Protecting children in armed conflict

The 7466th Security Council Meeting focused on children and armed conflict. The primary goal of the meeting was to vote on Resolution 2225 which would recognize child abduction, one of the six grave violations of children’s rights, as a criteria for inclusion in  the annex of the Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict. The report discusses grave violations that are being committed against children in various parts of the world and includes a list of all the parties cited for committing violations against children in the annex of the report. The annex is not just a name and shame list but also requires the listed party to make an action plan with the UN so that they can work to end the grave violations for which the party was listed. “Inclusion in the annex increases accountability to the international community for addressing named violations.” This year’s report was controversial and led to some disagreements during discussion.

Throughout the discussion following the unanimous adoption of Resolution 2225, some member states expressed their concern about armed forces and groups excluded from the annex of the 2015 report. This concern focused in particular on the armed forces of Israel and Hamas, neither of whom appear on the list.

With so much attention being placed on the immediate numbers and statistics of children harmed in recent conflict, it can be easy to forget the long-term effects of such tragedies. The representative from Uganda brought home why it is so important that we protect children NOW who are in harm’s way. These children grow up. And they grow up with untreated trauma and PTSD that can develop into lasting mental illness and psychological harm. Uganda, which has dealt with children in armed conflict under the Lord’s Resistance Army for 20 years, particularly in the northern part of the country, now has some of the highest rates of mental illness and suicide that the country has ever seen. Children undergoing such trauma do not grow into stable adults without extreme treatment and remediation. This cycle of violence cannot continue at the expense of children. 

Therefore we hope for a world where all children can find a safe place;
where all ages, races, genders, creeds, and abilities are recognized, valued, and
where all adults hear the voices of children and speak with as well as for them;
where all children have “first call” on the world’s resources and first place in the minds
and hearts of the world’s adults.

from A Vision for Children and The Church, 205th General Assembly (1993) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

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