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Cross-Cutting Report No. 1: Children and Armed Conflict

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1. Summary and Conclusions
2010 was a year of consolidation and implementation of earlier Council decisions on children and armed conflict. 2009 had been a high-profile year for this issue with the Council adopting a presidential statement and a resolution that expanded the scope for inclusion in the Secretary-General's reports for parties to conflict that commit violations against children. There had been intense activity around the adoption of resolution 1882  on 4 August 2009 which opened up the criteria for listing of the parties in the annexes to the Secretary-General's report to include killing and maiming and rape and sexual violence against children. By contrast, in 2010 there was little appetite for another resolution or a further expansion of the criteria for listing. Rather, the Council appeared content to leave its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict space for implementation and the Working Group became the main driver on the issue during the year.

This is Security Council Report's fourth Cross-Cutting Report on Children and Armed Conflict. The first report in 2008 examined relevant data from 2003 to 2007 in resolutions, presidential statements, Council missions, Secretary-General's reports, peace agreements and peacekeeping mandates and tried to assess the degree to which the thematic issue of children and armed conflict had been addressed and reflected in the mainstream of the Council's overall work on country-specific situations. That report also examined the impact of the 2005 adoption of resolution 1612, which set up a monitoring and reporting mechanism and established the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

Our 2008 report also provided a baseline for the second and third reports published in April 2009 and June 2010. These two reports built on the historical background of the issue and analysed data for 2008 and 2009. They also highlighted key trends and options for the Council and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict over those years.

Continuing with this series of reports, the 2011 Cross-Cutting Report on Children and Armed Conflict now provides data on and analysis of trends in 2010.

Among the main findings are:

  • Incorporating children and armed conflict issues into the country-specific work of the Council continued the upward trend in 2010. There was an increase in the number and quality of substantive references to children in resolutions as well as in Secretary-General's reports. However, presidential statements remained at the same level. The most substantial references to child protection tend to arise from situations that are or have been on the Secretary-General's annexes.
  • The conclusions of the Working Group are still not being consistently addressed in resolutions, presidential statements or Secretary-General's reports as a standard practice. In fact, in some situations the references seem to be consciously omitted. This appeared to be the case with Afghanistan.
  • There is an increase in the number of Secretary-General's reports containing child protection sections. But the substance of these sections tends to focus only on recruitment of children. Information on sexual violence and killing and maiming is less common. This may change with further development of the monitoring and reporting structures for killing and maiming and sexual violence.
  • There are notably better linkages between the Council's children and armed conflict agenda and its sanctions committees following resolution 1882   of August 2009 and the 2010 presidential statement which called for improved communications between the Working Group, the Special Representative for children and armed conflict and the sanctions committees.
  • There are indications that the Council is more aware of the need for child protection to continue into post-conflict situations. The Council's focus on the overlap between conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peacebuilding may have led to a greater understanding of the continuing needs of children adversely affected during conflict as well as the need to include children's needs in any conflict prevention strategy.
  • In its resolutions on children, the Council has begun to pay more attention to the need to protect women and girls. While sexual violence is a key issue in the protection of children, the Council tends to see this issue through the "women" lens which may over time result in the specific needs of children affected by sexual violence being side-lined.
  • The focus in 2010 on the issue of women, peace and security and sexual violence may have contributed to the decision that the issue of children and armed conflict should be less of a priority in the Council's work programme.
  • Progress has continued in the release of child soldiers and commitment to action plans from groups involved in using children in armed conflict. (These time-bound action plans were asked for in resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005) and they are generally seen as the first step towards getting off the Secretary-General's list of shame.) However, there is little evidence that groups have responded to the two new triggers— sexual violence and killing and maiming—by signing action plans.
  • While there has been some success getting governments to sign action plans to release children and stop violations, there has been very little impact on certain non-state actors, particularly groups like the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and Al-Shabaab where no contact has been possible.
  • The role of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict has grown over the last four years with her field missions now serving multiple purposes, including dis-semination of the Working Group's recommendations.

