Allies approve NATO’s first Policy on the Protection of Children in Armed Conflict; strengthen Policy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings


Children are regular targets and victims of grave human rights violations during armed conflicts. At the Vilnius Summit (11-12 July 2023), Allies approved NATO’s first Policy on the Protection of Children in Armed Conflict, stepping up NATO’s contributions to international efforts under United Nations Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005).

The Policy will help enhance the ability of Allied troops to handle situations of harm to children when in operations or during the conduct of its military activities. It will foster exchange of best practices between Allies and partners, including international organizations, notably by refining mechanisms to monitor and report violation incidents and identifying appropriate referral pathways.
Allies further strengthened NATO’s approach to Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings by endorsing a new Policy, building on NATO’s 2004 Policy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings. The updated Policy makes sure that the risk of human trafficking is fully integrated in military planning, duly assessed and mitigated from the outset.

Cooperation with host nation authorities and other first responder organizations will also be further enhanced, notably to improve reporting and referral mechanisms. The Policy provides for additional gender-responsive training and education to help deployed personnel treat victims fairly, respectfully, equally, with dignity and without discrimination. It will also seek to reduce the risk of NATO funds being used to support human trafficking networks and organisations, including by addressing risks of trafficking through due diligence in supply chain management.

The two policies mark a significant step forward for NATO’s work on Human Security as laid out in the Human Security Approach and Guiding Principles, which was adopted at the 2022 Madrid Summit.