Chapter 4 – Child Protection Focal Points
To appoint child protection focal points throughout our mission command structures, both military and police, to support the development of a common international standard endorsed by participating nations and the United Nations for training and certification of such focal points, and to enable and encourage active communication, coordination, and cooperation between such focal points and civilian Child Protection Advisors as well as other child protection actors.
Why is this principle important?
Child protection is a collective responsibility across UN peacekeeping operations – for military, police, and civilian personnel. However, specialised personnel with distinct responsibilities are needed to systematically prioritize, coordinate, inform, and monitor child protection activities in a mission setting.
For this reason, civilian Child Protection Advisors (CPAs) are assigned by the UN to peacekeeping operations, in accordance with a series of UN Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs) on children and armed conflict (CAAC).Endnote 39 In particular, UNSCR 2427 (2018) identifies “the crucial role of child protection advisors in mainstreaming child protection and leading monitoring, prevention, and reporting efforts in missions” and encourages the deployment of CPAs to all relevant UN peacekeeping operations.Endnote 40 Senior CPAs (SCPAs) should have direct access to the senior mission leadership, and serve as its principal advisor on child protection.
Military and police Child Protection Focal Points (CPFPs) should be nominated by Member States from within the uniformed components to support the SCPA and CPAs, and help integrate the mission’s child protection mandate into the daily activities of uniformed peacekeepers. In accordance with the 2017 DPKO-DFS-DPA Policy on Child Protection in United Nations Peace Operations, military and police CPFPs should be designated at all levels of the mission component, including force headquarters, sector, battalion, and company.Endnote 41
CPFPs are critical actors in the prevention of the recruitment and use of child soldiers in UN peacekeeping operations. However, the appointment of a CPFP does not relieve other peacekeepers of their responsibilities regarding child protection.
How can this principle be implemented?
Ensure that the roles and responsibilities of CPAs and CPFPs are clearly articulated in relevant national policy, doctrine, and directives: National policy, doctrine, and directives should explain the important roles and responsibilities of the CPAs (including the SCPA) and CPFPs within a mission. The SCPA should serve as the main child protection point of contact for a UN mission, act as the key advisor to mission leadership on child protection matters, and act as the overall lead on the implementation of the mission’s child protection mandate. The SCPA should be supported by sector-level CPAs. CPFPs (military and police) should serve as the focal points for coordination on child protection activities within their respective mission components, in close coordination with, and under the leadership of, the SCPA. All peacekeepers need to be aware of the respective responsibilities of the CPAs and CPFPs, and refer to them for guidance on child protection plans, activities, and concerns.
According to the 2017 DPKO-DFS-DPA Policy on Child Protection in United Nations Peace Operations, civilian CPAs should:
- Advise senior mission leadership (including the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General (SRSGs), Heads of Mission, Deputy SRSGs, Force Commanders, and Heads of UN Police components) on child protection issues;
- Verify, monitor, identify, and report on the six grave violations;
- Co-chair the Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting;
- Engage in dialogue with parties to the conflict;
- Conduct training on child protection;
- Coordinate with the UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and other relevant actors; and,
- Pursue high-level advocacy on child protection.Endnote 42
In close coordination with the CPAs, military and police CPFPs are responsible for coordinating the implementation of the child protection mandate within their respective components, including by channeling alerts of violations against children to the CPAs.Endnote 43
Of note, in some UN missions, child protection and gender advisor positions are integrated, with both responsibilities typically fulfilled by one individual, often under the title of gender advisor. In these cases, clearly articulating the child protection roles and responsibilities of the military and police focal points is all the more important.
While each UN mission will have its own CPFP system that should be laid out in the mission-specific Force Commander’s Child Protection Directives, an example military CPFP system has been included at Figure 1 for ease of reference.
Figure 1: Example Military Child Protection Focal Point System
Text description of Figure 1 graphic
- This figure provides an example organization chart for a military child protection focal point system, which is headed by a Force Headquarters Senior Child Protection Advisor and Military Child Protection Focal Point.
- This individual has three Military Sector Child Protection Focal Points reporting up to him or her.
- Each of these Military Sector Child Protection Focal Points has two Military Unit Child Protection Focal Points reporting up to him or her.
