Among the most dismal and mortifying facts of the roughly 20 conflicts around the world is without doubt that more than a billion children are affected by them, of which an estimated 250,000 children are recruited as child soldiers. The protection of children worldwide – including from misuse as soldiers – is an integral component of German policy. Currently, the Foreign Office of Germany supports programs for the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of former child soldiers in Rwanda, Burundi and the Sudan, among others.
Germany emphatically supports the objective of proscription against and placing an international ban on the deployment of child soldiers and has taken on the chairmanship of the “Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict” in the Security Council. Together with the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General, the working group has at its disposal the key instrument of “naming and shaming”: An annual report names state and non-state conflicting parties who recruit and deploy child soldiers, kill children, practice mutilation or perpetrate sexual violence against children. Together with the listed conflicting parties, action programs are developed, the successful implementation of which facilitates the removal of the respective conflicting parties from the list. To date, this instrument has proven itself effective in many cases and led to the demobilization of thousands of child soldiers.
Another worrisome problem is targeted attacks on schools and hospitals. Such practices are not currently encompassed in the “naming and shaming” tool. Therefore, under the German Presidency the Security Council passed Resolution 1998 (2011) to see that these acts also be listed in order to prevent future attacks and to confer greater importance to the need for the education of children in armed conflicts.
The Security Council has, moreover, expressed its readiness to impose targeted sanctions against consistently uncooperative conflicting parties as well as their leaders. Germany would like to see this approach followed more strictly, which could, for example, be achieved through tighter integration with already existing sanctions committees.