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30 July 2009
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Agenda item 3
PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF ALL HUMAN RIGHTS, CIVIL,
POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS,
INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT
Annual report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General
for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy*
* Late submission.
1. The present report is submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 51/77 and other subsequent resolutions of the Assembly on the rights of the child, including its most recent, resolution 63/241, in which the Assembly requested the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to continue to submit a report to the Human Rights Council on the activities undertaken in discharging her mandate, including information on her field visits, and on the progress achieved and the challenges remaining on the children and armed conflict agenda. This report should be read in the context of the report of the Special Representative to the General Assembly (A/63/227), in which she provided a comprehensive account of activities undertaken by the Office of the Special Representative in 2007/2008; as well as the eighth report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict (
). These reports, and the series of recommendations provided therein, should form the primary basis for discussion by the Human Rights Council of the work of the Special Representative in the period under review.
II. WORKING WITH THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM
7. In 2008/2009, the Office of the Special Representative
has also collaborated with other special procedures mandate holders to prepare joint submissions on the human rights situation in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo pursuant to Human Rights Council resolutions 7/20 and S-8/1 and in the occupied Palestinian territory in accordance with Council resolution S-9/1 on grave violations of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory particularly due to the recent Israeli military attacks against the occupied Gaza Strip.
B. Field visits by the Special Representative
21. Apart from the sustained engagement and pressure placed on parties to conflict by the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, United Nations human rights mechanisms and other relevant bodies of the United Nations and its partners, field visits by the Special Representative have brought high-level visibility to the situation and rights of children affected by armed conflict, as well as garnered several key commitments by relevant stakeholders, including the Government, non-State actors and the United Nations and partners, for the protection of children as reflected in international humanitarian and human rights instruments. These visits also serve to highlight national efforts to advance child rights concerns in armed conflict.
23. In 2008 and the first half of 2009, the Special Representative carried out nine field missions, including to Iraq (April 2008), Chad and the Central African Republic (May 2008), Afghanistan (June 2008), Nepal and the Philippines (December 2008), the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel (February 2009) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (April 2009).
IV. EMERGING CONCERNS
Terrorism and counter-terrorism and its impact on children
41. Terrorism, more than any other concept, has come to dominate the security discourse in many places around the globe. Both terrorist actions and counter-terrorism measures can have multiple consequences for children and in recent years have created particular challenges for the protection of children, particularly in regard to the violation of human rights and the rule of law. The conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the occupied Palestinian territory pose many of these problems.
Attacks on schools
48. In the recent conflict in Gaza and southern Israel, many schools were damaged or destroyed by aerial bombardment, rocket fire and long-distance artillery. Some of these schools were schools administered by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
V. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
52. The Special Representative welcomes and appreciates the strengthened collaboration between her Office and the United Nation human rights system, and reiterates her continued support including to share regular information and to advocate for the protection of children affected by armed conflict. The Special Representative is also encouraged that information from the monitoring and reporting mechanism on grave violations against children in armed conflict established in accordance with Security Council resolution 1612 (2005), as well as conclusions adopted by the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict have been mainstreamed by the Human Rights Council and the wider human rights system, particularly through reports submitted for the universal periodic reviews and by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
55. Further, in the light of the information provided in sections III and IV above, the Special Representative offers the following recommendations.
Terrorism and counter-terrorism and its impact on children
60. Parties to situations of armed conflict are urged to immediately halt the recruitment and use of children, a violation of international law, in particular using them to commit terrorist acts.
61. Member States are also urged to ensure that counter-terrorism measures are in line with their obligations under international humanitarian law. Attacks on schools
62. Parties in situations of armed conflict are urged to adhere to international law protecting the right to education in situations of concern. This includes protecting both educational institutions and the process of education, including students, teachers, academics and other education personnel. Special attention should be paid to the protection of girls, given the increased targeting of girls’ education in some countries.