Children Affected by Armed Conflict – Applicable Rules?

Sometimes when you read accounts of wars and armed conflict in many places, you cannot imagine that there are any ‘rules’ that troops abide by during such conflicts. If there are any rules – are they applied and who polices them? Well there is some good news – International Humanitarian Law is continually being developed and can be applied through the International Courts. INEE has added the article below in its bi-weekly newsletter:

PUBLICATION: The UN Security Council’s Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on Children Affected by Armed Conflict – Applicable Rules of International Humanitarian Law


This working paper aims to present the legal framework under international humanitarian law and related instruments applicable to the UN Security Council’s monitoring and reporting mechanism (MRM) on children affected by armed conflict. This mechanism monitors and reports on the six grave violations against children committed by parties to armed conflict. The six grave violations form the basis of the Security Council’s architecture in protecting children during war and include:

  1. Killing or maiming of children
  2. Recruitment or use of children as soldiers
  3. Rape and other grave sexual abuse of children
  4. Abduction of children
  5. Attacks against schools or hospitals
  6. Denial of humanitarian access for children

The working paper provides detailed information on each of the six grave violations.  Further, the report details the rights afforded to civilians, in specific children, in situations of conflict under international humanitarian law.

For access to the complete report, please click here.

And some more news about war and law,again from INEE:

ARTICLE: The Ambiguous Protection of Schools Under the Law of War – Time For Parity With Hospitals and Religious Buildings

(Gregory Raymond Bart)

An article in the Georgetown Journal of International Law by Gregory Raymond Bart addresses the disparate treatment of schools compared to hospitals and religious buildings under the law of war. According to Bart, a disturbing trend during recent armed conflicts has been the propensity to treat school buildings less respectively than hospitals and religious buildings. One important cause of this trend is the different privileged status afforded to each building type under the law of war.

The law of war equally forbids targeting hospitals, religious buildings, schools, and other civilian buildings unless they become justifiable military objectives. But ironically, it fails to equally protect these buildings from being used for such objectives in the first place. Under the law of war’s privileges for civilian hospitals and most religious buildings, armed forces cannot use these buildings for military purposes ­­– without exception. However, in contrast, according to the law of war schools are allowed to be used for military purposes if necessary. This is surprising because military use results in a school being transformed from being a protected site into a justifiable target for an opposing army. Even more troubling, such use increases the likelihood that an opposing army will confuse converted and unconverted schools and wrongfully attack one that shelters children and other civilians.

Bart identifies three critical issues that affect attempts by regimes to establish privileged status for a specific type of building during war: 1) defining which buildings qualify; 2) ensuring maintenance of privileged status by prohibiting their military use; and 3) ensuring their recognition by armed forces. Bart concludes that the law of war has evolved over the past century to better protect hospitals and religious buildings by addressing these issues. The current privilege for schools needs to similarly evolve. Most importantly, it should prohibit armies from using school buildings for military purposes.

For access to the full article, please click here.

Further resources on this topic can be found on the INEE blog here:


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