The UN Security Council on Thursday voted unanimously to name and shame governments and armed groups that abduct children in armed conflicts, a practice the UN secretary-general says is increasing rapidly.
A resolution adopted by the council expresses grave concern at the abduction of children in conflict, saying this often precedes or follows other abuses against them ranging from their use as child soldiers to rape and killing.
The council took the first major step to prevent the victimization of young people in war zones in 2005 by approving a resolution to identify governments and armed groups that recruit child soldiers. In 2009, the council voted to also name and shame countries and insurgent groups engaged in conflicts that lead to children being killed, maimed and raped.
The new resolution adds the abduction of children in conflict as another reason to be put on the list of violators of children’s rights.
The annual list is significant because it not only identifies governments and insurgent groups that violate children’s rights in conflicts, but it puts them on notice that they can face action by the Security Council, including possible sanctions.
“By adding abductions as the fifth ‘trigger’ violation, the council makes it possible for responsible parties to be held to account,” said Eva Smets from Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, a network of international human rights and humanitarian organizations. “This is a laudable step towards enhancing the international community’s ability to protect children.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the council that “abduction is now being used as a tactic to terrorize or target particular ethnic groups or religious communities, and children have been a particular focus.”
While groups such as the Lord’s Resistance Army have kidnapped children for many years, he said “the scale and nature of this grave violation is changing.”
Ban pointed to the large number of abductions by the Islamic State extremist group and Boko Haram.
The abductions by these groups “have shocked us repeatedly in recent months,” Ban said. “But we should also recognize that this practice is prevalent in many other situations ... and is perpetrated by a great range of other non-state armed groups.”
Leila Zerrougui, the UN special representative for children in armed conflict, told the council that “the response to abductions needs to be scaled up to address this increasing trend — including through early-warning mechanisms.”
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