Educate all peacekeeping personnel on the roles and responsibilities of CPAs and CPFPs: In accordance with the 2017 DPKO-DFS-DPA Policy on Child Protection in United Nations Peace Operations, Member States should educate all peacekeepers on the important roles that CPAs and CPFPs play within a mission. Pre-deployment training should be amended to include modules on the roles and responsibilities of both military and police CPFPs, and how they support the work of the CPAs,Endnote 44 in line with UN Specialised Training Materials (STMs) on Child Protection. Member States are encouraged to deliver the UN STMs on Child Protection for UN Military and UN Police.Endnote 45
Train designated personnel to serve as CPFPs: CPFPs should be specially trained prior to deployment to UN peacekeeping operations. CPFPs should be trained on monitoring and reporting of the six grave violations against children and the referral pathways for victims, in accordance with the UN STMs on Child Protection for UN Police and UN Military.Endnote 46 Member States can request support from the UN Department of Peace Operations (DPO) Division of Policy, Evaluation and Training (DPET) Child Protection Team and/or the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG/CAAC) in delivering these specialised training modules on an ad hoc basis. Member States should also consider sending future CPFPs to the annual UN Child Protection Course held at the Swedish Armed Forces International Training Centre (SWEDINT) in partnership with the UN DPO.Endnote 47 This course is aimed at preparing individual participants for assignments relating to child protection in UN missions.
As peacekeepers undergo specialised training, Member States could consider developing a national roster of trained individuals ready to deploy as CPFPs. Gender diversity across the cadre of trained CPFPs is important, as women and men offer distinct skills, perspectives, and approaches to child protection.Endnote 48
Deploy trained personnel as CPFPs within the mission’s uniformed components: In accordance with the 2017 DPKO-DFS-DPA Policy on Child Protection in United Nations Peace Operations, Member States should nominate CPFPs within their national contingents and allocate the necessary resources to support them. As noted above, gender diversity across the cadre of trained CPFPs is important and all nominees should receive appropriate specialised training. When possible and within resource limitations, CPFPs should be dedicated exclusively to this role, rather than being tasked with multiple responsibilities (such as gender, protection of civilians, and conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV)). Member States can also consider providing financial assistance to support these posts.
Advocate for and support the development of UN Force Commander’s and UN Police Commissioner’s Child Protection Directives for UN peacekeeping operations, in accordance with UN mission mandates: The Child Protection Directives should serve as core mission guidance on child protection for military and police components. For ease of reference, an example template illustrating how a Force Commander’s Child Protection Directive could be structured is included at Appendix A. The Directives should be developed by the SCPA and approved by the UN mission leadership, and the CPFPs should be intimately familiar with them before deployment so that they are well-positioned to support implementation. As of March 2019, the three UN peacekeeping operations listed in the examples and resources section of this chaper had fully-established Child Protection Directives. As the process for establishing Child Protection Directives in line with the 2017 DPKO-DFS-DPA Policy on Child Protection in United Nations Peace Operations is still relatively new, it continues to evolve and Member States have an ongoing role in advocating for the continued development of Child Protection Directives.Endnote 49
Support the development of a UN-accredited standard for the training and certification of CPFPs: Member States can support UN DPO – in particular the DPET Child Protection Team – as it develops and updates the UN STMs for military and police on the roles and responsibilities of CPFPs. Member States can support the validation of new and updated materials for the training of CPFPs, for inclusion in the UN’s Core Pre-deployment Training Materials (CPTM). Supporting the development and validation of common UN training standards and materials is vital to strengthening the network of CPFPs.
Examples and resources
UN peacekeeping operations that have Child Protection Directives: The following missions have established Force Commander’s Directives on Child Protection, in accordance with the mission mandates. These Directives articulate how the child protection mandate will be mainstreamed throughout the Force component:
- MONUSCO (Democratic Republic of Congo); signed in July 2017.
- MINUSCA (Central African Republic); signed in December 2018.
- UNMISS (Republic of South Sudan); signed in February 2019.
The 2017 DPKO-DFS-DPA Policy on Child Protection in United Nations Peace Operations: Published in 2017, this policy outlines the role of UN DPKO, DFS, and DPA in the protection of children affected by armed conflict in UN peacekeeping operations (both peacekeeping and special political missions). In doing so, it contains specific guidance on expectations regarding CPAs and CPFPs.Endnote 50
UN STMs on Child Protection: UN STMs introduce child protection concepts and offer mission-specific interactive scenarios and examples for discussion among military and police national contingent leaders and staff. The materials are aimed at promoting a better understanding of the mission’s child protection mandate and the relevant child protection actors. These and other relevant materials are available on the UN Peacekeeping Resource Hub.Endnote 51
To implement this principle, Member States should undertake the following:
- Ensure that the roles and responsibilities of Child Protection Advisors (CPAs) and military and police Child Protection Focal Points (CPFPs) are clearly articulated in relevant national policy, doctrine, and directives.
- Educate all peacekeeping personnel on the roles and responsibilities of the CPAs and CPFPs.
- Train designated personnel to serve as CPFPs, acknowledging the need for gender diversity in these roles.
- Deploy trained personnel as CPFPs within the mission’s uniformed components.
- Advocate for and support the development of UN Force Commander’s Child Protection Directives and UN Police Commissioner’s Child Protection Directives for UN peacekeeping operations, in accordance with the UN mission mandates.
- Support the development of a UN-accredited standard for the training and certification of CPFPs.
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