UN Secretary-General Recognizes India’s Progress in Child Protection
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres recently announced the removal of India from his annual report on the impact of armed conflict on children, acknowledging the efforts made by the Indian government to improve child protection.
India’s Journey in the Report
India had been included in the report since 2010, alongside Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Lake Chad basin, Nigeria, Pakistan, and the Philippines, for alleged involvement in the recruitment and use of boys by armed groups in Jammu and Kashmir. Additionally, Indian security forces were accused of detaining boys in J&K based on their alleged association with armed groups or national security concerns. In 2010, Guterres expressed hope that India would eventually be removed from the list of concerning situations following engagements with his special representative. Now, in the UN’s 2023 report on Children and Armed Conflict, India has been successfully removed due to the government’s significant steps to enhance child protection.
India’s Positive Actions Recognized
Guterres praised India’s positive actions, particularly highlighting a technical mission conducted by the office of his special representative in July 2022. Additionally, he commended the joint workshop organized by the Indian and United Nations governments in November 2022, which focused on strengthening child protection measures in Jammu and Kashmir.
Remaining Measures and Ongoing Collaboration
Even though India has been removed from the report, Guterres urged the country to continue implementing the remaining measures outlined, such as providing child protection training to the armed and security forces, ceasing the use of lethal or nonlethal force against children (including ending the use of pellet guns), ensuring children are detained only as a last resort and for the shortest possible period, preventing ill-treatment in detention, and fully implementing relevant laws like the Juvenile Justice Act and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. According to Virginia Gamba, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, India and the UN have closely collaborated over the past two years. India’s initiation of prevention engagement and readiness to implement sustainable measures played a crucial role in its removal from the report.
Global Situation and Efforts for Child Protection
Guterres’ latest report highlighted the unfortunate reality that children worldwide continue to bear the disproportionate brunt of armed conflicts. The number of children affected by grave violations increased compared to the previous year, with the UN verifying 27,180 grave violations in total, 24,300 of which occurred in 2022, and 2,880 were rediscovered in 2022. These violations impacted 18,890 children across 24 situations and one regional monitoring arrangement. The most prevalent violations included killing and maiming of children, recruitment and use of children, and child abductions. Children were also detained for alleged association with armed groups, including those designated as terrorist groups by the UN or for national security reasons.
India’s Progress in Child Protection
The removal of India from the report is a significant recognition of the country’s progress in addressing child protection concerns. However, it is essential for India to sustain its efforts and ensure the full implementation of necessary measures to further enhance child protection at both national and international levels.
In conclusion, the removal of India from the UN Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict is a significant recognition of the Indian government’s efforts to enhance child protection. Through various measures, including technical missions, workshops, and collaboration with the United Nations, India has demonstrated its commitment to safeguarding the rights of children affected by armed conflict.