UN Stonewalling on Decision to List IDF as Child Violators

"Palestinian man with child during Operation Protective Edge" by Basel Yazouri -  Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Palestinian_man_with_child_during_Operation_Protective_Edge.jpg#/media/File:Palestinian_man_with_child_during_Operation_Protective_Edge.jpg

“Palestinian man with child during Operation Protective Edge” by Basel Yazouri – License: Creative Commons

April 7, 2015 – Ban Ki-moon’s office says he is still preparing his annual report on children and armed conflict but is so far unwilling to say whether the secretary-general will name the Israeli Defence Forces in his list of groups that have committed grave violations against children.

Ban has been urged to include the IDF in the annex of the annual report, which lists state and non-state forces that have committed grave violations against children, over its conduct during the six-week summer conflict in Gaza that the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says resulted in the deaths of 551 Palestinian children.

A source told UN Tribune that a meeting was scheduled for April 6 in New York involving Ban and the UN’s special representative for children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, during which a decision on listing the IDF would be made. A spokesperson for Zerrougui’s office said the meeting did not take place.

The source said UN staff working on the ground in Gaza have urged the inclusion of Israel in the annual report but have been subject to intimidation from inside the Israeli government.

At stake, the source added, is Ban’s Human Rights Up Front initiative which was launched after the UN’s systematic failure during the end of the conflict in Sri Lanka. The initiative aims to support United Nations staff who warn of human rights abuses and tasks the UN system “with using all the resources at its disposal, including its moral authority” to promote and encourage human rights especially with regard to protecting civilians.

While the United States has steadfastly lobbied the UN on Israel’s behalf in the past, which included the US mission to the United Nations overseeing Ban’s release of details of a 2009 UN inquiry into Israel’s 2008 invasion of Gaza, recent statements from the White House indicate that Washington’s appetite to shield Israel from rebuke at the United Nations is waning.

Ban would also be expected to list Hamas in his annual report for its indiscriminate rocket fire into civilian areas of southern Israel endangering the lives of Israeli children as well as for using schools and hospitals to store and launch rockets.

Last year’s annual report on children and armed conflict listed 59 parties in 15 countries including eight state armed forces and 51 other armed groups that have committed any of the six categories of grave violations identified by the United Nations.

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

More than 50 Groups in Fourteen Countries Recruiting Child Soldiers

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 11, 2014 – Parties in Syria, South Sudan and the Central African Republic are recruiting children as soldiers.

Those three countries are among the 14 where the United Nations says children are enlisted by armed groups. In at least seven of the countries, government forces are among those recruiting, according to the Office of the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, which is calling attention to these violations ahead of the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers on Feb. 12.

In total, there are more than 50 armed groups listed by the UN as recruiters of child soldiers including nine groups in Sudan, among them the country’s national forces; eight groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo; eight in Myanmar and seven in Central African Republic.

Besides Sudan, the other six countries where national forces recruit children are Afghanistan, with the Afghan National Police listed as a recruiter; Chad, whose army currently has peacekeepers in Mali; as well as government forces in Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen.

In Syria, the Free Syrian Army are listed as a recruiter of child soldiers. While the Syrian government is not listed as recruiting children, its intelligence services and allied Shabbiha militia are listed as perpetrators of grave violations against children including killing and maiming, rape, and attacks against schools and hospitals.

The fourteen countries where children are recruited by armed groups are:

1. Afghanistan
2. Central African Republic
3. Chad
4. Colombia
5. Democratic Republic of the Congo
6. Iraq
7. Mali
8. Myanmar
9. Philippines
10. Somalia
11. South Sudan
12. Sudan
13. Syria
14. Yemen

– Denis Fitzgerald
On Twitter @denisfitz

Image: Wikimedia/Gilbert G. Giroud