The issue of children and armed conflict first gained wide international attention with the report, “Impact of Armed Conflict on Children”, authored by Graca Machel at the request of the UN Secretary-General in August 1996. This report was released at a time when general international protection mechanisms for children were being set-up and strengthened, in particular with the adoption of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. By highlighting the particular challenges facing children in armed conflict, the Machel report became a stepping-stone for the development of a unique monitoring, reporting and response structure addressed specifically to the situation of children living in war zones.
As a result of this report, the UN General Assembly voted for the creation of a post of Special-Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (resolution 51/77 of 12 December 1996), tasked to serve as a moral voice and as an independent advocate for the protection and well-being of boys and girls affected by armed conflict.
In 1999, the UN Security Council passed its first resolution highlighting the impact of armed conflict on children and condemning violations carried out in that context. By adopting this resolution, the Security Council underscored the growing international consensus that the impact of armed conflict on children and their protection were issues that belonged on the Council’s agenda. Over the following six years, the Security Council passed six additional resolutions related specifically to children and armed conflict.
On September 19, Security Council Resolution 2068 was adopted, emphasizing the importance of accountability for perpetrators of grave violations against children. Controversially, for the first time in relation to a resolution on children and armed conflict, four States abstained from supporting the resolution. However the overwhelming majority of member states offered strong support for the United Nations’ Children and Armed Conflict agenda; thereby confirming it remains fully committed to protecting children around the world.
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