Updates from the field
Watchlist Partner Visits
In July, Watchlist coordinated a New York visit with its partners from Colombia, Nepal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Thai-Burma border. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Watchlist staff held a one day retreat to allow partners to exchange experiences on how the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) functioned in their respective countries. Monitoring and reporting systems ranged from remote/research-based to more rapid response/SMS alert-based models. While the lessons learned in each country were not immediately transferable to other contexts, some of the challenges to the implementation of the MRM appeared to be universal. For example, access to high risk areas and victims of violations continues to be a major obstacle to organizations monitoring and reporting on child rights as well as those providing assistance to the survivors. In addition to serving as a platform for Watchlist's local partners to learn from each other's experiences, the outcome of the discussions highlighted priority areas for the Watchlist Capacity Strengthening Program, reinforcing its ability to pursue meaningful program development in close collaboration with its local partners.
Updates from New York
UN Open Debate and Security Council Resolution 1998
On July 12th 2011, the UN Security Council (SC) unanimously adopted SC Resolution 1998 at its annual Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict, expanding the UNSC's Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism to include the grave violation of attacks on schools and hospitals as a trigger for its implementation. SCR 1998 makes attacks on schools and hospitals a "trigger violation" - a violation on the basis of which armed forces or groups can be added to the Secretary-General's "list of shame." This is an historic expansion of the existing group of trigger violations: recruitment and use of child soldiers, rape and sexual violence and killing and maiming of children. SCR 1998 will further allow the UN to negotiate specific Action Plans with parties to conflicts in order to stop attacks against schools and hospitals. While emphasizing that schools and hospitals ought to be institutions of peace respected by all parties to conflict, resolution 1998 will also allow the Security Council to consider, within one year, a broad range of options for increasing pressure on persistent perpetrators of violations and abuses committed against children.
Watchlist Drawing Exhibition at the UN
On July 12th, in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations, Watchlist opened the exhibit: In their own words: 'Attacks on Schools and Hospitals' in Children's Drawings at the UN headquarters in New York. The drawings came from Nepal, Burma, Afghanistan and the DRC. The German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Guido Westerwelle, co-hosted the exhibit. Other high-level attendees included the Permanent Representative of Germany to the UN, Dr. Peter Wittig, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, and members of various other UN Missions. In his opening address, Dr. Westerwelle said: "Today many children are still forced to live in fear...Children want to go to school. They know that education is the key to their future. Schools should be places where they can feel protected from an oftentimes frightening world." The exhibition remained open at the UN for two weeks, allowing many visitors and staff to view the drawings.
Watchlist Panel Discussion with Grassroots Child Activists
On July 11th, the Watchlist hosted by the Permanent Mission of Canada to the UN, organized an evening encounter and discussion with grassroots child activists from the DRC, Nepal, Colombia, and Burma/Myanmar. Facilitated by Ms. Pamela Falk of CBS News, partners responded to questions regarding what kinds of attacks on schools and hospitals occur in their respective countries, how they monitor and report on them, and how the upcoming Security Council resolution would be useful to their work. Attendees included representatives from ICRC, the MacArthur Foundation, UN Women, Security Council Report, World Vision, and the UN Missions of Sweden, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Canada.