SECURITY COUNCIL REQUESTS SECRETARY-GENERAL TO LIST PARTIES TO ARMED CONFLICT THAT RECRUIT OR USE CHILDREN
SECURITY COUNCIL REQUESTS SECRETARY-GENERAL TO LIST PARTIES TO ARMED CONFLICT THAT RECRUIT OR USE CHILDREN
4422nd and 4423rd Meetings* (AM & PM)
SECURITY COUNCIL REQUESTS SECRETARY-GENERAL TO LIST PARTIES
TO ARMED CONFLICT THAT RECRUIT OR USE CHILDREN
Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 1379 (2001);
Former Sierra Leonean Child Soldier Appeals for Action
Recognizing the harmful and widespread impact of armed conflict on children and the long-term consequences on durable peace, security and development, the Security Council this afternoon expressed its readiness to explicitly include provisions for the protection of children, when considering mandates for peacekeeping operations.
In the second of two meetings today, the Council took that action as it unanimously adopted resolution 1379 (2001) by whose terms it also expressed its readiness to continue to include child protection advisers on peacekeeping operations. In that context, the Secretary-General was asked to take the protection of children into account in peacekeeping plans submitted to the Council, by including, on a case-by case basis, child-protection staff in missions and peace-building operations.
The Council also asked the Secretary-General to continue, and intensify, monitoring and reporting activities by peacekeeping and peace-building support operations on the situation of children in armed conflict. In a report requested by the Council on the resolution’s implementation, the Secretary-General was requested to attach a list of parties to armed conflict that recruit or use children in violation of their international obligations.
“The resolution before the Council today tells each of us what we have to do to protect children in armed conflict”, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Council in the first meeting today, which was addressed by over
30 speakers. He said that the text called on States to punish conduct that fuelled and exacerbated war and drew attention to issues such as the recruitment of children and trafficking in arms and natural resources. It also urged donors, lenders, the United Nations, international financial institutions and others to use their financial leverage and influence as well.
* The 4420th & and 4421st Meetings were closed.
Also in today’s resolution, the Council further expressed its intention to call upon the parties to a conflict to make special arrangements for the protection and assistance requirements of women, children and other vulnerable groups. It also underlined the importance of the full, safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel, goods and assistance to all children affected by armed conflict.
By other terms, the Council expressed its intention to consider taking appropriate steps to address the links between armed conflict and terrorism, the illicit trade and trafficking in precious minerals, small arms and light weapons, as well as other criminal activities which could prolong armed conflict or intensify its impact in civilian populations, including children.
By further terms, the Council undertook to consider, when imposing punitive measures, the socio-economic impact of sanctions on children in order to provide appropriate humanitarian exemptions that would take account of their specific needs and vulnerability, as well as minimize such impact.
The resolution also called on all parties to armed conflict to fully respect international laws related to the rights and protection of children in armed conflict; provide protection and assistance to refugees and internally displaced people; take special measures to promote and protect the rights of girls, meet their needs and put an end to all forms of violence and exploitation; and provide protection for children in peace agreements.
By other terms, the Council urged Member States to end impunity; prosecute those responsible for crimes against humanity and other egregious crimes committed against children; and exclude, where feasible, those crimes from amnesty provisions and relevant legislation. Member States were also urged to consider measures to discourage corporate actors within their jurisdiction from maintaining commercial relations with parties to armed conflicts, who violate applicable international law on the protection of children in armed conflict. States were also urged to take further measures against corporate actors, individuals and entities under their jurisdiction who engaged in illicit trading of natural resources and small arms.
Further by the text, States were urged to ratify both the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflict and the International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention No. 182 on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour.
Olara Otunnu, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said there was an urgent need for the international community to organize a more systematic and effective way of monitoring and reporting the conduct of parties to the conflict in relation to their treatment of children. Unless critical knowledge gaps were filled, interventions were unlikely to be effective. He had proposed a Research Agenda on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children to focus on filling knowledge gaps in the specific areas. The idea was to generate research outcomes and products that were responsive to practical needs, and help to inform and strengthen policy-making and action.
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Mr. Otunnu also underscored that the international community was not doing enough to prevent harm to girls in wartime and to ensure appropriate recovery and rehabilitation services in the aftermath. He appealed to the Council and the international community to support the efforts of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA) to ensure that child protection remained a priority throughout the peacemaking and peace-building processes in that country.
Also in his statement this morning, Mr. Annan stressed that field monitoring was essential, and he would continue to ensure the deployment of child protection advisers. The Council also needed timely, accurate information about the implementation of its resolutions, and he was committed to providing that. He underscored that he also stood “ready to bring to your attention the identities of parties that are in violation of any part of this resolution”.
Alhaji Babah Sawaneh, a 14-year old former child soldier from Sierra Leone, who was abducted by the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) when he was 10 years old, also addressed the Council today, describing his two-year ordeal as a child combatant and his experience with disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
He appealed to the Council on behalf of the children of Sierra Leone to do all it could to end their sad tale. “We want to be able to move about freely in all parts of the country to attend the schools of our choice”, he said. “We want to be able to visit our friends and families everywhere in the country without fear of abduction, recruitment and other dangers. Above all we want our parents to be able to work and educate us and to become useful citizens.” He hoped that governments and the United Nations would listen to children and take their words into account.
Carol Bellamy, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), addressed the Council, as well, today.
Statements were also made in the first meeting today by the representatives of the United Kingdom, United States, Norway, China, Ukraine, Mali, Russian Federation, Ireland, Bangladesh, Colombia, Tunisia, France, Singapore, Mauritius, and Jamaica.
The representatives of Belgium (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Egypt, Mexico, Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Japan, South Africa, Canada, Iraq, Israel, Nigeria and Malaysia addressed the Council today, as well.
The first meeting, which began at 11:45 a.m., was suspended at 1:17 p.m., resumed at 3:20 p.m., and adjourned at 6:22 p.m.
The second meeting in which the resolution was adopted, began at 6:23 p.m. and was adjourned at 6:25 p.m.
