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Despite legal instruments, child rights as defined by domestic law remain varied and children suffer the most, particularly in situations of armed conflict, it was stated at the Experts Meeting on ‘Children Affected by Armed conflict’ held at the AU this week.
The meeting had the objective of facilitating a platform in which experts, government officials and practitioners will have the opportunity to discuss and explore how they can learn from, and contribute to, initiatives targeting children affected by armed conflicts.
“Women and children are the worst affected in armed conflict. One of the first crime rates to go up in a conflict zone is rape and it should be labeled as a crime against humanity,” it was stated.
It was also underlined that post conflict situations in many African nations have shown that the impact of armed conflict on children resonates for years and contributes to future instability and conflict.
In October 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security. It addressed not only the impact of war on women, but also the vital role women should play in conflict management, conflict resolution and sustainable peace.
Despite the Resolution’s role in highlighting the issue of women in peace and security and some progress towards its implementation over the last 13 years, it was indicated that it has fallen short in terms of systematically ensuring women’s participation in peace building processes and in addressing systematic violence towards women in conflict.
The three-day event highlighted areas of achievement and lessons learnt from conflict zones and tried to identify emerging challenges. It also tried to refresh and reaffirm the commitment of stakeholders to the agenda.