The United Nations Security Council reaches agreement on how to counter violations of children’s rights in the Central African Republic

On the 15th 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 the Central African Republic (CAR).

The Security Council unanimously expresses its grave concern about the continued recruitment of child soldiers, the killing and maiming of children, abductions and attacks on schools and hospitals. Children’s inadequate access to humanitarian aid and sexual violence are also a source of concern.

At the same time, the Security Council welcomes some armed groups adopting action plans to stop the violations, in cooperation with the United Nations. The adoption of a child protection law is another positive development in the CAR.

“This proofs, as recalled b the Security Council itself, that the International Criminal Court can play an important role in the fight against children’s rights violations in the CAR”, according to Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Defense, Philippe Goffin.

During its Presidency of the Security Council last February, Belgium invited the African Union (AU) to address the Security Council on the important issue of child protection in the conflict in the Central African Republic. Indeed, the AU-facilitated Political Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in the CAR of February 2019 calls for an end to all recruitment in armed groups, including children. It also recognizes that the majority of the Central African population is made up of children and women severely affected by the armed conflict, and that full protection of their rights and the end of abuse and hostilities are objectives shared by all signatory parties.

In February 2019, Belgium organized an informal Security Council session on the challenge of difficult humanitarian access to children in need in the CAR.

Belgium’s demands for the Security Council’s attention to the situation in the CAR are part of a broader commitment to significantly improving the fragile situation in the CAR. This commitment translates, among other things, into important support for both a European Union military training mission to strengthen the armed forces (EUTM RCA) and a European Union civilian advisory mission to reform internal security forces (EUAM RCA). Belgium contributes to multilateral development and humanitarian aid, peace-building assistance and the budget of MINUSCA, the UN peacekeeping mission in the CAR.

Our commitment doesn’t stop there! In the coming weeks, Belgium will also conduct negotiations in the UN Security Council to address child rights violations in other conflict areas, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Colombia”, adds Goffin.

More than 20 years after the first UN report on the impact of armed conflict on children, attention and action on this problem remain indispensable. Today, one in five children worldwide has a direct or indirect negative impact from armed conflict. Thorough action and relentless political pressure are needed to change the situation. Belgium remains committed.