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

SC/13324
4 May 2018

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

At its 71st Meeting, on 4 May 2018, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, in connection with the examination of the second report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Mali (document S/2018/136), covering the period from January 2014 to June 2017, agreed to convey the following messages through a public statement by the Chair of the Working Group:

To the Government of Mali:

  • Commending the commitment and efforts of the Government of Mali for the protection of children affected by armed conflict, in particular by adopting, in July 2014, a National Policy on Child Protection and Promotion and by strengthening its national legal framework, and encouraging the Government of Mali to continue such efforts and to finalize the revision of the child protection code, including the criminalization of the recruitment and use of children under 18 years of age;
  • Welcoming the Government-led study on mainstreaming child protection in the implementation of the 2015 Peace Agreement, including on prioritizing child protection in the national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration strategy;
  • Affirms that the gradual restoration and extension of State authority across the territory of Mali would contribute significantly to the stability of Mali, stressing the primary role of the Government of Mali in providing protection and relief to all children affected by armed conflict in Mali, and recognizing the importance of strengthening national capacities in this regard;
  • Calling upon the Government of Mali to mainstream child protection and ensure that the specific needs of girls and boys affected by the armed conflict are fully taken into account at all stages of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and in security sector reform programmes;
  • Welcoming the implementation of the Protocol on the Release and Handover of Children Associated with Armed Forces and Groups, signed on 1 July 2013;
  • Commending the release of 72 child detainees and encouraging the Government to work with the United Nations to review cases of children detained for association with armed groups and stressing that children arrested during military operations should be primarily treated as victims;
  • Calling on the Government to guarantee due process for all children detained for association with armed groups, recalling that children should be treated primarily as victims, and that in all acts concerning children the best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration, and calling on the Government to comply with its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular that the deprivation of liberty for children should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period;
  • Encouraging the Government of Mali to focus on sustainable reintegration and rehabilitation opportunities for children affected by armed conflict, including raising awareness and working with communities to avoid stigmatization of these children and facilitate their return, while taking into account the specific needs of girls and boys;
  • Welcoming the efforts of the Government with regard to the training of the Malian defence and security forces on child protection, inviting the Government to continue these efforts and to integrate a national mandatory child protection module into the military service curriculum for new recruits;
  • Expressing deep concern over the lack of accountability for violations and abuses committed against children, and calling upon the Government to continue its efforts to address impunity for violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict by strengthening the justice system, swiftly bringing perpetrators to justice and ensuring that all victims have access to justice and the medical and support services that they need;
  • Expressing concern at the cases of rape and other forms of sexual violence by the Malian armed forces and calling on the Government of Mali to promptly investigate all such cases and hold perpetrators accountable;
  • Urging the Government to redouble its efforts to prevent and respond to sexual violence against children, including by investigating and holding accountable perpetrators of such crimes, by removing obstacles to access to justice and by ensuring timely and appropriate care for child victims, including through facilitating provision of health-care services for victims and improving its national coverage and quality in the most vulnerable areas;
  • Commending the Government of Mali for its endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration and Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict and calling for its swift implementation, and encouraging the Government of Mali to ensure that attacks on schools, by armed groups in contravention of international humanitarian law, are investigated and those responsible duly prosecuted;
  • Welcoming the establishment of a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission mandated, inter alia, to address the needs of victims, including children, subject to grave human rights violations against children between 1960 and 2012 and urging the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission as well as the Commission of Inquiry established on 23 January 2018, to take into account the specific needs of girls and boys.

To all armed groups mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General, specifically those listed in the annex of the Annual Report of the Secretary‑General on Children and Armed Conflict Ansar Dine, Mouvement pour l’unicité et le jihad en Afrique de l’Ouest, Mouvement national pour la libération de l’Azawad (MNLA), as well as Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and Plateforme, including the Groupe d’autodéfense des Touaregs Imghad et leurs allies:

  • Strongly condemning all violations and abuses committed against children in Mali and urging them to immediately end and prevent all violations of applicable international law involving the recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals, abduction, and denial of humanitarian access and to comply with their obligations under international law;
  • Stressing that all perpetrators of such acts must be held accountable, and noting that, on 13 July 2012, the transitional authorities of Mali referred the situation in Mali since January 2012 to the International Criminal Court, to which Mali is a State party, and that some of the above-mentioned acts may amount to crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;
  • Strongly urging all armed groups to immediately and without preconditions release all children associated with them and end and prevent further recruitment and use of children;
  • Strongly urging all armed groups 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 their respective groups and stressing the importance of accountability for those who do commit sexual and gender based violence;
  • Expressing strong concern at the high number of children killed and maimed, including by explosive remnants of war, and urging them to take concrete measures to reduce their impact on children;
  • Expressing strong concern at the increasing number of attacks against schools and related personnel which has severely impacted access to education for tens of thousands of children and 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 in violation of applicable international law;
  • Emphasizing the need for all parties to uphold and respect the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence in order to ensure the continued provision of humanitarian assistance, the safety and protection of civilians receiving assistance and the security of humanitarian personnel operating in Mali, and stressing the importance of humanitarian assistance being delivered on the basis of need;
  • Expressing concern about the security challenges facing the United Nations Country task force on monitoring and reporting in the north and centre of Mali, and in this regard urging armed groups to ensure United Nations personnel safe and unhindered access to territories under their control for monitoring and reporting purposes;
  • Welcoming the signing of an action plan to end and prevent recruitment and use of children and sexual violence against children by the CMA [La Coordination des mouvements de l'Azawad], which is binding on all members of the CMA, including MNLA, and the United Nations in March 2017, and calling for its full and immediate implementation;
  • Welcoming the unilateral communiqué signed by Plateforme, in June 2016, on prevention of conflict related sexual violence, encouraging the leadership of Plateforme to continue the dialogue with the United Nations to take concrete measures to end the recruitment and use of children;
  • Calling upon them to publicly express their commitment to end and prevent all violations and abuses committed against children, and to expeditiously develop action plans, for those groups that have not yet done so, in line with Security Council resolutions 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009), 1998 (2011), 2068 (2012), 2143 (2014) and 2225 (2015) if they are listed in annex I to the report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict.

To community and religious leaders:

  • Emphasizing the important role of community and religious leaders in strengthening the protection of children affected by armed conflict;
  • Urging them to publicly condemn and continue to advocate ending and preventing violations and abuses against children, in particular those involving the recruitment and use of children, rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, abductions, attacks and threats of attacks against schools and hospitals, and to engage with the Government, the United Nations and other relevant stakeholders to support reintegration and rehabilitation of children affected by armed conflict in their communities, including by raising awareness to avoid stigmatization of these children. 
For information media. Not an official record.