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

SC/13446
7 August 2018

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

At its 73rd meeting, on 7 August 2018, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, in connection with the examination of the sixth report of the Secretary‑General on children and armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (document S/2018/502) agreed to convey the following messages through a public statement by the Chair of the Working Group:

To all parties to the armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in particular the Forces armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC), the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR), the Forces de résistance patriotique en Ituri (FRPI), NDC‑Renove, Kamuina Nsapu, Bana Mura and various Mayi-Mayi groups, and the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF):

  • Strongly condemning all violations and abuses that continue to be committed against children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, urging them to immediately end and prevent all violations of applicable international law involving the recruitment and use of children, abduction, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access and to comply with their obligations under international law;
  • Calling on them to further implement previous conclusions of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (documents S/AC.51/2007/17, S/AC.51/2009/3, S/AC.51/2011/1 and S/AC.51/2014/3);
  • Stressing that all perpetrators of such acts must be swiftly brought to justice and held accountable, including through timely and systematic investigation, prosecution and as appropriate conviction, and noting that some of the above‑mentioned acts are prohibited and criminalized under Law No. 09/001 on the protection of the child, adopted by the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 10 January 2009, including the recruitment and use of children by national armed forces or non‑State armed groups;
  • Further noting that on 19 April 2004 the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo referred the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, and that some of the acts mentioned in 6 (a) may amount to crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a State party;
  • 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;
  • Expressing grave concern about the high number of rapes and other forms of sexual violence perpetrated against children, including displaced children, strongly urging all parties to the armed conflict 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 commit sexual and gender‑based violence against children;
  • Expressing deep concern at the high number of children killed and maimed, including through the disproportionate use of force and targeting of children in the Kasais, including as a direct or indirect result of hostilities between parties to armed conflict and of incidents of indiscriminate attacks against civilian populations, including the use of children as human shields and urging all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of distinction and proportionality and the obligation to take all feasible precautions to avoid and in any event minimizing harm to civilians and civilian objects;
  • Calling upon all parties to the armed conflict 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;
  • Calling upon all parties to the armed conflict to allow and facilitate full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to children consistent with the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian assistance, respect the exclusively humanitarian nature and impartiality of humanitarian aid and respect the work of all United Nations humanitarian agencies and their humanitarian partners, without distinction;
  • Expressing its deep concern about the continued presence and ongoing destabilizing activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo of an increasing number of armed groups and their harmful impact on children, in particular FDLR, NDC‑Renove, Kamuina Nsapu, Bana Mura, various Mayi‑Mayi groups, FRPI, and ADF, and other armed groups;
  • Further calling upon all non-State 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 action plans in line with Security Council resolutions 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009), 1998 (2011), 2068 (2012), 2143 (2014), 2225 (2015) and 2427 (2018) if they are listed in annex I to the report of the Secretary‑General on children and armed conflict;
  • Recalling in this regard that four of those non‑State armed groups, FDLR, FRPI, APCLS and the Mayi‑Mayi “Lafontaine” and “Simba” and former elements of PARECO and LRA have been listed in annex I to the report of the Secretary‑General on children and armed conflict for at least five years;
  • Welcoming the progress made by the FARDC on completing the aspects relating to ending and preventing child recruitment and use of their Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence and other grave violations against children and calls on the Government to sustain the progress on the implementation of the action plan relating to ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children including through the implementation of standard operating procedures on age assessment, the institutionalization of procedures put in place under the action plan and the fight against impunity for child recruitment and use, including within the ranks of its security forces;
  • Strongly urging the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to swiftly, fully and effectively implement the aspects of the action plan related to ending and preventing sexual violence by FARDC, including the fight against impunity, including at the provincial level;
  • Welcoming the work of the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s presidential adviser on sexual violence and child recruitment, and encouraging her to continue promoting close coordination and cooperation among national authorities and international partners involved in fighting sexual violence and recruitment and use of children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
  • Commending the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for its endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration and the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict and calling for their swift implementation, and encouraging the Government to ensure that attacks on schools are investigated and that those responsible are duly prosecuted;
  • Encouraging the Government to focus on long‑term and sustainable reintegration and rehabilitation opportunities for children affected by armed conflict that are gender- and age‑sensitive, including equal access to health care, psychosocial support and education programmes, as well as 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, to contribute to the well‑being of children and to sustainable peace and security;
  • Urging those who are or will be engaged in peace talks and agreements to ensure that child protection provisions, including the release and reintegration of children, as well as provisions on the rights, well‑being and empowerment of children, are integrated into the peace talks and agreements, and taking into account children’s views, where possible, in these processes;
  • Recalling that the Security Council, by its resolution 2424 (2018), renewed until 1 July 2019 the arms embargo, financial and travel measures applied pursuant to resolutions 1807 (2008), 1649 (2006), 1698 (2006) and 1596 (2005), in relation to individuals and, as appropriate, entities, designated by the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004), which include:
    • Individuals or entities operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and recruiting or using children in armed conflict in violation of applicable international law;
    • Individuals or entities operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and involved in planning, directing or participating committing acts that constitute human rights violations or abuses or violations of international humanitarian law, as applicable, including those acts involving the targeting of civilians, including killing and maiming, rape and other sexual violence, abduction, forced displacement and attacks on schools and hospitals;
    • Individuals or entities obstructing the access to or the distribution of humanitarian assistance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo;
  • Further recalling that on 1 February 2018, the Committee added the names of four individuals to its sanctions list. Two of the individuals were listed pursuant to paragraph 7 (e) of resolution 2293 (2016), as detailed in paragraph 5 (q) (ii) above.On 31 August 2010, the Committee had updated its sanctions list to include the charges of recruitment and use of children against nine individuals already included in the list of individuals and entities subject to the travel ban and assets freeze imposed by paragraphs 13 and 15 of resolution 1596 (2005), as renewed by paragraph 3 of resolution 1896 (2009), and that between 1 December 2010 and 30 June 2014 the Committee added seven individuals and two entities to the list for reasons including the recruitment, use and/or targeting of children;
  • Recalling the Working Group’s readiness to communicate to the Security Council pertinent information with a view to assisting the Council in the imposition of targeted measures on persistent perpetrators.

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.