Main takeaways:

  • UNICEF works in the world’s most challenging places to reach the most disadvantaged children and adolescents – and to protect the rights of every child. Across more than 190 countries and territories, UNICEF assists in helping children survive, thrive and fulfill their potential from early childhood through adolescence.
  • The six grave violations serve as the basis for gathering information and reporting on
    violations affecting children:
    • Killing and maiming of children
    • Recruitment or use of children as soldiers
    • Sexual violence against children
    • Abduction of children
    • Attacks against schools or hospital Denial of humanitarian access for children
  • Ending and preventing these six grave violations is the focus of the Special Representative’s work and advocacy.

On November 17, 2022, YPFP hosted a UN Series event on ‘Children in Armed Conflict’. The event was moderated by UN Series Officer Lina Stahl, who was joined by Brigid Kennedy Pfister, a Senior Child Protection Specialist from UNICEF, and Sharon Riggle, the Chief of Office/Chief of Advocacy and Outreach for the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG CAAC).

The brief presentation by Brigid Kennedy-Pfister outlined UNICEF’s mandate created by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs, and to expand their opportunities to reach their full potential, and prioritized how war impacts children and the six grave violations of children’s rights in conflict. UNICEF’s role focuses on collaboration with governments to support child protection systems and educate schools and communities to protect children from killing. Ms. Riggle briefly introduced the work of her office and outlined the mandate created by the UN General Assembly in December 1996 to strengthen the protection of children affected by armed conflict, raise awareness, promote the collection of information about the plight of children affected by war and foster international cooperation to improve their protection.

The Q&A session discussed the geographical zones that UNICEF works in and how technology will impact children in armed conflict. The discussion also shed light on many topics going beyond the reintegration process of child soldiers, following insights into what happens to children (and their families) who are forced to move due to climate change or conflicts over natural resources, do they have special protection.

Written by Lina Stahl, UN Series Officer, YPFP Brussels