Colombia

Public Statement by Chair of Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict

Format
News and Press Release
Source
Posted
Originally published
Origin
View original

SC/14276

The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, in connection with the examination of the fourth report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Colombia (document S/2019/1017), agreed to convey the following messages through a public statement by the Chair of the Working Group:

To all parties to the armed conflict in Colombia:

  • Commending the signing of the Final Agreement for Ending the Conflict and Building a Stable and Lasting Peace (hereafter: “the Peace Agreement”) between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — People’s Army (FARC-EP) in Bogota on 24 November 2016, following which the FARC-EP transformed into a political party, ceased to exist as an armed group, released children from its ranks and was delisted for ceasing recruitment and use (document A/72/865–S/2018/465); and welcoming in particular the provisions on the reintegration of children and the mainstreaming of the protection of children throughout the Agreement, and encouraging their continued and full implementation;
  • Noting with appreciation that the Peace Agreement sets as guiding principles the best interest of the child, the treatment of children separated from armed groups as victims and the focus on family and community-based reintegration, and looking forward to its continued and full implementation and to its continued serving as a model for the protection of children, and the consideration of their views, in other peace processes;
  • Welcoming efforts by the Government to develop negotiated solutions to armed conflict with other armed groups, expressing regret that several temporary ceasefires were ended by ELN, noting the announcement by the ELN of an active unilateral ceasefire for a month starting on 1 April 2020 in response to the United Nations Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire to focus attention on the Covid-19 pandemic, noting significant compliance with the ceasefire, while regretting the ceasefire was not extended, calling for the integration from the early stages of child protection provisions, including those relating to the release and reintegration of children, as well as provisions on the rights and well-being of children, into all peace negotiations, ceasefire and peace agreements, and in provisions for ceasefire monitoring, taking into account children’s views, where possible, in these processes, and encouraging all relevant actors involved in peace and mediation processes to use the “Practical guidance for mediators to better protect children in situations of armed conflict” (document S/2020/114) as a tool, as much as possible, in these processes;
  • Also welcoming the overall decrease in the number of violations and abuses committed against children during the reporting period verified by the country task force on monitoring and reporting, and noting the direct causal link made in the report of the Secretary-General between this decrease and the signature of the Peace Agreement and the subsequent demobilization of the largest armed group in the country;
  • Expressing, however, grave concern at the expansion during the reporting period of territorial presence by armed groups, including the ELN and FARC-EP dissident groups, and the continued displacement of and violations and abuses against children being committed;
  • Calling upon them to further implement the previous conclusions of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in Colombia (documents S/AC.51/2010/3, S/AC.51/2012/4 and S/AC.51/2017/1);

To all armed groups party to the conflict in Colombia, in particular the National Liberation Army (ELN), mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General:

  • Expressing grave concern at and its strongest condemnation of the violations and abuses that continue to be committed against children by armed groups in Colombia, and urging them to immediately end and prevent all violations of applicable international law involving the recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abduction, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access and to comply with their obligations under international law;
  • Expressing deep concern and its condemnation of the continued and high level of recruitment and use of children, including children from indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities and refugee and migrant children, and urging all armed groups to end and prevent further recruitment and use of children under 18 years of age and immediately release without preconditions all children present in their ranks;
  • Expressing deep concern at the number of children killed and maimed, including as the result of crossfire, indiscriminate attacks, direct targeting of children, bombing as well as by anti-personnel mines, unexploded ordnance and improvised explosive devices, and urging all armed groups to cease the killing and maiming of children, and to end immediately and definitively the use of indiscriminate explosive devices and to destroy any such devices remaining in their arsenal;
  • Expressing grave concern at and its strongest condemnation of rape and other forms of sexual violence perpetrated against children, and urging all armed groups to take immediate and specific measures to put an end to and prevent the perpetration of rape and other forms of sexual violence against children;
  • Strongly condemning the abduction of children and urging all armed groups to cease the abduction of children and immediately release without preconditions all abducted children;
  • Strongly condemning the attacks on schools and hospitals and urging all armed groups to respect the civilian character of schools and hospitals, including their personnel, as such, and to end and prevent attacks or threats of attacks against those institutions and their personnel as well as the military use of schools and hospitals in violation of applicable international law; noting in this regard the Safe Schools Declaration;
  • Strongly condemning the incidents of denial of humanitarian access, and urging all armed groups to allow and facilitate safe, timely, and unhindered humanitarian access to children, consistent with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, to respect the exclusively humanitarian nature and impartiality of humanitarian aid and to respect the work of all United Nations agencies, and their humanitarian partners, without adverse distinction;

