The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict adopted its fifth conclusion on the situation of children and armed conflict in Sudan on June 14, 2017. The conclusions are based on the Secretary-General’s (SG) report published earlier in March (public document forthcoming). Ahead of the negotiations, Watchlist made targeted recommendations to Working Group members, the majority of which were taken up in the final negotiated document. The Working Group agreed upon a comprehensive document addressing key measures to significantly improve the situation of children in the context of armed conflict in Sudan, and Watchlist calls for full implementation of the recommendations contained in these conclusions.

Watchlist welcomes the Working Group’s call for the Government of Sudan to swiftly and fully implement its action plan with the United Nations signed in March 2016, coupled with its call to donors to prioritize support for the timely and effective implementation of all action plans. The Government’s fulfillment of the commitments outlined in its action plan will significantly enhance the protection of children within its borders, including by preventing future recruitment and use of children and other grave violations.

Additionally, Watchlist welcomes the Working Group’s call upon the Government to facilitate the work of the UN’s Country Task Force for Monitoring and Reporting with armed groups for the purposes of developing and implementing their own action plans to end and prevent recruitment and use of children. Several armed groups listed in the SG’s annual reports for committing grave violations against children in Sudan have already made strides in altering their behavior to respect children’s rights, and further engagement with the UN would continue to facilitate this positive change on the ground.

Watchlist further welcomes the strong language on humanitarian access for actors delivering assistance to children affected by armed conflict in Sudan in the conclusions. The Working Group expressed serious concern at threats to and attacks on humanitarian workers and facilities, in addition to hampered access due to the ongoing conflict and the Government’s bureaucratic constraints, with particularly severe impact to non-Government controlled areas such as Jebel Marra. The Working Group urged for all parties to the conflict to immediately allow and facilitate full, safe, and unhindered access for the delivery of humanitarian assistance to children.

In response to other key recommendations, Watchlist is pleased to see the Working Group recall in its letter to the Government that children associated with armed forces and armed groups should be treated primarily as victims in line with the Paris Principles, and its welcoming the Government’s release of the 21 children detained by the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). Detention of children on the basis of security-related charges has been an issue of concern for Watchlist and its partners, and is increasingly becoming a trend in countries’ counter-terrorism efforts. Watchlist and its partners have also been concerned about the military use of schools by the Sudan Armed Forces, and are pleased to see the Working Group’s call upon the Government to ensure that schools and their personnel are protected, commending its endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration.

Finally, given the severe budget cuts UN peacekeeping missions are currently facing, Watchlist welcomes the Working Group’s call upon the SG to allocate sufficient standalone child protection capacity to the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). Such dedicated capacity is essential for monitoring, reporting, and responding to the grave violations against children’s rights in Sudan.

Read more about Watchlist’s work on Sudan: