By: Razan Al-Shammari / GICJ 

4 June 2021

 

On August 19, 1982, the General Assembly decided, at its emergency special session on the issue of Palestine, to commemorate June 4 each year as the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. The motive behind the decision followed the large number of innocent Palestinian and Lebanese children victims of the Israeli acts of aggression.

The children are undoubtedly the most vulnerable victims of conflicts. Thus, this international day of the United Nations acknowledges the physical, mental, and emotional abuse that innocent children suffer from during armed conflicts. The purpose of this day is to urge authorities to make a stronger effort to protect children's rights by providing them with a safe environment in which they are not subjected to abuse, violence, or exploitation, and ensure their access to basic rights such as education, housing, and health care.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the first international agreement meant to protect the rights of all children worldwide. It is part a legally binding instruments designed to guarantee and protect people's fundamental human rights. The Convention affirms children's rights to care and protection because of their vulnerability. It further acknowledges the critical role that the international community plays in ensuring the rights of the child. The Convention has been ratified rapidly and widely by 196 countries. The United States has announced its intention to ratify the Convention, yet it has not done so, as it is still under assessment of the degree of compliance with existing laws and practices in the country.

Despite the great support for the Convention, crimes are still committed against the most vulnerable children around the world. Trafficking, recruitment, exploitation, sexual violence, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, child labor, neglect, and denial of humanitarian access to children are a reality in many conflict-affected countries. Notably, the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the acts of aggression and exploitation of children.

Furthermore, the adoption of Resolution A/RES/ES-7/8 in 1982 by the General Assembly followed the emergency situation in Palestine. Regrettably, war crimes and crimes against humanity are continuously committed against Palestinian children. The UNICEF humanitarian situation report of the State of Palestine (2021) shows that the recent attacks of the Israeli occupying forces have resulted in the death of 73 children and the injury of 1006. The report also refers to the damaging of 57 educational centers and 29 health facilities.[1]

 

Palestinian children fleeing Israeli air and artillery strikes and seeking refuge at a United Nations-run school. Credit: REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

 

Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ) condemns all acts of aggression committed by Israeli forces on Palestinian children and calls for accountability and justice for the Palestinian people by ending the illegal occupation of Palestinian Territories that has continued since 1967.

Furthermore, in Iraq, the cases of violence against children are increasing. This is caused by a number of reasons, the most prominent of which are the repercussions of the security situation, violence on the street and its militarization, and the deterioration of the living situation. Iraqi children are the victims of a corrupt, militia-dominated, and conflict-affected society. Minors are increasingly subjected to extrajudicial killings, sexual abuse, and recruitment in government-backed militias. UNICEF reports that the number of children in need of humanitarian assistance exceeds 2 600 000 [2], in which many are subjected to exploitation and fall as victims of aggression. GICJ urgently calls on the Iraqi government to comply with its own constitution as well as with its international obligations to protect children from all sorts of exploitation.