Definitions and the Legal Foundation

© UNICEF/NYHQ2003-0236/Andrade
Boys unpack live ammunition in a classroom that is still filled with leftover war material at the Aisha Girls' Primary School in the Adhamia neighbourhood in Baghdad, the capital of Iraq. During the war, Iraqi soldiers pre-positioned large caches of weapons and ammunition in schools in Baghdad and elsewhere.


  • Ensure clarity on the definitions of the violations
  • Understand the basics of the legal foundation of MRM
  • Provide information to strengthen advocacy with parties to the conflict
Participants MRM Staff
Session Participatory presentation
Time required 90 minutes
Venue requirements Training room
Equipment - Laptop, projector
Resource person(s) 1 person with legal knowledge in the international arena and ideally with experience of its practical application in conflict situations
Training materials - PPT presentation on "MRM The Legal Foundation"
Summary Table of IHL Provisions Specifically Applicable to Children (ICRC) [PDF]
MRM Field Manual Section D "The Violations"
Documents for participants - The Six Grave Violations Against Children During Armed Conflict: The Legal Foundation (OSRSG) [PDF]
Annexe II of the MRM Field Manual: MRM Legal and international standards [PDF]
UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [PDF]
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict [PDF]
- What is IHL (ICRC) [PDF]
International Instruments & Standards (Taken from Child Protection Training for UN Peace Operations Personnel) [PDF]
Access to materials All the training material are included in Folder Module 4B: Definitions and Legal Foundation

Pre-session Preparations

  • Ensure you are familiar with the slides and the content - see below for suggested use.
  • On the six slides showing applicable law under each of the definitions insert the relevant national legislation as appropriate to the country context.
  • On the six slides providing examples of violations committed, exchange the provided examples with those relevant to the country context
  • The ICRC document, "Summary Table of IHL Provisions Specifically Applicable to Children" [PDF] is useful to provide as it can aid provision of answers to questions that may arise: also useful for reference is Annexe II of the MRM Field Manual [PDF] for specific application to MRM.

Session Sequence

It is likely that within any group looking at this subject there will be a wide range of experience from those who may have had legal training to others for whom this is a new area. This session is designed to make the best use of the experience in the room but at the same time ensuring that the whole group will have a grasp of the basic legal foundation of MRM at the end of the session.

Groups will work for this session in their table groups

Tip: Try to ensure that any individuals with a legal background or experience of IHL & IHRL are spread evenly amongst the groups. Ask key persons to move if necessary. As questions arise seek answers from the participants

Slide 2 lists the six violations. At the title ask the participants to list the six violations and then show the list. For information the six violations are as listed in paragraph 68 in Children and Armed Conflict: Annual Global Report of the Secretary General (February 2005) [PDF].

Slide 3 asks a question and provides the answer(s).

  • Show slide title and ask the question on what key legal instruments are applicable
  • Ask table groups to discuss and make a list
  • Ask one group to share the answer and others to add as appropriate
  • Show the answer to the question
  • Provide clarification and discuss as required - ensure to mention here that particularly relevant IHRL includes:
    o UN CRC and that this is non-derogable even in conflict
    o 2nd Optional Protocol to the UN CRC
    o UN Convention on Torture
  • International Jurisprudence may require clarification; some examples that you could use to illustrate would be:
    o The case of Thomas Lubanga is specifically relevant as he has been charged with enlisting and conscripting children to participate in hostilities
    o Case-law of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the Special Court for Sierra Leone
    o The Rome Statute and case-law of the International Criminal Court
    o Case-law of the International Court of Justice

These are the key legal instruments as detailed in paragraph 70 of the Annual Global Report of the Secretary General (February 2005).

Slide 4 considers who is a child

  • Show slide and encourage the participants to share the problems, which occur around acknowledgement of who is a child for this work.

Slides 5 - 24 cover the six violations - 3 slides per definition: I) details of the definition; ii) applicable law; and iii) examples for discussion.

  • Discuss the definition as needed - clarify as questions arise
  • Ask the groups to identify which laws will apply and show the list
  • Share the examples and ask the participants if each would be classified and reported as a grave violation against children
  • Share the examples and ask the participants if each would be classified and reported as a grave violation against children
  • Ask the participants to provide additional examples of violations committed, particularly where it was difficult to determine if it was a violation

Note: More detailed information is provided on the notes for some of these slides.

Slide 25 highlights where to get further advice in determining if a violation occurred.

  • Ask participants to share examples of where it had been challenging to determine if a violation occurred, and what was the outcome.
  • Staff from the O/SRSG and UNICEF HQ could provide one or two key examples that have been challenging to determine

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