Europe Liaison Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (OSRSG CAAC)

The Liaison Office represents the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict in Europe and liaises on all matters related to children and armed conflict that fall under the remit of the Special Representative.

Indigenous children from the Embera people, displaced by armed conflict. Rio Suchio, Colombia. 14 June 2006. Credit: © UN Photo

Office Overview

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict serves as the leading UN advocate for the protection and well-being of children affected by armed conflict.

The mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict was created by the General Assembly (Resolution A/RES/51/77) following the publication, in 1996, of a report by Graça Machel titled the “Impact of Armed Conflict on Children”. Her report highlighted the disproportionate impact of war on children and identified them as the primary victims of armed conflict.

The role of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict is to strengthen the protection of children affected by armed conflict, raise awareness, promote the collection of information about the plight of children affected by war and foster international cooperation to improve their protection. The Special Representative reports yearly to the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council and raises challenges faced by children in war to political bodies, such as the Security Council, as well as relevant Governments to maintain a sense of urgency amongst key decision makers as well as to secure political and diplomatic engagement.

Since 1999, 13 resolutions on the topic of children and armed conflict have been adopted by the Security Council clearly recognizing this as an issue affecting international peace and security. In these resolutions, the Security Council, amongst others, identified six grave violations committed against children in armed conflict and requested that these grave violations be monitored and reported on to the Security Council and its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict: the recruitment and use of children; the killing and maiming of children; rape and other forms of sexual violence against children; attacks against schools and hospitals and related personnel; the abduction of children; and the denial of humanitarian access to children.

The Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict focusses primarily on those situations of armed conflict or of concern identified in the annual report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (where we work). 

Sitting at the junction of the human rights, peace and security, development and humanitarian agendas, the Children and Armed Conflict agenda is one of cooperation and has strong links to other thematic agendas such as Youth, Peace and Security, Protection of Civilians and Women, Peace and Security. Recognizing those links and building bridges between different agendas is fundamental to its success. At the same time, maintaining the specificity of the Children and Armed Conflict agenda, as a topic in its own right, is equally important.

Key Areas of Work

While the key areas of work of the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict are much broader the Liaison Office focuses amongst others on the following ones:

Working with the European Union (EU) and its Member States

Besides advocating for the inclusion of language on children and armed conflict in all relevant EU discussions, policies, guidelines, instruments and missions, the Liaison Office cooperates with the EU in the implementation of its policy framework on children and armed conflict, including the EU Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict, the Revised Implementation Strategy of the EU Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict and the Checklist for the Integration of the Protection of Children affected by Armed Conflict into ESDP Operations. To that end, the Liaison Office provides regular technical level briefings to EU staff from headquarters, EU Delegations and CSDP missions and operations. The Liaison Office also engages with a broad range of stakeholders in the EU institutions, including the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European External Action Service, as well as with EU Member States delegates from the different preparatory bodies of the Council of the European Union. The Liaison Office collaborates closely with the Group of Friends on Children and Armed Conflict to the European Union, based in Brussels.

Working with Geneva-based organizations and mechanisms

Once a year, the Special Representative presents her annual report on Children and Armed Conflict to the Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva. The Liaison Office supports the Special Representative in that regard and also works toward the systematic mainstreaming of children and armed conflict issues within the HRC geographic and thematic resolutions. It submits information to the Universal Periodic Review process and cooperates closely with the Council’s Special Procedures and its investigative bodies. The Liaison Office works closely with Human Rights Treaty Bodies and in particular the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Partnerships with other Geneva-based UN entities, such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) or the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), are also being strengthened with the support of the Liaison Office. The Liaison Office also collaborates closely with the Group of Friends on Children and Armed Conflict in Geneva.

Working with Civil Society Organizations and academia in Europe

Besides partnerships with governments and regional organizations, the Liaison Office entertains close relations with civil society organizations (CSOs) and academia in Europe. With the support of the Liaison Office, the Special Representative regularly shares current developments of her mandate with CSOs, in particular the INGOs Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in Geneva. The Liaison Office also cooperates with civil society partners in Brussels and in other EU Member States to exchange information and align advocacy strategies. It further supports academia including through the University network on children and armed conflict.

The Virtual Summer School on Children and Armed Conflict and the Primer on Children and Armed Conflict

The Liaison Office, in collaboration with the Government of Malta and the University of Malta, organized in 2022 a pilot Virtual Summer School (VSS) on Child Protection in Armed Conflict. This innovative training course was specifically designed to bring together partners from all relevant professional backgrounds and to strengthen their capacity to support the Children and Armed Conflict agenda.

The Liaison Office is currently working on a self-paced online introductory course on children and armed conflict that will be freely accessible to everyone via the United Nations System Staff College webpage.

Additional information

Partnerships

A coordinated and collaborative approach between the Office of the Special Representative and its partners has contributed to strengthening the Children and Armed Conflict agenda over the years.

Systematic engagement with Member States and United Nations entities is an essential aspect of the work of the Office of the Special Representative in the context of a number of different frameworks and forums, including the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Human Rights Council, with regional organizations and groupings, as well as with Groups of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict.

The Office of the Special Representative does not have a field presence but promotes and supports the efforts of operational partners. As such, the Office of Special Representative is working in close collaboration with, amongst other UNICEF, the UN Department of Peace Operations, the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, UNCHR, ILO, WHO, OHCHR, as well as other UN entities, and NGOs, who are key partners in the implementation of the CAAC mandate in countries on the agenda.

Support and Funding

The Office of the Special Representative is funded through the UN regular budget as well as voluntary contributions of donors to the Trust Fund for Children and Armed Conflict. Member States can support the Office of the Special Representative, including its Liaison Office, through the Junior Professional Officers Programme or through voluntary contributions to the Trust Fund for Children and Armed Conflict. More information on the Trust Fund can be found here CAAC-Donor-Report-2020-2021.pdf (un.org)

Contact

Address: 155 rue de la Loi,
8th floor, 1040 Brussels.
Official Website

Anne Schintgen, Head of Office – [email protected]

Vlatka Anic, Administrative Assistant – [email protected]

Videos

The exhibition “From Despair to Hope: Children Beyond Armed Conflict” aims at reflecting on the complexity of the lives of children amidst conflict, emphasizing both the tragedy and the faith in a better future. To view it online, follow this link: Photo Exhibition From Despair to Hope: Children Beyond Armed Conflict – Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (un.org)

Watch stories that shed light on the issue of children and armed conflict https://www.youtube.com/@childreninwar.