Sudan

Public Statement by Chair of Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (6 November 2020)

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SC/14350

The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, in connection with the examination of the sixth report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Sudan (document S/2020/614), 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 Sudan:

  • Strongly condemning all violations and abuses committed against children in the Sudan, and urging all parties to the armed conflict to immediately end and prevent all violations of applicable international law involving the recruitment and use of children, abduction, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access and to comply with their obligations under international law;

  • Calling upon all parties to further implement all previous conclusions of the Working Group with regard to the Sudan;

  • Welcoming the signing of the Constitutional Document on 17 August 2019 on the establishment of a new civilian-led transitional Government and transitional institutions, further welcoming the steps taken to date to implement the Constitutional Document and calling upon all stakeholders to remain committed to the transition in order for the aspirations of the Sudanese people for a peaceful, stable, democratic, and prosperous future to be realised, reaffirming its readiness to support Sudan in this regard and commending the vital role played by the African Union in supporting Sudan in its transition to democracy and good governance;

  • Welcoming the commitment in the Constitutional Document to achieve a fair and comprehensive peace in Sudan by addressing the root causes and the impact of conflict, welcoming the peace agreement between the Government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front, signed on 3 October 2020, as an important step towards sustainable peace and stability, noting with appreciation the role of the Government of South Sudan in supporting these negotiations, urging the parties to the conflict to continue to engage constructively to implement the peace agreement, and further urging those who have not yet engaged in peace negotiations to do so immediately, without pre–conditions;

  • Calling on all parties to the peace process to ensure that the rights and needs of conflict-affected children are taken into account in the implementation of the peace agreement and during talks for any future peace agreements, including provisions on the release, and reintegration of children associated with armed forces and armed groups, as well as provisions on the rights and well-being of children, and that these are integrated into peace negotiations, ceasefire and peace agreements and in provisions for ceasefire monitoring, taking into account children’s views, where possible, in these processes including by building on the “Practical Guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict” (S/2020/114), where appropriate;

  • Noting with concern that access to conflict-related areas of Darfur as well as in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile was restricted during the reporting period, which presented challenges to the verification of the six grave violations against children and that the information contained in the report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in the Sudan (S/2020/614) therefore does not reflect the full impact of armed conflict on children in the Sudan, while noting improved access since late 2019 and calling on all relevant parties, including the Government and armed groups to guarantee access;

  • Stressing the importance of accountability for all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict, and calling upon the Government to continue its efforts to address impunity by ensuring that all perpetrators of violations and abuses are brought to justice and held accountable without undue delay, including through timely and systematic investigation and, as appropriate, prosecution and conviction, and to ensure that all victims have access to justice and to provide remedies to those victims, including the medical and psychosocial support services that they need;

  • Strongly urging all parties to immediately release, without preconditions, all children from their ranks, hand them over to relevant civilian child protection actors, and end and prevent further recruitment and use of children in line with their obligations as set out in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and noting the efforts of the Government in this regard;

  • Expressing concern about the deprivation of liberty of children for their association or alleged association with armed groups, and urging all parties to the conflict to consider children associated with armed groups, including those who may have committed crimes, primarily as victims of recruitment and use, to work to ensure their full reintegration through family- and community-based reintegration programmes, including access to health care, psychosocial support and education programmes, guided by the Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forced or Armed Groups (the Paris Principles), as well as raising awareness and working with communities to avoid stigmatization of these children and facilitate their return, and to ensure that, where children face prosecution for allegedly committing crimes, those prosecutions are carried out with respect for the rights of the child;

  • Expressing deep concern at the high number of children killed or maimed as a direct or indirect result of hostilities between parties to the armed conflict during the reporting period, including through gunshots, explosive remnants of war, attacks with high calibre weapons or aerial bombardment and physical assault, and calling upon all parties to the armed conflict to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law;

  • Expressing grave concern at the high number of cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence perpetrated against children, recognizing the underreporting of sexual violence against children in Darfur among others due to impunity, stigma and discrimination, urging all parties to the armed conflict 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 by members of their respective forces, stressing the importance of accountability for those responsible for sexual and gender-based violence against children, and of providing non-discriminatory and comprehensive specialized services, including psychosocial, health, legal and livelihood support and services, to survivors of sexual violence, and welcoming in this regard the recent signing of a Framework of Cooperation between the Government and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sexual Violence in Conflict;

  • Strongly condemning attacks on schools and hospitals in violation of international law; calling upon all parties to the armed conflict to comply with applicable international law and 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, and in that regard recalling the Safe Schools Declaration, endorsed by Sudan in December 2015; noting further the effect that attacks on schools and their use can have on the enjoyment of the right to education;

  • Strongly condemning the abduction of children; urging all parties to the armed conflict to cease the abduction of children and all violations and abuses committed against abducted children and to immediately release from captivity abducted children and hand them over to relevant civilian child protection actors;

