Conclusion on Children at Risk
No. 107 (LVIII) - 2007

EXCOM Conclusions, 5 October 2007

The Executive Committee,

Recalling its Conclusions Nos. 47 (XXXVIII), 59 (XL) and 84 (XLVIII), specifically on refugee children and/or adolescents, Conclusion No. 105 (LVI) on Women and Girls at Risk, Conclusion No. 106 (LVI) on Identification, Prevention and Reduction of Statelessness and Protection of Stateless Persons, Conclusion No. 94 (LIII) on the Civilian and Humanitarian Character of Asylum, Conclusion No. 98 (LIV) on Protection from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, Conclusion No. 100 (LV) on International Cooperation and Burden and Responsibility Sharing in Mass Influx Situations as well as all provisions of relevance to the protection of refugee children set out in other Conclusions, many of which are relevant for other children of concern to UNHCR,

Taking note of the more recent international developments in relation to the protection of children, in particular the two Optional Protocols to the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Security Council resolutions 1612, 1674, and 1325, the Paris Commitments to Protect Children from Unlawful Recruitment or Use by Armed Forces or Armed Groups and the United Nations Secretary-General's Study on Violence against Children,

Recognizing the important work done by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in relation to the protection of children,

Affirming that children, because of their age, social status and physical and mental development are often more vulnerable than adults in situations of forced displacement; recognizing that forced displacement, return to post-conflict situations, integration in new societies, protracted situations of displacement, and statelessness can increase the vulnerability of children generally; taking into account the particular vulnerability of refugee children to being forcibly exposed to the risks of physical and psychological injury, exploitation and death in connection with armed conflict; and acknowledging that wider environmental factors and individual risk factors, particularly when combined, can put children in situations of heightened risk,

Acknowledging that, while both girls and boys face many of the same protection risks, they also experience protection challenges specific to their gender, and reaffirming that, while many risks may be prevalent in all settings, camp and urban environments may generate different protection needs,

Noting that this Conclusion applies to children, as defined under Article 1 of the CRC, who are asylum-seekers, refugees, are internally displaced or returnees assisted and protected by UNHCR, or are stateless, particularly addressing the situation of those at heightened risk,1

Recalling that the protection of children is primarily the responsibility of States, whose full and effective cooperation, action and political resolve are required to enable UNHCR to fulfil its mandated functions,

Recognizing the varied means and capacity of host countries; and reaffirming its call to the international community, in cooperation with UNHCR and other international organizations, to mobilize the financial and other resources necessary, including in support of host communities, to ensure the provision of protection and material assistance and the achievement of durable solutions, based on international solidarity, cooperation and burden and responsibility sharing, as well as on the understanding that inadequate protection, or inadequate, inappropriate or poorly distributed assistance, can increase the risks children face,

(a) Adopts this Conclusion which provides operational guidance for States, UNHCR and other relevant agencies and partners, including through identifying components that may form part of a comprehensive child protection system, with the aim of strengthening the protection of children at risk;

Fundamentals of child protection

(b) Recognizes that strategies and actions under this operational guidance should be underpinned by the following principles and approaches, amongst others:

Identification of children at risk

(c) Calls on States, UNHCR and other relevant agencies and partners to put in place modalities, as appropriate, for early and continuous identification of children at heightened risk. Risk factors that put children in a situation of heightened risk can include both risks in the wider protection environment and risks resulting from individual circumstances, taking into account the cumulative effects of being exposed to several risk factors, such as:

(d) Recognizes the challenges involved in identifying children at heightened risk as they are frequently less visible than adults and may not have the opportunity or feel able to report protection incidents, particularly if these occur in the private domain and/or are associated with social stigmas or taboos; acknowledges the need to provide children access to adults with expertise in age-appropriate and gender-sensitive interviewing and communication skills to ensure that children's views are taken into account and their needs and protection risks are adequately identified and responded to;

(e) Recognizes that individual, careful and prompt registration of children can be useful for States, UNHCR and other relevant agencies and partners in identifying children at heightened risk;

(f) Recognizes that the systematic collection and analysis of age- and sex-disaggregated data, and of data on children with specific needs, such as unaccompanied and separated children, can be useful for States, UNHCR and other relevant agencies and partners in identifying children at heightened risk;

Prevention, response and solutions

(g) Recommends that States, UNHCR and other relevant agencies and partners work in close collaboration to prevent children from being put at heightened risk, and respond, as necessary, through the general prevention, response and solution measures listed non-exhaustively below:

(h) Further recommends that States, UNHCR and other relevant agencies and partners undertake the following non-exhaustive prevention, response and solution measures in order to address specific wider environmental or individual risks factors:

1 Hereinafter referred to as "children" or "a child"

Executive Commitee 56th session. Contained in United Nations General Assembly document A/AC.96/1048