12 June 2024 - New York

Formal mechanism to monitor and report on crimes against children in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel must be established, after perpetrators listed in flagship UN Report – Save the Children

Formal mechanism to monitor and report on crimes against children in the occupied Palestinian territory must be established, after perpetrators listed in flagship UN Report – Save the Children

NEW YORK, 12 JUNE 2024 – The reported decision by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to include the Israeli security forces, Qassam Brigades (Hamas) and Al-Quds Brigades (Islamic Jihad) in this year’s UN report on Children and Armed Conflict is a vital step towards holding these actors to account for devastating children’s lives, said Save the Children.

By listing these groups, Guterres sends the message that politics should not be prioritized ahead of children’s lives.

While it is the responsibility of the UN to verify all reported grave violations, the ongoing violence and lack of access for monitors in Gaza mean that any verified grave violations are likely to be a fraction of the true number. A formal mechanism for monitoring and reporting violations against children must now be established, said the child rights agency.

Inger Ashing, CEO for Save the Children, said in response to the annual report:

“We are relieved by the decision of the Secretary General to add these actors to this milestone report. Even in 2022 alone, 3,133 verified grave violations were committed against children in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, the second highest verified rate of any country that year.

Every time perpetrators are shielded from accountability, it fuels a climate of impunity. While we commend the Secretary General’s decision, it should not have taken a child rights catastrophe of the scale we have seen in Gaza to make it happen.

A formal mechanism for monitoring and reporting violations against children must now be established. To enable this, there must be assurance that aid workers, journalists and civil rights organizations will be protected and their work facilitated. All states must do everything in their power to protect children from further grave violations, including by halting transfer of weapons, parts, and ammunition to Israel and Palestinian armed groups.  

In war zones across the world, children are living through unspeakable horrors. About 468 million children globally are currently living in conflict zones. Many are experiencing the worst crimes that can be committed against children in conflict, from killing, maiming and abduction to sexual violence, recruitment into armed groups, and strikes on schools and hospitals. 

Children are not small adults - they have a special status in conflict, specific vulnerabilities, an additional set of rights afforded to them, and distinct obligations owed to them.

“The establishment of the Children and Armed Conflict mandate in 1997 was an inspiring example of what the international community is able to do when politics is set aside. It is one of the most powerful tools to hold accountable parties to conflict who destroy children’s lives, and ultimately protect children in conflict. By maintaining the credibility of this mandate, the UN is defending the rights of children everywhere”.

Notes:

Source for 2022 figures: https://documents.un.org/doc/undoc/gen/n23/144/96/pdf/n2314496.pdf?token=4MM3hfTsiSeVDCqgLW&fe=true

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Daphnee.cook@savethechildren.org .

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