The 12th Annual Report of the Secretary-General to the Security Council on the situation of children and armed conflict, issued on 15 May 2013, provides an overview of the situation of children in conflict areas and the measures taken to protect them. It covers the period between January and December 2012, and contains specific recommendations for follow-up UN action. The body of the report contains a reflection on key thematic issues relating to the protection of children in armed conflict:

The evolving nature of armed conflict and new challenges for child protection: this includes the issue of military use of schools, the detention of children by security forces and the impact of the use of drones on children’s everyday life in conflict zones.

– Enhancing compliance by armed forces and armed groups: this section highlights the need to strengthen legal accountability of perpetrators, as well as the importance of including child protection issues in peace talks and peace agreements. It also outlines steps taken by the UN to strengthen its internal accountability processes, namely through the adoption of a human rights due diligence policy in 2011, which sets out practical measures to ensure that any support provided to non-UN forces is consistent with the UN’s responsibility to protect, promote and respect international human rights and humanitarian law, including the rights of children in conflict.

– Cooperation with regional organizations: this section outlines key steps taken by the UN to ensure that regional organizations – such as the EU, NATO and the AU – take concrete measures to protect children in conflict situations, in particular in the framework of peace support and peace enforcement missions.

The report also contains information on grave violations committed against children, in particular the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children, the killing and maiming of children, the abduction of children, attacks on schools and hospitals and the denial of humanitarian access to children by parties to conflict in 22 conflict situations taking place in 21 countries. This year’s report includes one new situation, Mali, with three armed groups listed for recruiting and using children. This will trigger the implementation of a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism in Mali in the coming months. The Report also outlines progress made with respect to the signature and implementation of action plans by listed parties. Action plans spell out concrete time-bound measures that a listed party must take in order to put an end to grave violations and be de-listed.

List of Shame

Pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1379 (2001), 1612 (2005) and 1998 (2011), the Secretary-General lists those parties to conflict found to have committed grave violations against children, namely: recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and sexual violence, and attacks on schools and hospitals. These annexes have become known as the “List of Shame”. Annex I of the Annual Report is for countries already in the Security Council’s agenda, while Annex II is for countries that are not on the Security Council’s agenda.

This year, the list of shame has grown from 52 to 55 perpetrators, 28 of which have been previously listed in the Secretary-General’s report for at least 5 years. These parties are known as persistent perpetrators or violators.

Looking Ahead

The Annual Report is expected to be discussed by the UN Security Council during a Debate on Children and Armed Conflict scheduled for 17 June 2013 under the UK Presidency of the Security Council. Unlike all previous debates on this issue, this one will not be an open debate. Participation in the debate will be limited to the fifteen Council members, and ‘interested parties’, which includes countries listed, or otherwise mentioned, in the 12th Secretary-General report on children and armed conflict. The friends of the children and armed conflict agenda who are not on the Security Council will not have the opportunity to speak and reinforce key messages in support of the agenda.

Luxemburg, the current chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, seeks to adopt a presidential statement as an outcome document of the debate. The focus of the debate, and of the statement, is on the issue of persistent perpetrators.

To learn more about the focus issues of this year’s Debate and Annual Report: