Global Protection Risks

Child, Early or Forced Marriage

Child marriage is any formal or informal union between a child under the age of 18 with an adult or another child. It is considered as a form of forced marriage because of the impossibility for a child to give full, free and informed consent. Child marriage is a harmful practice that might be socially accepted and practiced, or used as a coping mechanism. Girls are disproportionately affected by it, but boys might also be concerned. In humanitarian emergencies caused by conflict, natural hazards and climate change impacts, the rates of child marriage, as with other forms of gender-based violence, are likely to increase due to safety concerns, situational factors, and poor living conditions that result in the adoption of negative coping mechanisms. Child marriage may result due to parents believing that their child will be safer in another household, or because they can no longer meet the basic needs of the family due to food insecurity. Forced marriage is a marriage in which one or more of the parties is married without their consent or against their will. In conflict-affected areas, girls may be kidnapped and forced to marry members of armed forces or armed groups.

What factors must be identified for monitoring? 

While monitoring this protection risk, it is important to report on all types of attacks, whether they are intentional or unintentional, directly or indirectly causing harm to civilian population and objects or perpetrated by State or non-State actors. It is also fundamental as well to identify whether attacks are indiscriminate: 1) when they do not distinguish between military and civilian population or objects (e.g. bombing a highly populated area); 2) whether the use of methods or means of warfare cannot be directed at a specific military objective; 3) the effects of which cannot be limited, (e.g. the use of cluster munitions in densely populated urban areas, the use of biological weapons and the use of mines in populated urban areas). It is essential as well to identify when attacks are disproportionate, when a party to the conflict carries out an attack on a military target which can be expected to cause loss of civilian life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects, which would be excessive (disproportionate) in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated (principle of proportionality). This risk is often the cause or driver of the other 14 protection risks.


What information & data can illustrate the presence of the risk? 

Generally, in situation of armed conflict there is a wealth of information on incidents, consequences of attacks and targeting. This data and information may be found beyond the monitoring done by the protection sector and requires a thorough analysis of primary and secondary sources. Civilians injured, killed, or incidents with direct impact on civilians or civilian infrastructure can be identified through: protection of civilian mechanisms, cluster-s’ specific monitoring and data, research and analysis centres, human rights monitoring mechanisms and partners, media, protection monitoring, UN missions’ dedicated mechanisms, and national bodies. Often it may not be possible to have precise numbers or statistics on attacks, due to access and other constraints. It is therefore important to use observation, expert judgement, triangulate available information, and ensure the reporting on the protection risk, independently from available statistics.


You can download the definition here.