Sri Lankan lawyer, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy was appointed in 2006 Under-Secretary General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. Since her appointment, she has pledged to defend the protection of children, including denouncing countries where governments or militias recruit and use child soldiers. This has sparked criticism from certain countries.
UNICEF currently considers there are still 300,000 child soldiers around the world. While efforts have been made at the international level to eradicate this scourge, there is still much to do. The main achievement has been the adoption of resolution 1612 by the Security Council of the United Nations in 2005, which established a monitoring and reporting mechanism.
Thanks to this mechanism, all stakeholders – field NGOs, members of peacekeeping operations, public and private groups – gather information as objectively as possible on the use of child soldiers in conflict. A Security Council working group on children and armed conflict reviews the reports submitted under the mechanism. It then establishes dialogue with the warring parties to end their recruitment and use of child soldiers.
The role of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations is precisely to carry out this dialogue; a task requiring independence, impartiality, deft communication skills, and determination. Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy has met these requirements and has greatly contributed to the success of the implementation of Resolution 1612. Indeed, no fewer than 17 action plans were implemented during her term, with 5 coming to an end with the demobilization of 10,000 child soldiers.
Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy has endeavored to treat all situations equally, despite pressure from certain states. Her work over the past six years has reinforced the moralisation and universalisation of the prohibition of recruiting and using child soldiers.