On January 28 and 29, 2021, Watchlist, in partnership with the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs (IIHA) at Fordham University, convened its seventh annual policy workshop on children and armed conflict. Held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions, the two-day workshop brought together UN Security Council members,  non-Council Member States, UN offices and agencies, academia, and civil society, to discuss targeted actions to advance the agenda, strengthen the protection of children in war, and address continued and emerging challenges facing children in these contexts. The policy workshop also launched the 20th anniversary of Watchlist’s establishment in 2001.

Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG-CAAC) Ms. Virginia Gamba opened the workshop, providing her reflections on CAAC-related developments in 2020 and key challenges ahead.

The workshop included three working sessions, which brought together expert panelists and key stakeholders for candid discussions on the agenda. These included a session on the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (SCWG-CAAC), featuring the Working Group’s former and current chairs. The Permanent Representative of Belgium to the UN, Ambassador Philippe Kridelka, provided reflections on the 2019-2020 chairmanship of the Working Group, and the Permanent Representative of Norway to the UN, Ambassador Mona Juul, outlined priorities for the Working Group and the CAAC agenda in 2021. Other closed sessions examined the impact of counterterrorism policies on children’s rights in armed conflict settings and child protection in UN peace operations and special political missions.

In a keynote address to close the workshop, Watchlist’s former Advisory Board Chair, Ms. Jo Becker, reflected on Watchlist’s 20 years of work to advance the CAAC agenda, preserve the integrity of the mandate, and mainstream CAAC concerns across the UN’s work.