In many conflict-ridden countries, peacekeeping missions are the largest actor on the ground and their contribution is vital to protecting children. Many are subject to grave violations: abductions, military recruitment, killing, maiming, and numerous forms of exploitation.
The Security Council has addressed this issue since 1999 and the protection of children in conflict has been included in the mandates of peacekeeping operations since 2001.
Everyone in a peacekeeping operation plays a role in protecting children. For instance:
- The head of the peacekeeping operation works to ensure that child protection concerns are a priority in the peace process.
- Peacekeeping military is crucial in providing protection and signaling violations against children to the child protection staff, helping to identify and release children from armed groups.
- UN Police works jointly with national police to ensure the rights of children in contact with the law.
- Judicial Affairs Officers ensure that children's rights are secured in national legislation.
Role of Child Protection Advisers:
Although everybody in a peacekeeping operation plays a role in protecting children, the special advisors help the mission channel their resources towards children. Child Protection Advisors are deployed to help missions fulfill the child protection mandate. Their work includes:
- Placing the concerns of children onto the peace and political agenda.
- Ensuring that child protection becomes an integral part of the mission's engagement. This is done through mainstreaming and advising the mission leadership.
- Training newly-deployed peacekeepers on child protection, which complements the training on child protection every peacekeeper must receive prior to his or her deployment.
- Advocating with local authorities to address Child Protection concerns.
- Advising mission leadership on pertinent child protection issues.
- Monitoring and reporting the most serious violations against children.
- Liaising with UNICEF and other child protection actors for follow-up and response to individual cases.
- Negotiating action plans with armed forces and armed groups to end grave violations against children, and supporting their implementation.