On April 2, 2019, at the launch of a new UN campaign on children and armed conflict, Watchlist urged the United Nations, its Member States, fellow civil society, and other stakeholders to strengthen actions to protect children affected by war. An initiative of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG-CAAC), Ms. Virginia Gamba, the campaign seeks to raise awareness and end and prevent grave violations against children.

“In too many countries, violations against children are on the rise, impunity is the rule, and we see the troubling erosion of established norms,” the chair of Watchlist’s Advisory Board, Jo Becker, said at the launch. “Civil society is united with the SRSG, Member States, and the UN in the conviction that the current situation is unacceptable, and we must act to better protect children.”

Over the next three years, the campaign will seek to strengthen collaboration between the United Nations, civil society, States, regional actors, and other stakeholders, in order to support actions designed to end and prevent grave violations committed against children in situations of conflict. Under the banner “ACT to Protect,” the advocacy campaign will push for concrete actions to protect the rights of children in conflict. At the launch, SRSG Gamba highlighted several concrete actions that can improve the situation of children affected by war, including:

  • Universal ratification or endorsement of international agreements such as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Paris Principles and Commitments, the Safe Schools Declaration, and the Vancouver Principles;
  • Timely completion of existing action plans between the UN and parties to conflict, as well as the signing of new action plans with parties in order to end and prevent grave violations;
  • Improved efforts to prevent conflict and associated child rights violations, including through the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2427 and the development of regional prevention programs; and
  • Delivery of comprehensive services, including rehabilitation and reintegration, to affected children.

Co-sponsored by the African Union and the European Union, the launch event was well attended by UN Member States, and included remarks by the EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF Omar Abdi, Assistant Secretary-General for Africa in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Bintou Keita, civil society representative Angela Atim Lakor, and Permanent Observer of the AU to the United Nations Fatima Kyari Mohammed.

To read Watchlist’s full remarks, please visit: https://watchlist.org/acttoprotect-campaign-launch-remarks-by-jo-becker-watchlist-advisory-board-chair.