To the Government of Colombia:

  • Commending the reaffirmation of the commitment of the Government to the implementation of the Peace Agreement and urging the Government to continue with the vital task of ensuring its comprehensive implementation in all the territories to ensure sustainable peace and of ending violations and abuses against children;
  • Welcoming the progress that the Government of Colombia has made in preventing and responding to violations and abuses against children, including through the prevention programme “Mi Futuro es Hoy”; encouraging the Government to continue to prioritize the implementation of this and other prevention programmes, including through the allocation of sufficient resources and designated institutions and a comprehensive evaluation of their achievements and challenges, in order to enhance the prevention of new cases of recruitment and use of children, and as guided by the Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups (“Paris Principles”) endorsed by the Government of Colombia;
  • Welcoming Decree 1434, adopting a public policy to prevent recruitment, use and sexual violence against children by non-State armed groups and organized criminal groups, and calling on the Government and local authorities to design, implement and devote sufficient resources to ensuing plans in line with the Decree; encouraging the strengthening of institutions and programmes that prevent child recruitment while paying particular attention to migrants and refugee children, especially unaccompanied ones;
  • Calling on the Government to take additional measures to protect children during military operations, including through respecting the principles of distinction and proportionality and the obligation to take all feasible precautions, and to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law while conducting armed confrontations in areas where civilians and children are present; and encouraging the Government to continue its mine risk education activities, and strengthen demining efforts, including through increased coordination and mine clearance operations in affected regions;
  • Urging the Government to prioritize prevention of rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, including sex trafficking, to ensure that adequate programmes, specialized services, and reporting channels are available and accessible to survivors of rape and other forms of sexual violence committed against them as children, and to investigate allegations of, and where appropriate, prosecute and convict those responsible for rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, including sex trafficking;
  • Calling on the Government to continue its efforts to implement the Peace Agreement, including by ensuring the effective implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the “A Different Path of Life” programme for the reintegration of children who left the FARC-EP ranks, including through a family- and community-based approach, while taking into account the specific needs of boys and girls as well as age and ethnicity, and by providing specific protection measures for beneficiaries of the programme as well as for the children born to former FARC-EP members (Secretary-General report paragraphs 46-53, 72);
  • Encouraging the Government to further continue its constructive cooperation with the United Nations, and in particular the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting, as well as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF;
  • Stressing the importance of justice and accountability for all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict and calling on the Government to ensure that all those responsible for violations and abuses against children are brought to justice and held accountable without undue delay, including through comprehensive, independent, timely and systematic investigation, and, as appropriate, prosecution and conviction; welcoming in this respect the opening by the Special Jurisdiction for Peace of case no. 007, which focuses on incidents of recruitment and use of girls and boys between 1 January 1971 and 1 December 2016;
  • Calling upon the Government to fully address, in the framework of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Repetition, the special protection needs of children as witnesses and victims, including children who may have been associated with armed groups, including through restorative justice processes and social rehabilitation, with their best interests as a primary consideration;
  • Commending the efforts of the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation and Guarantees of Non-Repetition to ensure child participation and urging the Government to strengthen the institutions of this System, to respond adequately and in an individualized manner to victims, and to register children victims in the Registry of Victims in order for them to gain access to assistance and reparations;
  • Considering the linkages between displacement and violations and abuses against children, calling on the Government to strengthen its programmes and institutional response in the relocation and return of displaced populations and to facilitate their access to basic services, including education and health care;
  • Expressing concern at the civilian-military activities carried out by the Colombian Armed Forces in areas where armed groups were present, putting children at risk of retaliation for interacting with the Armed Forces as well as at risk of being used in intelligence activities; and calling upon the Government to refrain from organizing such activities with children.

To community and religious leaders:

  • Emphasizing the important role of community and religious leaders in strengthening the protection of children affected by armed conflict;
  • Urging them to strengthen community-level protection and to condemn publicly and continue to advocate the ending and prevention of violations and abuses against children, notably the recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks and threats of attacks on schools and hospitals, abductions and denial of humanitarian access, and to engage with the Government, the United Nations and other relevant stakeholders to support the reintegration and rehabilitation of children affected by armed conflict in their communities, including by raising awareness to avoid stigmatization of these children.