Updates from the field
Colombia Field Mission
Watchlist conducted a four-week field mission in August/September to Colombia to research and report on the situation of children affected by armed conflict. We visited the capital of Bogota as well as field locations in Nariño, Putumayo, Norte el Santander and Valle del Cauca and spoke to dozens of key informants representing the government, UN agencies, non-government organizations, diplomats and war-affected children themselves and their communities. Based on our assessment, violence levels against children have markedly increased over the past 8 years as a result of the state army expanding its operations throughout the country, the militarization of children and youth through propaganda and the emergence of illegal armed groups known as bacrims or bandas criminales (criminal gangs). We also found evidence that internally displaced children appear most likely to become the target of these violations.
Global Child Protection Working Group Conference in Geneva Switzerland
In September, Watchlist participated in the three day annual Global Child Protection Working Group (CPWG) conference in Geneva Switzerland. The goal of the conference was to complete and present an early version of standards for child protection interventions to be used by all agencies when responding to emergencies, to provide a forum through which to exchange best practices and reinforce networks at the global level, and to establish how the CPWG can best support field practices. Watchlist’s contributions were particularly relevant to the monitoring and reporting, Children involved in Armed Conflict and Armed Groups (CAFAAG) and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) program cycle standards. The conference provided an important opportunity for Watchlist to engage with a wider range of agencies and consultants in the field focused on child protection as well as enabling Watchlist to better communicate its Capacity Strengthening Program agenda and garner interest and support from potential clients and donors.
Updates from New York
First Meeting of the HQ Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) Technical Reference Group
On September 14th, the Technical Reference Group (TRG) for the UN-led MRM met for the first time in New York since the adoption of SCR 1612 in 2006. Feedback from country-level 1612 Task Forces demonstrated that there was a need for coordinated guidance from actors at the headquarter level to operational partners in the field regarding the implementation of the MRM. The MRM TRG aims at bringing together UN and NGO partners to discuss and coordinate technical support to the work of the Task Forces on the ground. The TRG is co-chaired by the Office of the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF. The membership is composed of a broad range of UN agencies and international NGOs. It will continue to meet on a bi-monthly basis in New York. The TRG is intended to serve as a platform for consultation and agreed guidance on technical issues pertaining to best practices, capacity-building training and the development of working tools for the MRM. Other organizations and individuals can be invited to attend on specific issues pertaining to the MRM’s field-level implementation.
Update on the Security Council's Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (SCWG-CAAC)
On September 30th, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict met in a formal session to adopt conclusions on possible measures to promote the protection of children affected by armed conflict in Iraq. The conclusions will be made publicly available on the website of the Special Representative. During this meeting, the SRSG also formally presented the Secretary-General Report on the situation of children affected by armed conflict in Sudan. The Working Group will now deliberate the findings of the report, and negotiate two sets of conclusions, reflecting the changed reality for South Sudan.