Observations on the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict:

  • The Working Group showed renewed innovation in its working methods in 2010. For the first time, members of the Working Group went on a visit to a situation on its work agenda and reacted to violations against children in real time, through a press statement. It also recommended a regional strategy for monitoring and reporting on the LRA.
  • However, the Working Group continues to be hesitant about stronger recommendations such as targeted sanctions and specific time-lines that might put pressure on persistent perpetrators.
  • While there were some difficult moments in various negotiations during the year, overall political sensitivities do not seem to have obstructed the work of the Working Group as much as in 2008 and 2009.
  • The Working Group struggled to close the time gap between the date of publication of the Secretary-General's reports on children and armed conflict in country-specific situations and the date of adoption of its Conclusions.
  • The rotation of the chair of the Working Group every two years to an elected member appears to have evolved into a practice and the Working Group seems to have matured to a point where changes such as the rotation of the chairman and members do not appear to fundamentally affect its ability to function.
  • There are some signs that the Working Group is becoming entrenched in its ways and possibly risks losing some of its previous flexibility and adaptability. The formal meetings tend to follow a relatively rigid format which may not always encourage members' active participation. The informal meetings, however, continue to be effective and allow for greater interaction and discussion.
  • With the development of the Working Group into a mature subsidiary body and given its workload, a more long-term solution for administrative and substantive support may need to be found.
  • If the Working Group is to continue using field missions as a means of pressuring parties on the Secretary-General's annexes, it will need to work out a regular means of financing for these trips. Self-funding has meant that very few members have been able to go on the trips.
  • A growing problem is the logistics of holding both the informal and formal meetings. The shortage of space and translators have sometimes made it difficult to keep to the schedule for adoption of conclusions.

Some of the findings from the case studies include:

  • Commitment from the government in addressing the issue of violations against children, as seen in the case study on Afghanistan, can provide the impetus needed to begin seriously addressing this issue. On the other hand, when recommendations of sanctions are made and there is no speedy imposition (coupled with poor government capacity and lack of will), as is the case in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the impact in terms of changing the situation of affected children can be negligible.
  • The current process of adding violations against children as a reason for imposing targeted sanctions and then designating individuals or entities is a long and cumbersome one. Although the Council first expressed its intention to impose such sanctions in its 2004 resolution on children and armed conflict, it took another two years before it took up this recommendation in its resolution on the DRC. (This resolution [S/RES/1698] extended sanctions to political and military leaders recruiting or using children and targeting children in situations of armed conflict.) The gap between the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict recommending sanctions and an individual being designated by the DRC Sanctions Committee was almost three years. There is a need for more rapid progression from the initiation to the practical implementation when sanctions are suggested as a tool.

Annex II.)

Resolution 1612 of July 2005 was ground-breaking. It authorised the establishment of a monitoring and reporting mechanism to focus on six grave violations against children: recruiting or use of child soldiers; killing or maiming of children; rape and other grave sexual abuse of children; attacks against schools and hospitals; abduction of children; and denial of humanitarian access for children. It also created the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

The most recent resolution, 1882, was adopted in 2009. It expanded the criteria for listing parties as violators in the Secretary-General's report to include killing and maiming and/or rape and other sexual violence among the grounds for inclusion. (Regular Secretary-General's reports since 2002 have contained two annexes of parties to armed conflict that recruit children: Annex I is made up of situations that are on the Council's formal agenda and Annex II are those not on the Council's agenda. Naming and shaming parties involved in the recruitment of children through including them in the annexes has been an effective tool in putting pressure on them to stop recruitment and to release children.)

The underlying normative framework is set out in a range of international legal instruments, based on humanitarian and human rights law, which provide the legal framework for the six grave violations against children. They include:

  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966);
  • The Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 (1977) and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1), the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II) (1977);
  • The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) and its Optional Protocols on armed conflict and sex trafficking;
  • The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court ( ICC, 1998); and
  • Customary international humanitarian law.

In addition, the seven resolutions and the structures set up by the Council for monitoring the issue of children a armed conflict have greatly reinforced the normative framework and helped guide the Council's approach to this issue.

S/PRST/2010/10). The presidential statement picked up a number of themes from resolution, 1882, which was adopted the previous year, including:

  • the Council's intention to take action against persistent perpetrators; and
  • the need for enhanced communication between the Working Group and relevant Security Council Sanctions Committees.

The presidential statement also reiterated the Council's condemnation of all violations of international law committed against children in situations of armed conflict. The Council also expressed its particular concern about "the growing number of attacks…in contravention of applicable international law against schools and educational facilities, and teachers and pupils, in particular the specific targeting of girls".

The Council also reaffirmed its decision in resolution, 1882 to continue to include specific provisions for the protection of children in the mandates of all relevant UN peacekeeping, peacebuilding and political missions and encouraged the deployment of child protection advisers to these missions. It also emphasised the importance of child rights and child protection training for UN personnel involved in peacekeeping, peacebuilding and political missions.

