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UN Report Tap-Dances on Colombia, India, Pakistan, Philippines & Thailand

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, May 14 -- When the UN's new report on Children and Armed Conflict was circulated to members of the Security Council on May 14, three countries were immediately covered as news by Inner City Press: Syria, Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  But there's more to the report, including situations not on the agenda of the Security Council: Colombia, India, Pakistan, Philippines and parts of Thailand.

  These latter countries have pushed back at UN reporting, and so it's worth reviewing what the usually pliant UN now says about them in the report set to be "issued as a document of the Security Council under the symbol S/2014/339."

 These advance copies have been known to be changed before "final" release, in a process for which a description, and then proposals for reform, were provided here and then here.

  Of Colombia, the new UN report says “although the recruitment and use of children remains underreported in Colombia, the UN verified 81 cases of recruitment and use of children by armed groups in 25 departments and in Bogota, including 58 children by the FARC-EP and 17 by the ELN.”

  Of India, the new UN report says “the recruitment and use of children, as young as six years old, by Maoist armed groups in India, also known as Naxalites, continued in 2013.”

  Of Pakistan, the new UN report says “recruitment of children by armed groups in Pakistan, including reportedly for the use as suicide bombers and bomb planters, remained a grave concern in 2013. For example, in March, the police arrested 11 children, aged 10 to 17 years that were allegedly used by the United Baloch Army to plant IEDs... On 24 October, 21 children, aged between seven and 12 years, allegedly proceeding to Pakistan for military training by the Taliban, were detained by Afghan security forces in Nuristan province. The Taliban reject these allegations.”

  Inner City Press previously asked French diplomat Jean-Maurice Ripert, then the UN's Pakistan envoy, about child soldiers there but he declined to answer on the record, a trend continued by his successor as French ambassador to the UN Gerard Araud. Here's hoping incoming Jacques Audibert does better.

  Of the Philippines, the new UN report says “children continued to be used by all armed groups, including by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)... the New People's Army (NPA)... Abu Sayyaf and the independent MILF splinter group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).”

  Of the “Southern border province of Thailand,” a deferential description, the new UN report says “the UN has received reports of the recruitment and use of both girls and boys as young as 14 years by armed groups, including the BRN.” Tellingly, the UN prefaces this section with quotes within quotes: “Despite the unprecedented announcement of a 'general consensus on peace dialogue process' between the Government of Thailand and 'people who have different opinions and ideologies from the state,' including the National Revolutionary Front (BRN), on 28 February 2013, armed violence continued to affect the southern border province of Thailand.”

  This circumlocution tells you all you need to know -- the UN tempers its reports based on the push back and power of different states. As Thailand and others try to challenge the mandate on Children and Armed Conflict, that office writes reports such as that quoted directly above.

   The UN belongs to its members -- but also claims to be believable. There are double and triple standards everywhere. Watch this site.


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