Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update – January 2016
This month’s update highlights children and armed conflict concerns and provides recommendations for the protection of children in the situations of Burundi, Iraq, Somalia, and South Sudan. The update also reiterates key recommendations to the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict ahead of the conclusion negotiations on Afghanistan, still pending.
Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict is a network of local, national and international non-governmental organizations striving to end violations against children in armed conflicts and to guarantee their rights. Monthly updates are based on the experience of Watchlist and its member organizations in specific country situations and Watchlist’s expertise in over a decade of engagement with the Security Council’s children and armed conflict agenda.
Recommendations to the Security Council
On November 12, 2015, the Security Council adopted SCR 2248, which condemned the recent violence in Burundi and stated its intention to consider additional measures to address the deteriorating political and security situation. Pursuant to SCR 2248, the Council requests regular updates from the Secretary-General (SG) on the situation in Burundi, including on violations and abuses of human rights. UNICEF alerts to mounting child rights violations resulting from clashes and raids, noting specifically that schools are being hit by grenade blasts, and that over 100 children are being arbitrarily detained, alongside adults and for prolonged periods of time. In considering any further action on Burundi, the Security Council should:
Condemn and call for an end to all violations against children by all parties, and for strict compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law;
Ensure that any team deployed by the SG as called for in OP7 of SCR 2248 specifically assesses the situation of children, noting all potential violations of their rights, and paying special attention to any possible recruitment and use of children by the armed youth militias in particular;
Ensure that all future briefings on the implementation of SCR 2248 include information regarding the situation of children on the ground in Burundi;
Urge the Government to ensure that children encountered during military operations are treated in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law, and transferred without delay to child protection actors; children should not be arrested, detained or interrogated on the sole basis of their alleged association with armed groups;
Urge the Government to ensure that all civilian objects, including schools and hospitals, are protected from attack in accordance with international law.
France is the lead country on Burundi.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is listed for the recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and attacks on schools and hospitals. In January, the SG is expected to report on UNAMI’s progress, as per SCR 2233 (2015). In the last progress report (S/2015/819) published on October 26, 2015, the SG noted with grave concern continued recruitment and use of children by affiliates of the Popular Mobilization Forces in conflict areas, Baghdad, Basra, Anbar, and Ninewa. The SG’s report on children in armed conflict notes that children are being detained alongside adults in violation of international law. The Council Members should:
Call on all parties to the conflict to immediately end grave violations committed against children; and furthermore, call on parties to the conflict to release abducted civilians, including children, and for appropriate reintegration support to be provided to the released children; any child abducted and released should be treated as a case of abduction, not one of association with a non-State armed group;
Call on the Government to take active measures to address grave violations, particularly the recruitment and use of children, by pro-Government militias and the Popular Mobilization Forces;
Urge the Government to treat children associated with armed groups primarily as victims and to ensure that their deprivation of liberty, for any purpose, is a measure of last resort, and for the shortest possible time;
Urge the Government to respect existing international principles and juvenile justice standards while dealing with detention of children formerly associated with armed groups; and furthermore, urge the Government to amend the legislation and guarantee that the death penalty or life imprisonment is never applied to persons under 18 years of age.
The United States is the lead country on Iraq.
Somali National Army (SNA) and Al-Shabaab are both listed for the recruitment and use and killing and maiming of children. Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah (ASWJ) is also listed for recruitment and use. In 2012, the Transitional Federal Government signed two action plans with the UN. In 2014, the Ministers of Defence and National Security signed standard operating procedures (SOPs) on the reception and handover of children separated from armed groups in Somalia. In January, the SG is expected to report on the progress of UNSOM’s mandate implementation, as per SCR 2232 (2015). The last progress report (S/2015/702) from September 11, 2015, cited at least 746 cases of grave violations against children in the reporting period, attributable to SNA and Al-Shabaab. Council Members should:
Urge UNSOM to continue to support the Federal Government with the action plan implementation, in collaboration with UNICEF, as well as call for the overall increased implementation of the action plans and continued strengthening of the legal framework for child protection, pursuant to SCR 2232;
Maintain the promotion of child protection as one of UNSOM’s key priorities, and to that end, continue to ask for the deployment of Child Protection Advisors, ensure that all mandatory pre-deployment training on child protection is being undertaken, and call upon UNSOM to continue to coordinate with AMISOM’s Child Protection Adviser appointed in January 2015;
Encourage stronger public reporting on child protection as part of the SG’s progress reports on UNSOM, offering disaggregate data on the six grave violations against children;
Stress to the Federal Government that children detained during military operations, and on charges for their alleged association with armed groups, should be treated primarily as victims and handed over to child protection actors in accordance with the SOPs signed in 2014; and furthermore, encourage UNSOM to support the Federal Government on the implementation of the SOPs, with support from other child protection actors.
The United Kingdom is the lead country on Somalia. The Chair of the 751/1907 Somalia/Eritrea Committee is Venezuela.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), SPLA in Opposition (SPLA-iO) and White Army are all listed for recruitment and use. The SPLA and SPLA-iO are also listed for killing and maiming of children. In 2014, the Government of South Sudan re-committed to its 2012 Action Plan. In January, the Panel of Experts is expected to update the Sanctions Committee, pursuant to SCR 2206 (2015), as well as present the draft of their final report. The Security Council should:
Urge the Panel of Experts to provide the South Sudan Sanctions Committee with information relevant to the potential designation of individuals and entities who have allegedly committed grave violations against children;
In accordance with the designation criteria in SCR 2206 (2015), strongly urge Member States to designate individuals and entities who commit grave violations against children for sanctions, and encourage the SRSG-CAAC to continue to provide the Sanctions Committee with information relevant to the potential designation of individuals and entities who have allegedly committed grave violations against children.
The United States is the lead country on South Sudan. Senegal chairs the South Sudan Sanctions Committee, and Malaysia and New Zealand are the Vice-Chairs.
Recommendations to the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
In January, the Working Group will begin negotiations on the conclusion regarding the SG’s report on children and armed conflict in Afghanistan, formally presented on July 6, 2015. For detailed recommendations on Afghanistan, see Watchlist’s ‘Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update August 2015’.
At a joint meeting on December 3, 2015, the SRSG-CAAC briefed the Working Group and the Sanctions Committee on the Central African Republic.
Presidency of the Security Council for January: Uruguay
Party to the Geneva Convention I-IV, Additional Protocols I, II and III, Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol, ILO Convention 182, the Rome Statue of the ICC; Has endorsed the Paris Principles and the Paris Commitments.