Agenda item 101
Promotion and protection of the rights of children
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.
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