UNLIREC contributes to International Expert Consultations to identify strategies to protect children from armed violence

The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean was invited to the Expert Consultation on armed violence in the community and its impact on the rights of children to live free from violence. The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children, in cooperation with UNICEF and the Government of Honduras, organized this International Expert Consultation in Tegucigalpa on 6 and 7 July 2015. The event drew representatives from national governments, United Nations agencies, regional organizations, research institutes and civil society, as well as children and young people.

The Consultation examined the multidimensional effects of armed violence in the community and its association with exclusion, weak governance, mistrust of justice and lack of mechanisms to fight impunity, among other topics. “Armed violence provokes dramatically high rates of homicides amongst children and adolescents and leaves countless numbers of child victims deeply traumatized, as well as disabled and often orphaned,” stated the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais.

One aspect discussed in the meeting was that, while there are international frameworks that protect children in times of war and armed conflict, there are no analogous mechanisms to protect them in contexts of armed violence outside of conflict situations. The increasing criminalization and stigmatization of young people, the decrease in the minimum age of criminal responsibility, the heavy-handed approach to security and the lack of political will and public resources designated for the prevention of violence were, among others, topics that were identified as contributing to the cycle of violence in the community that impacts the young population.

During the Expert Consultation, UNLIREC delivered a presentation on measures to prevent and reduce armed violence which emphasized accumulated knowledge, lessons learned and best practices identified in different countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. The presentation included topics like the need to work at a local level and with sectors that are not traditionally involved in security, such as those of health and education.

The conclusions and recommendations of the Consultation will be included in the Special Representative’s Thematic Report on the Protection of Children from Armed Violence in the Community, which aims to support the implementation of the Post 2015 Global Development Agenda and eliminate all forms of violence against children.

For more information about UNLIREC visit (www.unlirec.org) or contact Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer (cowl@unlirec.org).

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