Russia has been named on the UN’s ‘list of shame’ for killing and injuring children in war. But the absences are at least as significant as the countries which made it onto the list. Despite hundreds of deaths every year, Israel is nowhere to be seen.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Palestinian ambassador to the UN criticised the decision to leave Israel off the list. This is despite Israel regularly killing juveniles.
According to Reuters, the UN report successfully:
…verified that Russian armed forces and affiliated groups maimed 518 children and carried out 480 attacks on schools and hospitals. Russian armed forces also used 91 children as human shields, according to the report.
Imbalance on Israel
UN Secretary General António Guterres was heavily criticised for the decision. Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, said Guterres was making a mistake:
The Secretary General made a big mistake in not listing this current Israeli government. This is the most extreme government, loaded with fascist elements. If you do not list this government now, when will you list the Israeli government?
And Jo Becker, head of child advocacy at HRW, tweeted that Israeli forces had killed or wounded thousands of children since 2015:
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UN Secretary-General @antonioguterres has failed Palestinian children again. From 2015-2020, the UN attributed over 6,700 child casualties to Israeli forces. He has just verified 975 more in 2022. Yet he still omits Israel from his "list of shame."https://t.co/lCMSmkR9cg pic.twitter.com/3d48AOlsvj
— Jo Becker (@jobeckerhrw) June 22, 2023
Becker acknowledged Russia was being held to account by being placed on the list, but said:
His [Guterres’s] unwillingness, year after year, to hold Israeli forces accountable for their grave violations against children has backfired, only emboldening Israeli forces to use unlawful lethal force against Palestinian children.
The list is based on verified cases of killing, maiming, abduction, and sexual abuse. Additionally, it takes into account acts like the targeting of schools.
Cases were also found of Ukrainian violations, though it is not on the list. In March 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The warrant relates to allegations of abduction of Ukrainian children to Russian territory.
Meanwhile in the West Bank, a 15 year old girl became the seventh person to die in a recent Israeli raid. Sadeel Ghassan Naghniyeh Turkman was shot in the head. Middle East Eye reported that Turkman was the second 15yr old to be shot dead in recent Israeli attacks.
Being placed on the list, or not being placed on it, doesn’t just depend on what a state or non-state actor actually does. At least according to some diplomats. Israel and Saudi Arabia, for example, seem to have successfully exerted political pressure to stay off the list. But while US allies seem to enjoy special treatment, children in Ukraine, Palestine, and elsewhere remain vulnerable to military violence.
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