natural resources.

3. General Assembly

116. The annual regular session of the General Assembly provides an important opportunity to review the monitoring and compliance reports and take appropriate action. The annual report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on children and armed conflict, which records grave abuses and lists parties responsible for the violations, is being submitted simultaneously to the General Assembly to enable it to take appropriate action within the context of its own mandate.

Actions to be undertaken by the General Assembly

117. Under its agenda item “Promotion and protection of the rights of children”, the General Assembly may wish to devote a dedicated resolution to children and armed conflict monitoring and compliance. Such a resolution might include calls for compliance, condemnation of grave violations and specific recommendations on corrective measures to be undertaken by offending parties.

118. When considering human rights in country-specific situations, relevant monitoring and compliance information on children and armed conflict issues could be incorporated into the discussion and ensuing resolutions.

4. Economic and Social Council

119. The annual consideration of the report and resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights provides the Economic and Social Council with the opportunity to review actions taken at the level of the Commission.

Action to be undertaken by the Economic and Social Council

120. The Economic and Social Council could periodically devote its high-level segment to a review of the subject of children and armed conflict, focusing particularly on the issue of monitoring and reporting.

5. International Criminal Court

121. The establishment of the International Criminal Court is important because of both its deterrence effect and the prospect of prosecution for war crimes against children.

Actions to be undertaken by the International Criminal Court

122. Concrete steps should be taken to ensure the earliest possible prosecution of persons responsible for war crimes against children. Some initiatives are already under way in this direction. The Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, the Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict and the task forces on monitoring and reporting can contribute to this by providing the International Criminal Court Prosecutor with relevant information at their disposal.

123. The deterrence role of the International Criminal Court needs to be actively promoted through proactive advocacy and public information activities by United Nations and NGO actors at all levels.

6. United Nations human rights regime

124. The cluster of mechanisms that comprise the United Nations human rights regime could be more systematically channelled to promote effective children and armed conflict monitoring and compliance. Their roles are crucial in this context.

Actions to be undertaken by the Commission on Human Rights

125. The Commission on Human Rights receives the annual children and armed conflict monitoring and compliance report. This could constitute the basis for annual review and action through a resolution dedicated to this purpose, at the regular session of the Commission.

126. When considering country-specific human rights situations in countries affected by armed conflict, the Commission could incorporate specific children and armed conflict concerns into its discussion and resulting resolutions.

Actions to be undertaken by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

127. UNHCHR could undertake public advocacy, fact-finding and, where appropriate, independent investigation of specific episodes of atrocities and other grave violations against children. Children and armed conflict concerns could be systematically integrated into the tasks and capacities of human rights field officers.

Actions to be undertaken by the Committee on the Rights of the Child

128. The Committee on the Rights of the Child could incorporate monitoring and accountability on children and armed conflict issues in its scheduled reviews of country reports. The Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict currently provides children and armed conflict-specific supplementary information ahead of country reviews; this practice could be expanded in collaboration with the Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict and task forces on monitoring and reporting.

Actions to be undertaken by Special Rapporteurs of the Commission on Human Rights

129. There are special rapporteurs and independent experts focusing on specific situations, including several conflict-affected countries. When the special rapporteurs prepare their reports, children and armed conflict-specific sections, focusing particularly on the six grave violations identified in section III.C above, could be incorporated.

130. It is also important that the special rapporteurs invoke the international instruments and norms listed in section III.D above as a basis for proactive advocacy for children and armed conflict concerns and draw on information in reports issued by treaty supervision bodies of the United Nations system.

131. There are special rapporteurs who cover thematic issues that are pertinent to children and armed conflict concerns, particularly the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children; and the Representative of the Secretary-General on internally displaced persons.

Action to be undertaken by the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights

132. A standing working group on children and armed conflict could be constituted under the Subcommission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights to undertake a regular review of children and armed conflict monitoring and compliance in specific situations, and to make recommendations for appropriate action by the Subcommission based on information provided by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict.

7. Regional and subregional organizations

133. In the course of the last several years, several regional organizations, working with Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, have incorporated the protection of war-affected children into their agendas and programmes. The Security Council has urged and encouraged this development. Regional organizations can make important contributions to a concerted monitoring and compliance regime on children and armed conflict. The Office of the Special Representative will continue to transmit the annual monitoring reports to regional organizations, for review and action within their mandates and jurisdictions.

