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Review of the June 2020 Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

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On June 23, 2020, the United Nations Security Council held its annual open debate on children and armed conflict (CAAC), under France's presidency. At the debate, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG-CAAC), Virginia Gamba, presented the Secretary-General's annual report on children and armed conflict (A/74/845-S/2020/525), covering the period from January 1 to December 31, 2019. The debate marked the 15th anniversary of the adoption of Resolution 1612 (2005), establishing the UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) and the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (SCWG-CAAC). In addition to marking this milestone, the debate aimed to highlight the importance of education and vocational training to prevent the six grave violations against children in armed conflict and as central aspects of comprehensive reintegration for those formerly associated with armed forces or groups.

Given the Security Council's remote working methods, this year's open debate was held via open virtual teleconference (VTC). Non-Council members were invited to submit written statements. In addition to the SRSG-CAAC, the Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, briefed the Council, along with 15-year-old Mariam, the invited civil society speaker and a member of the Children's Parliament of Mali. Mariam is the first girl-child to address the Security Council in an open debate. Following the debate, the Security Council issued a press statement condemning the scale and nature of all violations and abuses against children affected by armed conflict and expressing its concern over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the situation of these children.