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Watchlist Newsletter 
September 2016

Updates from New York

August 2016 Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict: Review, Analysis, and Lessons Learned

On August 2, 2016, the UN Security Council held an Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict (CAC) under the Presidency of Malaysia, Chair of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. The debate followed the publication of the Secretary-General’s 15th Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict covering the period from January 1 to December 31, 2015. For the Open Debate topic, Malaysia choose to draw attention to two thematic sections included in the report: reducing the impact of violent extremism on children and children displaced by conflict. The Open Debate was not followed by an outcome document. 

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Watchlist Releases Spanish Version of its Resource Pack on NGO Engagement in the MRM

On September 12, 2016, Watchlist published the Spanish language edition of its "1612 Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism: A Resource Pack for NGOs". The Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) was established by the UN to document six grave violations committed against children in armed conflict. The UN-led process performs best when civil society actors support and participate in it. Originally published in 2014, Watchlist’s Resource Pack offers a variety of tools to help civil society organizations and humanitarian partners define whether and how they should engage with the MRM in a way that strengthens both their programs and the mechanism itself. As a living document, Watchlist aims to update it periodically and integrate new experiences and feedback from NGOs and the UN. The Resource Pack is also available in English, Arabic, and French. 

Updates from the Field

Watchlist Launches Report on Lessons Learned From MRM Implementation in Colombia and South Sudan

Watchlist released its newest report, “The United Nations’ 1612 Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism: Lessons from Colombia and South Sudan” on August 24. In 2015 Watchlist conducted research on the implementation of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) in two countries, Colombia and South Sudan, ten years after the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1612 which established the Mechanism to provide the Council with “objective, accurate and reliable information” on six grave violations against children in armed conflict. While the MRM is undoubtedly a vital instrument designed to protect children in war, it has yet to be assessed comprehensively since its establishment. In undertaking this research, Watchlist’s aim was to highlight what is working well in the implementation of the MRM and offer recommendations to improve the mechanism’s effectiveness. 

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Children and Armed Conflict Key News

OHCHR Report on Yemen Highlights Serious Violations Committed Against Children: On August 25, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on the international community to establish an international, independent body to carry out comprehensive investigations of Yemen after a report released by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) mentioned serious allegations committed by all parties to the conflict in Yemen. Children have been particularly affected by the continuous conflict. Information collected by the MRM suggests at least 620 children were killed and 758 maimed between July 2015 and June 2016. Children have also been recruited by both parties and used in hostilities. Additionally, the number of children out of school has increased since June 2015 and today 2.2 million school-aged children are out of school because of closures and attacks on educational facilities. High Commissioner Zeid urged all parties to the conflict to respect civilians’ life and international humanitarian law.
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Annual Report of the Special Representative of The Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Presented to General Assembly: The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG-CAAC), Leila Zerrougui, presented her annual report, covering August 2015 to July 2016, to the United Nations General Assembly on August 23. The report warns that the increasingly complex and protracted conflicts around the world from South Sudan to Yemen affect children severely, with grave violations against children intensifying in a number of conflicts as respect for international humanitarian and human rights law continues to denigrate among parties to conflict. An emerging challenge discussed in the report is the impact of violent extremism on children. Although over 115,000 children associated with armed groups have been released since 2000, the number of arrested and detained children for their alleged association with armed groups is increasing. As part of the report, the Special Representative also made recommendations to the General Assembly and Member States, including a call on them to treat children allegedly associated with non-State armed groups as victims entitled to the full protection of their human rights, and to take appropriate measures to reintegrate children, giving special attention to the needs of girls.
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HRW Reports Rise in Military Use of Schools in Afghanistan: A new Human Rights Watch report, “Education on the Front Lines: Military Use of Schools in Afghanistan’s Baghlan Province”, released on August 17, confirms the military use of schools by both Afghan security forces and the Taliban. The research was conducted in April 2016 in one area of a north-eastern province where 12 schools were occupied or used for military purposes. Using schools as military bases risks students’ lives as schools become military targets and endangers their right to education. It also contradicts the Safe Schools Declaration which Afghanistan endorsed in 2015. Direct attacks on schools also impedes children’s education and occurs all too frequently in conflict zones. The American University of Afghanistan was attacked by unidentified insurgents on August 25 in Kabul, killing 13 civilians, injuring dozens, and destroying a nearby high school for the blind. Save the Children reported that the number of bombings on schools in Syria has increased recently. Parents are reportedly afraid to send their children to school in North West Syria because routes and surrounding areas are under attack, too. In Thailand three people died, including a 4-year-old girl and her father, when a bomb went off outside of a school as students and teachers arrived on September 7. Ethnic Malay insurgents have targeted schools, teachers, and other education personnel in Southern Thailand to express their opposition to the Thai government. According to HRW, more than 200 schools have been bombed or burned down during the past twelve years in Thailand.
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UNICEF Reports That More Than 650 Children Have Been Recruited by Armed Groups in South Sudan Since January: According to a UNICEF press release dated August 14, an estimated 16,000 children have been recruited by armed forces and groups since the beginning of the crisis in December 2013. The recruitment and use of minors has continued this year despite broad political commitments made to end this practice and holding in 2015 one of the largest demobilizations of children ever. At least 650 children have been recruited since January 2016. In addition, gender-based violence, like rape and sexual exploitation, is also recurrent. The United States State Department called for an immediate halt to the unlawful recruitment and use of children and warned that the responsible officials may be targeted for US and UN sanctions.
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Working together to protect the security and rights of children

Watchlist monitors and reports on the situation of children affected by armed conflicts in specific countries around the world.

Watchlist provides its partners in the global south with technical support and advice to strengthen their ability to monitor abuses, to advocate on behalf of children in their communities and to respond to local needs.

With our unique perspective as a bridge between local actors and international policy makers, we are able to find and present practical solutions to the protection of children in conflict zones.

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