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The full text of resolution 1379 (2001) reads, as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Recalling its resolution 1314 (2000) of 11 August 2000,
"Further recalling its resolutions 1261 (1999) of 28 August 1999, 1265 (1999) of 17 September 1999, 1296 (2000) of 19 April 2000, 1306 (2000) of 5 July 2000, 1308 (2000) of 17 July 2000 and 1325 (2000) of 31 October 2000 and the statements of its President of 29 June 1998 (S/PRST/1998/18), 12 February 1999 (S/PRST/1999/6), 8 July 1999 (S/PRST/1999/21), 30 November 1999 (S/PRST/1999/34), 20 July 2000 (S/PRST/2000/25) and of 31 August 2001 (S/PRST/2001/21),
"Recognizing the harmful and widespread impact of armed conflict on children and the long-term consequences this has for durable peace, security and development,
"Bearing in mind the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and recalling the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security and, in this connection, its commitment to address the impact of armed conflict on children,
"Underlining the need for all parties concerned to comply with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and with international law, in particular those regarding children,
"Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 7 September 2001 on the implementation of resolution 1314 (2000) on children and armed conflict,
"1. Expresses, accordingly, its determination to give the fullest attention to the question of the protection of children in armed conflict when considering the matters of which it is seized;
"2. Expresses its readiness explicitly to include provisions for the protection of children, when considering the mandates of peacekeeping operations, and reaffirms, in this regard, its readiness to continue to include, where appropriate, child protection advisers in peacekeeping operations;
"3. Supports the ongoing work of the Secretary General, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, the United Nations Children's Fund, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, other agencies of the United Nations system and other international organizations dealing with children affected by armed conflict;
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"4. Expresses its intention, where appropriate, to call upon the parties to a conflict to make special arrangements to meet the protection and assistance requirements of women, children and other vulnerable groups, including through the promotion of "days of immunization" and other opportunities for the safe and unhindered delivery of basic necessary services;
"5. Underlines the importance of the full, safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel and goods and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all children affected by armed conflict;
"6. Expresses its intention to consider taking appropriate steps, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, to address the linkages between armed conflict and terrorism, the illicit trade in precious minerals, the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, and other criminal activities, which can prolong armed conflict or intensify its impact on civilian populations, including children;
"7. Undertakes to consider, as appropriate when imposing measures under Article 41 of the Charter of the United Nations, the economic and social impact of sanctions on children, with a view to providing appropriate humanitarian exemptions that take account of their specific needs and their vulnerability and to minimize such impact;
"8. Calls upon all parties to armed conflict to:
"(a) Respect fully applicable international law relating to the rights and protection of children in armed conflict, in particular the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the obligations applicable to them under the Additional Protocols thereto of 1977, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989, the Optional Protocol thereto of 25 May 2000, and the amended Protocol II to the Convention on Prohibition or Restriction on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects, the International Labour Organization Convention No. 182 on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour and the Ottawa Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction, and notes the inclusion as a war crime in the Rome Statute of the conscription or enlistment of children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities;
"(b) Provide protection and assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons, the majority of whom are women and children, in accordance with applicable international norms and standards;
"(c) Take special measures to promote and protect the rights and meet the special needs of girls affected by armed conflict, and to put an end to all forms of violence and exploitation, including sexual violence, particularly rape;
"(d) Abide by the concrete commitments they have made to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, as well
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as relevant United Nations bodies, to ensure the protection of children in situations of armed conflict;
"(e) Provide protection of children in peace agreements, including, where appropriate, provisions relating to the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation of child soldiers and the reunification of families, and to consider, when possible, the views of children in those processes;
"9. Urges Member States to:
"(a) Put an end to impunity, prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and other egregious crimes perpetrated against children and exclude, where feasible, these crimes from amnesty provisions and relevant legislation, and ensure that post-conflict truth-and-reconciliation processes address serious abuses involving children;
"(b) Consider appropriate legal, political, diplomatic, financial and material measures, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, in order to ensure that parties to armed conflict respect international norms for the protection of children;
"(c) Consider, where appropriate, measures that may be taken to discourage corporate actors, within their jurisdiction, from maintaining commercial relations with parties to armed conflicts, that are on the Security Council's agenda, that violate internationally accepted child protection standards or that contribute to prolonging armed conflicts;
"(d) Consider measures against corporate actors, individuals and entities under their jurisdiction that engage in illicit trade in natural resources and small arms, in violation of relevant Security Council resolutions and the Charter of the United Nations;
"(e) Consider ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and the International Labour Organization Convention No. 182 on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour;
"(f) Consider further steps for the protection of children, especially in the context of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010);
"10. Requests the Secretary-General to:
"(a) Take the protection of children into account in peacekeeping plans submitted to the Security Council, inter alia, by including, on a case by case basis, child protection staff in peacekeeping and, as appropriate, peace-building operations and strengthening expertise and capacity in the area of human rights, where necessary;
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"(b) Ensure that all peacekeeping personnel receive and follow appropriate guidance on HIV/AIDS and training in international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law relevant to children;
"(c) Continue and intensify, on a case by case basis, monitoring and reporting activities by peacekeeping and peace-building support operations on the situation of children in armed conflict;
"11. Requests the agencies, funds and programmes of the United Nations to:
"(a) Coordinate their support and assistance to parties to armed conflict in fulfilling their obligations and commitments to children;
"(b) Take account of ways of reducing child recruitment that is contrary to accepted international standards when formulating development assistance programmes;
"(c) Devote particular attention and adequate resources to the rehabilitation of children affected by armed conflict, particularly their counselling, education and appropriate vocational opportunities, as a preventive measure and as a means of reintegrating them into society;
"(d) Ensure that the special needs and particular vulnerabilities of girls affected by armed conflict, including those heading households, orphaned, sexually exploited and used as combatants, are duly taken into account in the design of development assistance programmes, and that adequate resources are allocated to such programmes;
"(e) Integrate HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, care and support into emergency, humanitarian, and post-conflict programmes;
"(f) Support the development of local capacity to address post-conflict child rehabilitation and reintegration concerns;
"(g) Promote a culture of peace, including through support for peace education programmes and other non-violent approaches to conflict prevention and resolution, in peace-building activities;
"12. Encourages the international financial institutions and regional financial and development institutions to:
"(a) Devote part of their assistance to rehabilitation and reintegration programmes conducted jointly by agencies, funds, programmes and State parties to conflicts that have taken effective measures to comply with their obligations to protect children in situations of armed conflict, including the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers, in particular those who have been used in armed conflicts contrary to international law;
"(b) Contribute resources for quick-impact projects in conflict zones where peacekeeping operations are deployed or are in the process of deployment;
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"(c) Support the efforts of the regional organizations engaged in activities for the benefit of children affected by armed conflict, by providing them with financial and technical assistance, as appropriate;
"13. Urges regional and subregional organizations and arrangements to:
"(a) Consider establishing, within their secretariats, child protection mechanisms for the development and implementation of policies, activities and advocacy for the benefit of children affected by armed conflict, and consider the views of children in the design and implementation of such policies and programmes where possible;
"(b) Consider including child protection staff in their peacekeeping and field operations and provide training to members of such operations on the rights and protection of children;
"(c) Take steps leading to the elimination of cross-border activities deleterious to children in times of armed conflict, such as the cross-border recruitment and abduction of children, the sale of or traffic in children, attacks on camps and settlements of refugees and internally displaced persons, the illicit trade in precious minerals, the illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, and other criminal activities;
"(d) Develop and expand regional initiatives to prevent the use of child soldiers in violation of international law and to take appropriate measures to ensure the compliance by parties to armed conflict with obligations to protect children in armed conflict situations;
"14. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to include in his written reports to the Council on conflict situations his observations concerning the protection of children and recommendations in this regard;
"15. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report to the Council by 31 October 2002 on the implementation of this resolution and of resolutions 1261 (1999) and 1314 (2000);
"16. Requests the Secretary-General to attach to his report a list of parties to armed conflict that recruit or use children in violation of the international obligations applicable to them, in situations that are on the Security Council's agenda or that may be brought to the attention of the Security Council by the Secretary-General, in accordance with article 99 of the Charter of the United Nations, which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security;
"17. Decides to remain actively seized of this matter."
