The Protection of Children in Peacemaking and Peacekeeping Processes

Friday, January 1, 1999
Harvard Human Rights Journal

This study examines the protection of children during peacemaking and peacekeeping, and the regional and multilateral institutions that now play a role in palliating conflicts around the world. It identifies children's substantive needs, considers efforts made in some peace processes and proposes alternatives. The focus is on what might be done to better ensure that children's rights are considered from the moment mediation efforts begin until the peace-building agenda is fully hammered out. Although many of the issues, such as human rights and peacekeeping, the potential use of regional peacekeepers, and truth, justice and reconciliation, have produced a great deal of writing and debate, no one has yet examined the conflict resolution period from a children's rights perspective.

Part II will describe the nature of war's impact on children, point out patterns common to children across conflict-types and cultures, and stress the psychosocial implications of war-related experiences. Part III seeks to identify the ways in which the modern peace process is not only a forum for determining how material resources, technical assistance, and expertise will be allocated in the post-conflict era and beyond, but is also a context in which the needs of certain populations can be addressed. I identify each of the key actors with the potential for advancing child well-being and their own constraints and concerns.

Part IV reviews the commonly occurring products and by-products of peace processes, their potential impact on children, and ways in which peacemakers can conceptualize and address child rights at each stage.

Part V summarizes a number of recommendations for all key actors. In this Part, I urge recognition by both children's rights advocates and peacemakers of the ways in which their agendas overlap. I suggest a commitment to maximizing the opportunities afforded by peace processes to secure a place for children on the post-conflict agenda.

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The Protection of Children in Peacemaking and Peacekeeping Processes