Impact of Armed Conflict on Children

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Ten recommendations

  1. Peace and security. The needs of children and women must be at the heart of all actions to resolve conflicts and implement peace agreements, including those mandated by the United Nations Security Council, the General Assembly or the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Peace-keepers have a vital role to play in promoting children's rights.

  2. Monitoring and reporting violations of child rights. Children in armed conflict situations must be treated as a distinct and priority concern in all monitoring and reporting activities by UN field personnel and any other responsible organizations which may be involved.

  3. Health, psychosocial well-being and education. These should be the pillars of all humanitarian assistance for children in emergencies. Psychosocial well-being can best be ensured through community rather than institutional approaches. Education lies at the centre of a viable community, so maintenance of schooling during emergencies is an indispensable imperative.

  4. Adolescents. Their educational, training and health care needs should be given priority attention to assist their well-being and to discourage their participation in armed conflict, trafficking, prostitution and drug abuse. This cannot be achieved without the participation of youth in their own personal and community development. Child-headed households urgently need protection and care.

  5. Gender-based violence. Whether committed by a soldier or an official, whether as a matter of public policy or individual behaviour, all incidents of wartime rape and other sexual torture must be prosecuted as war crimes. Military and peace-keeping troops and personnel of all humanitarian agencies must have special training on their responsibilities to children and women.

  6. Internally displaced children. In each emergency, a lead organization should be assigned overall responsibility for the protection and assistance of internally displaced persons. In collaboration with that lead organization, UNICEF should provide leadership for the protection and assistance of internally displaced and unaccompanied children, with particular reference to preventing family separation and promoting family tracing.

  7. Child soldiers. A global campaign should be launched to stop the recruitment of children under age 18 into armed forces and to ensure that governments and opposition forces demobilize all such children immediately and incorporate their needs into peace agreements and demobilization programmes. The first such step should be to speedily conclude, adopt and adhere to the draft Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child raising the age of recruitment and participation in armed forces to 18 years.

  8. Land-mines. The report supports the international campaign for a complete ban on the use, production, trade and stockpiling of land-mines; programmes to instruct children in mine-contaminated areas about the dangers of mines; child-centred rehabilitation programmes and land-mine clearance with contributions required from countries and companies profiting from land-mine sales.

  9. Prevention. The international community should closely monitor arms transfers and impose a total ban on arms shipments to conflict zones. Governments and civil society, with support from donors and development agencies, must address the root socio-economic causes of conflict and support the social infrastructure that protects children.

  10. Special Representative. A Special Representative of the Secretary-General should be named to monitor implementation of this report and ensure that issues of children and war are kept high on international human rights, peace, security and development agendas.
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