In 2019, the international community marked 30 years since the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which protects the rights of all children from discrimination, violence, and neglect. Yet children living in countries affected by war continued to miss out. In 2019, the UN verified over 25,000 grave violations against children across 19 countries affected by armed conflict. More than 10,000 children were killed or maimed, and globally, attacks on schools and hospitals committed by government actors nearly doubled. Incidents of the denial of humanitarian access increased by more than 4.5 times from the previous year. Alarming numbers of children were detained for their alleged involvement with armed groups, with thousands more stranded in squalid camps in Iraq and northeast Syria. These trends raise serious concerns about respect for international law, the protection of civilians in armed conflict, and the impacts of warfare in densely populated areas. Against this backdrop, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict remained persistent in its efforts to advance the UN’s children and armed conflict (CAAC) agenda and to protect the rights of children in war.
Watchlist’s 2019 Annual Report describes its advocacy to ensure peacekeeping missions were equipped to respond to grave violations against children and its influence on peacekeeping mandate renewals; its research and advocacy on the increasing threat of the global counterterrorism agenda to children’s rights in armed conflict; and its continued efforts to promote local voices at the international level.