By Arul Louis
India has cautioned the UN against directly dealing with armed groups and bypassing tiol governments as this would “give political legitimacy to non-state actors.”
“It is this legitimacy that they seek the most and which may also, to some extent, be a motivating factor,” India’s Deputy Permanent Representative Bhagwant S. Bishnoi said Wednesday at a UN debate on “Children Victims of Non-State Armed Groups.”
The impact of armed conflicts on children is steadily getting worse in parts of Africa and the Middle East.
“Last year was the worst year in which to be a child,” said Yoka Brandt, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF. Armed groups in Iraq, Syria, South Sudan, Nigeria, Mali and the Central African Republic were continuing to recruit children, she said.
While considering the proposals for military and peace operations against armed groups to protect children, Bishnoi said the Security Council should strive to get “the full cooperation of the host government of the peacekeeping operation, as well as the member states not represented in the Council who are contributing troops for such operations.”
He added, “It is important that access of the United tions to non-state armed groups be through the cooperation framework between the United tions and the concerned tiol government.”
A UN official dealing with children and armed conflict, said that most of the 23 action plans to end child recruitment were signed by armed groups. Leila Zerrougui, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s special representative, said these were achieved under the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign jointly launched with UNESCO.
Bishnoi said he solution to the problem of armed conflicts affecting children lies in tackling the broader issue of economic and social margilization so that a durable peace can be attained.
He threw doubts on the effectiveness of proposals to ask tions to ect laws to prohibit the recruitment of any one under the age of 18 as fighters and to make that a crime.
“We are not clear how this would help,” he said. “Illegal armed groups operate outside the law. They kill, torture and maim the innocent. It seems most doubtful that those who resort to illegal armed conflict and terrorism would be deterred from recruiting children if they were prohibited from doing so merely by the law.”
In this scerio, he said, “The intertiol community should also strive to address the broader issue of the economic and social margilization that drives millions of children into the kind of childhood that could make them part of the problem rather than tomorrow’s solution. The socio economic issues plaguing the poorest tions and the need to eradicate poverty must be the imperative of our development agenda to eble an environment for lasting peace and security.” IANS
(Arul Louis can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)