Leader, Roles and Responsibilities

© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-0814/Kate Holt
A boy stands outside his home in Kandahar, capital of Kandahar Province. Due to ongoing conflict, few humanitarian groups can operate safely in the area. In March 2010 in Afghanistan, the situation of children and women remained stark: Child mortality and maternal mortality rates were the second highest in the world.

Country level

  1. Special Representatives of the Secretary-General (SRSGs) and Resident Coordinators (RCs)

    Security Council Resolutions 1539 and 1612 assign responsibility for follow-up on Security Council resolutions on CAAC, including the implementation of the MRM, to the highest UN authority in-country, namely, SRSGs and RCs, as the heads of UN country presence in peacekeeping and non-peacekeeping situations, respectively.12 SRSGs and RCs are ultimately responsible for ensuring UN-wide follow-up, mainstreaming, coordination, and monitoring and engaging in dialogue with parties to conflict on CAAC issues; they are the focal points at the country level.13

    The personal leadership of SRSGs and RCs is critical to the MRM, particularly on highly sensitive and political aspects such as the conduct of dialogue with parties to conflict as requested by the Security Council.

    Therefore, SRSGs and RCs carry the overall responsibility in their respective mandates for:

    1. Establishing the CTFMR, as the organizational structure for the implementation of the MRM.
    2. Co-chairing the CTFMRs and remaining actively and personally seized of progress in implementation of Security Council resolutions on CAAC and recommendations of the Security Council Working Group (SCWG) on CAAC. SRSGs/RCs may delegate the day-to-day responsibility of implementation of MRM to designated focal points.
    3. Formally transmitting the MRM reports to the SRSG for CAAC on behalf of the MRM Task Force.
    4. Undertaking, on the basis of information from the MRM, immediate action such as direct démarches and dialogue at the country level with government authorities and other concerned parties to end violations, whenever such action is possible and appropriate.
  2. CTFMR Co-chairs

    CTFMRs are co-chaired by the SRSG, RC and 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.

    The co-chairs are responsible for ensuring the functioning of the Task Force in line with the generic Terms of Reference for CTFMRs,14 and for ensuring that the MRM information as transmitted to UN Headquarters has been verified. The co-chairs are responsible for ensuring appropriate participation of partners, including NGOs, in the CTFMR who are neutral, impartial and independent from all parties to the conflict. They are also responsible for regular consultation with national governments, particularly regarding prevention, response and accountability mechanisms.

  3. UNICEF, missions and other UN entities

    As the UN's lead agency for children, UNICEF carries a special responsibility for the effective implementation of the MRM at all levels, and particularly to ensure timely and adequate response programming, advocacy and services for children. UNICEF also leads the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) sub-cluster for child protection and, as such, is responsible for ensuring coordination between the MRM Task Force and the sub-cluster, as appropriate.

    As noted above, in situations where peacekeeping or political missions are present, the Security Council has requested that UN missions increasingly play a role on certain aspects of child protection, especially in monitoring and reporting and in dialogue with parties to conflict for commitments to protect children. The Secretary-General's Action Plan for the implementation of the monitoring reporting and compliance mechanism under Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005) stipulates that where there is a peacekeeping mission, the MRM Task Force is coordinated and co-chaired by the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General and a UNICEF representative, with the former serving as the reporting conduit to the SRSG.

    Peacekeeping missions also make significant contributions to the collection and verification of information on violations. These tasks are assured by the Child Protection Advisers (CPAs) in missions, in collaboration with other mission components, notably, human rights, UN police and military observers, to ensure the mission's effective contribution to implementation of the mechanism. CPAs conduct systematic monitoring and reporting as well as advocacy on the prevention of grave violations against children. They also act as the secretariat for the preparation of specific reports required by the Security Council under the mechanism established under Security Council Resolution 1612. Within the mission, CPAs serve as the technical level representatives of SRSGs and as the primary interlocutors with child protection partners.

    Other UN agencies, such as the International Labour Organization (ILO), United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), World Food Programme (WFP), etc., play different roles, depending on their presence and mandate in the country.

  4. International and local NGOs

    International and local NGOs play a central role in the MRM at all levels. In-country, they are often the front line of contact with affected communities and hence an important source of information in the MRM and especially critical to provide appropriate response programming for children. The participation of NGOs in the MRM is an issue of high sensitivity given the risks that it poses for NGO personnel and programmes. The level of engagement of NGOs, included in the MRM Task Force, is a determination that should be made by NGOs themselves in each country context. In some situations, NGOs participate as full members of the MRM Task Force, while in others they may interact with the MRM informally, providing information and alerts without a visible role.

    The MRM should take due consideration of the considerable safety and security concerns for NGOs, and should remain flexible enough to accommodate their participation to the level determined by NGOs themselves.

