India has officially been removed from United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Security Council report on Children and Armed Conflict by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the first time since 2010, owing to measures taken by the Indian government to “better protect children”.
According to the Press Information Bureau (PIB), India was mentioned in the UNGA report for over a decade, along with countries like Pakistan, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and the Philippines, since 2010 for alleged recruitment and use of boys by armed groups in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
India was also included in the report previously for the alleged detainment of boys by security forces in J&K, and killing or maiming of children by those security forces through pellets, unidentified perpetrators, crossfire and shelling.
In his annual 2023 report, Guterres said that he welcomed the engagement of the Indian government with his special representative which might remove India’s position as a situation of concern.
“I note the technical mission of the Office of my Special Representative in July 2022 to identify areas of cooperation for child protection, and the workshop on strengthening child protection, held in Jammu and Kashmir in November 2022 by the Government, with the participation of the United Nations,” he said.
He also called upon India to implement remaining measures that were identified in consultation with the Special Representative and the UN, focusing on training armed forces on child protection and prohibiting use of lethal and non-lethal use of force on children. He also said that children should be detained as a last resort and for the shortest appropriate time.
Meanwhile, the PIB release mentioned that an inter-ministerial meeting in November 2021 sped up India’s engagement with the Special Representative, with led to an agreement to appoint a “national focal point” to enhance child protection via the identification of priority national interventions.
The government also said that a roadmap for cooperation and collaboration on child protection was developed under the leadership of Union Women And Child Development Minister Smriti Irani.
“The technical team of the office of the SRSG visited India on 27-29 July 2022. This was followed by a workshop on strengthening child protection held in Jammu and Kashmir in November 2022 by the Ministry of WCD in collaboration with the MHA, and the Govt. of J&K with the participation of the United Nations,” it further said.
In an interaction with the media, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba informed that the group had been working very closely with India for the past two years, reported PTI. “India decided to start a prevention engagement,” she said of India’s progress.
Last year, Guterres expressed concern against increasing alleged violations against children in Jammu and Kashmir and had appealed to the Indian government to strengthen the mechanisms for child protection. In return, India said that the concerns expressed in the 2022 report had included situations that are “not situations of armed conflict” or which threatened international peace and security.
“In 2022, children continued to be disproportionately affected by armed conflict, and the number of children verified as affected by grave violations increased compared with 2021,” Guterres said in his latest report.