A key focus of the 2010 presidential statement was the issue of sanctions. The Council expressed its readiness to adopt targeted and graduated measures against persistent perpetrators. With this in mind it invited:

  • its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to exchange infor-mation with relevant Sanctions Committees particularly by communicating the Working Group's relevant recommendations;
  • its relevant sanctions committees to consider inviting more regularly the Special Representative of Children and Armed Conflict to brief them on information in the Secretary-General's report on Children and Armed Conflict; and
  • the Special Representative to share information with relevant sanctions committees expert groups.

In the presidential statement the Council also expressed its intention, when establishing or renewing the mandate of relevant Sanctions Committees, to consider provisions relevant to parties that are in violation of applicable international law relating to the rights and protection of children and armed conflict. In addition the Council expressed its readiness to consider action on specific recommendations from the Working Group on violations and abuses committed against children by parties listed in the annexes to the Secretary-General's reports. While this has not happened as yet, it is an indication that the Council may be willing to at some point take action on parties in situations which are on its agenda as well as for parties in situations currently not on its agenda.

The Council also reiterated its request for UN mission and country teams to develop appropriate strategies and coordination mechanisms for information exchange and cooperation on cross-border child protection concerns. With a number of conflicts involving children having a regional dimension, the Council's request is an important step towards monitoring violations against children in regional conflict situations.

Several areas relevant to the practices of the Working Group were addressed in the presidential statement including:

  • the importance of continuing timely conclusions and recommendations;
  • fully implementing the Working Group's tool-kit;
  • carrying out a country-specific visit within one year; and
  • the need for administrative and substantive support (the Secretary-General was requested to take action on the matter within a month of the adoption of the statement).

By the end of 2010 the arrangements for administrative and substantive support for the Working Group had been worked out. By the end of the year the Working Group followed up on the Council's request for a visit by making a field trip to Nepal.

Other Developments

2010 also saw some important developments relating to the overlap between the issues of protection of civilians; women, peace and security; and children and armed conflict.

The most significant was the adoption on 16 December of resolution 1960 establishing a monitoring, analysis and reporting mechanism on conflict-related sexual violence in situations on the Council's agenda. The Council requested the Secretary-General to include in his annual reports on conflict-related sexual violence an annex listing the parties credibly suspected of committing or being responsible for patterns of rape and other forms of sexual violence in situations of armed conflict on the Council's agenda, using the same listing and delisting criteria as the current annexes prepared for children and armed conflict reports. In the resolution the Council indicated its intention to use the annex list as a basis for decisions on sanctions, as appropriate. The resolution also calls on parties to armed conflict to make specific, time-bound commitments to prohibit and punish sexual violence and asks the Secretary-General to monitor those commitments.

Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy is working closely with the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, on how best to coordinate their work on monitoring and reporting on sexual violence and the listing and delisting of parties to conflict that commit sexual violence against children in situations of armed conflict. The resolution made it clear that any arrangements should retain the integrity of the children and armed conflict monitoring mechanism. One possibility is a common system of information-gathering in areas where the two mandates overlap.

Council Consideration of the Working Group's Annual Report

Between 2006 and 2008 under the French chair, the Working Group's annual report due every July, was considered by Council members under "Other Matters". However, in 2009 and 2010, the report has been submitted directly to the president of the Council and there has been no discussion. While there may not be much discussion around the annual report, presenting it orally to the Council provided the Working Group chair an opportunity to highlight key issues that arose during the course of the year.

3.2 Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

Since 2006 the Special Representative has made 24 field visits. In 2010 she visited Afghanistan in February, Uganda in June and Somalia and Kenya in November. In 2011 she has made three trips so far: Afghanistan in January the Philippines in April and Chad in June.

The reasons for the Special Representative's visits vary depending on the case and timing. When a situation is first being considered by the Working Group, the Special Representative's visits function as fact-finding missions as was the case with her first visits to the DRC, Sudan and Chad. In the early stages of setting up a monitoring and reporting mechanism the Special Representative has used her visits to sort out teething problems and provide advice on the monitoring mechanism. She has also been occasionally invited to its inauguration. She has also been asked to go on a field visit when there could be a need to get commitments from the government or parties. More recently the Special Representative has visited a country when the government is ready to sign an action plan. She did this in 2009 for Nepal and in 2011 for Afghanistan and Chad. Her presence during the final stages of negotiation of an action plan ensures that the plan meets the requirements of the UN and allows her to act as a witness to the signing.