  5. National governments

    National governments are central to the MRM at all levels. Under international law, governments of the affected countries bear the primary responsibility to promote, protect and respect the rights of children living within their jurisdiction. The role of the UN and international community is to support governments in this regard, not to supplant them. It is crucial to support and strengthen national institutions for the prevention of grave violations, protection and rehabilitation of children in conflict and post-conflict situations. The objective of the MRM at first hand is to gather more timely and accurate information on violations against children and bring it to the attention of the national government at the country level for immediate remedial action. While national governmental institutions are not members of the MRM Task Force, national governments are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the MRM process as an effective and positive tool to demonstrate their own desire and strong will to improve the situation of children who are victims of grave violations, especially in putting appropriate mechanisms to prevent, respond to and ensure accountability for the grave violations against children.

  6. The donor community

    Donor countries are critical in terms of the provision of adequate resources for actors responsible for implementing the MRM, and particularly for ensuring sufficient resources for response programming, including the reintegration of children into their communities. Further, donor forums can potentially serve as effective platforms for advocacy with national governments.

Global level

  1. UN Secretary-General

    All the reports prepared for the Security Council and its Working Group are issued in the name of the Secretary-General and, as such, are a matter of public record. The Secretary-General may also raise specific child protection issues as part of his Good Offices and engagements with Member States. The preparation of reports in the name of the Secretary-General as the highest ranking official of the UN elevates the level of discourse and action on protection of children.

  2. SRSG-CAAC15

    The SRSG-CAAC serves on behalf of the Secretary-General as the UN system focal point for the Security Council-related CAAC agenda and implementation of the MRM. The SRSG-CAAC chairs the UN Task Force on CAAC, which serves as the principal UN policy forum for the Security Council-related CAAC agenda. The Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General (OSRSG) co-chairs with UNICEF the MRM Technical Reference Group, which is the technical guidance hub for MRM implementation. The SRSG-CAAC serves as the primary interface with the Security Council and provides substantive support to the SCWG-CAAC. The OSRSG-CAAC is the UN Headquarters-level focal point for the preparation of the Report of the Secretary-General on CAAC; it receives, reviews and compiles information and provides quality control for the country reports of the Secretary-General under Security Council Resolutions 1612,1882 and 1998, as well as the Global Horizontal Note (GHN) to the SCWG-CAAC. The SRSG-CAAC also feeds back to the country-level relevant information such as the conclusions and recommendations of the SCWG-CAAC, work plan of the SCWG-CAAC and reporting timelines. The OSRSG-CAAC also plays an important role, in collaboration with UNICEF headquarters, the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)/United Nations Department of Political Affairs (DPA) and others in supporting the country task forces in their activities.


    With its global mandate for children, UNICEF is a key actor in driving the CAAC agenda forward through advocacy efforts and support for both political and technical developments in the area. UNICEF co-chairs the Headquarters-level MRM Technical Reference Group with the OSRSG-CAAC and, as such, plays a key role in ensuring that CTFMRs receive the technical guidance and support necessary for effective implementation of the MRM. UNICEF also works with the SRSG-CAAC and partners in developing the necessary working tools for the field, such as the MRM Field Manual, training materials, information management systems, etc.

  4. DPKO and DPA

    DPKO and DPA are members of the Technical Reference Group and work closely with the OSRSG-CAAC and UNICEF for effective implementation of the MRM, including through technical guidance and support, particularly to participation of peacekeeping and special political missions.

  5. UN agencies

    UN agencies, such as OHCHR, UNHCR, UNDP, ILO, OCHA, WFP, UNIFEM, UNFPA, UNESCO, etc., play different roles at the global level, depending on their mandate and participation. This is crucial to ensuring a system-wide approach to the MRM.

  6. International NGOs

    Beyond their role at the country level, international NGOs also play an essential role in global-level advocacy and in the development of MRM working tools.

  7. Security Council

    As noted earlier, the increasing role of the UN Security Council on this issue represents a critical strategic imperative. The MRM seeks to leverage the means of the Security Council, including its capacity to apply pressure through sanctions, to engender compliance with international standards for the protection of children. The SCWG-CAAC was established pursuant to Security Council Resolution 161216 and consists of all members of the Security Council. The role and function of the Security Council within the MRM is detailed further in the UN Security Council level section of MRM Architecture.

  8. Group of Friends of CAAC

    The Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, initially established in 2005 by and currently led by Canada, consists of more than 30 self-selected UN Member states dedicated to promoting the CAAC agenda. The group serves primarily as an information and discussion venue on issues related to CAAC, and ensures a common advocacy voice particularly with the Security Council in its development of CAAC policy.

12 Reference relevant OPs 1539 and 1612.
13 A/59/695-S/2005/72, para. 82. [PDF]
14 Refer to the CTFMR Terms of Reference, Annex V [PDF]
15 The SRSG-CAAC is mandated by the General Assembly and appointed by the Secretary-General as the UN system focal point and lead for CAAC.
16 Reference Security Council Resolution 1612 [PDF] (OP 8).

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