Five parties to conflict are listed for grave violations in the annexes of the SG’s 2023 annual report on CAAC. In July, the authorization of the cross-border mechanism for delivering humanitarian aid into Northwest Syria is up for renewal, per SCR 2672 (2023). Two devastating earthquakes on February 6, 2023, along with thousands of aftershocks, exacerbated existing child protection concerns from 12 years of ongoing conflict in Syria, causing further damage to civilian infrastructure such as water and sewage, health care, and schools. In a June open letter, 31 Syrian and international NGOs called on the Security Council to renew the authorization of the cross-border mechanism for a minimum of 12 months. 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 IHL and 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 and the opposition Syrian National Army, including Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam, 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 all children formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups (CAAFAG) should be treated primarily as victims, including those allegedly associated with armed groups designated as terrorist by the UN 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; call on all parties to facilitate meaningful and systematic access to children deprived of liberty for UN and other independent monitors;
  • Urge Member States to facilitate the return of their nationals, including children of their nationals, held for their or their family members’ real or perceived association with ISIL, and undertake individual, rights-based needs assessments, consistent with principles of non-refoulment; provide reintegration and recovery support in line with international law and standards, prioritizing the child’s best interests; and prevent children from becoming stateless.

Brazil and Switzerland are the lead countries on humanitarian issues in Syria.

This information is based on Watchlist’s Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update – July 2023.

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.