Over time a key task during her visits has been to convey the conclusions of the Working Group directly to either the relevant governments or groups and to seek the appropriate attention and follow-up to the recommendations. The Special Representative's acceptance by some non-state actors as an appropriate representative and the access she has been given to some non-state actors have been particularly significant. (In some contexts in the past, governments had been very sensitive towards the Council or the Working Group dealing directly with non-state actors making access to them difficult.) The Special Representative has also been able to help disseminate and explain recent recommendations from the Working Group to the country task forces.

The Special Representative's first visit in 2010 was to Afghanistan where her main objective was to access the situation of children and to advocate for protection and programme interventions for war-affected children. The Special Representative also followed up on the specific commitments made during her previous visit, in June 2008. (In January 2011 she visited Afghanistan again to witness the signing of the Action Plan which committed the Afghan government to preventing the recruitment and use of children in the National Security Forces.)

During her field visit to Uganda the Special Representative met with Major General Aronda Nyakairima, head of Uganda's military, the Uganda People's Defence Force (UPDF). During her meeting she discussed the procedures for the release and repatriation of children associated with the LRA throughout the region in the follow-up to the Security Council Working Group recommendations for children and armed conflict. She also met children who had been with the LRA. Her visit to Uganda also included the delivery of a keynote address at the International Criminal Court (ICC) Review Conference.

Following the Special Representative's visit to Somalia, the government committed to eradicating the practice of child soldiering in Somalia and agreed to put together measures to prevent the recruitment of children. She also went to Somaliland where she met the president of Somaliland as well as former child pirates. In Kenya she visited an internally displaced persons camp in Bossaso and met with UN child protection staff and NGOs.

During the Special Representative's January 2011 visit to the Philippines, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines agreed to develop an Action Plan to ensure that no children are among the ranks of the New People's Army (NPA) or involved in the conflict. In Mindano she met with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leadership who had earlier signed an Action Plan. The MILF agreed that the ongoing process of registration of children associated with the armed group would be completed in nine months. The Special Representative also had meetings with senior government and defence officials.

The Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict's Field Trips Since 2006

Situation

Visit

Afghanistan

June 2008, February 2010, January 2011

Burundi

March 2007

CAR

May 2008

Chad

May 2008

Côte d'Ivoire

September 2007

DRC

March 2007, April 2009

Iraq

April 2008

Lebanon and Israel and the
occupied Palestinian territories

April 2007, February 2009

Myanmar

June 2007

Nepal

December 2008, December 2009

Philippines

December 2008, April 2011

Somalia/Kenya

November 2010

Sudan

January 2007, November 2009

Uganda

June 2006, June 2010


There were also two visits to Sri Lanka by Special Envoys of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Allan Rock (who was the Special Envoy at the time) visited in November 2006 and Patrick Cammaert, the present Special Envoy, went to Sri Lanka in December 2009.

The Special Representative has also helped develop greater awareness of both the issue of children and armed conflict, as well as the Council's consideration of this issue in other UN bodies, through annual briefings to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

On 21 May 2010 the Special Representative was invited to brief the DRC sanctions committee. This was the first time she had briefed a sanctions committee. Her briefing to the DRC Sanctions Committee most likely led in August 2010 to the Committee adding the practice of recruitment and use of children as criteria against nine individuals already under sanctions. On 23 May 2011 she briefed the Somalia Sanctions Committee and proposed that it consider adding a new listing criteria related to children to its sanctions regime. The next opportunity for this idea to be taken up may be when the sanctions committee's mandate comes up for renewal at the end of July 2011.

Following the adoption of resolution 1882, the Special Representative's office, together with DPKO and UNICEF, began developing a guidance document for action plans on the killing and maiming of children and on sexual violence against children. These plans are expected to be implemented in the field later this year. The guidance on the recruitment and use of children is currently being updated to take into consideration the best practices since the monitoring and reporting mechanism was proposed in resolution 1539 (2004).

The Special Representative in January 2010 appeared as an expert witness at Thomas Lubanga Dyilo's trial. This trial is seen by many as an important step in establishing responsibility for the use of children in military operations and in showing that the use of children is a war crime that can be prosecuted at the international level.

