Practical Guidance for Mediators to Protect Children in Situations of Armed Conflict
This resource provides practical guidance on the integration of child protection issues in peace processes and underlines the importance of engaging armed forces and armed groups on child protection concerns during peace processes and in the peacebuilding process. The 18-month consultative process to develop this guidance included a survey that was sent to all peacekeeping and political missions, together with bilateral interviews with senior experts in the fields of mediation and child protection, case study analyses, and a desk review of specific child protection language included in peace agreements. In addition, in November 2018, an initial consultation was held in Geneva, in which 10 child protection and mediation experts met to identify and discuss the preliminary elements to be included in the guidance. In October 2019, a second, high-level consultation took place in Brussels in partnership with the European Institute for Peace and the Government of Belgium, bringing together 20 senior experts in the fields of mediation and child protection, including former Special Representatives of the Secretary-General and heads of peacekeeping missions and senior diplomats.
The consultative process concluded that, in peace negotiations, child protection issues were mostly addressed in an ad hoc manner. Although it is widely acknowledged that the protection of children’s rights is essential to community stability and development, the consideration of child protection in peacemaking needs greater attention. Children’s rights, needs, and concerns are hardly addressed in peace processes. One reason for this is that mediators are seldom provided with specific and effective tools designed to identify child protection and child rights issues and to channel their possible added value in peace negotiations.
The present guidance is aimed at addressing this gap in a non-prescriptive manner by providing mediators and other stakeholders supporting mediation efforts with specific measures for consideration in peace talks and peace agreements. By doing so, it seeks to assist them in the identification of entry points and possible confidence-building measures to engage parties on this issue.