UN Child soldiers report provides foundation for action

Report
from Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers
Published on 16 Dec 2002
NOW IT'S TIME TO COME UP WITH SOLUTIONS
New York City - Non-governmental organisations campaigning against the use of child soldiers today welcomed the UN Secretary-General's new report but called for follow up action on the UN list naming those parties using children in conflicts.

"We welcome the Secretary-General's naming of those parties recruiting and using child soldiers and see this report as a solid foundation for acting to end this shameful practice," said Casey Kelso, the Coordinator of the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. "Now that the names of some governments and armed groups abusing children are public, the challenge to the Security Council is to demand accountability and take action to stop children being used as soldiers."

The Secretary-General's report -- released today in New York and submitted to the Security Council before its debate next year on the issue -- called for strengthened monitoring and reporting mechanisms, as well as measures against the abusers identified in the UN report. The UN report named five conflict situations: Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia and Somalia involving 23 parties that use or recruit children, including the government forces of Burundi, DRC and Liberia.

"As Secretary-General Kofi Annan states, the challenge is to implement international standards prohibiting the use of boys and girls in war, " Kelso said. "What are now needed are implementation proposals by the Security Council to take action on this list of offenders."

The UN report briefly noted its own limitations. It admits that UN agencies and human rights groups have long documented children being used as soldiers in Colombia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sudan, Uganda and Sri Lanka. Yet none of these countries are on the Security Council agenda and were therefore excluded from the Secretary-General's list. The next controversy: Will these countries be mentioned when the Security Council discusses follow-up action in its open debate? The meeting is said to be scheduled for sometime in January 2003.

The Coalition called upon the Security Council not to let this landmark "naming and shaming" list become yet another paper substitute for firm action to confront those who are continuing to exploit children as soldiers in warfare. The Coalition recommended that:

  • The Security Council take immediate action to make children's rights a reality in the specific conflict situations that it has examined, by committing itself to follow up in 2003 on the parties named in this year's discussion. The Security Council can invite these governments and groups as well as others to explain their use of child soldiers and engage them in dialogue to develop action plans to end it;
  • The Security Council evaluate progress made on these situations, ask for a six-month interim report, and promise to consider appropriate progressive measures next year if progress has not been made; and
  • The Security Council make this debate an annual event, but widen the criteria for next year's list to encompass all situations in which children are used as soldiers.
Background

The Child Soldiers Coalition previously released its own 195-page shadow report with an alternative "1379 Report" that documented some 72 parties to armed conflict that are using children as soldiers and more than 25 others that have recruited children in the past and should be monitored. The Coalition's list detailed a total 25 country situations, compared with the UN's five, and named 12 governments as recruiting or using children under 18 years old.

The Child Soldier Coalition's "1379 Report" takes its title from UN Security Council Resolution 1379 of November 2001, which among other things requested Secretary-General Kofi Annan to compile a first-ever list of those governments and non-state armed groups that are using children in warfare.

The Coalition's own report urges the Secretary-General and the Security Council to ensure that Resolution 1379 is used to its maximum potential - recognising that some of the countries with the most severe child soldier problems, such as Myanmar, Colombia and Sri Lanka, are at serious risk of being excluded from next year's Security Council debate.

Children as young as eleven are forcibly recruited into Myanmar's national army. With an estimated 70,000 children in its ranks, it is the world's largest single user of child soldiers. In Colombia, there are an estimated 6,000 to 14,000 child soldiers. Boys and girls as young as 8 years old are recruited into armed groups, paramilitaries and militias. In Sri Lanka, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has a long record of using child soldiers as well as a record of breaking commitments to end their recruitment and use.

For more information or interviews, please call Casey Kelso of the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers at +44-207-713-2761 or Jo Becker of Human Rights Watch at +1-212-216-1236. The Coalition's "1379 Report" is available at www.child-soldiers.org.

The UN's list of parties to armed conflict that recruit or use child soldiers

1. The situation in Afghanistan (Remnants of the Taliban, Factions associated with the former Northern Alliance, Factions in the south of Afghanistan)

2. The situation in Burundi (Government of Burundi, Palipehutu - Front National de Liberation, CNDD - Force pour la Defense de la Democratie)

3. The situation in the DRC (Government of Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mouvement National de Liberation Congolais (MLC), Rassemblement Congolaise pour la Democratie (RCD) - Goma, Rassemblement Congolaise pour la Democratie (RCD) - National, Rassemblement Congolaise pour la Democratie (RCD) - Kisangani/ML, Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC) (Hema militia), Masunzu's forces, Lendu militias, Ex-FAR/Interhamwe, Mai Mai)

4. The situation in Liberia (Government of Liberia, Liberians United for Reconstruction and Democracy)

5. The situation in Somalia (Transitional National Government , Juba Valley Alliance, Somali Reconciliation and Reconstruction Council, Somali Reconciliation and Reconstruction Council - Mogadishu, Rahawein Resistance Army)

The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers' recommended list

1. AFGHANISTAN (Taliban)

2. ANGOLA (Government armed forces, UNITA)

3. BURUNDI (Government armed forces; CNDD-FDD; PALIPEHUTU-FNL; FROLINA)

4. COLOMBIA (AUC; AUSC; ACCU; ELN; FARC)

5. DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO (Government armed forces; Mai-Mai; RCD-ML; RCD-Goma; MLC; RPA; UPDF)

6. ERITREA (Government armed forces)

7. GUINEA-BISSAU (Government armed forces)

8. INDIA (Lashkar-e-Taiba; BLTF; BSF; ULFA; PLA; UNLF; KNF; KNA; ZRO; NCSN; TNVF; ATTF; NLFT; PWG; Sangh Parivar; Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (Oken Faction); PGA)

9. INDONESIA (Government armed forces; government-allied paramilitaries ; Indonesian pro-integration armed groups; GAM)

10. IRAQ (Government armed forces; KADAK / PKK)

11. LIBERIA (Government armed forces; government-organised militia; LURD)

12. MYANMAR (Government armed forces; DKBA; UWSA; SSA-South; KNLA; KnA; KIA; MNLA)

13. NEPAL (CPN-Maoist)

14. PAKISTAN (Taliban remaining in Afghanistan)

15. RUSSIAN FEDERATION (Armed groups in Chechnya)

16. RWANDA (Government armed forces; Interhamwe)

17. SIERRA LEONE (RUF; AFRC)

18. SRI LANKA (LTTE)

19. SUDAN (Government armed forces; SSDF; pro-government militia; SPLM/A; LRA)

20. UGANDA (Government armed forces; LRA; ADF; Karamojong)

Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers
International Secretariat
2-12 Pentonville Road, 2nd floor, London N1 9HF
Tel: +44 207 713 2761 Fax: +44 207 713 2794
Email: info@child-soldiers.org Web: www.child-soldiers.org

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The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers unites national, regional and international organisations and Coalitions in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Its founding organisations are Amnesty International, Defence for Children International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation Terre des Hommes, International Save the Children Alliance, Jesuit Refugee Service, the Quaker United Nations Office-Geneva and World Vision International.