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Security Council to Consider Annan's action plan on ending child soldier recruitment

UN News Center

February 23, 2005

Acknowledging the need for a monitoring and reporting mechanism to track the recruitment of child soldiers and other children's rights violations, the United Nations Security Council today said it has started considering the proposal for such an instrument from Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In a statement read by Foreign Minister Rogatien Biaou of Benin, which holds the Council presidency for February, at the end of a day-long debate the 15-member body said it was working on a new resolution to "take forward the implementation of its previous resolutions."

It reiterated "its intention to complete expeditiously the process of the establishment of the mechanism" and said it would ensure compliance and end impunity.

The new resolution would be aimed at "ending the recruitment or use of child soldiers in violation of applicable international law and other violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict situations, and promoting their reintegration and rehabilitation."

It did not make clear whether it would impose sanctions or "targeted measures" against those who recruited children, a key request made earlier in the day by Olara Otunnu, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC).

He made his remarks during a special Council session convened to review the problems facing child victims of wars and his third report on the situation.

The situation of vulnerable children has improved in just a few years, mainly under Security Council leadership, Mr. Otunnu said, but too many of them were still being brutalized by parties to conflicts, with UN field representatives complaining of lack of security, access, cooperation and, especially, an organized and functioning mechanism for monitoring and reporting at the country level.

"The Council has on previous occasions expressed its intention to take concrete and targeted measures against these (offending) parties. It is most important that the Council make good on its promise on this occasion. On that depends the credibility of this exercise," he said.

"The targeted measures should include the imposition of travel restrictions on leaders and their exclusion from any governance structures and amnesty provisions, the imposition of arms embargoes, a ban on military assistance and restriction on the flow of financial resources to the parties concerned."

He suggested that the Council establish a committee to review any sanctions imposed to protect children exposed to conflict, demand that the parties named prepare time-bound action plans to end their violations and put the recommended monitoring and reporting mechanism into operation expeditiously.

Listing an offending party, whether a Government or a rebel, was to ensure accountability of a "specific, identifiable and identified entity," not a broad or non-specific category of offenders, Mr. Otunnu said.

The LTTE of Sri Lanka, named in this year's report, notified him in a letter he received just yesterday of "their readiness to enter into dialogue, using the framework of the monitoring and reporting mechanism," he said.

He called on the LTTE leadership to embark immediately on tangible actions, leading to a time-bound action plan to end, once and for all, the practices of recruitment, abductions and use of children as soldiers.

Mr. Otunnu concluded his remarks by reciting from a Bob Marley song, "Hear the children cryin'."

Meanwhile, the Deputy Executive Director of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), Rima Salah, told the Council the agency "already has in place sophisticated monitoring and reporting tools for a variety of sectors, including health education, water and sanitation and, in some countries, on conflict-related child rights abuses, such as abductions and recruitment of child soldiers."

To improve this expertise and apply it globally, UNICEF would need cooperation from Governments, assurance of security for staff and whistle-blowers, and appropriate guidance, methodology and data collection tools, as well as funding for training staff and other workers in the field, Mr. Salah said.

More than 30 speakers addressed the Council, including its 15 members.

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