The Office of the Special Representative has also been involved in a campaign, "Zero under 18" to promote the universal ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child by the tenth anniversary of its entry into force in 2012.

3.3 Application of International Norms/Laws in 2010

International Courts and Trials

ICC

The ICC has the power to investigate and try three categories of crime: crimes against humanity, war crimes (including the use of child soldiers) and genocide. Of particular significance in the present context, it has taken up cases of war crime charges relating to the conscription, enlistment and active participation of children under the age of 15 in hostilities against members of armed groups in Uganda and DRC. (The Rome Statute which formed the ICC describes a child soldier as a child under the age of 15 years and disallows the recruitment or conscription of such a child into the military.)

The first Review Conference of the Rome Statute took place in Kampala, Uganda from 31 May to 11 June 2010. This was the first global meeting of the parties to the Rome Statute since the 1988 Rome Conference which adopted the Statute. The area that was most directly relevant to children was the stocktaking session on "Victims and Affected Communities" which focused on victim participation in proceedings before the ICC and reparations, including protection of victims and witnesses; the role of outreach; and the role of the Trust Fund for Victims. The resolution which was adopted following the Conference encouraged the ICC to improve the way it addressed the concerns of victims and affected communities, with special attention to the needs of women and children.

The trial against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, which began in 2009, has put a global spotlight on the crime of using child soldiers. Lubanga faces charges of recruiting, conscripting and using child soldiers during the conflict in the Ituri region between September 2002 and August 2003. In 2010 Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy testified as an expert witness on this case following the submission of an "amicus curiae" in March 2008. She gave testimony on the need to adopt a case-by-case method in deciding what constitutes enlistment and conscription in terms of statute and urged an interpretation that would not exclude girl children. The closing statements by the defence, prosecution and victims are scheduled to be delivered on 25 and 26 August 2011.

Also on trial at the ICC over the use of child soldiers are Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngdolo Chui. Their joint trial began on 24 November 2009. Katanga, a commander of the Forces de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri, and Chui the former head of the Front des Nationalistes et Intégrationnistes, and a colonel in Forces Armees de la Republique Democratique du Congo (FARDC) are accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including using children under the age of fifteen to take active part in the hostilities, as well as attacks against civilians, murder, rape and sexual slavery.

Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo's trial began on 22 November 2010 in the ICC. This is the first time sexual violence is central to an ICC case and first major prosecution of rape as a weapon of war. Bemba who was arrested on 24 May 2008 is being charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity for allowing his troops to murder, pillage and rape in the CAR between 2002 and 2003. While a witness in February 2011 has testified to seeing child soldiers among Bemba's troops, Bemba is not being charged with the use of child soldiers, which is also a war crime.

Special Court for Sierra Leone and Charles Taylor

The trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor which started on 6 January 2008 has ended on 11 March 2011. One of the charges against Taylor is the recruitment and use of children. Following the prosecutors cross-examination of Taylor in the first weeks of February, defence witnesses for Taylor took the stand on 11 March after which the trial closed at The Hague. A judgement is expected before the end of the year. Any appeals would then be heard, with a final conclusion to the trial expected in early 2012.

3.4 Treaties and International Agreements and Conventions

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child

In 2010, three countries—CAR, Ethiopia and Iran—signed the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Nine countries—the DRC, Cyprus, Gabon, Georgia, Guyana, Hungary, Iran, Seychelles, and Malawi—ratified it. Altogether 134 countries have ratified the Optional Protocol, 23 countries have signed but not ratified and 35 countries neither signed nor ratified or acceded to it.

Paris Commitments and Principles

Eleven new countries signed the Paris Commitments on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups on 27 September 2010, bringing the total number of signatories to 95. Adopted in 2007, the Paris Commitments are a voluntary promise by states to work together to halt child recruitment, support the release of children from armed groups and help reintegrate these children into civilian life. Ministerial follow-up forums to the Paris Principles have been held annually since 2007, usually around September.

DRC (July 2010), Nepal (April 2010), Somalia (September 2010) and the Philippines (January 2010).

Five sets of Conclusions were issued in 2010 compared with six the previous year. Of these, three were from reports that had been released in 2009 (Colombia in August 2009; Sri Lanka in June 2009 and Uganda in September 2009). Nepal and the Philippines were the two reports received in 2010 which had conclusions adopted the same year by the Working Group.

