Children’s Needs and Rights Must be Considered During all Phases of Conflict – UN Secretary-General
The inclusion of the specific needs and rights of children into peace negotiation and mediation efforts should be more systematic highlights the new Practical guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict presented today to the UN Security Council by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres.
“The Practical Guidance for mediators that we are launching today is the next step in our strategy to put children at the heart of protection, peacebuilding and prevention efforts,” said the Secretary-General.
The guidance was produced by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (OSRSG CAAC) at the request of the Security Council in Presidential Statement (S/PRST/2017/21), and developed in partnership with the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, the Department of Peace Operations, UNICEF, and other stakeholders. The Security Council subsequently welcomed its development and encouraged the Secretary-General to broadly disseminate the guidance and promote its use in UN-supported, sponsored and facilitated peace and mediation processes (S/PRST/2020/3).
Based on concrete examples of situations in which child protection issues were successfully integrated into peace processes or peace agreements, the guidance emphasizes the strategic value of including child‘s rights and needs in peace negotiations and gives tools to mediators to take these issues into consideration at the earliest stages of the negotiations.
“The guidance presented today is a major step forward in placing child protection at the heart of peace and security discussions. This specific and effective tool will enable mediators to identify and prevent obstacles to child protection. It will contribute to a systematic and lasting response to the root causes of child right’s violations. Our research highlights the added value of including child protection consideration at all stages of the conflict,” said H.E. Philippe Goffin, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium on behalf of the Government of Belgium, President of the Security Council for February 2020.
The Practical guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict showcases experiences from a variety of contexts, including Colombia, South Sudan and Nepal, which have brought tangible results for affected boys and girls including their release from armed forces or groups and their reintegration into civilian life.
A series of bilateral interviews and broader discussions at the global level with experienced mediators, peace negotiators and child protection practitioners supported the development of the guidance with consultative meetings in Brussels and Geneva. The development of the Practical guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict was made possible thanks to the generous support of the Governments of Belgium and Sweden.
“The inclusion of child protection issues in peace processes is instrumental to building the foundations of sustainable peace, which is the only way to ensure the full protection of children’s rights,” said Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. “We encourage any actors involved in peace processes – Member States, regional organizations, mediators – to use this guidance to support their efforts and to disseminate it widely. It has the potential to impact positively the lives of millions of children,” she added.