Actions to be undertaken by regional organizations

134. Regional organizations should incorporate and mainstream the protection of children affected by armed conflict in their advocacy, policies and programmes. They should develop peer review and monitoring and reporting mechanisms, while also including monitoring activities, child protection staff and training in their peace operations and field presence. In addition, they should undertake subregional initiatives to end activities harmful to children in times of conflict, in particular cross-border recruitment and abduction of children, illicit movement of small arms and illicit trade in natural resources.

135. The European Union and ECOWAS, for example, have already taken important initiatives in some of these areas. Other regional organizations, such as the African Union, the Organization of American States, the League of Arab States, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Association of South-East Asian Nations, could develop similar initiatives, working in cooperation with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

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Flow chart for monitoring and reporting on children and armed conflict


IV. Incorporation of best practices in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes for children


138. The present section of the report is in response to Security Council resolution 1539 (2004), paragraph 15 (c), requesting an update on the incorporation of best practices for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.

139. During the reporting period, a number of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes for children were initiated or continued in both conflict and post-conflict situations. While there is no single effective model for such programmes, important lessons have emerged, as reflected in my 2003 report. Since then, these lessons were applied to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration exercises in Afghanistan, Burundi, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone to varying degrees. A United Nations inter-agency Working Group on Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, which is currently developing policies, guidelines and procedures for the planning, implementation and monitoring of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, is incorporating into its initiatives best practices and lessons learned relating to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes for children. As part of the initiative “Towards a United Nations approach to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration in a peacekeeping environment”, a module on children and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration is being finalized.

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V. Measures to control illicit subregional and cross-border activities harmful to children


147. The present section of the report is in response to Security Council resolution 1539 (2004), paragraph 3, requesting information on measures to control illicit subregional and cross-border activities that are harmful to children.

148. Illicit cross-border activities, intrinsically related in terms of their root causes and dynamics, have deleterious consequences for children and peace and security. The cross-border abduction and recruitment of children, the trafficking of small arms and light weapons and the illicit exploitation of natural resources all serve to intensify the vulnerability of children in conflict situations, as well as in transitional and post-conflict situations. Such activities expose children to further atrocities and abuse and undermine efforts at establishing peace, security, legitimate economic activities and the rule of law. The cross-border abduction of children for forced recruitment and training by armed forces and groups, and other forms of exploitation, such as domestic, manual and sexual labour, and the trafficking of small arms and light weapons strongly correlate with the use of child soldiers. The documented link between illegal resource exploitation by armed groups and the procurement of small arms and light weapons with the proceeds is of special concern, as this is a form of double jeopardy for children. The illicit exploitation of natural resources is often accompanied by forced labour and displacement of children and, at the same time, diverts resources from services and programmes for children.

149. The following proposed measures are intended to promote international and regional cooperation in efforts to prevent and control illicit cross-border activities harmful to children. In particular, measures to enforce international standards and plans of action are required to ensure the rights, protection and well-being of war-affected children in conflict, transitional and post-conflict situations.

General recommendations


150. Member States and regional organizations should make a commitment to combat illicit cross-border activities harmful to children through the development of bilateral, multilateral and regional arrangements, including initiatives for the development of preventive and early warning systems, and establish coordination and monitoring mechanisms for strengthening the gathering, analysis and dissemination of information among law enforcement, border and customs control agencies and other relevant actors.

151. Member States should ratify and implement the provisions of existing international conventions relevant to the aforementioned cross-border activities, such as the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2003) and its supplementary Protocols, as well as ILO Convention 182 concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour (1999) and ILO Convention 29 concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour (1930).

152. Member States should criminalize activities associated with the aforementioned illicit cross-border activities and cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of those responsible for wrongful behaviour.

153. Mechanisms for cross-border cooperation among peacekeeping missions — such as those developed by the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone, UNMIL and the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa and MONUC and ONUB in the Great Lakes region of Africa — should be implemented in order to enhance a subregional approach in carrying out the respective mandates of these missions in the area of child protection. Coordination between child protection agencies and peacekeeping missions should also be ensured.

154. The Security Council should consider targeted measures against parties to armed conflict and complicit actors in neighbouring countries whose actions contribute to illicit cross-border activities harmful to children and to the consequent fuelling of conflict.

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