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Children and armed conflict - Report of the Secretary-General (A/75/873–S/2021/437) [EN/AR/RU/ZH]

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I. Introduction

  1. The present report, prepared following consultations and covering the period from January to December 2020, is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 2427 (2018). The report includes trends regarding the impact of armed conflict on children and information on violations committed, as requested by the Council in its resolution 1612 (2005) and subsequent resolutions.1 Where possible, violations are attributed to parties to conflict and the annexes to the present report include a list of parties engaging in violations against children, namely the recruitment and use of children, the killing and maiming of children, rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, attacks on schools, hospitals and protected persons in relation to schools and/or hospitals, and the abduction of children.

  2. The information contained in the present report was vetted for accuracy by the United Nations. Where information is not verified, it is qualified as such. Where incidents were committed earlier but verified only in 2020, that information is qualified as relating to an incident that was verified at a later date. The information presented does not represent the full scale of violations against children, as verification depends on many factors, including access. The report presents trends and patterns of violations, and engagement with parties responsible for violations that might lead to behavioural change, including promotion of accountability and inclusion of child protection provisions in peace processes. In the report, it is noted that attacks or threats of attacks on community and civic leaders, on human rights defenders and on monitors of violations against children are a cause for concern and a strain on the monitoring capacity.

  3. Pursuant to Security Council resolution 1612 (2005), my Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict adopted a pragmatic approach to promote broad and effective protection for children. Reference to a situation is not a legal determination, and reference to a non-State actor does not affect its legal status. Accordingly, the report documents situations in which apparent violations of international norms and standards are of such gravity as to warrant international concern, given their impact on children. My Special Representative brings these situations to the attention of Governments, which bear the primary responsibility for protecting children, in order to encourage them to take remedial measures. Where measures undertaken by listed parties had a positive impact on children or where ongoing conduct is of concern, this is highlighted. On the basis of enhanced engagement with parties, the annexes distinguish between listed parties that have put in place measures aimed at improving the protection of children during the reporting period and those that have not.