On 12-13 December 2013, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict hosted its second policy workshop in Princeton, together with the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations and the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at Princeton University, entitled “Strengthening Implementation of the UN’s Children and Armed Conflict Agenda.”

The workshop opened in a public session featuring a guest panel composed of H.E. Ms. Sylvie Lucas, Permanent Representative of Luxembourg to the United Nations, Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative to the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, H.E. Mr. Jean-Marc De la Sablière, former Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations and first Chair of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, and Ms. Jo Becker, Advocacy Director of the Children’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch and Chair of Watchlist’s Advisory Board. Their opening speeches conveyed perceivable challenges and anticipated ways forward for the UN’s Children and Armed Conflict agenda (see video).

The second-day private sessions of the Workshop encompassed in-depth discussions by the experts of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict regarding specific and concrete actions that can be taken to strengthen agenda’s implementation. Other participants included relevant UN offices and agencies, and other NGOs. The private sessions focused on three specific topics to identify concrete recommendations for action: 1) Joint ‘Campaign to End and Prevent Recruitment and Use of Children by Government Security Forces by 2016 by the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (OSRSG-CAC) and UNICEF, 2) The Role of Partnerships in Promoting the Children and Armed Conflict Agenda, and 3) Addressing Other Violations: Attacks on Schools and Hospitals.

In the first private session, participants reviewed progress to-date by the six governments that signed Action Plans with the UN that are listed in the Annexes to the Secretary-General’s 12th Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict, and they identified specific means to support the OSRSG-CAC for getting the remaining two governments’ commitment. In the second session, participants discussed the roles of regional organizations in promoting and implementing the agenda, given their strategic positioning in peacekeeping and conflict mediation processes. They explored specific ways for how to involve regional organizations in the protection of children. The third private session entailed discussions regarding ways to encourage the parties to conflict to prevent and end attacks on schools and hospitals, which was pronounced as a trigger violation by the Security Council in 2011 for the Secretary-General’s list of shame.

The December 2013 workshop in Princeton builds upon the success of the February 2013 workshop, and the overall efforts to further mainstream protection of children affected by armed conflict into the UN Security Council’s work.