Reporting is a central aspect of the MRM as it is the CTFMR's tool for packaging and presenting information on grave violations for the Security Council, governments and parties concerned. An important aspect of reporting is the CTFMR's proposals, which form the basis of the Secretary-General's recommendations for action to the Council (see page 61 of the SCWG Toolkit). Regular reporting for the Secretary-General's Annual Country Reports and periodic GHNs also allows the CTFMR to track trends and to report upon remedial measures and gaps in protection throughout the year; as well as progress or challenges in fulfilling the SCWG conclusions from previous reporting cycles. Additionally, reports, the recommendations and the issuing conclusions of the SCWG have proven very useful in galvanizing advocacy efforts at the country and/ or regional level, and can serve as a first step in accountability efforts. In the preparation of inputs for reporting, it is useful and important to refer to previously published reports. Analysis should reflect on changes and developments from the previous reports, and build on the recommendations. All reports published through the MRM process are available on the OSRSG website.
Figure 5: MRM reporting requirements and additional uses of information
The primary reporting pathway for presentation of the reports on the six grave violations is to the UN Security Council and its Working Group on CAAC. The CTFMRs provide three types of reporting inputs to the Secretary-General, which is subsequently considered by the Security Council and its Working Group, being inputs to:
- The Global Annual Report of the Secretary-General on CAAC
- The GHN
- The Secretary-General's country-specific report on CAAC
The Working Group provides a political response, upon consideration of the Secretary-General's annual reports on CAAC and determines conclusions to enhance the protection of children affected by conflict in each country situation.
Additionally, there is a reporting requirement for UN missions to provide reports to the UN Security Council (see mission reports below).
Also, see below for the SCWG Toolkit, which can provide a reference when developing appropriate recommendations to the UN SCWG.
Secretary-General's Global Annual Report on CAAC
Since 2000, the Secretary-General has issued an Annual Report on CAAC. Each year, the SRSG-CAAC sends out a request for contributions to the Report, and details the requirements. Information on the grave violations is required and crucially updates on developments, Action Plans and responses to recommendations made, plus specific challenges. In recent years, there have been requests that the Report also provide an update on implementation of the MRM. The contributions for the Report should closely follow the guidance given by the OSRSG-CAAC to ensure consistency in the report.
All countries in conflict are invited to contribute to this, but specific attention is paid to countries that are listed in the annexes to the Report. Annex 1 lists those parties on the Security Council's agenda and Annex 2 lists other countries of concern. Until 2009, the trigger to be included in the annexes was parties that recruited or used children. Security Council Resolutions 1882 [PDF] (2009) and 1998 [PDF] (2011) expanded the triggers which now also includes parties that have patterns of killing and maiming children or grave sexual violence against children by armed forces or non-state armed groups in situations of conflict; or recurrent attacks on schools and/or hospitals; or recurrent attacks or threats of attacks against protected persons in relation to schools and/or hospitals.
It is emphasized that in order for parties to be listed, information has to identify clear trends or patterns of the violation, in contravention to applicable international law. It is imperative, however, that obtaining this information must conform to the child-centred and ethical approaches discussed above.
The GHN provides a timely update of the situation of children affected by armed conflict across several situations, which enables the Working Group to be kept informed of important trends and developments that can lead to earlier action and response, than that which may follow from the Secretary-General's Annual Country Reports on CAAC. A GHN covers the situation in countries on the work plan of the Working Group and other situations of concern that may not have appeared in the Secretary-General's Global Annual Report and is presented to the Working Group at every meeting, which is usually held on a bimonthly basis. The GHN provides a situational update on documented cases of violations against children (with a primary focus on the six grave violations), as well as updates on important developments in response taken during the period covered. A copy of the GHN reporting format is provided in Annex X [PDF]. The CTFMR must provide bimonthly inputs (one every two months) for the GHN, which is compiled by the OSRSG-CAAC with comments from UNICEF and DPKO at the global level.
As with all MRM reports, it is essential to ensure that no information is included in the GHN which could identify or otherwise be harmful to the source of information, victims, communities or monitors. It is important to note that the GHN is confidential and not a public document; nor is it a formal 'report'.
