International law provides children protection against, among others, recruitment and use; killing and maiming; sexual violence; attacks on schools and hospitals; abduction; and denial of humanitarian access. Still, millions of children in all four corners of the world continue to be subjected to grave violations of their rights in the context of conflicts. While limited progress has been made to hold perpetrators in conflicts accountable for abuses against children, there are growing concerns that employing double standards in how the UN treats those responsible for egregious violations against children will only put children further at risk. For example, even though the UN Security Council long ago created mechanisms, including a “name and shame list”, to identify States and non-State parties who violate children’s rights in the context of conflict, there are reports that such a mechanism has been compromised. As the world marks the 33rd anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child in November 2022, this panel asks: “Are we keeping the promise we made to children affected by armed conflict?”
Yanghee Lee is a former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar and served as Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Allan Rock served as Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations in New York during a period that involved responding to several complex regional conflicts.
Jo Becker is the advocacy director of the children’s rights division at Human Rights Watch.
Benyam Dawit Mezmur is Eleanor Roosevelt Fellow, Human Rights Program, at the Harvard Law School and is Professor of Law at the University of the Western Cape.
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