Coalition: Israel, Myanmar must go on children’s blacklist

UNITED NATIONS — An international coalition advocating for children in conflict zones urged Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday to put government security forces from Israel, Myanmar and Afghanistan on a U.N. blacklist for killings and other violations of children’s rights.

Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict also called on the U.N. chief to add several rebel groups in the Central African Republic, Congo’s national police force, a rebel group in Mali, and the main opposition force in South Sudan to the blacklist.

The global network of human rights and humanitarian organizations said Guterres should also determine whether the Kurdistan Workers Party and several Kurdish groups in Iraq, the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, international coalitions in Syria, and the armed forces in the Philippines should be added.

Watchlist also recommended in a report that an assessment mission be sent to Ukraine to investigate which parties committed grave violations.

The secretary-general’s annual report on children in armed conflict contains a blacklist of government forces and rebel groups that recruit, use, kill, maim, rape, sexually abuse or abduct children in armed conflict or attack schools and hospitals.

Watchlist’s U.N. Advocacy Officer Dragica Mikavica said the list is “an indispensable tool for stopping heinous crimes against children — but it can only remain credible if it lists all the guilty parties.”

She said parties are so concerned about not finding themselves on the list “that they would go the length of threatening to pull funding from U.N. programs in blackmail.”

In 2016, the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen was put on the blacklist by then Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon but then removed. Ban said coalition supporters threatened to stop funding many U.N. programs and he had to consider “the very real prospect” that millions of other children in the Palestinian territories, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and many other places “would suffer grievously” if U.N. programs were defunded.

Last year’s report, the first by Guterres, who succeeded Ban, was delayed until October and changed the blacklist.