Children are the future of our world. When a child is lost, a generation is lost. In many areas of the world, the conflicts and wars have caused deaths and injuries to millions of children. The United Nations is making an all out effort to protect children who have been thrown into violent environments due to armed conflicts. Children all around the globe face rape, abductions, killing, maiming and recruitment etc. many children die or become psychologically unstable as a result of violence and war. Their personalities are often deeply affected.
The UN peace keeping missions did not have the right to play the role of child protector till 2001. People realized the destruction of a young generation caused by the conflicts; however, no concrete steps were adopted. In 1999, work started on this aspect. Finally, an addition was made to the mandates of UN peace keeping missions in 2001 and children protection operations in conflicts were made a part of peace keeping missions. Now all the peace keeping missions are responsible for the protection of children in conflict zones under their jurisdiction.
The Role of UN Peacekeeping forces in protecting the children
The UN peace keeping force has three branches which assist the child protection issue in the following way:
• The first task is to be observant and find out if there are any crimes being conducted against children. The issues involving children are observed and pointed out by the peace keeping military present in the conflict region.
• The national police receives full cooperation and support from the UN police in dealing with the problems concerning children.
• The national legislation is reviewed and Judicial Affairs Officers are duty bound to secure children’s right in the legislation.
• Protection of the children in the war ton areas is one of the prime objectives of the peace keeping missions and the head of that mission is made responsible to achieve this objective.