On 18 September 2014, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (the Working Group herein) adopted its conclusions on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Working Group welcomed signature, on 4 October 2012, of the Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence and other grave violations against children by the national armed and security forces, as well as the appointment, on 14 July 2014, of a Presidential Advisor on Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment. The Working Group urged the Government to swiftly, fully and effectively implement the Action Plan, and ensure it and other national directives are disseminated widely at the provincial level and throughout the military chain of command. The Working Group also urged non-state actors listed in the annexes to the report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict to publicly express their commitment to end and prevent all violations and abuses committed against children, and to develop, adopt and implement action plans.
In its conclusions, the Working Group lauded the Government of the DRC for its engagement in the campaign Children, Not Soldiers, and its progress in the provision of access for the United Nations country taskforce on monitoring and reporting to the military and detention facilities with the purpose of identifying and separating children. The Working Group also commended the Government for the exclusion of serious crimes against children, such as recruitment and use and sexual violence, from the Amnesty Law adopted on 11 February 2014. The Working Group did, however, express concern over the lack of accountability for violations and abuses committed against children, and called upon the Government to end impunity by ensuring that all perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice, and are held accountable through timely and systematic investigation and prosecution. It also urged the Government to establish an effective vetting mechanism to ensure that no perpetrators are integrated or recruited into the national armed and security forces, and to systematically withdraw all perpetrators of violations and abuses committed against children from its forces and to hold them accountable.
Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict made specific recommendations to the Working Group on the Democratic Republic of the Congo through its Monthly Updates on Children and Armed Conflict. Specifically, Watchlist highlighted the need for full implementation and wide dissemination of the 2012 Action Plan. Watchlist also stressed the need for vetting mechanisms to ensure that perpetrators of grave violations are not integrated or recruited into the government security services. Many of the points were taken up by the Working Group in its conclusions as reflected above.
The Working Group recommended that the Security Council encourage the Government to establish effective age verification and oversight procedures in collaboration with the United Nations and with the assistance of the World Bank and other donors, in order to prevent the recruitment and use of children into the national armed and security forces. The Working Group also advised the Security Council to urge the Government to develop, with the support of MONUSCO and UNICEF, standard operating procedures for the handover of children formerly associated with national armed forces and groups. The Working Group expressed concern regarding the continued detention of children on charges related to association with non-state armed groups, and stressed that children arrested during military operations should be primarily treated as victims. In their recommendations, the Working Group also requested that the Secretary-General ensures the United Nations country task force on monitoring and reporting continues its advocacy for the release and reintegration of children associated with non-state armed groups. It also called upon the Secretary-General to ensure the effectiveness and capacity of the child protection component of MONUSCO in line with its mandate.
This was the fifth conclusion adopted on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Previous conclusions were adopted in 2011, 2009, 2007, and 2006. The adoption of the September 2014 conclusion took just over three months from the publication of the June 2014 Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.