The Security Council met this morning to begin a day-long review of "Children and Armed Conflict". It had before it a report of the Secretary-General (document A/56/342-S/2001/852), which was issued on 7 September 2001. The report is submitted in accordance with the terms of resolution 1314 adopted by the Council on 11 August 2000.
In that resolution, the Council expressed grave concern at the impact of armed conflict on children and underlined the importance of giving consideration to the special needs and vulnerabilities of girls affected by such conflict. The resolution urged that children's human rights, their protection and welfare be incorporated in the development of policies and programmes, including those for prevention, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
The resolution also reaffirmed the Council's readiness to continue to include child protection advisers in future peacekeeping operations. The Council further urged all parties to armed conflict to respect international law regarding the rights and protection of children in armed conflict and urged Member States to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
Member States and relevant parts of the United Nations system were also urged to strengthen the capacities of national institutions and local civil society for ensuring the sustainability of local initiatives for the protection of children. Parties to conflicts were also asked to include provisions for the protection of children -- including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of child combatants -- in peace negotiations and agreements, and the involvement of children in those processes. Parties were also urged to abide by concrete commitments made by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General is Olara Otunnu. Appointed in September 1997, his mandate is to promote the protection, rights and welfare of children at every phase of a conflict. As a public advocate on behalf of children who have been brutalized and abused, he has been working to build greater awareness of their problems and to turn global outrage at those continuing abominations into a worldwide movement of repudiation.
Since the 1990 World Summit for Children, the United Nations has increasingly sought to draw international attention to the horrendous plight of children affected by armed conflict. In 1993, following a recommendation by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the General Assembly adopted resolution 48/157 (7 March 1994), recommending that the Secretary-General appoint an independent expert to study the impact of armed conflict on children. Graça Machel, former Minister of Education of Mozambique, was appointed and charged with undertaking the study, with the special support of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the United Nations Centre for Human Rights.
In 1996, Ms. Machel submitted her report, entitled "Impact of Armed Conflict on Children" (documents A/51/306 and Add.1), to the Assembly at its fifty-first session. In response, the Assembly adopted resolution 51/77, in which it recommended that the Secretary-General appoint for a period of three years a Special Representative on the impact of armed conflict on children. The Assembly also called upon States and institutions concerned to provide voluntary contributions in support of the work of the Special Representative.
The present progress report of the Secretary-General on the implementation of resolution 1314 (2000) stipulates several important measures intended to protect children during and after conflict. It also informs the Council of actions under way to ensure implementation of earlier recommendations of the Secretary-General and other relevant Council resolutions, while highlighting key actions for the future.
The Secretary-General's report states that in recent armed conflicts children have featured centrally as both targets and perpetrators of violence. A large number of them have been directly affected by armed conflict. The Secretary-General adds, however, that the growing awareness of the plight of war-affected children and increasing focus on their protection and rehabilitation have not yet, regrettably, ended children's suffering during and after armed conflict. While there is commendable progress on many fronts, to the children tormented by the effects of armed conflict, efforts to bring about an "era of application" of protective norms and standards fall short both of their expectations and of universally agreed standards.
In addressing the consolidation of the normative framework, the Secretary-General stresses that the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict is one of the core treaties that States are expected to ratify during the forthcoming special session of the General Assembly on children. States are urged to take the necessary steps without further delay to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol. (The special session, which was scheduled to take place in New York from 19 to 21 September, was formally postponed by the General Assembly until 8-10 May 2002, in recognition of the tragedy that struck the United States on Tuesday, 11 September.)
Still addressing the consolidation of the normative framework, the Secretary-General's report also underscores that States, in particular those considering the ratification of the Rome Statute for the Interactive Criminal Court, should review their national legislation with a view to defining the crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court as national crimes, and to ensure that national courts have jurisdiction over them and can prosecute egregious violations of children's rights in the context of armed conflict, wherever they occur.
Regarding the monitoring of obligations and commitments, the report calls upon the Council and Member States to continue to take steps to ensure compliance by all parties to armed conflicts with their child protection obligations and the commitments they have made to his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, as well as relevant United Nations bodies.
The report also suggests that the Council may wish to ensure that the mandates of peace operations explicitly include provisions for the monitoring of the rights of children.
According to the Secretary-General, accurate and current information from a wide variety of sources about the protection of children's rights in conflict situations should be made available to the Council and Member States. In addition, regional organizations are called upon to institute mechanisms for monitoring, and taking steps to curb, the cross-border movement of individuals and groups credibly accused of having violated their child protection commitments and obligations.
Addressing the issue of child protection on the United Nations agenda, the report states that the work of the informal inter-agency working group on the integration of child protection issues into peace negotiation and agreements should receive due attention and follow-up. It is also recommended that the training package developed by the informal working group on child-protection training for peacekeeping personnel should form a core component of training provided to such personnel. Member States are called upon to take similar steps.
The report further suggests that the Council should continue to include child protection elements in the mandates of relevant peacekeeping operations, and to provide for child protection advisers and child-focused human rights officers, where appropriate. The launch of the international research network on children and armed conflict should be supported, as well, notes the report.
Regarding the impact on children of the illicit exploitation of natural resources in zones of conflict, the Secretary-General recommends that the Council continue to consider targeted measures against parties to armed conflict, including complicit neighbours, whose actions contribute to the illegal exploitation of natural resources and the consequent fuelling of conflict. The Council should also continue its development of "strategic maps" of resource flows in zones of conflict characterized by egregious harm to children and civilians. There should be a particular focus on the beneficiaries of those flows, and the supply chains through which illegally procured resources are inserted into legal international markets.
The Secretary-General calls on the Council to consider the inclusion, where feasible, of specific provisions in the mandates of peacekeeping operations to monitor such activity. In addition, it could convene informal consultations with relevant actors, in particular with business leaders, on establishing mechanisms to curb those supply chains.
The report also suggests that multilateral development banks and the international corporate sector conduct "child impact assessments", where feasible, with regard to particular investments and projects that they may be funding in or near zones of conflict. Such assessments will repay their own costs by leading to better relations with local communities and, hence, more viable investments, adds the Secretary-General.
Addressing DDR programmes for child soldiers and abducted children, the report stresses that the provision of adequate resources for such programming is crucial. The Council and Member States are, therefore, urged to provide sustained and adequate resources to all relevant actors engaged in implementing demobilization and reintegration programmes for children. Regional organizations and relevant bodies are encouraged to institute close and consistent mapping of cross-border activity pertaining to the recruitment and abduction of children and to prioritize on their agendas, the curbing of such activity.
On the links between HIV/AIDS, children and conflict, the Secretary-General states that future Council field missions may decide to include an assessment of the HIV/AIDS situation, with particular focus on the impact of that situation on children. He appeals to the Council, Member States, humanitarian organizations and donors to ensure that HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, care and support are mainstreamed into emergency humanitarian assistance and DDR and repatriation programmes, including those for male and female child soldiers. He also urges that sexual violence against women and children continue to be prosecuted as a war crime in domestic and international forums.
On the issue of impunity and the involvement and protection of children in the truth- and justice-seeking process, the report calls attention to the recommendations recently made in the Council on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, in which both the Council and the Assembly were urged to provide sufficient and sustained funding for international truth- and justice-seeking efforts, and to provide for such efforts within the peacekeeping mandates.
