The Secretary-General recently issued his periodic reports on children and armed conflict in Yemen and in the Philippines. The Yemen report was issued on 28 June 2013, and the Philippines report was issued on 12 July 2013. The Yemen report has been introduced to the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, and the Working Group will take up the Philippines report following its ongoing consideration of the Secretary-General’s report on Myanmar, expected to conclude in August 2013. Watchlist has included recommendations to the Working Group on both reports in its Monthly Update for August 2013.
The Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict in Yemen covers the period July 2011 until March 2013 and is the first such report on Yemen. The report describes grave violations against children committed by the Al-Houthi armed group, Ansar al-Sharia and Government forces including the Yemeni Armed Forces and Pro-Government tribal militias. All are listed in the Secretary-General’s latest annual report for the recruitment and use of children. The report on Yemen states that the United Nations has documented 84 cases of recruitment and use of children, 564 cases of children killed or maimed, up to 100 cases of forced marriage, five cases of abduction, 242 attacks on schools, 18 attacks on hospitals, and 46 verified incidents of denial of humanitarian access. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict has obtained the commitment of the Yemeni Government to conclude an action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by its forces, and she has begun a similar dialogue with the Al-Houthi armed group.
The Secretary-General’s report on the Philippines covers the period 1 December 2009 until 30 November 2012 and is the third such report on the Philippines. The report describes grave violations against children by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and splinter Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the New People’s Army (NPA), and the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). MILF, NPA and ASG are listed in the Secretary-General’s latest annual report for the recruitment and use of children. The report on the Philippines states that the United Nations has documented 51 incidents of recruitment and use of children, 100 incidents of killing and maiming, nine instances of sexual violence, four incidents of abduction and 150 incidents affecting schools and hospitals, including 88 direct attacks on education or health facilities. The United Nations and MILF signed in August 2009 an action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by the MILF. This action plan expired in July 2011, and in April 2013 the MILF agreed to an open-ended extension of the action plan.
In both situations, action plans can play an important role in preventing and ending violations. Technical measures such as regularizing recruitment processes, age verification and vetting measures will also be key. Accountability is a major concern in both Yemen and in the Philippines. In the case of Yemen, donors involved in security sector reform have significant influence in promoting change. With respect to the Philippines, child protection concerns should be integrated into ongoing peace talks between the Government and MILF, and third party mediators can help end violations by both MILF and NPA. Further recommendations are included in Watchlist’s Monthly Update for August 2013.