Seven parties to conflict are listed for grave violations against children in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s (SG) 2021 annual report (S/2021/437) on children and armed conflict (CAAC). In July, the authorization of the cross-border mechanism for delivering humanitarian aid into Northwest Syria is up for renewal, per SCR 2585 (2021), and the Council will receive its monthly briefings on the humanitarian situation, political process, and use of chemical weapons in Syria. The humanitarian situation in Northwest Syria is the worst it has been since the start of the conflict in 2011, as “4.4 million people, mostly women and children, are trapped in a war zone along the border with [Turkey],” and food insecurity is at a record high. The SG, his Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, and numerous NGOs operating in Syria have called on the Council to renew the cross-border mechanism. The UN reported at least 59 children have been killed and 82 injured in Northwest Syria to date in 2022. A recent report by Save the Children describes the daily violence witnessed by children in Al-Hol camp and its toll on their mental health and well-being. The Security Council should:

  • Re-authorize Syria’s cross-border mechanism for a minimum of 12 months to facilitate the delivery of principled humanitarian assistance to children and other civilians in need;
  • Demand that all parties uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights law (IHRL), taking concrete measures to prevent and, in any case, minimize child casualties, and call for all perpetrators of grave violations to be held accountable;
  • Urge all listed parties, including Syrian Government Forces, to develop, sign, and implement action plans to end and prevent violations against children, and call on the Syrian Democratic Forces to promptly and fully implement their action plan;
  • Recall that children associated with armed groups should be treated primarily as victims, including those children allegedly associated with groups designated as “terrorist” and those who may have committed crimes; their reintegration should be prioritized; and detention should only be used as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate time;
  • Urge Member States to facilitate the return of their nationals, including children of their nationals, held for their or their family members’ actual or alleged association with ISIL, and undertake individual, rights-based needs assessments; provide reintegration and recovery support in line with international law and standards, prioritizing the child’s best interests; and prevent children from becoming stateless.

Norway and Ireland are the lead countries on the humanitarian situation in Syria.

This information is based on Watchlist’s Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update – July 2022.

UN Action

Year listed: 2012
Action Plans signedSyrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – recruitment and use of children (June 2019)
Secretary-General’s reports on CAAC in Syria: 2018; 2014
Security Council Working Group conclusions on Syria: 20192014

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
 Government forces, including the National Defence Forces and pro-government militias* a,b,d a,b,c,d b,d,c b,c,d b,c,d a,b,c,d
Free Syrian Army (FSA) – affiliated groups* a a a a a
Ahrar al-Sham a,b a,b a,b a,b
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) a,b a,b,c,d a,b,c,d a,b,c,d,e
Nursah Front (also known as Jabhat Fath al-Sham) a,b a,b a,b a,b
People’s Protection Units (YPG) a a a a
Army of Islam 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.