The report also calls on Member States, parties to armed conflict and other concerned actors to ensure that the truth- and justice-seeking processes envisaged in the aftermath of conflict pay systematic attention to the full range of children's war-time experiences, the circumstances that allowed such abuses to occur, and the long-term interventions required to ensure rehabilitation and reintegration.
Regarding the issue of peace-building for children during and after conflict, the Secretary-General urges both the Council and Member States to consider specific means of involving local communities in war-affected areas in the development and implementation of the post-conflict response, in particular, those aspects that pertain to the rehabilitation of children affected by armed conflict.
Member States are further called upon to establish codes of conduct to improve restraints on the transfer of small arms and light weapons -- in particular, to conflict zones where children's rights are violated and children are used as soldiers. The Secretary-General suggests that the Council promote a culture of peace, including through support for peace education programmes and other non-violent approaches to conflict resolution, in its peace-building activities.
On the issue of regional responses to child protection concerns, the report urges Member States to provide the technical support and resources necessary for regional organizations to fulfil their roles in the protection of children in situations of armed conflict.
In his concluding observations, the Secretary-General states that, as delegations gather for the special session of the General Assembly on children, he sincerely hopes that decisive action will be taken to protect children and to actively dissuade, and seek to expose and sanction, those whose actions are beyond the pale. He also hopes that concrete commitments will be made by the Council and Member States so that all parties to armed conflict, and actors whose conduct indirectly fuels conflict, cannot but realize that the international community will accept nothing less than full compliance with child-protection obligations and commitments in time of war and in its aftermath.
Secretary-General KOFI ANNAN told the Council the situation in Afghanistan only reaffirmed the organization's concern for the plight of war-affected children. The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olaru Otunnu, were, therefore, working with his Special Representative for Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi, to ensure that the protection of children and civilians was a key part of efforts to restore and rebuild Afghanistan. "This generation of Afghan children must become the harbingers of peace", he said.
He said the resolution that would be before the Council today indicated what everyone had to do to protect children in armed conflict. It called on States to punish conduct that fuelled and exacerbated war. It drew attention to issues such as the recruitment of children and trafficking in arms and natural resources. It also urged donors, lenders and others to use their financial leverage. Further, it insisted that the Council, the United Nations system and the international financial institutions and others use their influence, as well.
The Secretary-General said that field monitoring was essential and he would continue to ensure the deployment of child protection advisers. The Council also needed timely, accurate information about the implementation of its resolutions, and he said he was committed to providing that, adding, "I also stand ready to bring to your attention the identities of parties that are in violation of any part of this resolution."
In conclusion, the Secretary-General said that wars, violence and political instability continued to inflict appalling damage to the children of the world. "I look forward to working with you in the struggle to keep their needs uppermost in our minds, and to ensure that the rights of children and child protection maintain a central role in the Organization's agenda", he said.
Under-Secretary-General OLARA OTUNNU, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said that since the Council’s first open debate devoted to the protections, rights and rehabilitation of children affected by armed conflict, there had been a progressive integration of those concerns into the peace and security agenda of the United Nations. Despite that progress, however, the overall situation of children exposed to war remained grave and unacceptable.
Reviewing the report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, he referred to measures which were particularly important, in order to change the situation of children on the ground. There was an urgent need, he said, for the international community to organize a more systematic and effective way of monitoring and reporting on the conduct of parties to conflict in relation to their treatment of children. Unless critical knowledge gaps were filled, interventions on behalf of children were unlikely to be effective. He had proposed a Research Agenda on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children to focus on filling knowledge gaps in the specific areas. The idea was to generate research outcomes and products that were responsive to practical needs, and help to inform and strengthen policy–making and action.
He said the coming into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict would constitute a milestone in the collective endeavours to end child soldiering. The international community must undertake tangible action to ensure the application of the Optional Protocol in theatres of conflict through effective monitoring of conduct and the mobilization of concerted pressure. He said a particular scandal was the pillage of natural resources by parties to armed conflict. Resources that should provide for rehabilitation, education, health care and nutrition for children were, instead, being plundered by networks of local, regional and international actors. He suggested that targeted measures be taken against parties to the conflict and others who were complicit, and that peacekeeping mandates should provide for the monitoring of compliance with such measures.
He said the international community was not doing enough to prevent harm to girls in times of war, and to ensure appropriate recovery and rehabilitation services in war’s aftermath. It must do more to protect and rehabilitate girls exposed to war. With regard to the spread of HIV/AIDS “in the corridors of war”, he urged the Council to continue to look at ways that HIV/AIDS could be combated. Education of peacekeeping personnel and the identification of children exposed to the virus, and provision of appropriate counselling and treatment for them, were essential.
Turning to the situation in Afghanistan, he appealed to the Council and the international community to support the efforts of the United Nations Special Mission to Afghanistan (UNSMA) to ensure that child protection remained a priority throughout the peacemaking and peace-building processes in that country, including through the deployment of specialized child-protection staff. No peace was likely to be sustainable, he said, unless children and youth were provided with rehabilitation and hope, so that, instead of being potential spoilers, they became a constructive force in rebuilding their country. “Only by doing what is right for children today can we build a solid foundation for peace and security tomorrow”, he said.
CAROL BELLAMY, Executive Director of UNICEF, said that the draft resolution that would be before the Council today built upon two previous measures on the issue, as well as the Council’s earlier resolutions on protection of civilians, on women, peace and security and on the threat of HIV/AIDS. Those measures were a testament to what the United Nations did best: changing attitudes through incremental developments; establishing standards for what was right and just; and making their implementation obligatory.
The issue of child soldiers was a prime example, she continued; as recently as five years ago, understanding and awareness of the issue had been limited. Today, a new international legal standard was in force -– an Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child -- which raised the age of recruitment, and prohibited the involvement of children under the age of 18 in hostilities. The recruitment of children was also defined as a war crime in the Rome Statute for the establishment of the International Criminal Court. Under the terms of the draft before the Council, those who recruited or used children in violation of international obligations would be brought to the attention of the Council by the Secretary-General, who would be called on to prepare reports, as necessary. That was a crucial step in the campaign to end the recruitment of children for armed combat and their use as soldiers.
Access to children caught up in conflict remained a major problem, she said. Most child fatalities in armed conflict occurred not as a direct result of violence, but because children were denied access to such essential services as health care, food security and clean water. Last year’s resolution 1314 called for unhindered access to children affected by armed conflict, and today’s measure would reiterate that call with renewed urgency. It would also make explicit reference to internally displaced populations.
She said today’s draft resolution also called upon parties to armed conflict to collaborate in Days of Immunization and other opportunities for the safe delivery of basic services. This year, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO) and their partners had been able to carry out successful national immunization days for polio eradication in many countries, including Sierra Leone, Angola and –- just last week -– Afghanistan. But those were just partial steps towards securing full, safe and unhindered access to children in situations of conflict. In that connection, she also pointed out that later today an initiative would be launch to dedicate the 2002 World Cup (football) to children. Part of the effort would be to call upon warring parties around the world to take special measures during the World Cup, to ensure humanitarian access to children.
