UN Security Council debates children and armed conflict
19 September, 2012
On 19 September the UN Security Council will hold its annual open debate on children and armed conflict. Wilton Park’s conference examined progress in this field, identifying emerging challenges and developing ideas for moving the agenda forward.
Protecting children affected by armed conflict: advancing the agenda of the last 10 years
Wednesday 21 – Friday 23 March 2012 (WP1151)
On 19 September, the UN Security Council will hold its annual open debate on the topic of children and armed conflict. For the first time in her new function, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, will inform the Security Council on the situation of children in various conflict areas. The debate is to focus in particular on the question of how the Security Council can increase accountability for infringements on the rights of children in armed conflicts. The basis of the discussion will be the most recent annual report of the UN Secretary General on this issue.
Our conference on Protecting children affected by armed conflict: advancing the agenda of the last 10 years, held in partnership with World Vision UK earlier this year, brought together representatives of civil society organisations working with children in countries affected by armed conflict; representatives from across the United Nations system, including the then Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, Dr Radhika Coomaraswamy; representatives of governments in both the global south and north, including the current Chair of the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict; academics and legal experts.
The report of this conference called for increasing accountability to children. There is currently no commonly accepted definition of ‘accountability’ in the context of children and armed conflict and both international and national accountability mechanisms have, to date, largely failed to deliver accountability outcomes for children. These outcomes include:
- bringing perpetrators to justice;
- reconciling and rebuilding impacted communities;
- preventing future violations.
Accountability must go beyond a focus on impunity to a focus on tangible results for children and communities that take into account their specific short and long-term needs, enable them to move on from the conflict and atrocities experienced and build peace and reconciliation in the country. Children’s involvement in accountability mechanisms is crucial to ensure that their short- and long-term needs following conflict are addressed and that they feel justice has been done for the harm they have experienced.