Afghanistan

Advocacy

Four non-state armed groups (NSAGs) are listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s (SG) latest report on children and armed conflict (CAAC) for recruitment and use of children and killing and maiming children. Of these, Taliban forces and affiliated groups are additionally listed for attacks on schools and hospitals and abductions, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Khorasan Province (ISIL-KP) is also listed for attacks on schools and hospitals. The Afghan National Army was newly listed in this year’s report for killing and maiming children, though at the time of writing, the Afghan National Army has de facto ceased to exist on the ground. In the first half of 2021, child casualties comprised 32 percent of all civilian casualties, including the highest number of girl child casualties ever recorded  by UNAMA. In September, UNAMA’s mandate is up for renewal, pursuant to SCR 2543 (2020). Following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, the Security Council issued a press statement calling for an immediate end to all hostilities, for the formation of a new united, inclusive, and representative government through inclusive negotiations, and for respect for international humanitarian law (IHL). UN agencies and humanitarian partners, including UNICEF and Save the Children, have expressed their commitment to continue providing for the needs of vulnerable civilians, including children, in Afghanistan. Children were reportedly among the civilian casualties that resulted from the August 26 attack on Kabul’s airport. The Security Council should:

  • Demand that all parties, particularly the Taliban and affiliated groups, uphold their obligations under IHL and human rights law (IHRL), and ensure full respect for the rights of all Afghans, including women and girls and notably the right of all children to education;
  • Call on the Taliban to fulfill its promises to protect civilians, respect human rights, including the rights of women and girls, ensure the safety of UN and civil society actors on the ground, including female staff, and respect their neutrality, impartiality, and independence;
  • Renew UNAMA’s child protection mandate and, in subsequent budget negotiations, ensure allocation of additional resources including for child protection capacity to allow UNAMA to fully and safely deliver on this mandate;
  • Demand immediate, safe, and unimpeded access for the delivery of humanitarian aid to all civilians in need, including children; ensure counterterrorism measures and sanctions regimes do not impede humanitarian action; and urge Member States including neighboring countries to facilitate safe passage of Afghans who are at risk of harm and to provide emergency funding to ensure the humanitarian response can continue;
  • Call for the protection, rights, well-being, and empowerment of children to be fully incorporated and prioritized in efforts to build inclusive, sustainable peace, and encourage and facilitate consideration of children’s views in these processes, where possible and compatible with their best interests, pursuant to SCR 2427 (2018) and drawing on the Practical Guidance for Mediators.

Estonia and Norway are the lead countries on Afghanistan.

The SG released his fifth report on children and armed conflict in Afghanistan (S/2021/662), covering January 2019 to December 2020. During the reporting period, the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) verified 6,473 grave violations against children, including 5,770 cases of killing and maiming, which remained the most prevalent violation. The CTFMR also reported an increase in verified recruitment and use of children, as well as elevated numbers of attacks on hospitals and related personnel and continued attacks on schools. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic added additional challenges to monitoring and reporting and is believed to have increased children’s vulnerability to recruitment and use, abduction, and sexual violence. Detention of children on charges related to national security, including for their own or their family members’ actual or alleged association with armed groups, is a continuing concern. Rape and sexual violence remain underreported, and accountability is lacking. NSAGs were the predominant perpetrators of grave violations against children during the reporting period. Recognizing that the situation on the ground has changed significantly since this reporting period (see above), the Working Group should ensure that its conclusions are timely and relevant for the effective protection of children in Afghanistan. The Working Group should:

  • Strongly condemn all grave violations against children in Afghanistan, especially killing and maiming of children through deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian objects, or the use of explosive objects in populated areas; and urge all relevant parties to protect civilians and respect the dignity and human rights of all Afghans, including boys and girls;
  • Call for immediate, concrete steps to hold perpetrators accountable for violations committed against children, including for rape and sexual violence against children;
  • Remind all relevant parties, particularly the Taliban, that they are bound by all international standards to which Afghanistan has already committed to protect children, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Paris Principles and Commitments, and the Safe Schools Declaration;
  • Remind all parties that children associated with armed forces and armed groups should be  treated primarily as victims, including those children actually or allegedly associated with groups designated as terrorist and those children who may have committed crimes; their reintegration should be prioritized in line with international juvenile justice standards; and detention of children should only be used as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate time.

This information is based on Watchlist’s Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update – September 2021.

Publications

UN Action

Year listed: 2003
Action Plans signed: Afghan National Police (including the Afghan Local Police) – recruitment and use of children and sexual violence against children (January 2011)
Sanctions Committee: 1988 Sanctions Committee and 1267 ISIL and Al-Qaeda Sanctions Committee (Current Chair: Indonesia)
Secretary-General’s reports on CAAC in Afghanistan: 2021; 2019; 2015; 20112008
Security Council Working Group conclusions on Afghanistan: 2020; 2016; 20112009
UN Mission: UNAMA

Perpetrators listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual reports on children and armed conflict

2001 2002 2003 2005 2006 2007 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Afghan National Police (including Afghan Local Police)~* a a a a a a a a
Factions associated with the former Northern Alliance a
Factions in the south of Afghanistan a
Factional fighting groups a
Haqqani network* a a,b a,b a,b a,b a,b a,b a,b
Hezb-e-Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar* a,b,c a,b a,b a,b a,b a,b a,b
Hezb-i-Islami a
Jama’at al-Da’wah ila al-Qur’an wal-Sunnah* a a a,b,d a,b,d a,b,d a,b,d a,b,d,e a,b,d,e
Taliban forces/remnants of the Taliban* a a, b, d a,b,d,f a a,b a,b,d a,b,d a,b,d a,b,d a,b,d,e a,b,d,e
Tora Bora Front* a a a,b,d a,b,d a,b,d a,b,d a,b,d,e a,b,d,e
Latif Mansur Network* a a,b,d a,b,d a,b,d a,b,d a,b,d,e a,b,d,e
ISIL – Khorasan Province a,b

a: Parties that recruit and use children
b: Parties that kill and maim children
c: Parties that commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against children

d: Parties that engage in attacks on schools and/or hospitals
e: Parties that engage in abduction of children
f: Parties that deny humanitarian access to children

~ This party has concluded an action plan with the United Nations in line with Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005).
* This party has been in the annexes for at least five years and is therefore considered a persistent perpetrator.

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