Friday, September 21, 2012

Security Council moves to action on child-soldiering

U.N. Security Council
The U.N. Security Council took a step toward stepping up international efforts to combat the harming of children in armed conflict – among other harms, recruiting children as soldiers.
The step came just months after a trial chamber of the International Criminal Court entered convictions for the war crimes of enlisting and conscripting child soldiers, as well as the war crime of using children to participate actively in hostilities.
Security Council Resolution 2068 (Sept. 19, 2012) thus made specific reference to "relevant provisions of the Rome Statute" of the ICC, and speakers at the debate referred specifically to the ICC decision in Prosecutor v. Lubanga. (prior posts) For example, a Security Council press release reported that David Tolbert, President of the International Center for Transitional Justice, a New York-based nongovernmental organization, urged the Council "to leverage the verdict to strengthen national processes in the Democratic Republic of Congo," the state out of which the Lubanga case arose.
Resolution 2068 stated further, in part, that the Council:
'2. Strongly condemns all violations of applicable international law involving the recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict as well as their re-recruitment, killing and maiming, rape and other sexual violence, abductions, attacks on schools and/or hospitals as well as denial of humanitarian access by parties to armed conflict and demands that all relevant parties immediately put an end to such practices and take special measures to protect children;
'3. Expresses deep concern that certain perpetrators persist in committing violations and abuses against children in situations of armed conflict in open disregard of its resolutions on the matter, and in this regard:
'(a) Calls upon Member States concerned to bring to justice those responsible for such violations through national justice systems, and where applicable, international justice mechanisms;
'(b) Reiterates its readiness to adopt targeted and graduated measures against persistent perpetrators, taking into account relevant provisions of its resolutions 1539 (2004), 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009) and 1998 (2011); ...
'5. Reiterates its call upon the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to consider, with the support of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, within one year, a broad range of options for increasing pressure on persistent perpetrators of violations and abuses committed against children in situations of armed conflict; ...'
Leila Zerrougi
The vote – which came after presentations by Leila Zerrougi of Algeria, the new Special Representative on this issue, and some 60 others – was 11-0-4. The abstainers were Azerbaijan, China, Pakistan, and the Russian Federation.
'[M]any speakers expressed disappointment that the Council had been unable to reach consensus on the resolution,"
according to the Council's release regarding the debate. (above left, photo in memory of Mamusu, a onetime girl soldier in Sierra Leone who died at 17 and is honored as an IntLawGrrls foremother)
Among the "measures" contemplated for "persistent perpetrators" – states and nonstate actors alike – were "tailored political engagement" by the Council, "strengthened accountability measures and targeted measures."
U.S.Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, however, expressed in his remarks concern that "free-standing" sanctions – related only to children and armed conflict – "would not seem to address the need for better tools to deal with persistent perpetrators." He urged exploration of additional possibilities.
The Council's release quoted Zerrougi with respect to such action:
'It would send a strong signal that the resolutions of this Council are not only words on paper, and that vigorous action can be taken when they are not implemented.'
Keep watch to see whether that stronger signal in fact issues.

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