An Open Letter to UN Secretary-General António Guterres

UN CAAC report – proposal to freeze listing

The UN Secretary General’s annual list of states and non-state actors who have committed grave violations against children in conflict is a powerful tool to hold perpetrators to account and protect the most vulnerable. Since it was instituted in 2002, over 25 governments and armed groups have signed UN action plans and taken steps to end grave violations in order to be considered for “de-listing,” and more than 100,000 children have been released by armed forces or groups.

In a world in which children are being routinely recruited, abused, killed and maimed in conflicts from Syria to South Sudan, identifying and holding to account those who commit violations against children is more important than ever. A party to conflict is listed in the UNSG’s annual report for one reason alone – a pattern of documented, UN-verified evidence of grave violations against children.

Reports that the UN Secretary General will take the unprecedented step of ‘freezing’ additions to this year’s report so that no new parties can be listed for violations committed in 2016 are therefore deeply concerning. In addition, we understand that it has been proposed that the process will be changed going forward so that parties to conflict can pledge to adopt unspecified ‘commitments’ to avoid being listed.

More than 40 organisations, including ChildFund Alliance, Human Rights Watch, Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children, Terre des Hommes, the International Bureau of Children’s Rights and War Child have signed a letter asking the UN Secretary General to urgently reconsider these proposals, which set a damaging precedent. In the face of widespread impunity, now is not the time to send the message to those who commit violations against children that if they are powerful enough, they will be let off the hook.

Please find and share a copy of the letter here