VIII. UN Security Council Action on Child Recruitment

Since 1998 the United Nations Security Council has adopted a series of resolutions aimed at stronger enforcement of international standards related to children and armed conflict. In 2001 the Security Council specifically called on member states to “consider appropriate legal, political, diplomatic, financial and material measures, in accordance with the Charter of the UN, in order to ensure that parties to armed conflict respect international norms for the protection of children.”123 The Security Council also stated its intention in 2004, 2005, and most recently, in a presidential statement issued on November 27, 2006, to consider sanctions (such as arms embargoes) against groups that persist in recruiting and using child soldiers.124

The UN secretary-general submits reports to the Security Council on children and armed conflict approximately every year. Since 2002, at the Security Council’s request, these reports have included lists of specific parties to armed conflict—including both government forces and non-state armed groups—that recruit or use child soldiers in violation of their legal obligations. The list focused initially only on a limited number of situations on the Security Council’s agenda, but in 2003 a second list was added to include countries like Sri Lanka that are not formally on the Security Council’s agenda.

In three consecutive reports since 2003, the secretary-general has included the LTTE among the list of parties that recruit or use children in armed conflict.125 His most recent report, issued on October 26, 2006, listed the Karuna group for the first time, in addition to the LTTE. The report noted that both parties were responsible for the abduction of children, as well as the recruitment and use of children as soldiers.126

In 2005, the Security Council requested the secretary-general to establish a systematic monitoring and reporting system to gather concrete, reliable and timely information about abuses against children in armed conflict.127 Sri Lanka was one of seven countries to be included in the initial phase of implementation of the mechanism. In Sri Lanka, a task force including UN agencies and nongovernmental organizations was formed to collect information about abuses, including continued child recruitment and use, and submit this information to UN headquarters on a regular basis.

The Security Council also acted in 2005 to create a working group on children and armed conflict, specifically to consider information from the monitoring and reporting mechanism and make recommendations to the full Security Council on actions that should be taken in response to reported abuses against children. In 2005 the working group considered reports on the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, and Burundi. In the case of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the working group recommended that existing sanctions, specifically travel bans and asset freezes, be expanded to apply to child recruiters. Earlier in the year, the Council also acted to impose sanctions against a militia commander in Côte d’Ivoire for child recruitment and other abuses.

In January 2007 the secretary-general submitted a report on abuses against children by parties to armed conflict in Sri Lanka.  The report, covering the period from November 1, 2005 to October 21, 2006, documents abductions and child recruitment by both the LTTE and the Karuna group.  It calls on both parties to immediately cease all recruitment and use of child soldiers, and to release children among their ranks.  It calls for “targeted measures against LTTE military and political leadership” because the group has been a persistent violator. 128  The report also urges the Sri Lankan government to “investigate immediately allegations that certain elements of the Sri Lanka security forces are involved in aiding the recruitment and/or abduction of children by the Karuna faction in the East.”  The Security Council working group on children and armed conflict is expected to consider the report in February 2007, and subsequently issue its recommendations for action by the full Security Council.

123 UN Security Council, Resolution 1379 (2001), S/RES/1379(2001), (accessed January 3, 2007), para. 9 b.

124 See UN Security Council, Resolution 1539 (2004), S/RES/1539(2004), (accessed January 3, 2007), para. 5 c; Resolution 1612 (2005), S/RES/1612(2005), (accessed January 3, 2007), para. 9; and the Statement by the President of the Security Council, S/PRST/2006/48, November 28, 2006, (accessed January 3, 2007), para. 4.

125 The 2002 report did not include a separate list of violators in situations not on the Security Council’s agenda, but discussed the LTTE’s recruitment of children in the body of the report itself.

126 Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, October 26, 2006, S/2006/826, (accessed January 3, 2007).

127 UN Security Council, Resolution 1612, para. 3.

128 “Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in Sri Lanka,” December 20, 2006.