Steps towards Establishing the MRM

© UNICEF/NYHQ2006-1118/Kate Brooks
Randa Ali Faris, 6, sits in shock in the southern town of Tibnin, Lebanon, near the Israeli border. Her mother was killed during a recent bombardment. Civilians, trapped for weeks during the ongoing air strikes, are now trying to flee the area during a lull in the attacks.

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For UNCT and missions newly establishing the MRM, the following are steps that need to be covered to carry out the functions of the MRM. While this is in a logical sequence, some of the steps will need to be taken in parallel and the order may differ, depending on the context. In countries where monitoring is previously activated, not all of the steps detailed below will be necessary.

Given that reporting requirements begin immediately (GHN are typically required every two months), it should be stressed that the steps below may be necessary for the complete roll-out of the MRM, but they are not a prerequisite for monitoring and reporting activities. The most successful MRMs have evolved and strengthened gradually throughout time as a result of practice.

Orientating the UNCT and mission on the MRM

It will be necessary to provide an orientation to the UNCT and mission and partners at the management level on Security Council Resolutions 1539, 1612, 1882 and 1998, and of the MRM. Such an orientation should highlight the key areas of responsibilities and requirements of the Security Council. The session should spell out clearly for management and technical levels what the process is, what reports and activities are expected, and the timeline concerned.

Establish the CTFMR

The CTFMR is the main MRM coordinating structure at the country level. The MRM Task Force is typically situated in the country's capital, however, locally based sub-task forces may also be established to ensure the effective implementation of the MRM throughout the conflict-affected areas of a country.

Determine membership of the CTFMR

The CTFMR shall be composed of all relevant UN entities, represented at the most senior level in-country. These may include, at a minimum and as relevant to the country context: representatives of the peacekeeping, political or peace-building mission, as well as UNICEF, OCHA, UNHCR, UNHCHR, UNDP and UNFPA or UNIFEM.

The CTFMR will be co-chaired by the highest UN authority in the country, whether SRSG or Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator, and the UNICEF representative. Designation of an additional co-chair may also be considered in contexts where specific UN entities play a lead role in the MRM process.

Invitations to become a member of the MRM Task Force may also be extended by the co-chairs of the MRM Task Force to other members of the human rights and child protection community operating in-country, as appropriate. Such entities must be neutral, impartial and independent from all parties to the conflict. This may include NGOs and independent national bodies such as a Human Rights Commission or Ombudsman. The composition of the MRM Task Force may be reviewed and amended by its co-chairs on a yearly basis, to ensure the most appropriate representation.

At an early stage, members should agree on key areas of responsibility, including information management and security and final preparation of reports (co-chairs). Information collection and protection response should be mainstreamed throughout the CTFMR.

1. Inform the government

Governments are not part of the CTFMR, as monitoring and reporting needs to be necessarily an independent and neutral activity. However, as states have particular responsibility vis-à-vis the protection of children, the highest level of transparency and dialogue is required, at the earliest opportunity, while ensuring the confidentiality of sensitive information and the protection of all involved.

The establishment of a parallel forum is encouraged to enable the MRM Task Force chairs to regularly meet with the government and other parties to discuss violations, Action Plans and response; and to discuss reports, recommendations and Security Council Working Group conclusions. The appointment of focal points in key governmental bodies, and the formation of an inter-ministerial coordination body can increase effectiveness. For example, it could include relevant ministries and institutions, such as the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence, Children's Welfare, Social Affairs, Human Rights, Interiors, etc. It has also been found helpful if this body is coordinated by a high-level focal point.

2. Implementation assessment and planning

It is recommended that at an early stage, if necessary, a study be carried out to enable the most effective implementation to be made. This should be a consultative process with the United Nations, NGOs and donors.

The areas recommended to be included in such a study include:

In the overall assessment, the following needs to be considered:

  • Monitoring capacities - of different organizations and in different geographical locations;
  • Available sources of information;
  • Assessment of the security situation;
  • Assessment of potential risks;
  • Evaluation of human resource implications;
  • Identification of funding needs/gaps; and
  • To the extent possible, a baseline assessment of grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict. At a minimum, this should include the nature of the violations being committed, the parties to the conflict and the geographical locations of violations being committed.

