On 11 October 2012, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict adopted two sets of conclusions on the situation of children and armed conflict, the first covering the Sudan and the second covering South Sudan. These are the third set of conclusions adopted with respect to the Sudan and the first to be adopted with respect to South Sudan since that country’s independence in July 2011. In both countries, both Government forces (including the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, a former non-State group now the regular armed forces of South Sudan) and non-State actors are considered “persistent perpetrators”, responsible for grave violations against children for at least five years.

In both its conclusions concerning the Sudan and those concerning South Sudan, the Working Group welcomed progress made by the respective Governments in ensuring the protection of children, expressed concern at ongoing violations and agreed to use four of the “tools” at its disposal for addressing the situation of children and armed conflict. First, the Working Group agreed to address messages to the parties of the respective conflicts in each country urging them to take specific actions to end violations. Second, the Working Group recommended that the President of the Security Council send letters to the respective Governments welcoming progress and calling on them to take steps to end violations. Third, the Working Group recommended that the President of the Security Council send letters to the Secretary-General concerning inter alia the monitoring and reporting of violations by the United Nations. Fourth, the Working Group agreed to appeal to the Work Bank and donors to support efforts to end violations against children. The Working Group used these same tools, but with arguably more forceful language, in its previous conclusions on Sudan in 2009.

Negotiation of the conclusions took fifteen months from the submission of the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict in Sudan on 5 July 2011. The length of these negotiations was a significant step backwards after the Working Group reduced the time taken to negotiate conclusions from 10 months in 2010 to 3.9 months in 2011 and far exceeded the target negotiation time of 2 months. The delay was due in part to the intervening independence of South Sudan and the Working Group’s decision to issue separate conclusions for Sudan and South Sudan. However, inability of the Working Group to reach consensus on the conclusions reportedly contributed significantly to the delay.