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UN Urged to add IDF to Blacklist of Child Rights Violators

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United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres

A network of organizations urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday to add 11 parties to the blacklist of countries and armed groups responsible for grave violations against children, including the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict’s recommended additions included the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen, which was taken off last year’s list by then-UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the Saudis and their supporters threatened to stop funding many UN programs.

Watchlist also urged adding the IDF, which was kept off the 2015 list after lobbying by the US and Israel. Ban kept the IDF off the list, but also removed Hamas.

The network said that the IDF should be added to the list, alleging that it injured and murdered children and attacked schools and hospitals in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

The IDF’s inclusion on the list – together with Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS) and the Taliban – could result in sanctions.

The UN chief’s annual report on children and armed conflict, which contains the blacklist, is usually released in May or June.
‘Pattern of Grave Violations Against Children’

The June 2016 report initially named nine governmental security forces and 51 armed groups that committed grave violations against children in 2015.

“The new secretary-general has an opportunity to send a clear message to all member states that a party to conflict is listed for one reason alone — a pattern of documented, UN verified evidence of grave violations against children,” Watchlist advocacy officer Dragica Mikavica said in a statement.

Watchlist, a human rights and humanitarian network established in 2001, also recommended the listing of armed opposition groups in southern Thailand for perpetrating attacks on schools and hospitals, the Communist Party/Maoist for recruiting and using children in India, and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and pro-government militias in Afghanistan for recruiting, killing and injuring youngsters.

Other groups the network recommended adding to the blacklist are the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq; the Libyan National Army and several other armed groups in Libya; Johnson Olony’s armed group in South Sudan; Tehrik-i-Taliban in Pakistan, also known as the Pakistani Taliban; the Mali government-allied group GATIA; and a coalition called the Coordination of Azawad Movements, which includes ethnic Arabs and Tuaregs and seeks autonomy in Mali’s north.

Watchlist urged the UN to collect further information on groups in Afghanistan, Congo, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Philippines, Burundi and Ukraine.

While Watchlist had conclusive views on the IDF, it recommended that two Palestinian terror groups — the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas— be investigated for possible inclusion in next year’s report.

By: AP and United with Israel Staff