The rich exchange of information, experiences and best practices, reflections on learning and generation of solutions to challenges facing child protection in peace support operations were the key highlights of the 3 day child protection in peace supports operations knowledge and learning event that was held in Dakar, Senegal on 7-9 December 2015.
The event was attended by different actors in child protection ranging from peace support operations personnel (military and civilian); Humanitarian organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations; peacekeeping training centres and UN missions; the African Union, the Regional Economic Committee (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms; Government and other stakeholders.
Experiences from the military personnel
While reviewing issues, challenges and opportunities in child protection, it was evident from the presentations made by the military personnel that the military is becoming more and more sensitive to child protection issues. Presentations from the Forces Républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI) and the Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF) highlighted the road map that these institutions have gone through from being listed as using children in battles to being de-listed, and the successes they have recorded while on missions as a result of the skills and knowledge gained from child protection and other related trainings.
Below are excerpts from the presentations
Major Olivia Komutegeki, Uganda People’s Defence Force (UPDF)
- Uganda is a signatory of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) that prohibits use of children in armed conflict, Regional (African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child), National (Uganda Constitution 1995), Children’s Act, Penal Code Act and the UPDF Code of Conduct
- UN Security Council declared Uganda security forces free of children on 15 Sep 2009 (S/2009/462)
- When encountering children who are not only used as fighters but also as shields, UPDF has had to disengage the fight for another opportunist time or tactically fought to rescue the children other than win the fight
- UPDF issued guidelines and trained the military on how to handle children rescued
- All through the many wars and battles the UPDF has undergone, there are children in cross fire, in camps, separated from families etc. who are in combat or with enemies, the UPDF has provided medicare and facilitated humanitarian assistance to ensure the children have a decent livelihood.
Lieutenant Berthé Nanourou, Forces Républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI)
When the war broke out in 2002, Ivory Coast was put in the list of countries using children in armed conflict. Through the collaboration with organizations such as UNICEF and Save the Children, the country has been able to significantly reduce the number of children from the front lines of the battles.
Child protection activities and results achieved:
- 2001 -2010: Training of 64 military in Early Childhood Development (ECD)
- 2014: Training of 30 pilot trainers in Early Childhood Development Office Management Plan
- 2010 and 2015: 98 awareness sessions, and advocacy for over 20 000 soldiers and 47 commanders unit
- Military project 2015-2016: Integration of Early Childhood Development in the military training curricula
Children associated with armed groups:
- 2002: more than 35,000 children were associated with armed groups
- April 2004: more than 25,000 children in transit centers
- 2005: 4000 associated children joined the GA. Côte d’Ivoire is on the “list of shame”
- 2008: Côte d’Ivoire is written off the list
- 2010: seven children associated Armed Groups involved in the post-election crisis
- Insufficient financial resources allocated to ECD promotional activities in the states
- Lack of harmonization of teaching modules for ECD programs and assessment tools in place
- No exchange of experience and good practice between actors
- Absence of sustainability of ECD policy promotion programs in the armies of states
Opportunities for better protection of children in conflict:
- Having qualified trainers in sufficient numbers in military units
- Harmonize awareness modules and ECD training
- Establish evaluation of ECD programs promoting tools
- Establish a mechanism to fight against impunity for violations of children’s rights
- Establish a framework for the exchange of permanent experience and good practice between child protection actors
View presentation: DEFIS ET OPPORTUNITES LIES A LA PROTECTION DE L’ENFANT
The event was organized by Save the Children through the Strengthening Child Protection in Africa Union Peace Support Operations in East and West Africa project.