The gap in 2010 between the time of receiving a Secretary-General's report and the time that the Working Group's conclusions were adopted appears on average to have increased (7 months for Nepal, 13 months for Colombia, 10 months for the Philippines and 11 months for Sri Lanka).

When the Working Group was set up in 2005 the general understanding was that it would seek to issue conclusions no later than two to three months after considering a report. A problem with a large gap between reports and Conclusions is that by the time the Council adopts the conclusions information becomes out-dated and no longer reflects the reality on the ground.

As seen in previous years, sometimes there can be a key issue that holds up the adoption of the conclusions. This was the case with the report on the LRA/Uganda. There appeared to be some agreement on a regional monitoring mechanism during the Working Group's negotiations. However, when it came time to adopt the conclusions it became apparent that Uganda needed further clarification on how this regional mechanism would be set up before it could agree to the language in the conclusions. After further discussions, which included getting more information from the Secretariat, agreement was reached and the conclusions were adopted.

In the case of the Philippines there was disagreement over how to address actions towards non-state actors, particularly as there were groups in the Philippines on the US terrorist list. Appropriate language had to be found to address some members' sensitivity as to how the Working Group interacted with non-state actors.

Another factor that may have caused the time difference is that there seemed to be little pressure from members of the Working Group for the conclusions to be published quickly. Often once they had agreed to the conclusions members moved on to the next report and attention was not paid to when the report would be published. While it is difficult to determine the actual reasons for the lag, some of it can be attributed to the UN bureaucracy and the internal processes involved in publishing reports. However, until the conclusions are actually published they cannot be implemented, making timely publication an issue worth addressing.

It seems also that negotiations on the presidential statement, which was adopted in June 2010, also affected the Working Group's ability to act more swiftly in adopting conclusions on some of the Secretary-General's reports on children and armed conflict.

However, a closer look at some of the underlying issues leading to the large gap between the publication of reports and the Working Group taking them up in 2010 reveals that the actual discussions were not as protracted as it might appear. In fact, none of the actual negotiations were as difficult as those on earlier conclusions like Afghanistan in 2009 and Myanmar in 2008. Most of the delay appears to be technical rather than political in nature and in most cases related to capacity limitations.

One of main reasons for the gap was the long lag time in 2010 between reports being published and being taken up by the Working Group. For example the Secretary-General's report on children and armed conflict in Colombia was published in August 2009. However the Working Group did not begin discussing it until early 2010, as it was still clearing its back-log from earlier in the year. While there were a few sensitive areas, conclusions were agreed quite quickly by the middle of the year. However, following the presidential elections in Colombia in June, the Working Group was asked to hold off adopting the conclusions due to uncertainty as to who would attend the formal meeting on behalf of Colombia.

Another issue that has affected the Working Group's ability to adopt timely conclusions has been the fact that many of the individuals representing Working Group members have other commitments that slow down the work of the Working Group in the second half of the year. A large number of the delegates are involved in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly which covers human rights and meets intensively between September and December 2010. This has led to difficulty scheduling meetings during this period. The start of the General Assembly in September is also generally a difficult month as missions are involved in dealing with high-level delegations in town for the General Debate. In addition, August is traditionally a month where many of the delegates are away, often leading to a slow-down in the output of the Council. In 2010, however, the Working Group did manage to adopt conclusions on Nepal and the Philippines during this period.

Moving into 2011, under the chairmanship of Germany, the Working Group appears to be making a concerted effort to close the time gap. By the end of April 2011 the Working Group had adopted four conclusions and was on track to complete one more by the end of June.

Timing between Secretary-General's Reports and Working Group Conclusions

Annex I Situations

Report

Conclusions

Interval

Afghanistan

10 November 2008

13 July 2009

8 months

 

3 February 2011

3 May 2011

3 months

Burundi

6 November 2006

13 February 2007

3 months

 

28 November 2007

5 February 2008

2 months

 

10 September 2009

21 December 2009

3 months

CAR

3 February 2009

13 July 2009

5 months

 

13 April 2011

 

 

Chad

3 July 2007

24 September 2007

3 months

 

7 August 2008

5 December 2008

4 months

 

9 February 2011

3 May 2011

3 months

Côte d'Ivoire
(delisted in 2009)

25 October 2006

15 February 2007

4 months

 

30 August 2007

5 February 2008 and 25 March 2008 (corrigendum)

5 months

DRC

13 June 2006

11 September 2006

3 months

 

28 June 2007

25 October 2007

4 months

 

10 November 2008

13 July 2009

8 months

 

