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Armed Conflict: Children

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL3551, tabled on 28 April 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what, if any, information contained within the annual and country-specific reports of the UN Secretary-General on children and armed conflict is taken into account during Overseas Security and Justice Assistance assessments.

Answered on

13 May 2020

The UK is an active permanent member of the United Nations Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC), which leads the international response to violations committed against children in conflict. These violations include: the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children, killing and maiming of children, abduction, attacks on schools and hospitals and the denial of humanitarian access to children in conflict.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its guidance on Overseas Security and Justice Assistance (OSJA) in 2017 by written ministerial statement. Since then, information on its implementation has been included in the FCO's Annual Human Rights and Democracy Report. The OSJA guidance applies to issues of international humanitarian law as well as human rights risks. As part of implementation of the OSJA guidance, Her Majesty's Government missions pool expertise from a range of sources including civil society partners and international organisations, according to the situation in the country concerned. This includes relevant UN sources of expertise.

The UN CAAC Working Group focuses on responding to the UN Secretary-General's annual report on CAAC which lists governments and armed groups for committing grave violations against children. As a member of the group, the UK applies diplomatic pressure to listed parties to enter into concrete UN action plans to verify and release any children associated with armed groups and forces, to prevent re-recruitment and ensure the provision of appropriate reintegration and rehabilitation assistance. We ensure that the technical assistance we provide is in line with international standards, and fully complies with our human rights obligations.