Secretary-General's Annual Country Report
The Working Group adopts a provisional work plan at the beginning of each year, which is used by the SRSG-CAAC and partners (UNICEF, DPKO/DPA, ILO, etc.) to prepare a provisional schedule for the CTFMR's inputs to the Secretary-General's Annual Country-Specific Report. It is important to note that the provisional work plan is not fixed and is subject to change.
The Secretary-General's Annual Country-Specific Report on CAAC ('Annual Country Report') is prepared for each country on the Work Plan of the Working Group. The Annual Country Report provides a detailed analysis of the six grave violations throughout the previous reporting period or since the previous Annual Country Report was presented (if the time frame was more or less than one year). The Annual Country Report reflects ongoing protection concerns and progress made for children, and also makes specific recommendations on how to improve the situation for children affected by conflict in the country. The CTFMR submits the country inputs through the SRSG or RC to the OSRSG-CAAC and copied to UNICEF (and DPKO headquarters where DPKO or DPA missions are operating and/or other third CTFMR co-chair organization headquarters, as appropriate).
Unlike the GHN, the Secretary-General's Annual Country Reports are public reports of the United Nations once it is signed by the Office of the Secretary-General, adopted and published by the United Nations for general distribution. These reports are subject to strict length restrictions of 8,500 words. The CTFMR inputs constitute an important, but not the sole, input to the Secretary-General's report. The Secretary-General's Office is the final editor and signatory of the report and can therefore edit some of the information provided by the CTFMR in accordance with its own sources of information.
The Secretary-General's Annual Country-Specific Report includes not only information regarding violations, but recommendations for action by the Security Council. The CTFMR should consider recommendations for the Secretary-General that may effectively address violations, bearing in mind the SCWG's Toolkit, which outlines actions that they may take, as well as the Security Council's commitment (SCR1539, 1612, 1882 and 1998) to consider the application of targeted measures against parties that refuse to end violations.
Country MRM Task Forces are encouraged to develop a strategy on how to use the Secretary-General's report, the recommendations and the issuing conclusions of the SCWG after it becomes a public document. This includes distributing the report to national authorities, non-state armed groups, CTFMR members, UNCTs, international and national NGOs, donors, civil society actors and communities for advocacy; planning; feedback to monitors and communities; programmatic responses and resource mobilization purposes. (Refer to Reporting formats in Annex X [PDF]).
Periodic Reports of the Secretary-General on peacekeeping operations
While the periodic mission reports are not specific requirements of the MRM itself, Security Council Resolutions 1460, 1539, 1612,1882 and 1998 all require Reports of the Secretary-General on country-specific situations in peacekeeping operations to include a specific section on child protection.
The Secretary-General's reports are usually issued on a quarterly basis, or at the request of the Security Council, and are used inter alia to inform Security Council members on a (future or) existing peacekeeping operation(s), including:
- The situation in a country/region in which the Council has declared its readiness to authorize or has authorized a peacekeeping operation;
- Progress made by the peacekeeping operation towards its establishment and/or the implementation of its mandate;
- Latest and significant developments on a conflict situation outside of the Secretary-General's standard reporting cycle; and/or
- A specific aspect of, or a specific request relating to, a peacekeeping operation.
Country MRM Task Forces are encouraged to collaborate with child protection advisers in peacekeeping operations in integrating child protection concerns into these periodic reports, including information on grave violations committed against children, focusing on trends, progress on the implementation of the MRM, and critical observations that should be brought to the attention of the Security Council.
Summary outline of the Security Council Working Group Toolkit:
- Specific requests to other United Nations bodies (General Assembly, Human Rights Council ...) or agencies (ILO, World Bank ...).
- Request for advocacy and official visits of the SRSG for CAAC to countries of concern.
- Advocacy for accountability for crimes against children in situations of armed conflict and calls on the United Nations and members to provide support to programmes ensuring the protection of children involved in accountability or truth-seeking mechanisms.
