CRIN (Child Rights Information Network) has published a review of the main children and armed conflict stories of 2010.
2010 saw a big push for universal ratification of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on armed conflict and sexual exploitation. Read details of the UN’s campaign. The UN Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, has published an article on the campaign in the International Journal on Children’s Rights.
The campaign seemed to boost ratifications to Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict as eight more States committed in 2010: Republic of Congo, Cyprus, Gabon, Georgia, Guyana, Hungary, Malawi and Seychelles.
In 2010, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued recommendations on the OPAC reports of Bosnia and Herzegovina,Ecuador, Israel, Liechtenstein, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nicaragua,Poland, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Turkey.
Negotiations on the planned overhaul of the UN Security Councilcontinued. At issue are categories of membership, the veto system, regional representation, the possibility of an enlarged Council and the relationship between the Council and the UN General Assembly. Full story.
A report by Turtle Bay examined the murky side of reform, examining how even the physical layout of the building had led to greater secrecy of the body by limiting contact with the media.
However, the UN Security Council acted strongly against sexual violence in 2010, passing a resolution in December to name and shame individuals and parties to armed conflict that are “credibly suspected” of committing rape or other forms of sexual violence. The resolution was passed on the heels of the UN’s harrowing report on mass rape in the eastern Congo in July and August 2010. Download the report.
The UN has toughened up on sexual violence in recent years, with the Security Council passing resolutions 1325 and 1820 on the issue and, in February last year, the UN Secretary-General appointedMargot Wallstrom as the first ever Special Representive on Sexual Violence.
Meanwhile, justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC) took a step backwards as the trial of Thomas Lubanga for the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict was suspended. At issue was the refusal by the prosecution to disclose an intermediary’s identity to the defence. Controversy over the disclosure of names and evidence is ongoing. Full story.
The first ever review of the ICC’s work was held in June to evaluate the Court’s impact so far and discuss proposed amendments to the Rome Statute. A key development included the adoption of a resolution by States Parties to strengthen the enforcement of sentences. Provisions setting out the terms of the Court’s ability to investigate and prosecute individuals for the crime of aggression were also accepted. Full story.
In a further bid to strengthen protection of civilians from the effects of armed conflict, a new international Convention on Cluster Munitions entered into force in August. The Convention, which bans the production and use of cluster munitions and obliges States to compensate victims, does not include some of the biggest stockpilers among its adherents. Full story.
And finally, in September, Valerie Amos of the United Kingdom, took office as the the new Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The Under-Secretary General, appointed by UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, is responsible for overseeing all UN humanitarian emergenices. The appointment practices of Ban Ki-Moon have, however, been widely criticised. He has been accused of giving key positions to big donor countries and awarding posts based on political motivations rather than experience.Full story. CRIN will continue to report on appointment processes of key children’s rights positions in 2011.
CRIN keeps an update on the situation in many countries -examples are listed below:
Below are some key news stories and reports from some of the countries affected by armed conflict. For updates on other countries, visit our A-Z of country pages.
A mid-year report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict published by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, revealed that the number of children killed in conflict in Afghanistan had risen 55 per cent from the previous year.
On a positive note, the Afghan government has set up a committee to deal with serious violations of children’s rights in the country.
In December, the government announced that 3,000 children had been discharged from the Afghan National Army and police force after the UN sent a letter to the government about their presence. Officials say the children will now receive training and education in other fields. Full story. Recruitment of children into the police force was banned in April. Full story.
An Amnesty International report detailed abuses against indigenous peoples by guerrilla groups, security forces and paramilitaries in Colombia. Survival International warned that 34 groups face extinction as a result of violence on their land. Full story.
National newspaper “El Tiempo” reported that Colombia’s Justice and Peace Commission is investigating over 200 cases of minors recruited by paramilitary group the United Self-Defence Forces (AUC), with reports of 2,700 cases in total. Full story.
