On 19 June 2013, Watchlist launched its new report Where Are They…? The situation of children and armed conflict in Mali. The first major publication of its kind since the start of conflict in January 2012 focusing exclusively on children, the report details grave violations being committed against children in Mali, and makes recommendations for how to better protect them. The week of the report’s launch included a UN Press Conference, a special report preview event for the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, a presentation at the Group of Friends meeting hosted by the Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN, and a breakfast event hosted by World Vision for the wider UN-NGO community working on child protection issues. These events generated positive feedback by the New York-based community of policymakers and practitioners, praising the report for its breadth of research on violations, and thoroughness of recommendations to all parties concerned with the situation of children and armed conflict in Mali. The report also generated strong media attention, featuring in articles published by The Washington Post, Le Monde and Journal du Mali among others.
Watchlist’s publication is timely in light of the Secretary-General’s report release on children and armed conflict, presented to the Security Council during the 2013 Debate on Children and Armed Conflict that took place on 17 June 2013, that listed three non-state armed groups from Mali for committing grave violations against children (Ansar Dine, MNLA and MUJAO). The listing of groups in Mali prompts the need for establishing a UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism in Mali. The report also came out days before the Security Council decided to deploy a peacekeeping force, MINUSMA, to Mali starting 1st July. Both establishing the MRM, and the protection of children by military actors are addressed through findings and recommendations in the report, along with other areas linked to better protecting Malian children affected by the conflict.