The Violations

© UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0893/Brian Sokol
Zainab [NAME CHANGED], 16, holds a drawing she made at a UNICEF-assisted transit centre for recently released former child soldiers, in the town of N'dele, capital of the northern Bamingui-Bangoran Prefecture, the Central African Republic. Wanting to avenge the death of her fiancé, Zainab joined an armed group but, once recruited, was frequently sexually abused by male soldiers.

The descriptions below are provided as guidance for inclusion under each of the listed violations in Security Council Resolutions 1612, 1882 and 1998 [PDFs]. The six categories of grave violations, as defined, constitute acts that contravene international humanitarian law, international human rights law, international criminal law or other international protection norms.

For further information, please refer to Annex II: International Legal Foundations and Standards [PDF].

i. Context The acts must be committed in the context of and be associated with an armed conflict.
ii. Victim A child or children, i.e., persons under 18 years of age.
iii. Perpetrator Members of state armed forces or non-state armed group (NB: Armed forces: refers to the armed forces of a state. Armed groups: refers to groups distinct from armed forces as defined by Article 4 of the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The MRM does not focus activities on civilians, although international practice shows that civilians may also be responsible for war crimes).
Violation Meaning for MRM purposes and types of incidents to report
1. Killing and maiming Killing: Any action in the context of the armed conflict that results in the death of one or more children.

Maiming: Any action that causes a serious, permanent, disabling injury, scarring or mutilation to a child.

Killing and injuring of children as a result of direct targeting and also indirect actions, including: crossfire, landmines, cluster munitions, improvised explosive devices or other indiscriminate explosive devices.

Killing or injuring can take place in the context of military operations, house demolitions, search-and-arrest campaigns, or suicide attacks.

Torture can also be reported under this category.
2. Recruitment or use of children in armed forces and groups Recruitment: refers to compulsory, forced or voluntary conscription or enlistment of children into any kind of armed force or armed group(s) under the age stipulated in the international treaties applicable to the armed force or armed group in question.

Use of children: refers to the use of children by armed forces or armed groups in any capacity, including, but not limited to, children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies and collaborators. It does not only refer to a child who is taking or has taken a direct part in hostilities.36
3. Attacks on schools or hospitals Attacks include the targeting of schools or medical facilities that cause the total or partial destruction of such facilities. Other interferences to the normal operation of the facility may also be reported, such as the occupation, shelling, targeting for propaganda of, or otherwise causing harm to schools or medical facilities or their personnel.

Note: A 'school' denotes a recognizable education facility or learning site. Education facilities and learning sites must be recognized and known by the community as a learning space and marked by visible boundaries.

'Medical facilities' are places where the sick and wounded are collected and/or provided with health-care services.
4. Rape or other grave sexual violence A violent act of a sexual nature to a child. This encompasses rape, other sexual violence, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced marriage/pregnancy, or enforced sterilization.

Rape/attempted rape: is an act of non-consensual sexual intercourse. This can include the invasion of any part of the body with a sexual organ and/or the invasion of the genital or anal opening with any object or body part. Any penetration is considered rape. Efforts to rape someone, which do not result in penetration, are considered attempted rape.

Sexual violence: is any sexual act, attempt to obtain a sexual act, or acts to traffic a child's sexuality. Sexual violence takes many forms, including rape, sexual slavery and/or trafficking, forced pregnancy, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation and/or abuse, and forced abortion.
5. Abduction The unlawful removal, seizure, capture, apprehension, taking or enforced disappearance of a child either temporarily or permanently for the purpose of any form of exploitation of the child. This includes, but is not limited to, recruitment in armed forces or groups, participation in hostilities, sexual exploitation or abuse, forced labour, hostage-taking and indoctrination.37 If a child is recruited by force by an armed force or group, this is considered as two separate violations - abduction and recruitment.
6. Denial of humanitarian access for children The intentional deprivation of or impediment to the passage of humanitarian assistance indispensible to children's survival, by the parties to the conflict, including wilfully impeding relief supplies as provided for under the Geneva Conventions; and significant impediments to the ability of humanitarian or other relevant actors to access and assist affected children, in situations of armed conflict.

The denial should be considered in terms of children's access to assistance as well as humanitarian agencies' ability to access vulnerable populations, including children.

These six categories of violations are the primary focus of reporting to the Security Council. In order to provide comprehensive protection for children, however, the MRM should seek to monitor and respond to other violations as relevant to a particular context. Such information should inform advocacy and response at the country level. For example, detention of children for alleged association with non-state armed groups has been reported on because of its close relation to recruitment and use violation. In addition, forced displacement has been covered when it has been related to fear of child recruitment, sexual violence or any of the other grave violations.

Violations are such that contravene international humanitarian law, international human rights law, international criminal law or other international protection norms. Note that the UN Convention on the rights of the Child [PDF] is non-derogable, meaning that even in situations of armed conflict, all rights of children must always be respected. For applicable legal basis and further reading, see Annex II: International Legal Foundations and Standards [PDF].

Key messages
  • Ensure that violations reported fall under one of the noted definitions.
  • Although the violations are clear, there are certain situations and certain peripheral violations that need case-by-case deliberations. YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Contact the OSRSG-CAAC or HQ focal points to discuss at any time.

Further reading - The violations

36 United Nations Children's Fund, The Paris Principles: Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups, UNICEF, New York, February 2007.
37 For additional clarification on determining abduction, see Annex III: Abduction & Detention - Clarification [PDF].

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