She said it was also gratifying to see the issue of HIV/AIDS addressed in the draft. The call to ensure that all peacekeeping personnel receive appropriate guidance and training was a vital follow-up to resolution 1308 (2000). In line with the draft resolution, UNICEF would continue to seek to protect children from all forms of sexual violence and to include HIV/AIDS education as part of all emergency education programmes.
In Afghanistan, she said, the international community was confronting a crisis in which the survival of millions of children and women hinged on an immediate and coordinated response. According to estimates, more than 100,000 children could die during the winter, which was why UNICEF was urgently seeking short-term assistance in the form of continued funding, access to those in need and security for humanitarian staff.
In post-war situations and even during conflict, education provided an environment of relative stability and normalcy for children, she said. The Council’s draft resolution pledged to put children at the centre of recovery and rehabilitation efforts in various parts of the world; UNICEF and its partners would do everything to make that a reality.
The Council was then addressed by ALHAJI BABAH SAWANEH, a 14-year old former child soldier from Sierra Leone, who said he was 10 years old when he was abducted by rebels during a Christmas holiday visit to an uncle living in a village in the north of the country. During his stay there, they heard that the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) were 10 miles away from them and they hid in the bush. On the second night, while looking for water for cooking, he and his eldest brother ran into rebels who first searched them for money then beat them up when none was found. The rebels took them back to the village, where they were tied up, beaten again and held out in the burning sun. Many houses were burnt, property destroyed and people killed. A group of rebels, who had gone into bush in search of food, then found his uncle and the rest of his family. His uncle was killed.
He described the events that followed: The rebels took them to their base, 100 miles away; it was a 10-day walk. On arrival at the RUF base, he was trained to shoot, and made to fight every time the rebels were attacked. “During those attacks, we killed people, burned down houses, destroyed property and cut off limbs”, he said. More often, however, he went on food raids and did domestic work for his commander’s wife.
In January 2000, two years after his capture, United Nations peacekeepers met with his commander to explain the DDR process, and within two days more than 250 children were released into the custody of the United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). They were then taken to a care centre where he was first registered for demobilization and later handed over to Caritas Makeni for care and protection. He also reported immediately to the health centre because he was completely covered in scabies. He had not seen his family for about two years, so when Caritas said that they would help in finding families, he was happy to give information. It was not safe to go to his village, so with others he was put into a community secondary school. The rebels attacked again and tried to recruit them once more. They did not want fight, so they ran away with their social workers into the bush. More than 200 of them made it to the capital, Freetown, where they were picked up by Caritas.
They went to Lungi, where there were also children in the Caritas Programme who had escaped from centres in Port Loko and Makeni, because they also feared recruitment. At first, the Lungi people did not want them in their town, but Caritas explained that they had been demobilized and they were allowed to stay. Again, he was put into a community school where the children were not friendly and called them “rebel children”. By the end of 2000, a woman from the community agreed to foster him. He was still living with her because his family had not yet been found.
He said the journey he had made so far had been made less difficult because of the DDR programme. “I did bad things in the bush and saw very bad things done to both children and adults.” He said that taking the gun away from him was a vital step. The programme helped him to feel natural and normal again, and develop ways in which to fit in to society again. He said he had faced much distrust from family members. There was some doubt as to whether he would ever be a normal child again. “I am easily reminded of my past when I make mistakes”, he said. Some community people also wanted revenge at all costs and in whatever form. Nevertheless, with the support of friends, family and agencies working for children, they were trying to overcome all the obstacles.
He said the DDR programme was coming to an end and he was happy that thousands of children had been given the chance to go through the process. There were, however, a number of children who had not been so fortunate and were still being held. He asked the Council, on behalf of the children of Sierra Leone, to do all they could to end their sad tale. “We want to be able to move about freely in all parts of the country to attend the schools of our choice”, he said. “We want to be able to visit our friend and families everywhere in the country without fear of abduction, recruitment and other dangers. Above all, we want our parents to be able to work and educate us and to become useful citizens.” He hoped that governments and the United Nations would listen to children and take their words into account.
Sir JEREMY GREENSTOCK (United Kingdom) said that what had been said in the Council this morning, especially the statement of the former child soldier from Sierra Leone, was all the Council needed to hear. It had brought home that the work of the Council was to affect real people on the ground today. The Council had been asked questions and it had to try to provide some answers. He said the statement by Belgium, on behalf of the European Union, would express fundamental points subscribed to by the United Kingdom, but he wished to draw attention to some specific points.
He said that this was not just an issue of morality, it was an issue of security. The Geneva Conventions, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Optional Protocol on the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and other legal international documents were all vital policy tools and they commanded the full support of the United Kingdom, but it was important to make those Conventions bite. Those who contravened those norms should be named and shamed and with follow-up actions ensuing. He welcomed the progress in the area of including child protection units in peacekeeping missions. He said he encouraged the efforts of UNICEF and the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to encourage the role of the protection units in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
He said he would also support efforts to extend the work of child protection units. He stressed the importance of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the wake of armed conflict. Taking note of the emphasis on the inimical effects of the presence of small arms, he stressed the importance of the links between HIV/AIDS, conflict and children.
He underlined the need of the various parts of the United Nations system to work on a coherent basis. There was a real chance to get that right in the situation in Afghanistan. The United Kingdom was working with UNICFEF to integrate the situation of children in armed conflict more effectively into their programmes. He shared the disappointment that the special session on children had had to be postponed, but the debate and resolution to be acted on today could inspire the preparatory process for the special session next year.
JAMES B. CUNNINGHAM (United States) said it was good news was that Member States were moving forward to help five additional nations that had ratified the Optional Protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child on children in armed conflict -– the international instrument that worked most directly to address the problem under discussion today. With the tenth ratification filed
by New Zealand on 12 November, the Optional Protocol would enter into force in
90 days. The United States was a signatory of the Optional Protocol, which had been submitted to the Senate for ratification.
While there were also some gains on a number of other fronts, he said, there was much still to be done, and the issue would remain with the international community for some time. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and subsequent action in Afghanistan, had introduced aspects not traditionally considered in the debate on children in armed conflict, such as the situation of the thousands of children who had lost their parents on 11 September.
However, some aspects of the Afghanistan conflict, including the victimization of children, were frighteningly familiar. The First Lady of the
United States, Laura Bush, had stated in last Saturday’s weekly presidential radio address that the plight of women and children in Afghanistan was a matter of deliberate human cruelty, carried out by those who sought to intimidate and control. Mercifully, the Taliban had been pushed out of most parts of Afghanistan, and the international community could now help bring relief to the people of that country, especially women and children.
He said the problem of child soldiers also continued. Children under the age of 15 were still being used directly in armed conflict, becoming both victims and perpetrators. He commended the work of UNICEF to address the physical, medical and psychological damage done to the children of Sierra Leone -- homeland of the young man who had addressed the Council this morning. Maimed, torn from their families and forced to engage in acts of bloody violence, those children presented an enormous challenge.
He said the international community must continue to work together to protect children affected by armed conflict. The United States would continue to do its part to make the world safer for its children.
OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said many of today’s wars were protracted and fought with small arms and light weapons in developing countries along ethnic, linguistic or religious divides. They were fuelled by illicit economic activity, and often involved a high degree of non-State actors. That combination of factors had exposed children to a high risk of death, injury and suffering. The important challenge of protecting civilians in armed conflict, especially children, must take its rightful place as an integral part of all relevant matters before the Council. The recommendations of the Secretary-General and his Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict were highly relevant and should be fully considered.
He said the draft resolution before the Council had imposed several requirements and raised expectations, which must be met. It correctly made direct reference to the international financial and development institutions, and their responsibilities in terms of the subject under discussion. Mandates of some peacekeeping operations now included specific provisions for the protection of war-affected children. Also welcome had been the inclusion of “child-protection officers” in the United Nations Missions in Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Child-protection staff should be included in United Nations peacekeeping operations more as a rule than an exception. In light of the central role played by small arms, including anti-personnel mines, commitments made at the United Nations Conference on small arms in July must be followed up.
In wartime, he continued, girls were often exposed to rape and other forms of gender-based violence. Boys were exploited in other ways, most commonly as child soldiers. All of them ran a high risk of contracting HIV/AIDS, and displacement posed other extreme risks. Those responsible for exploiting children during conflict should not enjoy impunity or be considered under amnesty provisions. The draft resolution had taken an “imaginative” step by requesting the Secretary-General to provide the names of those parties that recruited or used children in violation of relevant international obligations. By today’s adoption of the text, the Council would reaffirm its commitment to keep the question of children in armed conflict high on its agenda.
SHEN GUOFANG (China) said the Security Council had made active efforts to find a solution to the problem of children affected by armed conflict. The proposals and recommendations now before the Council deserved the attention of the entire United Nations system.
He said the most important task was for relevant parties to abide by given legal norms, as well as to implement relevant Council resolutions. Priority should be given to measures aimed at preventing and ending armed conflicts. Only then could the protection of children be fully addressed. He pointed out that efforts to protect the rights of children in Afghanistan and Palestine had not been successful. Hundreds of thousands of Afghan children, for example, would die in the coming winter.
He said the protection of children in armed conflict required joint efforts. The protection of the rights of the child was a basic principle followed by China, which had also signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. He hoped that the various agencies of the United Nations would strengthen coordination and cooperation amongst themselves, vis-à-vis children affected by armed conflict so that they could bring into to play their combined advantages.
His Government would continue to support Mr. Otunnu and the work of his Office and also strengthen the levels of its cooperation.
VOLODYMYR KROKHMAL (Ukraine) said that the situation of children in armed conflict was a grave threat to the future of new generations, and would inevitably affect international peace and security. The Secretary-General’s report provided a comprehensive overview of the fate of children “caught” in conflicts and how to go forward. It drew on specific, concrete activities from the field, traced the progress made thus far, and proposed several additional key actions to be taken in the near future.
He said he was glad that reports to the Council on specific conflict situations now contained distinct sections on children’s protection and welfare, and that training on the rights of the child and child protection was now an integral part of the curriculum of all peacekeeping training activities conducted by the Training and Evaluation Service of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations. It was time to move ahead with the Secretary-General’s new recommendations, for example, the inclusion of provisions for the protection of children in the mandates of peace operations.
He said that, recently, a number of parties in conflict had made commitments concerning children’s protection. The challenge now was to ensure adherence. The Council could make a big difference in that regard by using its collective weight and influence to lean on those parties. There was an urgent need for the international community to provide sustained and adequate resources to all relevant actors engaged in implementing the demobilization and reintegration programmes for children.
MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said the question of children in armed conflict was a crucial one for the countries in West Africa. The touching testimony of the former child soldier was enlightening. Mali, which had been an initiator of the world summit which had led to the adoption to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the forming of the Optional Protocol which was part of today’s consideration, welcomed the debate today. He said the Secretary-General’s report contained important measures to ensure the protection of children during and after armed conflict. He was delighted by the forthcoming entry into force of the Optional Protocol. Mali was preparing to sign.
He emphasized the increasingly active role of the Council on the issue of children in armed conflict. He was pleased with the visit by the Special Representative to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Council’s call for greater protection to children in that country, and in particular the inclusion of a child protection unit in the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC).
He said it was essential to put an end to transborder acts that were harmful to children, including the recruitment of children, attacks against refugee and displaced persons camps, the contraband of precious minerals and illegal traffic in small arms. In that regard, Mali had made useful contributions to the well- being of children in numerous international venues, including taking an active part in the adoption in April 2000 of the Accra Declaration and Plan of Action concerning children affected by conflict in West Africa.
He said he welcomed the holding in Cairo in May 2001 of the Pan African forum on the future of children, which had led to a declaration and plan of action to ensure the protection of children in armed conflict. To be successful, the initiatives made by regional organizations must be provided with financial resources.
GENNADY GATILOV (Russian Federation) said there were many lofty principles pertaining to the protection of children, but they had not really been applied. Adults started wars, but it was often children who suffered from them. The nature of conflict had changed. Now, 90 per cent of victims were civilians, and over half of those were children. Behind such statistic lay the enormous human sorrow that was carried on the frail shoulders of children who also suffered for long time from psychological trauma.
It was obvious that the international community must now take serious steps. The best way to protect children was to prevent and avert conflicts. His delegation was pleased that the Council was giving attention to the child dimension of armed conflicts. Carrying out the humanitarian imperatives of that issue should be the prerogative of the specialized agencies of the United Nations and other bodies with their own designated mandates who were autonomous at the operational level.
He said that, while the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child was to truly protect children from the scourge of war, there was a limit what it could do. All States should raise the recruitment age for armies to
He said his delegation was concerned that the protection of children would be limited to just the conflict arena. Children’s protection should also be extended to address other broad ills, such as neglect, drugs, human trafficking and trafficking in their organs and tissues. In addition, terrorism spared no one and that, too, had to be looked at. Effectively dealing with these issues was just another way of protecting children’s rights. In this and the coming century, children would soon be in charge; protecting them from war today would be taking a step towards building a world free of conflict and violence.
The meeting was suspended at 1:17 p.m. It resumed at 3:20 p.m.
GERARD CORR (Ireland) said the Council’s task was twofold. It should publicly reiterate the primary obligations of the normative framework, including the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, among others. It should also now move, decisively, towards what the Secretary-General and the Special Representative had called the “era of application”. For their part, States must comply strictly with their obligations towards children, under international law.
He said the Council had a clear responsibility on the issue of child protection; national governments, the rest of the United Nations system and the wider global community must also assume their obligations. The Council must fully integrate concerns of war-affected children into its work and keep that issue, in particular, the difficulties children faced in post-conflict resettlement, strongly in mind as it approached the tasks of peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building.
He said he supported many of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, among them, that sexual violence against women and children should be prosecuted as a war crime, for which he urged the speedy ratification of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court. Also, mandates of peace operations must explicitly include provisions for monitoring the rights of children, and child protection should be integrated into both peacemaking and peacekeeping processes. The issue of children in armed conflict was of particular concern to the Irish Government, whose aid programme focused on basic needs and the more vulnerable sectors of the population, with particular emphasis on women and children in areas where protracted conflict was an ongoing obstacle to longer-term development.