- Letters/appeals to the parties concerned
- Draw the attention of the Security Council to the full range of justice and reconciliation mechanisms to be considered, including national, international and 'mixed' criminal courts and tribunals, while emphasizing the responsibility of Member States to comply with their relevant obligations to end impunity.
- Request from the Secretary-General for additional information/reports on specific issues or parties.
- Specific field trips on CAAC by members of the Working Group followed by a report, subject to availability of funding.
- Convening of a closed or open meeting with the participation of the state concerned and/or parties concerned, as appropriate.
- Press conferences to highlight a specific issue and to raise awareness about the CAAC provisions of international humanitarian and human rights law.
Improvements of mandates
- Invitation to stakeholders concerned to pay particular attention to children, including girls exploited by armed forces and groups, in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes.
- Request that the specific needs of children are considered in forthcoming peace processes and/or peacekeeping mandates.
- Setting strong child protection standards for troop-contributing countries and other actors involved in peacekeeping operations, and providing adequate and regular training.
Possible recommendations to the Security Council
- Consider and forward to the existing Sanctions Committees relevant information received by the Working Group and its conclusions thereon, in particular regarding issues of concern.
- Letters to the relevant justice mechanisms, in order to bring information to their attention and contribute to ending impunity of violators.
Additional avenues for uses of information
In addition to the regular reporting pathways to the Security Council, published reports or other information pertaining to violations against children generated from the MRM may be shared by the Country MRM Task Force with other reporting mechanisms as appropriate for further advocacy action, accountability and response. Human rights mechanisms provide additional reporting avenues and other opportunities at the national level.
The CTFMR is the owner of the information collected on the grave violations and may choose to use the information for a number of different advocacy and response purposes.
The information provided by the CTFMR to the Secretary-General for the Global Annual Country Reports on CAAC and the Country-Specific Annual Report on CAAC should not be shared in the actual format as provided to the Secretary-General until after it have been released as public documents.
Similarly, the GHN document itself should remain confidential and not be shared in the GHN format with other partners or stakeholders.
The human rights 'Special Procedures,' established by the Commission on Human Rights, and now assumed by the Human Rights Council, address either specific country situations or thematic human rights issues in all parts of the world. The OHCHR supports these mechanisms with personnel, and substantive and logistical assistance.
There are two main ways in which the MRM can interact with the Special Procedures:
- Annual Reports: Many of the Special Procedures mandate-holders submit annual reports to the Human Rights Council and, in some cases, to the UN General Assembly. Information from the MRM can be shared with the OHCHR during the drafting stage for these reports so that issues relating to children affected by armed conflict can be integrated in the reports. The Country MRM Task Force should contact OHCHR to discuss ways to share information.
- Country visits: The Special Procedure mandate-holders also carry out country visits at the invitation of the country concerned or on the basis of a 'standing invitation.'43 After their visits, mandate-holders issue a mission report including their findings and recommendations. The Country MRM Task Force can similarly share information with the OHCHR prior to, during and subsequent to missions and, in some instances, may wish to advocate for a visit and assist in follow-up to their recommendations.
Human rights treaty bodies
There are nine human rights treaties bodies,44 which are committees of independent experts who monitor implementation of the core international human rights treaties. When a state ratifies a human rights treaty, it assumes a legal obligation to implement the rights recognized in that treaty and allows the relevant expert committee to monitor the degree of progress made at the national level.45
To meet their reporting obligation, states must submit an initial report - usually one year after the treaty entered into force (two years in the case of the CRC) - and then periodically, in accordance with the provisions of the treaty (usually every four or five years). In addition to the government report, the treaty bodies may receive information on a country's human rights situation from other sources, including NGOs, UN agencies, other intergovernmental organizations, academic institutions and the press.
The Country MRM Task Force should seek to contribute to reviews by treaty bodies, when relevant, as these provide a valuable opportunity to raise concerns relating to violations of children's rights in armed conflict.
The treaty bodies of particular relevance to the MRM, but not exhaustive, are:
- Committee on the Rights of the Child: Monitors implementation of the CRC and its two Optional Protocols.