Democratic Republic of Congo
The United Nations released a long-awaited report on “indescribable” atrocities committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from 1993 to 2003, when tens of thousands of people were killed, and numerous others raped and mutilated by both armed Congolese groups and foreign military forces. Download the report.
Reports were also released on the extent of sexual violence in the country by Oxfam and Amnesty International among others.
Recruitment of children into armed groups continues apace. Read more here and here.
However, in December, the UN Security Council imposed sanctions against Colonel Innocent Zimurinda of the armed forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) for abuses against children. Full story in CriEnglish.com.
In March, doctors in Fallujah reported a spurt in birth defects resulting from weapons used by the US after the invasion. Full story.
WikiLeaks released war logs claiming that a British rifleman shot dead an eight-year-old girl in Iraq while she was playing. Submissions published by WikiLeaks also document concerns by US forces about the increase in the use of children as potential terrorists.
Many Palestinian children were unlawfully arrested last year, especially children from east Jerusalem. Full story.
In March, Defence for Children International and Human Rights Watch published reports on the use of children as human shields. Two Israeli soldiers have been charged after a complaint was filed by DCI although DCI remains concerned that the charges are too lenient.
Also read a report on the impact of forced displacement in high risk areas.
Kashmir (India and Pakistan)
There were protests in Indian-administered Kashmir in February over the killing of a 15-year-old boy by a police tear-gas round aimed at dispersing a protest against Indian rule. Full story.
In March, two children were wounded in “unprovoked firing” by Indian forces across the de facto border dividing the disputed region, according to Pakistani officials. Full story.
Read the UN Secretary General’s country report.
The UN Secretary General published a report on the situation of children in armed conflict in the Philippines in January.
In March, a children’s rights group filed a complaint before the National Commission on Human Rights against the military for the torture of three minors who the military accused of belonging to the New People’s Army (NPA). Full story.
In June, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights heard that in Peru, terrorist group the Shining Path continues to use children in its activities in a hearing presented by the Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDDHH) with support from Save the Children. The recruitment of children into the Peruvian Armed Forces was also under discussion. Read the full report here (in Spanish).
The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Shamsui Bari, on a visit to the country, declared: “many children and young people risk being recruited by armed groups and used in the front lines and [where] there are generations who have known nothing but violence and conflict.”
The UN Secretary General issued a full report on children and armed conflict in Somalia in November.
The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict and the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers issued a joint briefing on children affected by armed conflict in Sri Lanka in March. The report was published in response to a report by a Special Envoy of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to Sri Lanka.Download the report.
In August, a panel investigating war crimes in Sri Lanka opened. Journalists’ coverage of the investigation into the final phase of the armed conflict has been restricted. Full story.
A ceasefire agreement signed early in the year between the Government of Sudan and the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) contained provisions to protect children involved in the conflict. In August, the army in Southern Sudan pledged to demobilise all child soldiers by the end of the year. The country’s future remains uncertain ahead of the referendum on whether to split the country in two taking place this week. Full story.
In June, political protests in Thailand came to a head after a two-month stand-off. Allegations of children being exploited were made on both sides. Full story.
A group of NGOs is calling for a change in the law to end the practice of recruiting 16 and 17-year-olds into the armed forces. The second reading of the Armed Forces Bill will be presented to the House of Commons this week. Read a briefing on the issue by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.
United States of America
In December, the US administration caused outrage by backtracking on its commitment to end the recruitment of children into armed forces in certain countries in order to strengthen military cooperation, according to Human Rights Watch. President Obama waived the application of section 404 (a) of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act 2008 for Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Yemen. The law prohibits all forms of defence-related assistance to countries that actively recruit troops under the age of 18.
The only remaining restrictions apply to Myanmar and Somalia. Full story.
In November, Omar Khadr, who was captured at the age of 15 in Afghanistan and held in Guantanamo Bay for eight years, was sentenced to eight years for war crimes. He will serve his sentence in his homeland, Canada. Full story.
Ongoing fighting in the northern provinces of Saada and Amran in Yemen is taking its toll on children. Read about children’s situation in a report by Seyaj for Childhood Protection.