9 July 2010

1 March 2011

7 months

Myanmar

16 November 2007

25 July 2008

8 months

 

1 June 2009

28 October 2009

5 months               

Nepal

20 December 2006

15 June 2007

6 months

 

18 April 2008

5 December 2008

8 months

 

13 April 2010

12 November 2010

7 months

Somalia

7 May 2007

20 July 2007

2 months

 

30 May 2008

5 December 2008

6 months

 

9 November 2010

1 March 2011

6 months

Sudan/Darfur

17 August 2006

13 December 2006

4 months

 

29 August 2007

20 February 2008

6 months

 

10 February 2009

21 December 2009

10 months

Annex II Situations

Report

Conclusions

Interval

Colombia

28 August 2009

30 September 2010

1 year, 1 month

Philippines

24 April 2008

3 October 2008

5 months

 

21 January 2010

12 November 2010

10 months

Sri Lanka

20 December 2006

15 June 2007

6 months

 

21 December 2007

21 October 2008

10 months

 

25 June 2009

3 June 2010

11 months

Uganda

7 May 2007

20 July 2007

3 months

 

23 June 2008 (additional report)

5 December 2008

5 months

 

15 September 2009

16 June 2010

9 months


Developments in the Working Group

At the formal meetings of the Working Group, the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and a representative from UNICEF presents recent developments in the form of a "horizontal note". In late 2010 changes were made to the horizontal note, adding a section on follow-up to dialogue and action plans. Some members have indicated that the new format has been useful in being able to provide information on issues related to children and armed conflict to the experts covering situation-specific issues.

On 9 September 2010 the Working Group broke new ground by publicly responding to a current crisis. Following a discussion on the DRC, Claude Heller, the Mexican permanent representative and then-chair of the Working Group, in remarks to the press on behalf of the Working Group, expressed strong condemnation of events which had occurred in Walikale territory and in the Kivus, highlighting that there had been 32 cases of rape against children. The Council president the day before had also delivered remarks to the press reiterating the Council's strong condemnation of the mass rapes following a briefing by DPKO and the Special Representative for Sexual Violence in Conflict. While the fact that the Council had reacted to the situation made it easier for members of the Working Group to agree on its remarks, there were nevertheless some members who were hesitant to agree to this innovation without seeking approval from their capitals. However, the chair of the Working Group convinced members that it was important to react quickly in this situation and agreement was reached to deliver the remarks following the meeting.

At the end of 2010, after strong lobbying from both members of the Working Group and NGOs, agreement was reached with the Secretariat for the provision of administrative and substantive support to the Working Group. In spite of several direct requests from the Council in resolution 1882 and three presidential statements (S/PRST/2008/28S/PRST/2009/9 and S/PRST/2010/10) and it took over a year from the adoption of resolution 1882 before the Secretariat complied. The provision of support has now given the Working Group the resources to start building a central database of information. This is particularly important to the institutional memory of the Working Group now that the chair rotates every two years.

Mexico, as chair of the Working Group, in early 2010 initiated a lessons learned session for members to discuss improvements that could be made, particularly to working methods of the Group. Areas covered included the need for more timely conclusions, better follow-up to the conclusions and greater transparency. But while there is now some follow-up to the Conclusions contained in the horizontal notes presented at the formal meetings, this document is still only available to Working Group members and does not provide a comprehensive analysis of the impact of the Working Group's recommendations. Also as indicated above, the gap between considering a Secretary-General's report on children and armed conflict and adopting its conclusions continued to be wide and no significant new measures to increase transparency were agreed.

Analysis of the Working Group's Conclusions

In September 2006 the Working Group agreed on a document which became known as the "tool-kit" containing the range of possible actions in response to violations (S/2006/724). This tool-kit has been used as a guide for the Working Group's conclusions. The actions in the tool-kit are divided into the following categories: demarches; assistance; enhanced monitoring; improvement of mandates; and other measures.

Within these categories there are 26 possible tools that could be used. In the first few years, letters and appeals to parties to the conflict, to UN bodies for technical assistance and to donors for contributors were the most common tools used. But over time the Working Group began to be more creative with how it used the possible tools within the tool-kit. In 2007 it began to use public statements as a way of reaching out to non-state actors. This was used for the first time in conclusions on Sri Lanka and has been the consistent approach used since 2007 for sending a message to non-state actors.

