The Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict – a consortium of international rights organisations – have urged United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres to put 11 entities on its blacklist of countries and organisations responsible for grave violations against children, and it should come as a surprise to no one that the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is part of this list. The role of terrorist organisations such as the TTP in brainwashing children and turning them into lethal weapons is something that cannot be ignored. Not only that, but the innocent lives lost (children included) in the attacks carried out by the TTP are reason enough for them to be declared as violators of child rights. Pakistan’s worst terrorist attack – the APS massacre – was carried out by a TTP faction.

The blacklist itself is only symbolic; terrorist organisations are already on most watchlists, and security agencies are already in the process of attempting to trace financial channels and clamp down on sympathisers and apologists. This blacklist will do not even put a dent in the mobilisation efforts of the TTP, attacks will still be orchestrated and the organisation will keep looking for opportunities to destabilise Pakistan whenever possible.

Other organisations that were mentioned in the list include the Israeli Defence Forces, the Popular Mobilisation Forces in Iraq, the Communist Party-Maoist in India (for recruiting children), the Libyan National Army, and opposition groups in Thailand. In short, all organisations that threaten the stability of the area they operate in, and target, recruit or cause harm to children in the process.

The rights of children are often the first liberties to take the sideline in the event of a terrorist attack or prolonged exchanges between the state and non-state actors. Considering the importance of children to families and society in general, this is the one thing that must not be allowed to happen, however.

Even if the consortium gets it wish, and these entities are included in the blacklist, there is not much the UN can do. But even this is highly unlikely because the US and Israel have already blocked the move to put the Israeli Defence Forces on the list in 2015. Putting the Saudi-led Yemen alliance on the blacklist, although justified, would also open a whole new Pandora’s box that the UN might not be able to handle, considering Saudi Arabia’s considerable funding to various UN programmes. This is a good symbolic gesture, but its chances of success are slim, and even those odds are stacked against the effort to improve the rights of children.