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Children in conflict

In protecting children, who have known violence throughout their lives, peacekeepers can break the cycle of violence and lay the foundations for durable peace.

Child Protection & Peacekeeping: A Child's Fate

Why is child protection at the heart of peacekeeping?

Conflicts disproportionately affect children. Many are subject to abductions, military recruitment, killing, maiming, and numerous forms of exploitation children.

In many conflict-ridden countries, peacekeeping missions are the largest actor on the ground and their contribution is vital to protecting children.

The Security Council has addressed this issue since 1999 and the protection of children in conflict has been included in the mandates of peacekeeping operations since 2001. In these past ten years peacekeeping operations have helped release thousands of child soldiers and advocate for legislative reform.

How is UN Peacekeeping protecting children?

We carry out a range of work, including:

Deployment of Child Protection Advisers

We do this in countries where children face sever protection concerns, including abductions, military recruitment, killing, maiming.

Mainstreaming child protection within the mission

All teams within a mission have a responsibility to contribute to protecting children. CPAs work with other sections such as UN Police, Rule of Law, Human Rights, Judicial Affairs and the military, to ensure they consider children in their work.

Monitoring and Reporting

We contribute to reports to the Security Council, which not only exerts pressure on armed forces and groups, it is also informs response and preventive action. For more information visit Children in Armed Conflict.

Negotiating with armed groups

Our missions negotiate Action Plans with armed groups to stop violations of children. Recently, action plans were adopted in South Sudan and the DR Congo.

Advocacy

The Head of a Peacekeeping Missions is the highest UN authority in the country and has unique leverage with the government to advocate for the concerns of children. For example in Darfur, UNAMID successfully advocated against the death penalty of former child soldiers.

Capacity building

We work with national counterparts to strengthen their ability to deal with child protection concerns. For example, in South Sudan, UNMISS co-located a child protection officer with the SPLA to support the implementation of the action plan to end the recruitment and use of children.

Legal Reform

We promote the creation of new laws to protect children. For example: in our mission Haiti our child protection unit lead the drafting and submission of a law against trafficking which was recently adopted.

Awareness Raising

We use our radio stations, events and campaigns to make child protection issues widely known, and promoting ways to prevent violations against children in conflict. For example, in the DR Congo, MONUSCO together with the Government of DRC launched the campaign 'Plus jaimais de Kadogo' to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups on DRC territory.

Training

All CPAs ensure mission-wide training on CP so that every peacekeeper has the knowledge and skills to protect children. UNAMID created a training and resource center, where weekly trainings take place and staff can read about laws and problems of children.

Training for all peacekeepers

A peacekeeper standing alone in the desert.

Pre-deployment training is essential for all military personnel. The Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) has developed ground-breaking new training standards for military personnel. The training course teaches them how to prevent and report violations against children, how to interact with other child protection actors, and raises awareness about their own behavior towards children. It is our aim that 100,000 peacekeepers are trained to become a protective force for children.

The new training materials can be downloaded: 'Train Act Protect'.

Resolutions and policy

The following Security Council resolutions and policy govern the work of peacekeeping operations in protecting children.

Security Council resolutions

Policy

Universal Children's Day podcast

20 November marks Universal Children's Day, a day to remember the children growing up in wars throughout the world, and to reaffirm our commitment to stand up for their rights and to take firm action. In this podcast, Lieutenant General Babacar Gaye, Assistant Secretary-General and Military Adviser to the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, talks about his personal encounters with children as the former Force Commander in the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the successes and challenges in introducing child protection in the daily work of his soldiers. You can listen to the podcast here MP3 audio (right click to save).

@childreninwar

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