BAN KI-MOON CALLS FOR PROTECTING
CHILDREN IN ARMED CONFLICT A ‘MORAL CALL’
- while aboriginal OGIEK
CHILDREN SUFFER IN KENYA at the hands of Kenya army -
17 Jul 2008
Protecting children in armed conflict is a moral issue,
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed today, calling for
increased action to safeguard young people caught up in violence.
“The protection of children in armed conflict is a litmus test for
the United Nations and the Organization’s Member States,” Mr. Ban
said told the Security Council in an open debate. “It is a moral
call, and deserves to be placed above politics. It requires
innovative, fearless engagement by all
He noted that in the 12 years since the release of the landmark
study on the impact of armed conflict on children by Graça Machel,
international legal standards on the issue have been established.
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
classifies recruiting children into fighting forces as both a war
crime and a crime against humanity, while the UN International
Labour Organization (ILO) has a convention calling child
soldiering one of the worst forms of child labour.
The Secretary-General lauded the work of the Security Council to
protect children, with resolutions having been adopted on six
grave violations: abduction; sexual violence; child soldiers;
killing and maiming; attacks on schools and hospitals; and denial
of humanitarian access.
“Yet we have only begun to scratch the surface,” he said, voicing
hope that the 15-member body would take further measures to
address the problem.
In her address to the debate, which heard from dozens of speakers,
Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative for Children and
Armed Conflict, said that her recent visits to Iraq and
Afghanistan have convinced her of the changing nature of warfare.
“The time has come for us to re-double our efforts in these
regions, to renew our commitment to ensure that children will not
be recruited or used as suicide bombers, that they will not be
detained in military detention without due process which protects
their vulnerability as minors, that their schools will not be
attacked, that they or their families will not be collateral
damage and that girl children will not be the targets of sexual
violence or denied access to schools,” she said.
Over the past year, Ms. Coomaraswamy said, Member States have
expressed their opinions that her Office should more closely
assess the root causes of serious offences against children, in
particular the problem of children associated with armed groups.
Although in agreement with the need to understand the basis of
conflict, she underlined that the Council should not be steered
“away from its task of ensuring accountability for and fighting
impunity of persistent and grave violators of children’s rights in
situations of armed conflict, a task in which it has a supreme
advantage over other organs of the United Nations, including the
possibility of imposing targeted measures,” she said.
Also speaking at today’s debate was Assistant Secretary-General
Edmond Mulet, who briefed the Council on measures that the
Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has taken on child
Currently, the Department hosts more than 60 child protection
officers in seven missions around the world, with the provision of
training on children’s rights being a top priority.
“We must strive to ensure an environment in which children’s
rights are fully respected and their welfare is protected: a
peaceful and just environment in which they can flourish and
meaningfully contribute to their communities,” Mr. Mulet said.
At the conclusion of the day-long debate, the Council issued a
presidential statement in which the body reaffirmed “its strong
and equal condemnation of the continuing recruitment and use of
children in armed conflict in violation of applicable
international law,” as well as killing and maiming of children,
rape and other sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian
access to children and attacks against schools and hospitals by
those taking part in fighting.
Today’s statement also emphasized the role of education in
conflict areas as a way to curb and prevent the recruitment and
re-recruitment of children.
“The Security Council reiterates the need for stronger focus by
all parties concerned, including governments and the donor
community, on the long-term effects of armed conflict on children
and the impediments to their full rehabilitation and reintegration
into their families and communities,” it said.