The Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN) is listed in the Secretary-General’s (SG) annual report on children and armed conflict for recruitment and use. In October, the Security Council will receive a briefing on the SG’s 90-day report on the UN Verification Mission in Colombia. In September, the Council renewed the mission’s mandate for a period of one year. The situation is volatile, especially following the August 29 announcement by Iván Márquez – a lead negotiator of the peace agreement and a former commander of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) – that he and two other key commanders had returned to arms, citing the Government’s lack of political commitment to implementing the agreement. Human rights groups and local civil society actors have reported an increase in child recruitment in recent months, including by FARC-EP dissidents, the ELN, the Ejército Popular de Liberación (EPL), and other armed groups. The situation has been further exacerbated by the crisis in Venezuela, with reports of cross-border recruitment and additional vulnerabilities for migrant children and youth. In a number of regions, including Antioquia, Chocó, Nariño, and Norte de Santander, armed clashes between warring parties and targeted attacks against civilians have resulted in civilian casualties and mass displacement, up from previous years. In the first half of 2019, the number of attacks on civilians in Norte de Santander had already reached 85 percent of all attacks recorded in 2018. In Nariño, between January and July 2019, OCHA recorded 13 mass displacements, affecting 6,439 civilians.

The UN Security Council should:

  • Strongly condemn all grave violations against children, including those perpetrated by FARC-EP dissidents, the ELN, the EPL, and other armed groups;
  • Call upon all parties to take concrete, effective measures to end and prevent child casualties during hostilities, including protecting schools, hospitals, and other civilian objects; and demand the immediate and unconditional release of all children and adolescents from armed groups in coordination, where possible, with child protection actors;
  • Remind the Government of its obligations under the peace agreement to strengthen institutions and programs to ensure the adequate reintegration of children and prevent new patterns of recruitment and use, especially where Government presence is limited and communities are more vulnerable to violence and insecurity;
  • Urge the Government to fulfill its commitments through the comprehensive implementation of the peace agreement, including strengthening the Comprehensive System of Truth, Justice, Reparation, and Non-Repetition.

The United Kingdom is the lead country on Colombia.

This information is based on Watchlist’s Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update – October 2019.


Since 2003, Watchlist has partnered with the Coalition against the Involvement of Boys, Girls, and Youth in the Armed Conflict in Colombia (COALICO), including through joint advocacy, trainings, and support for COALICO’s work on monitoring and reporting on child rights violations. A national civil society platform established in 1999 to promote and protect the rights of boys and girls affected by the armed conflict, COALICO coordinates the Observatory on Children and Armed Conflict that monitors and reports on grave violations against children in Colombia. It also participates as a permanent member of the UN-led Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR).


UN Action

Year listed: 2003
Action Plans signed: No
Sanctions Committee: No
Secretary-General’s reports on CAAC in Colombia: 201620122009
Security Council Working Group conclusions on Colombia: 20172012; 2010
UN Mission: UN Mission in Colombia

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
Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) a a
Autodefensas Unidas del Sur del Casanare (AUSC) a a a a
Autodefensas Campesinas de Cordoba y Uraba (ACCU) a a
Autodefensas de Magdalena Medio (ACMM) a a
Autodefensas del Meta (AM) a a
Autodefensas Campesinas del Sur del Cesar (ACSC) a
Autodefensas del Puerto Boyaca (APB) a
Autodefensas de Cundinamarca (AC) a
Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia – Bloque Centauros a
Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia – Bloque Norte a
Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia – Bloque Mineros a
Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia – Bloque Pacifico a
Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) a a
Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia-Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP)* a,c,e a,b,c,e,f a,b,c,d,e a a a a a a a a
Ejército de Liberación Nacional (ELN)* a a a,c,e a,b,c,e,f a,b,c,d a a a a a a a a
Frente Cacique Pipinta a,b,c,e a

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.