In armed conflicts around the world, children and adolescents are subjected to egregious violations, such as sexual violence, killing and maiming, abduction, and recruitment and use as child soldiers. The day-to-day lives of these children are further disrupted by attacks on their schools and hospitals, and by the denial of humanitarian assistance.
Although tangible progress has been made in recent years to hold perpetrators accountable and to prevent future violations, there remains an urgent need for more effective programs and policies to address the needs of children affected by armed conflict.
Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict strives to end violations against children in armed conflicts and to guarantee their rights. As a global network, the Watchlist builds partnerships among local, national, and international nongovernmental organizations, enhancing mutual capacities and strengths. Working together, we collect and disseminate information on violations against children in conflicts in order to influence key decision-makers to create and implement programs and policies that effectively protect children.
Watchlist’s work follows three main program areas:
History and Governance
Watchlist was formed in 2001 by a group of leading human rights and humanitarian organizations in response to the need for improved monitoring and reporting on violations against children in war. Watchlist is known for its work on children and human rights, boasting – through its members – both a solid expertise on child protection and a wealth of information and experiences coming directly from the ground.
Watchlist’s programmatic content is set by an Advisory Board composed of five international NGOs. Its network further includes nine Associate Member organizations who share our commitment to protect the security and rights of children affected by armed conflict.
Watchlist membership includes, but is not limited to, the following organizations:
Ezequiel Heffes is the Director of Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict in New York. Prior to joining Watchlist, Ezequiel worked for Geneva Call as a Senior Policy and Legal Advisor and for the ICRC in various operational positions in Colombia, Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He holds a PhD from the University of Leiden, an LLM in IHL and Human Rights from the Geneva Academy, and a law degree from the University of Buenos Aires School of Law. He has been involved in different research projects and has widely published on different international law issues. Ezequiel is the author of Detention by Non-State Armed Groups under International Law (Cambridge University Press, 2022), the co-editor of International Humanitarian Law and Non-State Actors. Debates, Law and Practice (Springer/Asser Press, 2020) and of Armed Groups and International Law. In the Shadowland of Legality and Illegality (Edward Elgar, Forthcoming 2023).
Bethany Ellis is Watchlist’s Senior Advocacy Officer. She is responsible for leading advocacy initiatives to advance the children and armed conflict agenda at the UN and related bodies in collaboration with Watchlist’s Director, Advisory Board, Associate Members, and partners. Prior to joining Watchlist, she served as a research consultant for Save the Children offices in Germany and Serbia, analyzing the impact of European refugee and asylum policies on the protection of displaced children. She previously led the education in emergencies portfolio for the Global Business Coalition for Education in New York and Washington, DC, and has also worked in Chennai, India on initiatives to end bonded labor and human trafficking. Bethany holds a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and a Bachelor’s in International Political Economy from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. She is based in New York.
Aleksandra Jelonek is Watchlist’s Grants and Operations Coordinator. Prior to joining Watchlist, she served as the Communications Officer for the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs. She previously worked in the Refugee Resettlement division of Catholic Charities Community Services New York and at Future Families, a nonprofit serving refugee and asylum seeker youth in Pretoria, South Africa. She holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s in Humanitarian Studies from Fordham University.