The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has faced backlash from human rights groups and Palestinian officials for not adding the Israeli occupation to the annual “list of shame” of parties that violate children’s rights in armed conflicts.
Human Rights Watch official Jo Baker said that Guterres’ “reluctance” to “hold Israel accountable for its grave violations of children’s rights has been counterproductive, encouraging Israeli forces to use lethal force against Palestinian children.”
Baker cited the killing of 42 Palestinian children by Israeli forces in 2022, mostly in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, where the Israeli occupation maintains a military occupation and a blockade.
Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour also expressed his disappointment with Guterres’ decision, saying that “I think the secretary-general made a big mistake by not including this Israeli government to the list.”
Mansour argued that the Israeli occupation should be held responsible for its actions, especially after the UN warned last year that it would be included on the list if no improvement in its behavior was observed.
Guterres defended his decision by saying that he noted “a significant decrease in the number of children killed by Israeli forces, including in airstrikes” between 2021 and 2022, when 78 Palestinian children were killed.
However, he added that he was “very concerned about the number of children killed and maimed by Israeli forces” and urged the Israeli occupation to “take all feasible measures to protect children from harm.”
The “list of shame” includes parties that are responsible for killing, maiming, recruiting, abducting, sexually abusing or attacking schools and hospitals of children in conflict zones.
The list currently includes 51 parties from 14 countries, such as Afghanistan, Myanmar, Syria and Yemen. None of them are from the Israeli occupation or Palestine.