Protecting the Rights of Children Affected by Armed Conflict: The Role of the UN and NGOs

Event Date: 
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Event Time: 
4:30 p.m.
016 Robertson Hall

The Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination sponsored a panel discussion, "Protecting the Rights of Children Affected by Armed Conflict: The Role of the UN and NGOs," on Thursday, February 7, 2013, at 4:30 p.m. in 016 Robertson Hall, on the Princeton University campus. Panel participants included Alec Wargo, Program Officer for the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict; Jo Becker, Advocacy Director for the Children's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch; and Eva Smets, Director of WatchList on Children and Armed Conflict. The event was free and open to the public. 

The public panel was the plenary session of a private workshop on children and armed conflict, which took place on February 8. The workshop addressed the current gaps in mandates related to the issue of children in armed conflict in UN Missions, particularly in Afghanistan and Somalia, with the goal of providing specific recommendations on how to strengthen the fight against impunity for persistent violators of the rights of children affected by armed conflicts. The meeting brought together academics, representatives of NGOs, and representatives of UN member states including members of the Security Council and the UN Secretariat for private discussion. The workshop was organized by the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations and WatchList on Children and Armed Conflict. 


Alec Wargo has been Program Officer for the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict since 2004. From 2001-2004, Wargo was Child Protection Advisor with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Democratic Republic of Congo Mission (MONUC). Prior to this, he served with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees as Child Protection Officer for the Guinea evacuation operation (2001), as Repatriation Officer for the East Timor operation (2000), and as Regional Child Protection Officer in Rwanda/Great Lakes (1998-2000). From 1996-1998 Wargo was Human Rights Officer and Head of Sub-Office for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. He holds a M.A. from McGill University and a B.A. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Jo Becker is Advocacy Director for the Children's Rights Division of Human Rights Watch. Becker frequently represents Human Rights Watch before the media, government officials, and the general public on issues including child soldiers, abusive child labor, and juvenile justice, her primary areas of expertise. Becker founded the International Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers and was a leading advocate for the international treaty prohibiting the use of child combatants, adopted by the United Nations in 2000. She has conducted fact-finding missions on child soldiers in Northern Uganda, Burma, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Before joining Human Rights Watch in 1997, Becker was the executive director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a national interfaith peace and justice organization. She graduated from Goshen College in Indiana and has a M.A. in Political Science from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

Eva Smets is Director of WatchList on Children and Armed Conflict, a network of international NGOs, which collects and disseminates information on violations against children throughout the world and uses this information to advocate for change. Prior to coming to WatchList, Smets spent six years with several NGOs in conflict settings in Central and East Africa, where she focused on humanitarian advocacy. She also has extensive lobbying experience, including in New York, Brussels, and Geneva. Eva holds a master’s degree in human rights and democratization from the University of Padova, Italy, and a degree in history from the University of Brussels, Belgium.