The United Nations’ Security Council reaches agreement on how to counter violations of children’s rights in Afghanistan

On the 29th of April, after months of negotiations lead by Belgium, the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict reached an agreement on recommendations on how to counter violations of children’s rights in Afghanistan.

The Security Council unanimously expresses its grave concern about the deteriorating situation for children in the conflict in the country. Of particular concern is the increasing number of children killed and mutilated, the recruitment of child soldiers and sexual violence against children. At the same time, the Security Council welcomes the efforts of the Afghan government to end the recruitment of children by the national armed forces and security forces.

A few weeks ago, the Security Council called on the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban to pursue confidence building measures to enable negotiations for durable peace. Reducing violence against civilians and especially children is a must in this regard. The Council stated that if violence by the Taliban would not be reduced, UN sanctions may remain in effect.

During the Belgian Presidency of the Security Council last February, the Security Council emphasized that the protection of children should receive systematic attention in peace negotiations and mediation processes. This certainly also applies to the situation in Afghanistan.

Belgium supports UNAMA, the UN mission in Afghanistan, with an important financial contribution. “Belgium is committed to ensuring that UNAMA can continue to play its crucial role in protecting children. The mission’s reporting and dialogue with the Afghan government on child rights violations is vital, " Minister Goffin said.

Belgium also has a military presence in the country. Belgian military personnel participate in NATO's Resolute Support Mission. This mission has been running since 2015 with the aim of guiding, advising and training Afghan security forces. "The Security Council welcomes Resolute Support Mission’s support to building child protection capabilities in Afghanistan," Minister Goffin noted with satisfaction.

In the coming weeks, Belgium in its capacity of president of the Working Group on Children And Armed Conflict of the Security Council will also conduct negotiations to address child rights violations in other conflict areas, including Iraq, Colombia and Somalia. This role fits with Belgium’s longstanding commitment to the protection of children in armed conflict, including through financial contributions to UNICEF.

More than 20 years after the first UN report on the impact of armed conflict on children, one out of five children continues to experience the negative consequences of conflict. Thorough action and relentless political pressure are still needed to change that situation. Belgium remains committed to that goal.