On March 6, 2018, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict launched a policy note entitled A Credible List: Recommendations for the 2018 Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict and Listings at UN Headquarters in New York. Watchlist’s Chair of the Advisory Board, joined the launch.

The policy note addresses UN Secretary-General António Guterres’s forthcoming annual report on children and armed conflict, covering violations occurring in 2017, and provides recommendations for listing and further investigation of parties that have not been previously included in the report’s annexed “list of shame.” Regarding listings, Watchlist looked at only those parties mentioned in the body of the 2017 report, but not listed, and conducted a review of publicly available reports by UN agencies and treaty bodies, Member States governments, and reputable international nongovernmental organizations. It further looked at Ukraine where a significant number of violations against children has been recorded, recommending that the Secretary-General collect more information to determine whether it should be added to the 2018 report and thereby the UN Security Council’s Children and Armed Conflict agenda.

The note is the second of its type to be published by Watchlist, following two years of Member States exerting undue political pressure on the Secretary-General to ensure specific parties are omitted from the list of violators in his reports’ annexes. For example, in 2016, Saudi Arabia exerted undue pressure on then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to be removed from the list. In 2015, the Secretary-General succumbed to extensive pressure not to list the Israeli Defense Forces, despite a recommendation from his Special Representative, Ms. Leila Zerrougui, to do so.

In the newly published note, Watchlist additionally draws attention to the dangers of comprehensive reform at the UN and cuts to child protection staff in a number of UN peacekeeping and political missions. The list, which serves as the foundation for the UN to enter into dialogue with parties to conflict to commit to ending and preventing violations, is only as good as the UN’s ability to document and verify violations against children in the field. As such, is integral that the UN safeguard adequate support for child protection functions in UN field missions to monitor, report, and respond to grave violations against children.