  • Strongly condemning all incidents of denial of humanitarian access, including attacks on humanitarian personnel and looting of humanitarian goods; expressing serious concern that access by the United Nations and other humanitarian actors to vulnerable populations, including children, was restricted during the reporting period by all parties including the Government, and that children living in conflict-affected areas were deprived of basic humanitarian assistance, while noting improved access since late 2019 and calling upon all parties to armed conflict to allow and facilitate safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access to children, respect the exclusively humanitarian nature and impartiality of humanitarian aid and respect the work of all United Nations humanitarian agencies and their humanitarian partners, without distinction, and strongly condemns the unlawful denial of humanitarian access and depriving civilians, particularly children, of objects indispensable to their survival, including willfully impeding relief supplies;

  • Recalling that the Security Council, by its resolution 2340 (2017), recalled the obligations of all states to comply with the arms embargo in accordance with resolution 1591 (2005) and to implement the travel ban and asset freeze imposed under that resolution, which apply to individuals and entities designated pursuant to the listing criteria set out in paragraph 3 (c) of resolution 1591 (2005);

  • Expressing the readiness of the Working Group to communicate to the Security Council and to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1591 (2005) concerning the Sudan pertinent information with a view to assisting them in the imposition of sanctions on perpetrators.

To all armed groups operating in the Sudan, in particular the Sudan Liberation Army/ Abdul Wahid (SLA/AW), Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM/N) and Soudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi (SLA/MM) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General:

  • Expressing grave concern at and its strongest condemnation of the six grave violations that continue to be committed against children in the Sudan, 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, urging all armed groups to end and prevent further recruitment and use of children under 18 years of age and immediately release all children present in their ranks, and welcoming the efforts made in the framework of the Actions Plans with some armed groups in this regard;

  • Strongly condemning the incidents of denial of humanitarian access, and calling upon all armed groups to immediately allow and facilitate full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, consistent with the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian assistance, including humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and the relevant provisions of international law and international humanitarian law, 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;

  • Calling on the armed groups listed in the annexes of the annual report S/2020/525 on children in armed conflict who have existing action plans with the United Nations to cooperate with the Country Task Force on the swift and full implementation of their Action Plans on recruitment and use to ensure the identification, release and reintegration of associated children;

  • Urging the SLA/AW to engage with the United Nations on the development of an Action Plan;

  • Welcoming the road map for the expedited implementation of the SPLM/N Al-Hilu faction action plan, developed with the Country Task Force, and calling for its swift implementation;

  • Urging the SLA/MM and JEM to engage with the United Nations on the implementation of their action plans;

To the Government of the Sudan:

  • Welcoming the efforts made by the Government of the Sudan since the last conclusions of the Working Group, including by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), in taking all steps in its Action Plan pertaining to ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children, which led to the delisting from the annexes of the report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in 2018 (A/72/865-S/2018/465), and calling upon the Government to continue to build on this progress including through the establishment of clear procedures for identification and screening of children in all of their forces, the endorsement of handover protocols, the implementation of complaint procedures and awareness-raising activities;

  • Encouraging the Government of Sudan to take measures to put an end to continued violations committed against children, including by members of its security forces and the Rapid Support Forces, and noting in this regard the command orders issued by the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces prohibiting the recruitment of children;

  • Expressing concern about the deprivation of liberty of children for their association or alleged association with armed groups, and urging the Government to treat children associated with armed groups, including those who may have committed crimes, primarily as victims of recruitment and use, to comply with its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular the obligation that the arrest, detention and imprisonment of children should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time and that, in all actions concerning children, the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration, and urging it to prioritize their reintegration, through family- and community-based programmes, including access to health care, psychosocial support and education programmes, as guided by the Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups (Paris Principles), which it has endorsed, as well as raising awareness and working with communities to avoid stigmatization of these children and facilitate their return, and to ensure that, where children face prosecution for allegedly committing crimes, those prosecutions are carried out with respect for the rights of the child;

  • Welcoming the Government’s decision to maintain the institutional structures and mandates of the national and state-level technical committees, the agreement on a road map to ensure the continued compliance with the Action Plan, the development and drafting of a national strategy on the protection of children in armed conflict, the development of communication and awareness raising materials to launch the national communications campaign and the drafting of a standardized training manual on child protection for government security forces, and noting the role of UNITAMS with regard to supporting the Government with the development and implementation of action plans and a national prevention plan on violations and abuses against children;

  • Encouraging the Government to sustain the gains of the completed Action Plan through the swift implementation of the road map developed with the United Nations to ensure the continued compliance with the action plan and through the elaboration and implementation of a National Prevention Plan on grave violations against children;

  • Welcoming the Government’s agreement to permit humanitarian access to all areas of the country, including conflict-affected areas of Jebel Marra, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, which has allowed the United Nations to access parts of these areas for the first time since September 2011, creating renewed opportunity to engage with armed groups on the situation of children affected by the conflict, and calling on the Government to continue in this regard;

  • Urging the Government to undertake further efforts towards ensuring accountability for the six grave violations against children by bringing those responsible to justice and providing remedies to victims;

  • Welcoming the commitments made by the Government in the Framework of Cooperation with the United Nations, related to the prevention of and response to rape and other forms of sexual violence, and calling on its full implementation;

  • Urging the Government to take measures to prevent killing or maiming of children by Government security forces in all circumstances related to armed conflict;

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 of children affected by armed conflict in their communities, including by raising awareness to avoid stigmatization of these children.

For information media. Not an official record.