On 17 October 2012, the United Nations General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs) began its annual consideration of the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Children, including issues of children and armed conflict. The process started with an interactive dialogue involving Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Mr. Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director and Ms. Marta Santo Pais, Special Representative on Violence against Children and Mr. Jean Zermatten, Chair of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
In her remarks, Ms. Zerrougui focused on three themes highlighted in her 2012 annual report to the General Assembly. First, she stressed the need for States, with the support of the United Nations, to prevent the recruitment and use of children through the enactment and enforcement of the rule of law. Second, she called attention to the effects of explosive weapons and urged States to reduce their impacts on children. Third, she detailed the important role of collaboration with other UN agencies and regional organizations in her Office’s work and expressed her intention to further extend collaboration with regional organizations.
During the interactive dialogue, questions were posed to Ms. Zerrougui by representatives of Germany, the European Union, Canada on behalf of the group of friends of children and armed conflict, Japan, Slovenia, Iran, Switzerland, Austria, Argentina and the United States of America. In a welcomed departure from the hostile tone of September’s Security Council Open Debate, delegations generally expressed their support for the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the progress achieved. They asked what could be done to strengthen child protection, to improve monitoring and reporting on violations and to hold perpetrators accountable. In her response, Ms. Zerrougui emphasized the importance of national institutional responses incorporating sensitization around violations, enactment of laws and their enforcement. She also stressed the importance of addressing both issues of will and issues of capacity.
The General Assembly’s Third Committee is currently negotiating its annual resolution on the Rights of the Child which includes paragraphs on children and armed conflict. It is expected that the draft resolution will closely follow the text of previous resolutions, updated to incorporate Security Council resolution 2068. No major new initiatives are expected.