NATO and the United Nations Agree to Intensify Cooperation to Support Children Affected by Armed Conflict

  • Last updated: 22 Feb. 2012 22:18

NATO and ISAF partner nations agreed today to further intensify cooperation with the United Nations to support children affected by armed conflict. Allied and ISAF partners Ambassadors took stock of measures already put into action by NATO and received an update by United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict, Ms Radhika Coomaraswamy, who briefed the North Atlantic Council by video link from New York, as part of her efforts to engage with regional organizations, including the European Union and the African Union, on this issue.

Ms Coomaraswamy welcomed the constructive cooperation between the United Nations and NATO at the operational level in enhancing measures to protect children, and reminded the North-Atlantic Council of the impact of armed conflict on children, recognising that the change in character and tactics of modern armed conflicts are leading to new and unprecedented threats to children. These include the deliberate targeting of traditional safe havens for children, including schools and hospitals, and the practice of using children as suicide bombers or victim bombers.

Ambassadors welcomed the measures already in place in Afghanistan to counter the problems affecting children caught up in the conflict and welcomed the practical cooperation between the United Nations and ISAF in this complex security environment. Examples of this cooperation include the financial and technical support provided to a nation-wide awareness campaign for the prevention of child recruitment launched by the Afghan Ministry of Interior, and the development of specific child protection training for the Afghan Security Forces.

NATO is also working with the United Nations at the strategic level. NATO's Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia, conducted a joint workshop with its UN counterparts to identify specific training needs to ensure that the issue of children affected by armed conflict is incorporated more broadly in pre-deployment training for troops deploying to ISAF.

Both organisations recognised that more needs to be done. NATO is determined to maintain a close dialogue with the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict on this important issue, including through the appointment of a high-level point of contact.