The UN’s Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) on children and armed conflict gathers first-hand information about violations committed against children by armed forces or groups. In order to build an accurate analysis of the situation of children in armed conflict, it is crucial that information about abuse is collected systematically and that it is verified, through multiple sources, to ascertain its veracity. As part of our effort to strengthen the capacity of local organizations to advocate on behalf of children within their own communities, Watchlist works with partners on the ground to strengthen their ability to systematically collect and verify information about abuses and adequately contribute to the MRM process on the ground.
Collecting and verifying information on abuses does not come without some very concrete and practical challenges: How can one systematically track information when sources on the ground are scattered, disconnected? How can information be independently verified when it is sometimes difficult to simply locate people and places in areas with poor infrastructure?
Our partners working on violations against children in Burma/Myanmar are looking to develop practical solutions to ensure that the full range of the information collected is understood and used to its full potential. To support this, they have undertaken two tasks: the first is to develop a map that registers the GPS coordinates of villages and provides all the known spellings and names for that given location. This will serve as a reference to all actors and strengthen their ability to triangulate information and coordinate the delivery of services. A second component will be to work with agencies providing services on the ground to understand what the type of information is collected routinely through their program interventions. This will strengthen our partners’ ability to triangulate their information: if several agencies report the same incident in the same location, this strengthens the credibility of the information. This will also allow for the identification of new incidents that were not reported to our partners and ensure that there is an adequate follow-up.
Through these initiatives, Watchlist’s partners are strengthening the quality of information available to the in-country MRM task forces, as well as expanding the range of tools available to civil society to monitor and report on violations against children in armed conflict.