Children in armed conflict
Millions of children are exposed to the horrors of armed conflict. Countless children have been killed, raped, seriously injured and permanently disabled and forced to witness or even to take part in horrifying acts of violence.
UN and children in armed conflict
The United Nations has called for stronger efforts to protect children in armed conflict and to stop the use of child soldiers. In 1993, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to appoint an expert, Graça Machel, to study the impact of armed conflict on children. This resulted in the key report Impact of Armed Conflict on Children (A/51/306) and Add 1, published in 1996.
Following the recommendations of this report a Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict was appointed by the Secretary-General in 1997.
The Special Representative obtained important commitments from governments, and, as a consequence, a framework of norms and standards for the protection of children in armed conflict has evolved.
The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict was launched in 2005 to review reports, monitor the implementation of UN mechanisms and make recommendations to the Council to promote the protection of children in armed conflict.
See also DagDok on the Rights of the Child.
More on UN and Children in armed conflict
- The website of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict provides background information and an overview of issues and missions with links to full text documents and reports: UN official documents related to the topic.
The United Nations has adopted important legal instruments for the protection of children in armed conflict:
- Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, entered into force in 1990, with additional Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children and Armed Conflict, adopted in 2000, entered into force in 2002.
- ILO Convention 182: Convention Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, adopted in 1999.
- The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, adopted in 1998, entered into force in 2002.
- The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), adopted in 1990, entered into force in 1999.
- The fourth Geneva Convention, adopted in 1949, entered into force in 1950: Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilians in War, Additional protocols I and II 1977.
- Machel Study 10-Year Strategic Review : Children and Conflict in a Changing World contains a survey of progress but also many gaps in the implementation and monitoring of the new norms, standards and programmatic guidelines. It also points to the changing nature of conflict and presents new threats to children.
- UN Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004), 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009), 1998 (2011), 2068 (2012), 2143 (2014), 2225 (2015) and 2427 (2018) on Children and Armed Conflict established measures and tools to end grave violations against children, through the creation of a monitoring and reporting mechanism, and the development of Action Plans to end violations by parties listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict.
Websites and blogs
- UN Peacekeeping and child protection. Information and documents about how UN protects children in conflict.
- Child protection - violence against children (UNICEF) facts and resources.
- Security Council Report (SCR) page on Children and Armed Conflict. A non UN Resource that publishes objective and analytical reports on the Council’s current and prospective programme of work.
Key UN documents
UN documents and publications in catalogues and databases
- United Nations Digital Library offers UN documents and open access publications, UN voting data and speeches, UN maps, Content in 6+ languages. Replaces the traditional online catalogue UNBISnet.
- UN iLibrary UN publications online covering different topics.
- ODS full-text UN documents published from 1993 onward and scanned documents published between 1946 and 1993 in the official languages of the UN.
- Daily list of documents (ODS). Documents published for the day, with full text links, can be found in the United Nations full text database ODS.
- UNBIS Thesaurus a multilingual database of the controlled vocabulary used to describe UN documents.
- Index to proceedings is an annual bibliographic guide to the proceedings and documentation of the major UN organs. The index includes:
- a list of all documents
- a comprehensive subject index
- an index to speeches
- a voting chart of resolutions
- United Nations Documents Index (United Nations Digital Library) References to all documents by subject area are published. A collection of indexes is held by the Dag Hammarskjöld and Law Library, Uppsala, and the Libraries at UN Headquarters in New York and Geneva.