Experts urge legal deal for war zone children

Millions of children living in a ‘truly dark age’ created by armed conflict urgently need better legal safeguards, a major report says.

Young victims of war are being harmed by fragmented legal systems and would be better protected by one coherent international system, experts say. 

A summary of the report – which was supported by the University’s Global Health Academy – has been launched to mark the first International Day to Protect Education from Attack.

The original report – Protecting Children in Armed Conflict – was published as part of the Inquiry on Protecting Children in Conflict, set up by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Wider audience

The new summary seeks to make the report findings more accessible to a wider audience.

Conflict within countries has multiplied in recent years, despite a reduction in the number of wars between states.

Children in places such as Syria, Yemen and South Sudan are experiencing extreme violence and brutality, the report authors say.

As conflicts become increasingly urbanised, civilians are more likely to be affected, with children suffering the gravest consequences.

Unified approach

Human rights lawyers argue in the report that there should be a single international law, or instrument, which brings together legal protections for children in armed conflict.

This should then be enacted in court and incorporated into the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The report authors say that this will be key to improving the dire situation for children living through times of war.

Charity support

The report and summary are supported by Save the Children and Theirworld, a global children’s charity founded by campaigner Sarah Brown.

International Day to Protect Education from Attack was created by the United Nations General Assembly.

It highlights the plight of 75 million children living in 35 crisis-affected countries and their urgent need for educational support – a situation worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The University’s Global Health Academy will support communities in engaging with the strategy outlined in this report, which if enacted could improve millions of children’s lives.

Liz GrantDirector of the Global Health Academy

There are numerous international laws that reflect the importance of protecting children in conflict. But these are undermined by the fragmented, and often unclear, legal protection in international law and by the lack of implementation of what protection there is.

Shaheed Fatima, QCAuthor of the report


Related Links

Global Health Academy

Original Report

Executive Summary