In 2010 the Working Group used a new tool from the tool-kit—a country visit. Its conclusions on Nepal had recommended a field trip by the Working Group. (The Working Group had started discussing the possibility of a field mission in 2009 but it took some time to agree on the place.) In November 2010 the Working Group followed up the suggestion in the Nepal conclusions by making a visit to Nepal. Unfortunately, as there was no UN budget provision for the visit, not all members were able to go. (The difficulty of getting representation from the Working Group members in New York was an even bigger problem with the Working Group's second field trip in 2011. A delegation went to Afghanistan from 4-9 June. However, only Germany, who is the current chair of the Working Group, sent representatives from New York. Representatives from the UK, US, France, China and Russia's mission in Kabul made up the rest of the Working Group delegation.)

From our analysis of the Conclusions adopted in 2010 the following points emerge:

The Working Group showed innovation in its 2010 recommendations. The LRA situation is a good example of how the Working Group has used different tools over time. In its first set of conclusions  on Uganda, adopted on 20 July 2007, one of the recommendations was that the Council address a message to the head of the LRA delegation to the Juba peace talks through a public statement of the chair of the Working Group. The public statement was to be transmitted by the Special Envoy for LRA-affected areas. In this set of conclusions the Working Group also asked the Secretary-General for a follow-up report and suggested that further steps might be taken. Conclusions based on this follow-up report were adopted in December 2008. Stronger recommendations were made including a request for a list of names and ages for complete verification as the LRA had claimed that it had released all women and children and the LRA were asked to respond positively within one month. An interesting recommendation based on the Secretary-General's report was the suggestion that the Task Forces based in CAR, DRC, Sudan and Uganda should work with the UN Organisation Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) and the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) to develop a joint monitoring capacity strategy.

The most recent set of conclusions which were adopted on 16 June 2010 follow up this suggestion with an invitation to the governments of Uganda, the DRC, CAR and Sudan to work together "to develop a regional strategy to address the violations and abuses committed against children by the LRA, taking into account existing regional mechanisms, to facilitate appropriate reporting on violations committed against children." This in effect sets up a regional monitoring and reporting mechanism. In early January the modalities for such reporting was finalised and focal points identified throughout the region. So far there have been two meetings held in 2011. In related developments in the Council, in July the Council is expected to be briefed on a regional strategy for the LRA based on a Secretariat assessment mission that took place earlier this year. It also appears that the governments of Uganda, DRC, CAR and Sudan are going to set up a regional task-force under AU auspices to deal with the LRA issue.

In addition, the 2010 conclusions asked for the Secretary-General to prepare a comprehensive report on the situation of children and armed conflict affected by the LRA, with a special emphasis on cross-border issues to be issued in 2010. (The report was not issued in 2010 and is now scheduled to come out towards the end of 2011.) It also agreed that the Working Group may recommend to the Council "further steps to protect children affected by the LRA".

The LRA case shows the evolution since 2007 in the Working Group's use of different tools in trying to deal with a particularly difficult party.

Overall the substance of letters and public statements has proved adaptable to changing circumstances. Over time Conclusions have been better tailored to reflect the evolution of the situation on the ground. Often in the first report quite strong language, with more specific requests and condemnations, is used in order to convey the seriousness of the violations. Both content and tone change once parties have signed action plans and the UN moves towards encouraging and assisting the parties in the implementation of these plans.

The most recent conclusions of the Working Group on the Special Representative's Special Envoy to Sri Lanka's report were clearly well adapted to reflect the post-conflict environment. This was also the case for the November 2010 conclusions on Nepal which took into account developments over 2010, including the discharge of the minors and the possibility that the UN Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) would shortly leave Nepal.

It has become a practice for the Chair of the Working Group to write to governments informing them of the Working Group's Conclusions with the letter being forwarded by the president of the Security Council. This practice, which began in 2008, came about as a result of some members wanting to draw a distinction between the Annex I situations (on the Council's formal agenda) and Annex II situations, with the president of the Council only transmitting rather than writing letters in Annex II situations. This practice now appears to be also consistently applied to situations that are on the Council's agenda. In 2010, the one conclusion on the Council's agenda—Nepal—contained a recommendation for the Chair of the Working Group to write a letter to the Nepalese government and for the president of the Council to transmit the letter. There has been no request for the Council president to write a letter since 2008.

For the first time the Working Group asked for a report from the Secretary-General on a specific group, the LRA, with a focus on border issues. This request coming out of the Working Group's recommendation to set up a region

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