IFTEKHAR AHMED CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that the progress made so far to address the situation of children and armed conflict had been insufficient. For more than 300,000 child soldiers around the world, conflict was a way of life. Those children -- exploited by armed insurgent groups –- had been physically and mentally affected. Often under duress, they committed atrocities of horrific magnitude, forming memories that would last a lifetime. Entire generations growing up in conflict areas were permanently scarred by the brutalities of war. Girls were particularly vulnerable to violence and sexual exploitation. For those children living “under the gun”, the future held very little hope or optimism.
Today, he said, Council members heard a child from Sierra Leone. There were many more like him. There must be listened to, and their views must be taken into the Council’s work. To address the situation of war-affected children, the Council should urge governments and non-State actors to respect and uphold international child-protection standards. While mandating peacekeeping missions, necessary child-protection and monitoring elements must be established. Also, peacekeeping personnel should be appropriately trained in international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law.
International truth- and justice-seeking efforts should be buttressed and adequately funded; justice delayed on account of insufficient funding could very well turn out to be justice denied. Particular attention should be devoted to the rehabilitation and reintegration of children, and their access to basic services, such as education, health care and housing. To prevent today’s victims from becoming tomorrow’s perpetrators, the values of a culture of peace must be inculcated in every child.
ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said his country was making efforts to keep children out of armed conflicts. In today’s draft resolution, specific responsibilities were spelled out for an inclusive set of actors. An effort to ensure coordination among the agencies within the United Nations would provide visible results in the field. The challenge of harmonizing efforts was particularly relevant. In defining the role of the Organization with regard to children in armed conflict, it was essential to give proper consideration to other organizations that were performing a role.
He welcomed the level of Council attention that had been given to the issue of children in armed conflict, but the Council should avoid emulating the General Assembly which adopted generic resolutions every year. The Council should consider the situation of children in specific detail, and the situation in Afghanistan provided a huge opportunity. All the interested parties could show that it was possible to make a real difference in the lives of children in that country. The Council might consider adopting a presidential statement that would facilitate access to humanitarian assistance and establishing humanitarian programmes. It could also coordinate the Council’s response to activities of other agencies in the field.
He stressed the importance of small arms on children in armed conflicts and said that countries producing such arms must exhibit a greater degree of responsibility; the lighter the weapons, the easier it was to incorporate children into combat.
NOUREDDINE MEJDOUB (Tunisia) said it should not be overlooked that it was the warlords who had made Alhaji Babah Sawaneh a child soldier. That situation was true for children all over the world who were clamouring for the Council’s attention. It was a matter of priority for the international community. Children in armed conflict were either the targets or perpetrators of violence. The destruction of the social fabric in armed conflicts created complex problems to which an answer must be found. The Secretary-General had put forward a coherent and ambitious strategy which Tunisia supported.
He said the Council had set specific provisions in resolutions and statements for the benefit of children, but in large measure the protection of children in wartime depended on the behaviour of parties to the conflicts. The Council must send out a clear signal to all that they must observe the rights of children. He emphasized the importance of verifying implementation of relevant legal instruments. It was essential that the mandates of peacekeeping operations contain explicit instructions for the protection of the rights of children. That would make it possible to monitor the situation to prevent the further recruitment of children. He said the initiative of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in setting up an informal working group to train peacekeeping personnel needed to be encouraged. The demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers had a chance of putting an end to the violence in certain parts of the world. Moreover, the international community should initiate new programmes for the rehabilitation of girl children. He subscribed to the draft resolution before the Council.
JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France) said the moving testimony of a child soldier earlier today had made it possible for the Council to comprehend the magnitude of the problem of children in armed conflict. It highlighted the urgency and moral responsibility in taking up the challenge which, under the Charter, constituted a threat to international peace and security. The Council had set for itself particularly ambitious goals. The report of the special session of the General Assembly had changed the format of the debate, but not lessened the determination to produce a document that could meet the challenge.
He said the text of the draft resolution sought to build on accomplishments, while also defining new areas of action by codifying what seemed to have been achieved. The draft underlined, for the first time, the responsibility of everyone, and all were included in a global road map -- including Member States, the United Nations, international financial institutions, regional organizations and development banks, private enterprise entities, and the belligerents themselves. According to the text, the Council would have more effective tools related to monitoring the obligations of the parties to conflicts and mobilizing resources to support activities to help child victims.
He said the Council must continue to give priority importance to the interests of children during consideration of the issues before it. The draft resolution set up new machinery, which called upon the Secretary-General for a list of parties to armed conflicts which recruited or used children in conflict, in violation of their international obligations. That could be an initial step towards establishing a monitoring and follow-up system. That list should make it possible to note annual progress and orient financiers, governments, as well as international institutions, and contribute to the rehabilitation programmes for child victims of conflict.
CHRISTINE LEE (Singapore) said she was pleased that the Council was proceeding with the debate despite the delay. She noted that a year was a long time in the life of a child. The statement by the former child soldier this morning was a brutal reminder of how tragic the life of a child could be. She described the situation of an Afghan child who had had his leg blown off and who would suffer the effects of that tragedy for the rest of his life. Children had been affected by conflict over the centuries. The ill-fated children’s crusade had caused the death of many children. During the American civil war, the youngest child was just shy of 12 years of age.
More recently, children as young as five years old had been recruited for combat around the world, she said. The broader picture had been sketched out by Graça Machel in her study on the impact of armed conflict on children. There were few depths to which humanity could sink as low. The Secretary-General's report spelled out what had to be done, and UNICEF and the Special Representative could provide guidance. The five-point programme of action promulgated by the Special Representative was a significant breakthrough. So too was his persuasion for the Government of Rwanda to allow girls to inherit farms and other properties that were crucial to their survival.
Some priorities deserved immediate attention, she said, including effective monitoring. Another priority was that those who violated the rights of children must pay. Demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration were the only viable solutions to the situation of child soldiers. The international community needed to continually refine and redefine its approach too the problem. An operational problem of the Council was that it looked at each issue as a separate department. But all issues relating to armed conflict needed to be looked at together. It was worth recalling that the primary focus should be to address the structural causes that underlay the immediate causes of conflict.
KHEMRAJ JINGREE (Mauritius) said he was deeply touched by the riveting testimony of the child soldier from Sierra Leone, which had provided insight into the day-to-day life of a child soldier. He was one of the few lucky ones to have been reintegrated into society. Many thousands more in Africa were still being forced to carry weapons and fight. While noting the efforts made by Member States and the United Nations’ regional organizations in protecting and promoting children’s rights in armed conflict, more innovative ideas should be evolved. Children and women represented one of the most vulnerable sectors of society in war, and all kinds of atrocities were committed against them. Yet, not enough attention had been paid to them.
He said that children had become the main sources of exploitation in conflict, owing, in part, to the easy handling of small arms and light weapons. The Secretary-General had continued to receive credible reports of recruitment of child soldiers in some ongoing conflicts. Indeed, the statistics were alarming. The responsibility had undeniably fallen upon States, which should protect children from becoming easy prey of belligerents of war. The recruitment of child soldiers was a crime against humanity. The Option Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child would soon enter into force, and all Member States should ratify it as early as possible.
