On July 9, 2019, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict adopted its second conclusion on the situation of children and armed conflict in the Syrian Arab Republic. The conclusion is based on information provided in the Secretary-General’s second country-specific report covering the period between November 16, 2013 and June 30, 2018. Ahead of the negotiations, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict (‘Watchlist’) shared targeted recommendations with Working Group members.
During this reporting period, the United Nations verified over 12,500 grave violations against children, of which the most prevalent was killing and maiming. Ten percent of children were killed or injured by weapons that are either prohibited or inherently indiscriminate and disproportionate in nature. One third of children recruited or used by armed groups were under the age of 15. Parties to conflict indiscriminately attacked schools, health systems, and humanitarian personnel and employed siege tactics, with horrific consequences for children trapped in these areas and suffering severe deprivation of food, health care, and other basic services.
In the conclusion, the Working Group strongly condemned all violations, expressing deep concern about the scale, severity, and recurrence of violations against children particularly through the use of indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks, siege tactics, and chemical weapons. While noting the release in February 2017 of a national work plan to prevent underage recruitment, the Working Group urged the Government of Syria to adopt and implement a comprehensive action plan.
Lack of accountability for perpetrators and detention of children for their real or perceived association with armed groups continue to raise concern. Watchlist welcomes the reflection in the conclusion that children are to be treated primarily as victims of recruitment and the Working Group’s call for all parties to conflict to immediately release all children from their ranks without precondition.
The Working Group also called for inclusion of child protection in all aspects of the peace negotiations, which Watchlist has encouraged more broadly, including through its development in 2016 of a checklist for integrating child protection in peace agreements.
On July 30, 2019, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict adopted its fourth conclusion on the situation of children in Myanmar. The conclusion is based on information presented in the Secretary-General’s fifth country-specific report covering the period from July 1, 2017 to August 31, 2018. The report was submitted at the request of the Working Group as a follow-up to the fourth report to reflect the outbreak of violence in northern Rakhine State and its impact on children. Watchlist shared targeted policy recommendations with Working Group members, key elements of which were reflected in the conclusions.
During the July 2017 to August 2018 reporting period, the UN verified 1,166 grave violations against children. Seven non-State armed groups are listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s 2019 annual report on children and armed conflict, while government forces, known as the Tatmadaw, are listed for killing and maiming, sexual violence, and recruitment and use of children. The Myanmar report noted that access restrictions, fear of reprisals, and stigma make it “likely that the information provided is a significant underrepresentation of the state of violence and impact on children in Rahkine State” (S/2018/956, para. 11).
In its conclusion, the Working Group strongly condemned all grave violations against children in Myanmar, expressing particular concern for violations against persons belonging to the Rohingya community as well as other ethnic communities. In particular, the Working Group condemned the systematic use of force and intimidation, the killing of children and sexual violence, and the destruction and burning of homes and property. The conclusion expressed deep concern for continuing challenges related to lack of accountability, restrictions on humanitarian access, and blocking of monitoring and reporting efforts.
The Working Group recognized the Government of Myanmar’s efforts to address the issue of recruitment and use of children, including release of children from the Tatmadaw, while expressing concern about new cases reported by the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict in June 2019. The conclusion stressed the importance of the fight against impunity for child recruitment and use, including through the criminalization of the practice and the issuance of military command orders prohibiting and sanctioning this and other violations against children. The Working Group encouraged the Government of Myanmar to take further measures toward the full implementation of its 2012 Joint Action Plan to prevent the recruitment and use of children and to develop, adopt, and implement comprehensive action plans to address killing and maiming and rape and other forms of sexual violence, for which the Tatmadaw, including integrated border forces, are listed in the annexes of the 2019 annual report.
The Working Group welcomed the Government of Myanmar’s signing of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC). In September, Myanmar became the 169th State Party to ratify OPAC.