Progress made, work to do, on children in armed conflict

No child soldiers red handsLast week the Secretary-General released the annual report on Children and Armed Conflict. This report summarized all of the progress that has been made in terms of reducing the amount of children involved in situations of armed conflict, as well as highlighted areas where work still needs to be done. UN Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, stated that there are 23 situations around the world in which children are being used in armed conflict in some way.

The annual report named some specific groups and areas where clear violations of children’s rights have been made. The militant group, Boko Haram, is now included for their horrific actions against children, and their attacks on schools and hospitals. In areas such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, the number of children killed or mutilated actually increased in 2013. The year also saw other violations of children’s rights with the recruitment of children by groups in the Central African Republic. The report asserted that the Syria is considered the most dangerous place to be a child today. Due to a December 2013 conflict, the progress made in South Sudan on this issue has “been erased”. Additionally, worry was expressed in relation to recent actions taken by the Islamist State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Zerrougui cited these events in making a call to demand accountability of any state or group that violates the rights of a child.

Progress was also outlined in this report. The “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign, which was organized by UNICEF and the Special Representative, has created positive momentum since it’s launch in March 2014. Some of the achievements bringing about this momentum include that Chad has fulfilled its action plan, Yemen has signed its own action plan and South Sudan has recommitted to the action plan signed in 2012. These are plans that outline steps that have or will be taken to end the involvement of children in armed conflict.

This year has shown that progress can be, and has been, made in the struggle to end violations against the rights of children around the world. Work remains to do.

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