Watchlist released its newest report, “The United Nations’ 1612 Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism: Lessons from Colombia and South Sudan” on August 24. In 2015 Watchlist conducted research on the implementation of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) in two countries, Colombia and South Sudan, ten years after the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1612 which established the Mechanism to provide the Council with “objective, accurate and reliable information” on six grave violations against children in armed conflict. While the MRM is undoubtedly a vital instrument designed to protect children in war, it has yet to be assessed comprehensively since its establishment. In undertaking this research, Watchlist’s aim was to highlight what is working well in the implementation of the MRM and offer recommendations to improve the mechanism’s effectiveness.

The research focused primarily on the MRM’s central implementation body, the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR), but also on the national, regional, and local structures through which the MRM is implemented. While each CTFMR implements the MRM independently based on UN guidelines, many factors from political landscape to varied levels of financial support influence each CTFMR. The findings and recommendations from the research are meant to inform discussions at the UN at both headquarters as well as in the field, regarding next steps it could take to advance the protection of children affected by armed conflict.

The report’s main findings include the following:

  • There are differing expectations about the MRM’s goals and purpose among the actors involved in its implementation. For example, some humanitarian actors felt the MRM could strengthen programmatic response for victims while others, primarily UN respondents, did not expect the MRM to inform program design.
  • The MRM process becomes more effective when there are a greater variety of actors involved and committed to its goals and objectives. Including local knowledge holders in particular can significantly enhance monitoring and reporting and inform targeted response.
  • Both UN and non-UN reporting agencies’ expressed a need for more orientation and training on information management protocols, data confidentiality guidelines, minimum standards of verification, and information sharing pathways and security protocols.
  • Grave violations perpetrated against children are often underreported due to challenges with monitoring, reporting, and verification in hostile environments.
  • The MRM could be strengthened through joint CTFMR annual advocacy strategies.
  • The research also found many good practices in the areas of data collection, information sharing, and dissemination which could further strengthen the MRM process.

The MRM is a vital instrument to protect children in war from some of the most egregious violations of their rights. Watchlist hopes that findings from the research and recommendations offered can be used to improve upon the effectiveness of the mechanism in Colombia and South Sudan, as well as prove useful in other country contexts as well.

Watchlist is grateful for the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)[1], with whose funding this research was made possible. The report is available in English, French, and Spanish.

[1] The contents of the report are the responsibility of Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.