UNITED NATIONS, June 25 (IPS) – When the United Nations Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict was released last week, it was expected to “name and shame” some of the world’s worst human rights abusers – particularly child molesters.
But these violators have been protected – and never stigmatized – despite the hundreds of children killed by warring factions in ongoing conflicts, particularly in Yemen, Syria and Myanmar, where the US, Russia and China were involved as arms suppliers, in response to criticism from the UN – Observers and people raised rights organizations.
Jo Becker, director of child rights advocacy at Human Rights Watch, told IPS: “We remain disappointed that the SG is failing to use the“ List of Shame ”to hold all parties accountable for their grave abuses against children pull.” .
The message he is sending to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition regarding their operations in Yemen is: “As long as they kill and maim fewer children than the year before, they can stay off the list.”
“We have also seen in the case of Myanmar how disastrous it was to remove the Tatmadaw (the country’s armed forces) from the list while they were still recruiting and using children; the number tripled in the following year ”.
The SG should not make listing decisions based on its hopes for future improvement, but based on the facts on site, said Becker.
His repeated failure to base his list on the UN’s own evidence betrays children and fuels impunity. “Now that his second term as General Secretary has been secured, he should give up that approach and make sure his list reflects the facts. And the UN Security Council should insist that it list all violators without exception, “said Becker.
Oil-blessed Saudi Arabia, which leads a coalition in the military conflict in Yemen, is a long-standing political and military ally of the United States, armed with veto rights along with Britain, China, Russia and France over the Security Council.
Russia supports war-ravaged Syria politically and militarily, while China, one of Myanmar’s largest arms suppliers, has undermined Security Council attempts to impose an arms embargo in the conflict-ridden country.
Ian Williams, President of the New York Foreign Press Association (FPA) and author of “UNtold: The Real Story of the United Nations in Peace and War”said IPS Guterres has adopted a human rights profile low enough to be underground.
History suggests that one of the few weapons the Secretary-General and the UN have jointly open is “Name and Shame,” he said, pointing out that it is also true that many member states – like the 57- Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC.)), which refuses to support the Uyghurs, are also shamelessly unprincipled towards power – but an ethical and direct SG as a platform for the UN Charter could turn the tide.
“If Guterres is more concerned about his offspring than his pension – and if he would rather write in the history books than in the footnotes – he should look to Dag Hammarskjold as a guide, tell power the truth. And avoid chartered planes, ”said Williams, a former president of the United Nations Correspondents’ Association (UNCA).
He pointed out that various models of SG ships have been tried, but none of them have been completely successful.
“Kofi Annan tried the nice approach. Ban Ki-moon tried to be nice in public, steadfast in meetings with heads of state and angry in private at the baseless insults they showered him, ”Williams said.
Perhaps the toughest comments came from Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch (HRW): “Guterres’ first term was defined by public silence about human rights violations by China, Russia and the United States and their allies,” he said, referring to the three permanent members of the UN Security Council who vetoed.
“With his re-election behind him, Guterres should use the next five years to become a strong rights advocate. His recent readiness to denounce abuses in Myanmar and Belarus should extend to all governments worthy of conviction, including those who are powerful and protected. ”
Since taking office in January 2017, Guterres has rarely called for criticism of certain governments or their leaders or their accountability, Roth said.
Guterres “took a non-confrontational approach to the efforts of former US President Donald Trump to undermine human rights by undermining multilateral organizations like the UN and embracing authoritarian leaders.”
He took a similar approach with the crimes against humanity in Xinjiang by the Chinese government, which is the second largest donor of the UN after the USA, and with the war crimes of Saudi Arabia in Yemen, Roth complained.
HRW also said Guterres is reluctant to criticize violations by the Russian government, which has often used its veto power in the Security Council to block human rights-related resolutions on Syria and elsewhere. Guterres should also take stronger leadership against the global pushback for women’s rights, she added.
According to the Watch List on Children and Armed Conflict, the secretary-general removed the Saudi Arabia-UAE-led coalition from its annual list of child rights abusers last year despite the UN finding it responsible for the killing and mutilation of 222 children in Yemen was responsible in 2019.
At that time, he had sworn to put the coalition back on the list if it did not reduce the violations sustainably.
“As the latest report from the United Nations shows, the Secretary-General’s decision to remove the Saudi Arabia-UAE coalition from his list of shame last year sent a clear message that parties can get away with killing children” said Adrianne Lapar, director of Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict.
“If the Secretary-General does not reconsider his decision immediately and put the coalition back on his list, he is seriously undermining international efforts to protect children in war and encouraging warring parties to abuse children even more.”
Meanwhile, Save the Children, a leading humanitarian organization for children, pointed out that 194 Yemeni children were killed and mutilated in 2020, but the UN report on children and armed conflict again fails to hold perpetrators accountable.
But despite the 2020 murders in Yemen, the United Nations-verified coalition will be given the green light to continue to destroy the lives of children in Yemen, according to the United Nations, the organization said.
“In a disheartening decision, UN Secretary-General António Guterres once again failed to include the coalition in this year’s ‘List of Shame’.”
It was removed from the list last year, with the Secretary-General’s pledge to reinstate it unless there was a “sustained significant decrease in the number of deaths and mutilations”. By not re-listing the coalition, Guterres is sending the message that reducing the number of child victims to about two hundred is progress that is “good enough,” Save the Children said.
Matthew Wells, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Crisis Response Program issues, said Guterres, “who has just received another five-year term; must become more courageous and courageous when it comes to giving priority to human rights and calling the perpetrators, including in relation to children and armed conflict. ”
Together with the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, he should publicly commit to applying the same standard regardless of the perpetrator or context – to create a complete list based on evidence and objective criteria, which he again failed this year.
For the next year, he will have to follow the criteria set in 2010; among others, the coalition led by Saudi Arabia and the Israeli military will again prove to be the key test.
For their part, the UN member states must demand a credible list. Why do field teams go into jeopardy to document violations that are ignored? Wells asked.
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