To develop an implementation plan:

  • Identify key organizations;
  • Determine focal points in the capital and other key locations;
  • Advise on standard operating procedures that will be required;
  • Advise on guidelines required for maintaining confidentiality;
  • Determine the information management mechanism that will be employed;
  • Determine the nature of the potential use of information (beyond the reporting requirements) - this will assist in implementation planning; and
  • Ensure that services and other protection response to violations are available.

The completion of this study would assist the CTFMR to operationalize the MRM and highlight areas of concern that need to be addressed.

3. Roles and responsibilities

At an early stage it is essential to determine key areas of responsibility. These include:

  • Focal point for collation of information and preparation of reports - both in the capital and at field level. This would normally be either DPKO Child Protection Advisors or UNICEF Protection Officers, but depending on the country context, may be determined and mutually agreed by CTFMR members, under the leadership of the CTFMR co-chairs.

Determine how the CTFMR will compile, manage and store information and who will be primarily responsible for this. However, more than one CTFMR member, in certain circumstances, may operate their own databases, which can feed into the consolidated shared one.

4. Planning for roll-out of the MRM

At an early stage, it is recommended that key actors should come together - possibly a workshop - to comprehend the MRM Guidelines and Field Manual and its application within the country.

It is vital that the development of how this will be implemented is worked out in a multi-agency setting to ensure the buy-in of all organizations involved - both the UN and civil society.

It will take some time to develop key aspects for the MRM and put this in place. Some of the key areas will be:

  • Briefing the UNCT and UNCT mission management on roles and responsibilities.
  • Setting up a plan for ensuring monitoring and reporting coverage in conflict-affected areas. NB: In situations where this cannot be guaranteed, a prioritization exercise should be undertaken.
  • In addition to the CTFMR members, identify which additional organizations may be involved in the MRM but not formally members of the CTFMR.35
  • Planning any necessary training for staff who may be involved in monitoring.
  • Planning for orientation/awareness-raising of the MRM for non-protection specialists, other organizations and the community, as appropriate.

5. Development of information tools and protocols

At an early stage, it is necessary to develop relevant information tools and protocols, including:

  • Agreement of minimum data sets;
  • Mapping out of information flows;
  • Information-sharing and security protocols, etc.

For further details, see Information Management.

6. Training of staff

The information collected needs to be timely, accurate, reliable and objective, as well as conducted in an ethical and appropriate manner. It is thus key that any staff who will be involved in the MRM receive training on all aspects related to the MRM, including monitoring, verification and reporting of information, security and ethical considerations, etc. This includes staff who are full-time monitors and staff who may provide reports on grave violations in addition to their normal programme activities.

7. Establish a verification system

The SRSG or RC is ultimately responsible for ensuring that the information reported through the MRM is timely, objective, accurate and reliable. Designated members of the CTFMR should review all information submitted to the MRM CT to verify that it is credible, according to the criteria set out in this manual.

8. Organizational orientation and mainstreaming

It is vital that programme staff in humanitarian organizations are aware of the MRM and can provide alerts when they become aware of violations during the course of their work. It is also important that staff are aware of security implications due to the nature of this work, but that they are also aware of the benefits for children. Any additional security staff in organizations should be briefed and kept informed of MRM activities; they may be a source of information for alerts.

9. Responses

It is vital to provide orientation and liaise with the protection cluster or child protection and gender-based violence sub-clusters or sector groups for the purposes of creating a bridge between the MRM and development of appropriate programmatic responses. Mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that participating organizations are consulted on advocacy strategies to ensure for security of staff, organizations, victims and sources of information.

10. Feedback

Many people, including victims but also NGOs and staff in the UN, contribute information to the MRM. A well-functioning MRM system should integrate strong feedback loops; it is essential that feedback is provided where possible and as appropriate at different levels - to staff, victims and communities, but also from headquarters to country. It is suggested that feedback be provided on accountability, advocacy and on programmatic responses. It is only through providing feedback that staff of participating organizations will continue to be motivated to provide information.

For details on the above and other areas within the MRM, see under the relevant sections in this Field Manual and in the annexes.


35 Due to security concerns, some NGOs involved with the MRM do not wish to be members of the CTFMR; therefore some NGOs will be MRM participating organizations but not formally CTFMR member organizations.

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