UN expands list of parties acting against children in conflict

Posted on | juli 20, 2011 | No Comments

The UN Security Council held its annual Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict, 12 July 2011 in New York, at which time the Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution expanding the criteria for listing parties to conflict in the Secretary-General’s annual report, the 10th Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict, published in April 2011.  The newly passed  resolution 1998 will ensure that all future reports are required to include parties who attack schools and hospitals.

“Today’s resolution takes us one step further. It not only emphasizes that schools and hospitals should be zones of peace respected by all parties to conflict, it adds attacks on schools and hospitals as listing criteria in my annual reports on children in armed conflict,” said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (UN Press Release).

According to Anthony Lake, head of the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, “Adding attacks on schools and hospitals as a trigger for listing parties … will heighten awareness of these grave violations” (Reuters).  The Secretary-General’s annual report previously placed focus on listing those parties who recruit or use children, kill or  maim children, or commit acts of sexual violence against children.  The report also highlights progresses made by parties who seek to take action to stop the recruitment and use of children in conflict, as well as rape and other sexual violence against children.  The new requirements have become an increasing need in the monitoring, evaluation and prevention of abuses committed against children in states of conflict, due to the increasing number of attacks on educational and medical institutions, which had significant increases in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The promise of this resolution is very real. During my visits to conflict areas, I have personally seen the devastation–schools completely destroyed, bombed or burnt to the ground. Attacks on hospitals are two-fold atrocities. Not only do they kill and wound girls and boys, but they leave children without access to treatment,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy in the Security Council on Tuesday, 12 July 2011 (UN Press Release).

Many schools have been targets for attacks due to their promotion of female education, such as in the case of an attack by Islamic militants on a Pakistani in school in  the Peshawar province in January 2011, in which a bomb exploded outside a school leaving two dead and 14 wounded, including seven children.  Father Francis Sohail told AsiaNews:

“This is a brutal act, innocent children have been targeted. These children were going to school, some of them were already inside the school. No religion can justify the killing of innocent children. These extremists are against education for women. They can not frighten us, we support women’s education. Our society is heading towards darkness, education is a ray of hope. We urge the government to ensure that this ray of hope spreads across Pakistan”.

According to the report  Education Under Attack 2010 Report, which was published alongside the report Protecting Education from Attack: A State-of-the-Art Review, by UNESCO on 10 February 2010, the number of politically and ideologically motivated attacks on teachers, students and school buildings is rising.  Some steps towards progress have been made as over the last two years parties including the SPLA, the MILF, the ANT in Chad, the UNPN-M in Nepal, and the Afghan National Security Forces have signed Action Plans with the United Nations. This is the first step towards removing themselves from the Secretary-General’s annual report.

AUTHOR: Cassandra Clifford
URL: www.bridgetofreedomfoundation.org and http://children.foreignpolicyblogs.com
E-MAIL: Cassandra [at] btff.org


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