In January, the Working Group received the Secretary-General’s (SG) third report on children and armed conflict in Iraq (S/2019/984), covering the period from July 1, 2015 to July 31, 2019. During the reporting period, the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) verified 2,114 grave violations against children encompassing all six grave violations. A majority of verified child casualties, recruitment and use, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and abductions were attributed to extreme violence perpetrated by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), potentially constituting war crimes or crimes against humanity. Credible reports of large numbers of additional violations that were unable to be verified were noted in the report, including recruitment and use, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, and abductions as well as high numbers of attacks on schools and hospitals (260). As of June 2019, at least 778 children remain in detention on national security-related charges. Children with alleged links to ISIL, including children of foreign origin, remain detained with limited access to basic humanitarian services or due process, and are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The Working Group should:

  • Strongly condemn all grave violations committed against children in Iraq, in particular the abhorrent and extreme violations committed by ISIL, which may constitute crimes against humanity or war crimes; and urge all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law, including the prohibition of torture, and to take all measures necessary to immediately end and prevent violations;
  • Urge the Government to swiftly sign and implement an action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), as well as to strengthen rehabilitation and reintegration, and adopt a comprehensive child rights law criminalizing the child recruitment and use;
  • Further urge the Government to remove administrative barriers hindering the delivery of humanitarian aid to all children and other civilians in need, including by resuming to grant access letters to humanitarian actors and ensuring unimpeded enforcement by local authorities of national procedures to authorize access for humanitarian aid delivery;
  • Call for continued efforts to hold perpetrators of grave violations accountable, in particular for war crimes and crimes against humanity;
  • Remind all parties that children ­– including those with actual or alleged association with ISIL – should be considered primarily as victims, entitled to full protection of their rights, and urge the Government to develop and prioritize alternatives to detention whenever possible, ensuring the best interests of the child, in accordance with juvenile justice standards;
  • Call on all Member States to facilitate the return of their child nationals held in Iraq for actual or alleged affiliation with ISIL; provide reintegration support in line with international standards and ensuring the best interests of the child.

This information is based on Watchlist’s Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update – February 2020.

UN Action

Year listed: 2009
Action Plans signed: No
Sanctions Committee: Sanctions Committee concerning Iraq
Secretary-General’s reports on CAAC in Iraq: 2015; 2011 
Security Council Working Group conclusions on Iraq: 2016; 2011
UN Mission: UNAMI

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
Al-Qaida in Iraq (AQ-I)* a, b a a a, b, d a, b, d a,b,d
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)* a, b a, b, d a, b, d a,b,d a,b,c,d a,b,c,d,e a,b,c,d,e
Popular mobilization forces 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.