The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) are listed in the Secretary-General’s (SG’s) annual report on children and armed conflict for recruitment and use of children, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is listed for all five ‘trigger’ violations. In May, the Security Council is expected to renew UNAMI’s mandate, which expires at the end of the month. Despite the end of large-scale military operations against ISIL, the security situation remains fragile, and children continue to be vulnerable to rights violations. Between November 2018 and January 2019, the UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) verified nine incidents of grave violations against children, resulting in the killing of six boys and the maiming of 15 boys and 6 girls (S/2019/101, para. 47). The detention of children for any perceived connection to ISIL by Iraqi and Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) authorities continues to raise significant concerns; Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimates that at the end of 2018, Iraqi and KRG authorities were holding some 1,500 children in detention for alleged ISIL affiliation. HRW research also found that authorities had used torture on child detainees to coerce confessions and sentenced them to prison in hasty and unfair trials. Women and children are prevented from leaving camps in Northern Iraq for their perceived ties to ISIL, restricting their rights to freedom of movement and education, as well as access to other services. Humanitarian access remains challenging, due to restrictions by local authorities, as well as insecurity caused by attacks and the placement of improvised explosive devices.

The UN Security Council should:

  • Renew and strengthen UNAMI’s child protection mandate, with a focus on supporting the Government of Iraq in developing and implementing an action plan and in enhancing juvenile justice and the rehabilitation and reintegration of children formerly associated with parties to conflict;
  • Urge the Government to enter into an action plan with the United Nations to strengthen measures to protect all children affected by the conflict in Iraq, including the prevention of recruitment and use of children by the PMF and other parties, rehabilitation and reintegration, and enhancement of juvenile justice;
  • Remind all parties that children should be considered primarily as victims, entitled to full protection of their rights, including to due process of law, and that alternatives to detention should be prioritized whenever possible;
  • Urge Government and KRG authorities to facilitate full access to detention facilities for UN and other relevant independent monitors;
  • Demand that Government and KRG authorities immediately end all use of torture and coerced confessions, and investigate and appropriately prosecute those responsible;
  • Call on Government and KRG authorities to lift bureaucratic restrictions and other impediments to humanitarian access, and to facilitate the safe, unhindered provision of assistance to children and other civilians in need.


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

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.