Public Statement by Chair of Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict

SC/12662
30 December 2016

Public Statement by Chair of Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict

At its 60th meeting, on 2 December 2016, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, in connection with the examination of the third report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in the Central African Republic (S/2016/133), agreed to address the following messages through a public statement issued by the Chair of the Working Group:

To all armed groups operating in the Central African Republic, in particular the ex-Séléka coalition and associated armed groups, local defense militias known as anti-Balaka and the Lord’s Resistance Army mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General:

a.    Expressing its strongest condemnation of all continuing violations and abuses committed against children in the Central African Republic, and urging them to immediately end and prevent all violations of applicable international law involving the recruitment and use of children, the killing and maiming of children, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abduction of children, attacks against schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access;

b.    Expressing deep concern over the widespread recruitment and use of children by armed groups, expressing concern over the use of children as shields in attacks against United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) forces by the anti-Balaka, strongly urging all armed groups to immediately and without preconditions release all children associated with them and cease further recruitment and use of children, including the re-recruitment of children who have been released;

c.    Deploring all acts of violence targeting children on the basis of their religion, including those involving the killing and maiming of children, as well as rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, and urging all armed groups to cease such violations and abuses and pursue reconciliation;

d.    Recognizing the continued importance of tackling sexual violence in the Central African Republic, and urging them to take immediate and specific measures to put an end to and prevent the perpetration of rape and other forms of sexual violence against children by members of the respective groups;

e.    Calling upon them to comply with applicable international law and to respect the civilian character of schools and hospitals, including their personnel, and to end and prevent attacks or threats of attacks against those institutions and their personnel, as well as the military use of schools and hospitals, in violation of applicable international law;

f.    Recalling resolution 2286 (2016) and further calling upon them to ensure respect for and protection of all medical personnel and humanitarian personnel exclusively engaged in medical duties, their means of transport and equipment, as well as hospitals and other medical facilities;

g.    Urging armed groups, in particular LRA, to cease the abduction of children and all violations and abuses committed against abducted children, and to immediately release without preconditions all abducted children in their captivity to relevant civilian child protection actors;

h.    Emphasizing that the denial of humanitarian assistance can constitute a violation of international humanitarian law and have a serious impact on children, and calling for humanitarian actors, including the United Nations and its humanitarian partners, to be given full, safe and unhindered access for the delivery of timely humanitarian assistance to the affected population, including children, in accordance with United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian assistance and relevant provisions of international law;

i.    Calling upon armed groups to publicly express their commitment to end and prevent all violations and abuses committed against children and to expeditiously develop, adopt and implement time-bound action plans in line with Security Council resolutions 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009), 1998 (2011), 2068 (2012), 2143 (2014) and 2225 (2015);

j.    Welcoming in this regard the commitment signed on 5 May 2015 by 10 armed groups,* including factions of the ex-Séléka and anti-Balaka, to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children, urging them to abide by their commitments, release all children associated with them and further develop and implement action plans in cooperation with the United Nations;

k.    Further welcoming the command orders prohibiting the recruitment and use of children issued by the Rassemblement patriotique pour le renouveau de la Centrafrique (RPRC) and the Unité du peuple centrafricain (UPC) factions of the ex-Séléka, which have led to the release of children from their ranks, and calling for continued enforcement of such orders;

l.    Noting that the situation in the Central African Republic since 1 August 2012 was referred by the national authorities to the International Criminal Court on 30 May 2014 and that the Prosecutor of the Court announced a decision on 24 September 2014 to open an investigation into the alleged perpetration by all parties, including the ex-Séléka and anti-Balaka groups, of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including the use of children in armed combat, and that some acts mentioned in paragraph 8 (a) above may amount to crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which the Central African Republic is a State party;

m.    Recalling that the Security Council, by its resolution 2262 (2016), renewed until 31 January 2017 the financial and travel measures imposed by resolutions 2127 (2013) and 2134 (2014), which apply to individuals and entities as designated by the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 57 of resolution 2127 (2013), for actions that undermine the peace, stability or security of the Central African Republic such as:

i.    Being involved in planning, directing or committing acts that violate international human rights law or international humanitarian law, as applicable, or that constitute human rights abuses or violations in the Central African Republic, including acts involving sexual violence, targeting of civilians, ethnic or religious-based attacks, attacks on schools and hospitals, abduction and forced displacement;

ii.   Recruiting or using children in armed conflict in the Central African Republic, in violation of applicable international law;

iii.  Obstructing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the Central African Republic, or access to or distribution of, humanitarian assistance in the Central African Republic;

n.    Expressing the readiness of the Working Group to communicate to the Security Council pertinent information with a view to assisting the Council in the imposition of targeted measures on perpetrators;

To the Government of the Central African Republic:

a.    Stressing the primary role of the Government in providing protection and relief to all children affected by armed conflict in the Central African Republic, and calling upon the Government to include the protection of children as one of its national priorities and to strengthen child protection systems, including through birth and late birth registration;

b.    Strongly encouraging the Government to prioritize child protection in its national legislative framework, including through the adoption of a national law criminalizing the recruitment and use of children in violation of applicable international law and by expediting the ratification process for the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict;

c.    Emphasizing the importance of ending impunity and calling upon the Government to ensure accountability for those responsible for violations and abuses against children by strengthening the national justice system, including through the establishment and operationalization of the Special Criminal Court;

To the community and religious leaders in the Central African Republic:

a.    Emphasizing the important role of community and religious leaders in strengthening the protection of children in armed conflict and fostering reconciliation efforts;

b.    Urging them to publicly condemn and advocate for ending and preventing violations and abuses against children, including on the basis of religion, and encouraging them to engage with the Government and the United Nations to support efforts to put an end to the recruitment and use of children in violation of applicable international law by all parties to armed conflict;

To all United Nations peacekeeping forces, including the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic and non-United Nations forces currently or formerly present in the Central African Republic and relevant Member States:

a.    Expressing deep distress over allegations of rape of children and sexual exploitation and abuse against children by United Nations peacekeepers and members of non-United Nations forces in the Central African Republic, and strongly condemning all acts of sexual exploitation and abuse;

b.    Calling upon the United Nations and relevant Member States to take appropriate measures to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse by their personnel and hold perpetrators accountable in line with resolution 2272 (2016), to ensure that child victims and witnesses are adequately protected during the investigation process and to facilitate access to medical and psychological support, as appropriate;

c.    Urges further efforts by relevant Member States to deliver robust pre‑deployment training concerning sexual exploitation and abuse in accordance with the terms of their memorandums of understanding and other agreements with the United Nations;

d.    Calling upon all United Nations peacekeeping forces and non-United Nations forces in the Central African Republic to comply with applicable international law and to respect the civilian character of schools and hospitals, including their personnel, and to end and prevent the military use of schools and hospitals in violation of applicable international law.

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* The 10 groups which signed the commitment were the anti-Balaka faction; the Front démocratique pour le progrès de la Centrafrique (FDPC); Front populaire pour la renaissance de la Centrafrique (FPRC); Mouvement des libérateurs centrafricains pour la justice (MJLC); Rassemblement patriotique pour le renouveau de la Centrafrique (RPRC); Révolution et justice (RJ); Seleka rénovée; Unité du peuple centrafricain (UPC); Union des Forces républicaines (UFR); and Union des forces républicaines fondamentales (UFRF).

For information media. Not an official record.