On February 8, the UN General Assembly held an informal meeting marking the 20th Anniversary of Resolution 51/77 (1997) on the promotion and protection of the rights of children. This resolution established the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG-CAAC). In his opening remarks, President of the General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Peter Thomson, called the resolution “a landmark development in our global efforts to improve the protection of children in conflict situations.” A high-level panel discussion was moderated by SRSG-CAAC Ms. Leila Zerrougui and included H.E. Olof Skoog, Permanent Representative of Sweden and Chair of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, Mr. Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, Mr. Miroslav Jenca, Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and Ms. Ilwad Elman, Director of Programs and Development at the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre in Somalia, among others.
Following statements from several Member States, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict was invited to deliver a joint statement on behalf of 19 civil society groups. While recognizing the progress made in the last 20 years of the Children and Armed Conflict (CAC) agenda, including the release of more than 100,000 children, the statement urged for the following developments in the CAC agenda: 1) an accurate and credible list of perpetrators of child rights violations in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual reports on children and armed conflict; 2) implementation of action plans to end and prevent grave violations through commitments by listed parties and sustained engagement by Member States and the UN; 3) integration of child protection provisions in peace agreements; 4) stronger commitments to end attacks on schools and hospitals, including through endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration; 5) greater accountability for grave child rights violations; and 6) better prevention through universal adoption of the straight-18 standard for recruitment and endorsement of the Paris Commitments and Principles on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups.