Guterres Overstepped UNSC Mandate In Report On Children In Conflict: India

United Nations: India has said that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres overstepped the Security Council’s mandate on reporting on children in armed conflicts by including New Delhi in a selective manner that politicises the issue in his recent report.

“In spite of the clear mandate by the Council, we are disappointed that the report of the Secretary-General includes situations which are not armed conflicts or of threat to maintenance of international peace and security,” Paulomi Tripathi, a First Secretary in India’s UN Mission, told the Council on Friday.

The manner in which the report was made impacts the “credible, impartial and transparent implementation of the mandate given to the UN system”, she said during the Council’s open debate on Children in Armed Conflict.

“Such an attempt to expand mandate in a selective manner to certain situations only politicizes and instrumentalises the agenda, obfuscating and diverting attention from the real threats to international peace and security,” she added.

Guterres’s report on Children in Armed Conflict released on Tuesday had an added section: “Situations not on the agenda of the Security Council or other situations”, which dealt with India and four other countries, that are not in a state of armed conflict.

While his report said that terrorist groups operating in Jammu and Kashmir and Maoists groups elsewhere have recruited children as fighters, it also added that children continued to be killed or injured in operations by the security forces in Jammu and Kashmir and in areas of Maoist activity.

It noted that there were reports of sexual violence against girls by security forces in Kashmir citing the Kathua rape case.

Four police personnel were among six people convicted last month by a special court in the rape and the killing of the eight-year-old girl in Kathua.

“We are cognisant of the urgency to act now to protect today’s child victims in order to prevent tomorrow’s armed conflicts,” Tripathi said.

In his report, Guterres had also said that he welcomed “the government’s measures to provide protection to children, notably through the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights”.

The section on “Situations on the agenda of the Security Council”, which conforms to its mandate, deals with countries like Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and the Democratic Republic of Congo, which are in a civil war situation that overwhelms the nations. (This section also included Israel and Palestine territories.)

The inclusion of India and countries like Thailand and even Pakistan in an added section appears to be arbitrary because it places them on the same level as those countries covered by the Council mandate, while at the same time ignoring countries in Central America, for example, where violence has led to an exodus of thousands of children escaping the brutalities.

The annual report has had problems with its credibility and its selectivity and it was even admitted by former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

He said in 2016 that under pressure he had removed from the report mention of child victims from the Saudi coalition’s bombing campaign in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia had threatened to withhold funding for UN programmes if its role was mentioned.

“I also had to consider the very real prospect that millions of other children would suffer grievously if, as was suggested to me, countries would de-fund many UN programs,” Ban said.

The report had originally said that the Saudi coalition was responsible for half the hospitals and schools attacked and about 60 per cent of the children injured or killed in Yemen.

By Arul Louis