UN backs shaming of those who use child soldiers

Last Updated: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 23:57

New York: The UN Security Council on Thursday backed a resolution calling for the naming and shaming of governments and armed groups that recruit, kill or sexually attack children in armed conflicts.

The resolution calling for continued annual reports by the secretary-general identifying those countries and groups that victimize youngsters was approved by a vote of 11-0.

Russia, China, Pakistan and Azerbaijan all abstained, arguing the issue was beyond the scope of security council`s mandate.

The secretary-general`s latest report in June included Syrian government forces and their allied "shabiha" militias on a list of 52 governments and armed groups that recruit, kill or sexually attack children in armed conflicts. It includes 32 "persistent perpetrators" that have been on the list for at least five years, including the security forces of seven countries.

The resolution calls on member states to bring those responsible for such violations to justice, either through national or international judicial systems.

The Security Council also indicate its readiness to adopt "targeted and graduated measures" -- a phrase that implies sanctions -- against persistent perpetrators.
Leila Zerrougui, the new UN special representative for children and armed conflict, urged the council to take action against persistent perpetrators saying "the cost of inaction has become too high."

A resolution adopted by the UN Security Council in 2005 took the first major step to prevent the victimization of young people in war zones by addressing the exploitation of children as combatants and identifying governments and armed groups that recruit child soldiers. In 2009, the council voted to also name and shame countries and insurgent groups engaged in conflicts that lead to children being killed, maimed and raped.

"This disturbing trend is bringing into disrepute both the intergovernmental body that created the mandate, that is, the Security Council, as well as the esteemed Secretary-General," he added.

"The issue of full observance of working strictly within the mandate is at the heart of the problem," he said, adding that the resolution failed to accommodate the reasonable concerns of the Council members and was pushed to vote without adequate consultations.

The other abstaining states argued that the resolution supports the report that names and shames governments and does not stick to the mandate of dealing with only those conflicts that are before the Council.

"The sphere of activities of (the special envoy) does not cover all issues of protecting children in armed conflict, but only those situations that are on UN Security Council`s agenda," Russia`s Deputy UN Ambassador Sergey Karev said.

Secretary-General`s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui told the Council while there has been progress in the matter, "violations continue to be committed against children, the number of persistent perpetrators has increased, and many new challenges have arisen."

Zerrougui, who took up her post earlier this month after serving for four years with the UN peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), said the situations in Libya, Syria and Mali pose new threats for children which the Council, along with her office and its partners, must address.

"The situation for children in Syria is dire," she said, noting that there are documented attacks on schools, of children denied access to hospitals, and of children being subjected to torture, including sexual violence.

In Libya, the localised violence and continued presence of armed brigades threaten the lives of children long after the generalised violence of 2011 has come to an end, the Special Representative said.

"It remains of concern that incidents of association of children with armed groups are still being reported," she said.


First Published: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 23:57

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