UN to monitor children drafted into war, abused

By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS, July 25 (Reuters)

  • U.N. Security Council members intend to adopt a resolution on Tuesday that would name and shame nations or rebels killing, maiming and sexually abusing children in war zones or recruiting them as soldiers.

The measure had been delayed since February, with China and others arguing that countries not yet on the council's agenda could not be monitored, council members said.

In a compromise, the resolution this year would monitor nations or rebel groups operating in Burundi, Ivory Coast, Congo Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Sudan. In 2006, the monitoring would expand to countries not on the agenda of the 15-member body, including Colombia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka and Uganda.

"The Security Council is deeply concerned over the lack of overall progress on the ground, where parties to conflict continue to violate with law relating to the rights and protection of children in armed conflict," the resolution says.

A council working group would review how well the monitoring and reporting would work but no additional resolution is needed to expand the survey next year to countries and rebel groups not on the council's agenda.

Olara Otunnu, the U.N. official in charge of children in war zones, who proposed the system, foresees a U.N.-led task force, to be established in phases, that would trigger unspecified action against the perpetrators.

In the last decade 2 million children have been killed during an armed conflict and another 6 million have been disabled or injured, Otunnu said.

"Abductions are becoming widespread and brazen, as we have witnessed, for example, in northern Uganda, Nepal and Burundi," he said.

Unusual for the United Nations, Otunnu in February drew up a report of child combatants with a list of offenders, both government and insurgent rebel groups. Among them are the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, the Janjaweed of Sudan and the Communist Party of Nepal.

His report reviewed developments in a dozen countries where children were killed, maimed, attacked in schools and hospitals, raped and abducted during an armed conflict.

Concerned at the delay in adopting the resolution, a group of Western nations, led by Canada's U.N. Ambassador, Allan Rock, told the council, in a letter, it was high time to fulfill its earlier promises on protecting children.


Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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