Indian Children Protected from Armed Conflicts
India no longer figures in the United Nations General Assembly Security Council Children and Armed Conflict Report of the Secretary-General in view of measures taken by the Government to better protect children under the guidance and leadership of Union WCD Minister Smriti Irani
India was being mentioned in the report of the Secretary-General on Children and armed conflict since 2010 along with other countries of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Lake Chad basin, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Philippines for alleged recruitment and use of boys by armed groups in Jammu and Kashmir; detainment of boys by Indian security forces in J&K for their alleged association with armed groups, or on national security grounds; children killed and maimed by Indian security forces, including by the use of pellets; unidentified perpetrators, crossfire between armed groups and unidentified perpetrators, and crossfire and shelling across the line of control.
The UN “Children and Armed Conflict” list, officially known as the “Secretary-General’s Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict,” is published by the UN Secretary-General. It identifies parties to armed conflicts around the world that are involved in grave violations against children. The aim of the report is to raise awareness about the impact of armed conflicts on children and advocate for their protection.
Parties listed in the report include armed groups and government forces that have committed violations against children. These violations include recruitment and use of child soldiers, killing and maiming of children, sexual violence against children, attacks on schools & hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access to children.
The inclusion of a party in the list serves as a means of accountability and puts pressure on them to take measures to end violations and protect children.
The list is compiled based on verified information gathered by the United Nations and its partners on the ground, including UN peacekeeping missions, humanitarian agencies, and non-governmental organisations.
The report covers conflicts from around the world and provides an overview of the situation of children affected by armed conflicts, highlighting specific concerns and trends.
The publication of the list is said to be an essential tool in the efforts to protect children in conflict situations. It aims to engage with parties involved in armed conflicts and encourage them to take concrete measures to prevent violations, release child soldiers, and promote the overall well-being and rights of children affected by conflict.
The UN “Children and Armed Conflict” list plays a crucial role in advocating for the protection of children and raising global awareness about the urgent need to address the specific challenges faced by children in conflict zones.
Against this background, the Government of India had been consistently engaged in efforts to exclude our country’s name from this ignoble list, particularly the children engaged in violence in Kashmir.
The ongoing engagement of the Government of India with the Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) sped up after an inter-ministerial meeting was held in November 2021 with Shri Indevar Pandey, the Secretary Ministry of Women and Child Development , Ministry of External Affairs, Permanent Mission of India at New York, and the MHA from the Government of India, and Ms Virginia Gamba, Special representative of the Secretary-General for Children and the UN officials in New Delhi. It led to an agreement to appoint a national focal point to identify priority national interventions to enhance protection of children, joint technical mission to hold inter-ministerial, technical-level meetings with the UN to identify areas of enhanced cooperation for child protection.
Under the guidance and leadership of Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, Union Minister of Women And Child Development, a road map for cooperation and collaboration on child protection issues was developed by the Ministry.
The technical team of the office of the SRSG visited India on 27-29 July 2022. This was followed by a workshop on strengthening child protection held in Jammu & Kashmir in November, 2022 by the Ministry of WCD in collaboration with the MHA, and the Govt. of J&K with the participation of the United Nations. All statutory service delivery structures like the Child Welfare Committee and Juvenile Justice Boards under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015 have been established.
In view of the measures taken by the Government to better protect children, India has been removed from the report in 2023.
The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has stated that “measures taken by the government to better protect” children had been taken, hence India was removed for the first time since 2010.
In the report, Guterres welcomed the engagement of the Government of India with his special representative and acknowledged the possibility of India being removed as a situation of concern. He took note of the technical mission conducted by the Office of the Special Representative in July 2022, which aimed to identify areas of cooperation for child protection.
Additionally, Guterres acknowledged the workshop on strengthening child protection that was organised by the Indian government in Jammu and Kashmir in November 2022, with the active participation of the United Nations.
The Secretary-General also urged India to implement the remaining measures, which were identified in consultation with his special representative and the United Nations. These measures include providing training on child protection to armed and security forces, prohibiting the use of lethal and non-lethal force on children (including the discontinuation of pellet guns), ensuring that children are detained only as a last resort and for the shortest necessary duration, preventing all forms of ill-treatment during detention, and fully implementing the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.