Last November, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict adopted its third conclusion on the situation of children and armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR). The Working Group expressed its concern over the violations and abuses committed against children, and issued specific recommendations to the armed actors operating in CAR, notably the Ex-Séléka and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the CAR Government, and the MINUSCA peacekeeping force. The negotiations started on May 31, 2016, and lasted until November 30, 2016.
Ahead of the negotiations, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict made recommendations to the Working Group, the majority of which were echoed in the conclusions. Watchlist’s concerns centered on the protection of schools and health facilities, adequate protection of victims in the conduct of investigations of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) crimes by UN peacekeepers, and the role of the international community in combating the rise of LRA attacks.
Since 2015, when it published its Field Monitor report on attacks on and military use of schools in CAR, Watchlist has been calling for greater protection and rehabilitation of schools. Watchlist was pleased to note the conclusion’s call to the CAR Government to implement the Safe Schools Declaration. Since the first allegations of SEA crimes by UN peacekeepers surfaced in CAR, Watchlist has been raising concerns, most specifically around the treatment of victims in the conduct of investigations. In the conclusions, the Working Group calls on all relevant Member States to ensure that child victims and witnesses are adequately protected during the investigation process and to facilitate access to medical and psychological support, as appropriate. Additionally, Member States are called upon to take appropriate measures to investigate allegations of SEA and hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes against children. Finally, in 2016, the LRA has accounted for 60 percent of the grave violations committed against children. As a result of Watchlist advocacy, the Working Group expressed concerns regarding the rise in LRA violations. Unfortunately, it shied away from calling for increased responsibilities for MINUSCA or other international forces operating in CAR to curb violations.
To ensure meaningful follow-up on the 2016 conclusions on CAR, the Working Group should send out all its letters addressed to parties to conflict expediently, widely disseminate the conclusions in the field, and arrange for a follow-up visit to CAR at its earliest convenience.
For our most recent recommendations on CAR, see Watchlist’s January 2017 CAC Monthly Update.