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ICHR & IHRAAM hosts a conference on children of conflict - peace for upcoming generations Featured

05 June 2013
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International Human Rights Association of American Minorities (IHRAAM) and International Commission for Human Rights (ICHR) today hosted a conference entitled International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression: Children in Conflict - Peace for upcoming Generations. The conference explored the UN applicable mechanisms needed to address injustices to children and reviewed the prevailing situation that accounts for the ongoing abuses. The discussion examined ongoing armed conflicts such as the situation in Indian Held Kashmir, Palestine and Syria, where countless NGOs, agencies and observers have denounced the alarming situation children bear on daily basis as result of displacement, attacks and shortages; as well as disputes such as those entailing the traditional and Grassroots communities from Alaska, where children are constantly being neglected and discriminated due to their identities.

Speakers included Barrister A. Majid Tramboo, Chairman of ICHR and IHRAAM’s Permanent Representative to the UN; Dr. Ariel R. King, President of Ariel Consulting Intl and children human rights advocate; Ms. Lotte Claessens, child protection specialist; Dr. Krishna Ahoojapatel, Permanent Representative of WILPF to the UN; Ambassador Ronald Barnes, Permanent Representative of Indigenous Peoples and Nations Coalition to the UN and Prof. Nazir Shawl, Chairman of International Chamber for Peace and Conciliation.

As Chair and moderator, Barrister M. Tramboo outlined that children are probably the ones who suffer most from conflicts and unlike adults and elders who come to meet war and conflict after a life of relative peace, the impact of conflict affects children indeterminately for the rest of their lives. Barrister Tramboo then echoed the UN Secretary-General’s 2012 report on children and armed conflict, where some abuses in the current ongoing conflicts are so heinous that they represent grave violations of children’s rights under the UN Security Council Resolution 1612 that establishes six grave violations of children’s rights. He enumerated them as: recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming of children, rape and other grave sexual violence, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access to children. Such situations currently exist in conflict zones such as Indian Held Kashmir, Syria and Palestine-Israel.

Dr. Ariel R. King appreciated the holding of the conference and said that usually human rights are generally discussed from an intellectual point of view, nevertheless when dealing with human rights we must appeal to the heart and to feelings. She then shared a truly comprehensive and inclusive video presentation on children in conflict and the direct and indirect impact of conflict with all participants. “Shared responsibility also demands action” she added. Her associate, Ms. Elena Allendorfer encouraged all participants not to lose motivation to keep on fighting and defending the rights entitled to us by international law, especially not to give up on defending the rights of children who do not have a voice.

Dr. Krishna Ahoojapatel analyzed the developments on international law and highlighted that on most legislation women and children were always treated as one collective, but when it came to the ratifications, the states always responded differently. She classified the situation of conflict in four different categories: those perpetrated within the household, the one related to labor and exploitation, the one derived from war and terrorism and the one she called “collateral damage”, qualification she regarded as incongruous and deceitful.  She affirmed that the international community fails to implement all the legislation that has been made during decades; illustratively, she reported that after the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and its ratification, the child labor has increased worldwide. She declared that “the image or murder and killings does not affect us anymore, we have seen it so much we are numb”. 

Ms. Lotte Claessens thanked the panel for the opportunity and started by outlining shocking figures such as:  by 2011, there were 200 million people directly affected by disasters, including 100 million children; the number of civilian victims in conflicts has risen from 5% to over 90%, out of which at least half are children and that currently 1.5 billion children live in conflict-affected or fragile states. When addressing Child Protection Violations, Ms. Claesssen established several forms: family separation, child labour, the use of children in armed forces or groups and sexual violence. She then elaborated on her on-field work experience in Indian Held Kashmir by outlining the major issues affecting children, amongst which are: decades of violence, conflict, insecurity and instability; high levels of psychosocial distress among their communities; continuous risk to physical harm, exposition to gender-based violence and an overall weak (social and legal) protection system.

Prof. Nazir Shawl affirmed that when a war or conflict erupts: “the rules by which we adhere to no longer apply”. He stated that both children and women have historically borne the brunt of wars, thus places where conflict rages, sexual violence against women and children is not only an individual but a collective wound; he highlighted that the rape of a girl or a woman is seen as an attack on their family and their culture which ignites the conflicts. Moreover “no peace treaty to date has formally recognized the existence of child combatants”, he emphasized, to which he added “the exploitation of children as soldiers persists in many armed conflicts because child recruiters are rarely held accountable; most child victims of violence and sexual abuse are girls, but boys are also affected both directly or indirectly”.

Ambassador Ronald Barnes gave two examples of conflict: landmines and depleted uranium from bombs, but states that aggression does not only include violence. Children can also be harmed in non-conflict situations. The United Nations adopted resolutions in 1949 calling for education to be in the Indigenous languages. Aggression comes in different forms for peoples of non-self-governing territories for peoples under colonial domination. The concept of aggression was first used to prosecute Nazi War Criminals under Nuremberg principles. The International Law Commission expanded those principles in 1947. The General Assembly adopted the definition of aggression under resolution 3314 (XXIX) in 1974. Damage can occur to the language and the culture, and the livelihood of the peoples.  He used the example of the Residential school system in Canada as another example of aggression and harm to children.



After a round of questions, and for the final remarks, Barrister Tramboo expressed his gratitude to all distinguished guests, and gave the honor to close the dialogue to Dr. Ahoojapatel who finally emphasized the necessity to read the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Charter and to advocate for it to be rightly implemented, so that the international community reaches its goals.

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