The impact of armed conflict on children

The impact of armed conflict on children

Promoting regional approaches to preventing conflicts and promoting peace

This document reviews the wide-ranging series of actions taken in response to the recommendations of the 1996 Machel Report. Many of the significant achievements are woven into this text, which constitutes an early summary of a book that will be published in early 2001. The current review document addresses the major themes of the 1996 report and brings new and expanded focus to five areas: small arms and light weapons; women's role in peace-building; peace and security; HIV/AIDS; media and communications.

The issue that must be addressed is the problems that cause the suffering of children. The report states that the impact of armed conflict on children is everyone's responsibility and must be everyone's concern.

Conclusions: Despite progress, the assaults against children continue. No one has moved quickly enough or done enough. The international community, in all of its manifestations, must adopt a new sense of urgency. The Security Council must lead the international community with speed to embrace the recommendations in this review and to prevail against impunity for crimes committed against children. Children's protection should not have to be negotiated. Those who wage, legitimise and support wars must be condemned and held to account.

Recommendations:

  • the UN Security Council, in cooperation with the rest of the UN system, must use all the tools at its disposal to prevent conflicts, including early warning, preventive diplomacy, preventive deployment of peacekeepers, preventive disarmament, and post-conflict peace-building
  • regional approaches to preventing conflicts and promoting peace must be encouraged and strengthened, including through continued and improved collaboration with the United Nations, humanitarian organisations and NGOs, and increased attention to child rights, protection and gender
  • while broad strategies to overcome poverty are needed, specific steps to fulfil children's right to primary health care, adequate nutrition, clean water and sanitation, and quality basic education must be taken while ensuring rapid and deep debt relief for heavily indebted poor countries.
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