UN list of shame 'overlooks Israeli military abuses against children': experts

UN list of shame 'overlooks Israeli military abuses against children': experts
At least eight parties to conflicts - including the Israeli military - who had committed violations against children have been excluded from a UN blacklist on the issue.
3 min read
Israel was not included in the UN 'shame list' [Getty]

A panel of child rights experts has sharply criticized the UN for excluding Israel from a list of countries responsible for violations against children in war zones.

The panel, convened by the advocacy group Watchlist on Children to study a UN blacklist decision made earlier this month, found numerous discrepancies and omissions, as well as unwarranted delisting decisions.

In a report released on Wednesday, Watchlist on Children described how, between 2010 and 2020, at least eight parties to conflicts were found responsible for killing and maiming more than 100 children in a single year but weren’t listed.

The Israeli military were among the eight parties mentioned.

Yanghee Lee, the co-author of the report and a former chair of the committee that monitors implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, said the experts “are calling on the [UN] secretary-general to urgently address these problems and commit to hold all countries and groups responsible for violations against children accountable without fear or favour.”

Among the eight parties not included in the "list of shame", as Lee called it during a press conference, were the Israeli military, Free Syrian Army affiliated groups, the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, the Myanmar military, and the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stands by the conclusions and recommendations in the original UNreport. He said action plans by governments and armed groups to get off the blacklist have produced improvements and changed behavior in some areas.

“Everyone is working towards the same goal: improving the protection of children and wiping out the scourge of children being forced as combatants and, of course, as victims of conflict,” Dujarric said. “We appreciate the views expressed and we’re always happy to engage with relevant partners in how to improve the system.”

Read also: Israel receives letter from ICC detailing war crimes investigation

But Lee, who was also the UN special investigator for Myanmar, said following the removal from the blacklist of Myanmar’s armed forces, who were on the list for recruitment of children, “recruitment by Myanmar’s military not only continued but increased.”

Among the panellists was Benyam Dawit Mezmur, an expert on children’s rights law and chair of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

“The UN has invested significant attention, resources, and expertise in protecting children suffering the consequences of armed conflict,” Mezmur said. “Now it must ensure that the list of perpetrators it issues is more credible, accurate, complete, and evidence-based, or risk pulling apart this unique tool for the protection of children caught in war.”

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