Public Statement by Chair of Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict

15 November 2017

At its 68th meeting, on 15 November 2017, the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, in connection with the examination of the first report of the Secretary‑General on children and armed conflict in Nigeria (document S/2017/304), covering the period from January 2013 to December 2016, agreed to address the following messages through a public statement issued by the Chair of the Working Group.

To all parties to the armed conflict:

  1. Strongly condemning all violations and abuses committed against children in Nigeria and neighbouring countries affected by the actions of Boko Haram and urging all parties to the armed conflict to immediately end and prevent all violations of applicable international law involving the recruitment and use of children, abduction, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access and to comply with their obligations under international law;
  2. Strongly urging all parties to the armed conflict to immediately and without preconditions release all children associated with them and end and prevent further recruitment and use of children;
  3. Expressing deep concern about the high number of children killed or maimed, as a direct or indirect result of hostilities between parties to the armed conflict and of incidents of indiscriminate attacks against the civilian population, including those involving aerial bombardment, and calling upon all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of distinction and proportionality enshrined therein, and to ensure a prompt investigation into these attacks and public reporting on it;
  4. Expressing grave concern about the high number of rapes and other forms of sexual violence perpetrated against children, including displaced children, and urging all parties to the armed conflict to take immediate and specific measures to put an end to and prevent the perpetration of rape and other forms of sexual violence against children by members of their respective groups and stressing the importance of accountability for those who do commit sexual violence against children;
  5. Calling upon all parties to the armed conflict to comply with applicable international law and to respect the civilian character of schools and hospitals, including their personnel, and to end and prevent attacks or threats of attacks against those institutions and their personnel, as well as the military use of schools and hospitals, in violation of applicable international law;
  6. Calling upon all parties to the armed conflict to allow and facilitate full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to children consistent with the United Nations guiding principles of humanitarian assistance, respect the exclusively humanitarian nature and impartiality of humanitarian aid and respect the work of all United Nations humanitarian agencies and their humanitarian partners, without distinction;
  7. Stressing the importance of accountability for all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict.

To the Government of Nigeria:

  1. Welcoming the inclusion of specific child protection provisions in the revised code of conduct and rules of engagement of the Nigerian security forces and calling upon the Government of Nigeria and the Nigerian security forces to ensure that these documents are swiftly adopted and widely disseminated to all security forces;
  2. Welcoming the establishment of a human rights desk at the Nigerian army headquarters and encouraging the inclusion of dedicated child protection capacity to investigate violations and abuses against children in order to end impunity;
  3. Welcoming the Abuja Action Statement signed by Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad and Niger in June 2016, including the commitments to pay particular attention to the needs of children at risk, including unaccompanied and separated children and children at risk of exposure to sexual and gender based‑violence, child recruitment, forced marriage, exploitation and abuse, and ensure referral to appropriate services, such as psychosocial support and post‑traumatic services;
  4. Calling upon the Government of Nigeria to facilitate the implementation of the action plan signed by the Civilian Joint Task Force to immediately and without preconditions facilitate the release of all children associated with the Civilian Joint Task Force and end and prevent further recruitment and use of children, including rerecruitment of children who have been released;
  5. Encouraging the Government of Nigeria to focus on sustainable reintegration and rehabilitation opportunities for children affected by armed conflict, particularly those who have been formerly associated with Boko Haram, the victims of abductions and of sexual violence, including raising awareness and working with communities to avoid stigmatization of these children and facilitate their return, while taking into account the specific needs of girls and boys;
  6. Calling on the Government to continue its efforts to address impunity by ensuring that all perpetrators of violations and abuses against children are swiftly brought to justice and held accountable, including through timely and systematic investigation and prosecution, the results of which are made public, and ensure that all victims have access to justice as well as to the medical and support services that they need;
  7. Expressing concern at the allegations of rape and other forms of sexual violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse, by members of security forces and calling on the Government of Nigeria to promptly investigate all such allegations;
  8. Welcoming that the Government is providing access to the United Nations to some detention facilities and strongly encouraging regular access to children deprived of liberty for alleged association with Boko Haram, including those in military detention facilities;
  9. Expressing grave concern regarding the detention of children on national security‑related charges, as well as the use of detained children for information gathering purposes, and calling on the Government to guarantee due process for all children detained for the association with armed groups, recalling that children should be treated primarily as victims, and that in all acts concerning children, the best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration, and urging the Government to comply with its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular the deprivation of liberty for children, should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period;
  10. Encouraging the Government to adopt a protocol for the handover of children encountered during the course of military operations to civilian child protection authorities;
  11. Commending the Government of Nigeria for its endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration while expressing concern about the military use of schools by Government forces in violation of its obligations under international law and stressing the importance of access to education and health care for children in Nigeria, and calling upon it to ensure that schools and related personnel are protected.

To Boko Haram:

  1. Condemning in the strongest possible terms the continuing violations and abuses committed against children by Boko Haram and strongly urging Boko Haram to immediately end all violations and abuses against children and to immediately release without preconditions all children and end and prevent further recruitment and use of children, including rerecruitment of children who have formerly been released;
  2. Expressing grave concern at the large numbers of children who have been recruited and used, including through cross‑border recruitment, the use of children as human shields and the increasing use of girls as suicide bombers, killed or maimed, including through suicide attacks in Nigeria and neighbouring countries, as well as the high number of rapes and other forms of sexual violence, forceful religious conversions and forced marriage perpetrated against children by Boko Haram;
  3. Strongly condemning the targeting of schools and the scale of attacks on schools and threats of attacks on schools and their personnel as a distinct tactic by Boko Haram;
  4. Urging Boko Haram to cease the abduction of children, including cross‑border abductions, and all violations and abuses committed against abducted children and to immediately release without preconditions all abducted children in their captivity;
  5. Recalling that the Security Council, by its resolution 2368 (2017), reaffirmed the assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo affecting all individuals and entities, among whom are Boko Haram, set out in paragraph 1 of resolution 2083 (2012);
  6. Expressing the readiness of the Working Group to communicate to the Security Council and to the Security Council Committee, established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015) concerning Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al‑Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, pertinent information with a view to assisting it in the imposition of the sanctions on perpetrators.

To the Civilian Joint Task Force:

  1. Welcoming the signature of an action plan by the Civilian Joint Task Force in September 2017 to end and prevent child recruitment and use and calling upon the Civilian Joint Task Force to speedily implement the action plan and cease the recruitment and use of children, including for intelligence‑related purposes, and to immediately and without preconditions release all children associated with them and end and prevent further recruitment and use of children, including rerecruitment of children who have been released;
  2. Expressing concern at the allegations of rape and other forms of sexual violence by members of the Civilian Joint Task Force and urging the Civilian Joint Task Force to take immediate and specific measures to put an end to and prevent the perpetration of rape and other forms of sexual violence against children by its members.

For information media. Not an official record.

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