“In the armed conflicts of recent years, children have featured centrally as targets of violence, and occasionally – even unwillingly – as perpetrators,” the Secretary-General writes. “A large number of children have been directly affected by armed conflict, many of them uprooted from their homes and communities, maimed, or killed. Others have been made orphans, abducted, abused and exploited.”Among his proposals, Mr. Annan suggests the inclusion by the Council of provisions for monitoring children’s rights within the mandates of peace missions. The report also calls for more attention to be paid to the impact of war on girls, an issue which the Secretary-General says is “particularly damaging for future generations.” Already disadvantaged in peacetime, girls undergo sexual abuse and enslavement during war, he says, urging that sexual violence against women and children continue to be prosecuted as a war crime. In addition, the report highlights the impact of HIV/AIDS on children in conflict situations and the role of truth commissions.As signs that progress is possible, the report points to recent developments such as Rwanda’s enactment of legislation that enables girls, including tens of thousands who became heads of households after the 1994 genocide, to inherit farms crucial to their survival, and Sierra Leone’s establishment of a National Commission for War-Affected Children. Humanitarian access in the Sudan has been improved, the text states, and Colombia has raised its age of recruitment into the armed forces to 18. According to the report, existing normative standards, including previous Security Council resolutions, have gone a long way in defining the parameters of acceptable conduct for parties to armed conflict as far as children and other civilians are concerned. Member States, the UN system and regional organisations have all been bound or solicited to take concrete steps to improve the protection of war-affected children.”As delegations gather under the auspices of the UN General Assembly Special Session on Children, I sincerely hope that Member States, the UN system, NGOs [non-governmental organizations], civil society and others will take decisive action to protect children and to actively dissuade, and seek to expose and sanction, those whose actions are beyond the pale,” the Secretary-General writes, referring to the General Assembly’s upcoming session on children, to be held in New York from 19 to 21 September.