Council holds interactive dialogue with Special Representatives
on violence against children and on children in armed conflict
11 March 2015
The Human Rights Council this afternoon held a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, Marta Santos Pais, and with Special Representative of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui.
Ms. Zerrougui said that in the six countries that had experienced the most serious crises - the Central African Republic, Iraq, Nigeria, Palestine, South Sudan and Syria - children had been victims of the worst forms of violations. They had been kidnapped, executed, mutilated, sexually abused, forcibly recruited and compelled to commit atrocities, at times against other children. Ethnic and religious divides fed into by the struggles for power and influence had led to the rise of extremists groups. States had to ensure that the measures taken to combat violence against children were well studied, calibrated and regularly revised in order to prevent human rights violations and stigmatization of entire communities. The Human Rights Council could help in combating impunity and ensuring that the perpetrators of violence were brought to justice; that fight must take place with respect of the rule of law and human rights standards.
In the interactive dialogue on children in armed conflict, speakers underlined that the proliferation of crises during the past twelve months had endangered the rights of children who continued to be the most vulnerable to the impact of war. A case in point was the atrocities in the last war in Gaza and the systematic violation of the rights of Palestinian children. New problems were posed by the indoctrination of children by extremist groups. For example, in Africa Boko Haram continued to recruit under-age boys as fighters and forcefully used under-age girls as suicide bombers. Despite the impressive body of international humanitarian and human rights instruments, their impact on the protection of children on the ground remained woefully thin. All States were urged to consider raising the minimum age for enrolment in armed forces to the age of 18, and to address major challenges in stopping all use of children in government security forces by 2016, as part of the “Children, not Soldiers” campaign.
The Council has before it the annual report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui (A/HRC/28/54)
Presentation of Reports by the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and on Children and Armed Conflict
LEILA ZERROUGUI, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, said that in the six countries that had experienced the most serious crises - the Central African Republic, Iraq, Nigeria, Palestine, South Sudan and Syria - children had been victims of the worst forms of violations. They had been kidnapped, executed, mutilated, sexually abused, forcibly recruited and compelled to commit atrocities, at times against other children. In those and other countries, ethnic and religious divides fed into by the struggles for power and influence had led to the rise of extremist groups. The horrendous crimes committed by Da’ach illustrated how an extremist group imposed terror on millions, using modern communication techniques to spread its ideology. Extremist groups in other countries contributed to the spread of terror. Boko Haram in Nigeria continued to use new brutal tactics, such as using the bodies of small girls to commit suicide attacks. In Pakistan, Tahrik-i-Taliban had massacred 132 children and wounded 133 in the attack on their school in Peshawar. Last year had also been devastating for Palestinian children. Between 8 July and 26 August, at least 540 children had been killed and thousands had been wounded in Gaza; some would remain disabled for life. To date, their ordeal continued and nothing had been done to heal their wounds and give them hope. In Syria, more than 10,000 children had been killed in the four years of the conflict, thousands had been wounded, and hundreds of thousands had been forced to abandon everything and flee the war, facing uncertainties of displacement. The children still in Syria suffered daily violence and brutal tactics of armed groups and the almost daily bombardment of the Government.
Iran said that the digital age had exacerbated the vulnerability of children to exploitation and it was imperative to act collectively and resolutely to overcome this problem. Despite the impressive body of international humanitarian and human rights instruments, their impact remained woefully thin on the ground. A case in point was the atrocities in the last war in Gaza and the systematic violation of the rights of Palestinian children. The murder of innocent children in Syria and Iraq by Da’esh was frightening.
Namibia was concerned about the exploitation of children by armed forces and armed groups, and urged all States to consider raising the minimum age for enrolment in armed forces to the age of 18. It noted with great concern the situation of children in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Namibia underlined the importance of raising the awareness of children on the risks they faced as a result of exposure to information and communication technologies.
Egypt was convinced that global efforts on ending violence against children should be based on an approach of prevention, protection and redress. Children continued to suffer from a wide range of massive and grave violations in the context of armed conflicts. Children in the Palestinian territories continued to suffer on a daily basis under the Israeli occupation.