- Human Rights Committee: Monitors implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
- Committee Against Torture: Monitors implementation of the Convention Against Torture or Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment.
- Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women: Monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
Interaction between the MRM and the Committee on the Rights of the Child
The CRC and its Protocols and the Committee that monitors their implementation are of particular relevance to the MRM Task Force.
The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict review is an important opportunity for the MRM Task Force to advocate for legislative reform and propose specific recommendations, e.g., regarding accountability of perpetrators and in the area of recovery and reintegration of victims. Thus, it is important that the MRM Task Force engage during the review in order to ensure that the outcome of the process and the concluding observations provide a useful basis for follow-up at the national level.
For full information on additional avenues for reporting, see Annex XI: Additional International and Regional Reporting Avenues [PDF].
Universal Periodic Review
The Universal Periodic Review is a relatively new (commenced 2008) and unique human rights mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council aiming at assessing and improving the human rights situation in all countries. Under this mechanism, the human rights situation of all UN Member States is reviewed every four years. Three reports serve as a basis for each Member State review; i.e., a national report (prepared by the state under review); a compilation of UN information (from all relevant official UN documents, including specific Universal Periodic Review submissions by UN entities); and a summary of stakeholders (summary of information from NGOs, national human rights institutions and other relevant stakeholders). The compilation and the summary are prepared by OHCHR.
Submissions can be sent to OHCHR before the review (guidelines and deadlines are available on its website) and comments can be made by NGOs with ECOSOC status, UN entities and other relevant stakeholders in the plenary session. The UNCT may wish to coordinate submissions of relevant information through the RC's office to OHCHR. Individual UN entities may also consider sending to OHCHR specific country submissions, based on their entity's particular mandate. UN entities may send their submissions to UPRsubmissions@ohchr.org. The Universal Periodic Rreview is an inter-governmental process and Member States have ultimate control over the review. However, UN entities, as well as stakeholders including NGOs, have opportunities to influence the process.
Regional and subregional organizations
The Country MRM Task Force may also share public Secretary-General reports on CAAC and provide updates to intergovernmental and regional institutions, as appropriate, such as the African Union, African Commission on Human and People's Rights, European Union,46 Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Organisation of American States, as well as other intergovernmental and regional institutions, in order to enhance advocacy, accountability and policy issues pertaining to CAAC.
Opportunities for reporting at a national level
In addition to the formal reporting mechanisms, the CTFMR is encouraged to periodically and systematically update relevant stakeholders, such as governments, non-state armed groups, donors, partners and communities on the situation and progress for children affected by conflict within the country. The updating of stakeholders is used for accountability, response and feedback purposes.
Information that has been collected by the MRM can be utilized to provide regular information at the country and regional levels, and also for briefing foreign delegations visiting the country. Additionally, information can be shared with national and international human rights organizations.
Analysis of the information collected may at times be used as appropriate in press statements and to respond to queries from the national and international media.
Key messages - Additional avenues for uses of information
- Use the information collected for the MRM, but do not quote it as being part of the GHN.
- Do not release or use content from the Secretary-General's Country or Annual Reports until they have been made public.
- As with all reports, ensure that information is objective, accurate and reliable.
- If providing reports for Special Procedures or to other treaty bodies, ensure that appropriate guidelines are followed.
Further reading - Additional avenues for uses of information
- Annex XI: Additional International and Regional Reporting Avenues [PDF]
- For full information on reporting bodies and mechanisms for reporting, visit the OHCHR website.
- For details on the Universal Periodic Review process, see here.
43 As of August 2008, 62 countries had extended standing invitations to the special procedures.
44 The nine human rights treaty bodies are the Human Rights Committee; Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; Committee Against Torture; the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture; Committee on the Rights of the Child; Committee on Migrant Workers; and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. For further information on the human rights treaties bodies, see www.ohchr.org.
45 For further information, see OHCHR Fact Sheet 30 on the United Nations Human Rights Treaty System, 2005.
46 Of additional relevance, on 8 December 2003, the European Union General Affairs Council approved the European Union's Guidelines on Children Affected by Armed Conflict.