Tackling the rehabilitation and reintegration of children should be among the first consideration of dialogue among the parties to a conflict, he said. The Secretary-General should ensure that his envoys and special representatives incorporate the issues into peace agreements. Efforts to demobilize child soldiers in the midst of conflict and their rehabilitation and reintegration were crucial to preventing their re-enlistment. He appealed to the international community to extend its full cooperation in that process, in order to break the cycle of violence for children. The sexual violence against children by rebel forces, as well as militias of government-supported forces, was inadmissible. Failure to address that would make the burden of countries emerging from conflicts even greater.
The President of the Council, MIGNONETTE PATRICIA DURRANT, speaking as the representative of Jamaica, said the statement by the former child soldier this morning had put a face on the situation of children in armed conflict.
Armed conflict exacerbated poverty and increased children’s vulnerability to sexual abuse and physical exploitation. She said child ex-combatants should be regarded as victims. Appropriate monitoring mechanisms must be established and there must be better cooperation and coordination with regional organizations. The impact of the illicit trade in small arms, and the effect on children of the exploitation of natural resources, must also be addressed.
Most timely, she said, was the recommendation for the launch of a research agenda on the impact of armed conflict on children. The draft resolution before the Council should be used as a guide for the drafting of texts on other conflict situations. Future actions of the Council would tell whether or not the Council had heard the cry of Alhaji Babah Sawaneh
JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), on behalf of the European Union, called on Member States to implement Security Council resolutions 1344 (2000) and 1261 (1999) on children and armed conflict. The Union welcomed the upcoming adoption today of a new resolution, which confirmed the strong commitment of the international community in that regard, by broadening the scope of the earlier texts and enlarging its means. It was vital that the protection of children be taken into account, first in dialogues for peace and the ensuing peace agreements, and, then, in the mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations and peace consolidation programmes, where appropriate.
He said that humanitarian personnel must have full, safe and unhindered access to children affected by armed conflict. The Union warmly welcomed the fact that child protection advisers and child-focused human rights officers were to be part of the personnel of peacekeeping operations, where appropriate. That extra expertise would make for a deeper appreciation of the problems and enable the work of the United Nations to be adapted to the particular needs of each operation. In that connection, girls required particular attention. It was vital that all civilians and military and police forces involved in peacekeeping operations receive training in children’s rights, child protection and international humanitarian law.
To be truly effective, he said, conflict-prevention measures aimed particularly at children must also be undertaken. There was an urgent need to end the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts, in violation of international law, including the obligations imposed by the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. That Protocol prohibited the participation of children under 18 in armed conflicts, and he looked forward to its entry into force next February. The Rome Statute, which made it a war crime to recruit children under the age of 15, should also be mentioned. No peace could be lasting unless children were involved in its consolidation.
AHMED ABOUL GHEIT (Egypt) said recent radical changes in the nature of conflict ignored the rules of international law, in particular humanitarian law, and in permitting all forms of abuse against civilians. Problems affecting children had been aggravated, regardless of international efforts to release child soldiers, reunify them with their families, protect them from organized violence, and promote their rehabilitation into society.
Armed conflict had victimized children in more than 50 countries. Besides the great number of them who had been killed, kidnapped, or besieged, an even greater number had been deprived of their basic emotional, mental and physical needs in societies ravaged by war and conflicts. The main responsibility in bridging the gap and implementing international rules aimed at protecting children lay with the national governments, but the international community had an important role in offering technical and financial support to protect children and foster their rehabilitation. The international community must guarantee the commitment by all parties at war to protect children against exploitation, abuse, violence, rape, displacement, and murder. The world must also bring to justice all those who targeted children.
He said it was high time to put an end to the pain, suffering and cries of the innocent Palestinian children who were still being brutally killed by Israeli forces, thus ignoring all political, international, or even moral commitments. It was the duty of the civilized world, and the role of the Council, to focus on practical measures to protect the lives of those children and promote their rights.
JORGE EDUARDO NAVARRETE (Mexico) said the situation was as devastating as it was inadmissible. The UNICEF considered that 300,000 minors had been recruited as active combatants in rebel groups. Landmines were a great danger to the physical integrity of children. Amputation marked them for life and affected their capacity to move about, work and live a normal life. The former child soldier who had spoken in the morning had put a face on horrors faced by children in armed conflict. Mexico supported the recommendations of the Secretary-General which consolidated and amplified the field of activity of the United Nations relating to the situation of children in armed conflict. He agreed with the Secretary-General that international cooperation and political will were needed in greater amounts to help States to protect children during war and after conflicts.
Mexico had ratified the International Labour Organization (ILO) provision on the prohibition of the worst forms of child labour, he said. It had also signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It was important for the Council to continue to examine the information provided by humanitarian organizations on the situation of children in all regions in order to adopt measures that would permit access to United Nations humanitarian personnel in secure conditions and without restrictions. Mexico also attached great importance to reinforcing humanitarian assistance to children affected by HIV/AIDS.
He said the measures taken by the Council would enable the international community to meet the various needs of minors, including psychological needs such as rehabilitation and reintegration into society. He attached particular importance to the reintegration and demobilization of child soldiers. He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to the Member States to contribute sustained and adequate support for those programmes. It was particularly necessary to have a clear commitment from States to end the use of child soldiers. They must be demobilized and reintegrated, taking into account the special needs of girl children.
LEE HO-JIN (Republic of Korea) said there had been some encouraging developments in the efforts to address the effects of armed conflict on children, including the deployment of child-protection advisers in peacekeeping operations. Also, the roles of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNICEF had been strengthened. He welcomed the discussions on the issue of violence against children in the Committee on the Rights of the Child, saying that the Committee’s recommendation to conduct an in-depth study of violence against children deserved particular attention. For that study, the outcome of the workshop on the impact of armed conflict on children, which was recently held in Italy, could provide valuable guidelines.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child should constitute the backbone of the legal framework for the protection and promotion of children’s rights, he said. He also welcomed the adoption of two Optional Protocols to further protect children from armed conflict and prostitution. Through the adoption of those legal instruments, the international community had expressed its strong conviction that, in the twenty-first century, violations of the rights of children would not be tolerated.
As mentioned in Mr. Otunnu’s report, there were persistent gaps between international standards and the actual protection of children in the field, he continued. In that regard, it was necessary to make every effort to finalize the outcome document for the special session on children, which included a section on the protection of children in armed conflicts. Also, particular attention should be paid to the education of children in armed conflict. International development and humanitarian agencies, governments, local authorities and civil society should make it a priority during and after periods of armed conflict to ensure that children were provided with educational materials and opportunities at both the primary and secondary levels. It was imperative to further develop local communities’ capacity-building, and the participatory approach of the World Food Programme (WFP) was noteworthy in that respect. The WFP had adopted a food delivery method that required parents to send their children to school in order for food to be distributed.
ERNEST PETRIC (Slovenia) remarked on the significant progress achieved in the last two years, during which the Council had played an active role in the protection of children in armed conflict, paying special attention to the matter in its decision-making on peacemaking, peacekeeping and peace-building operations. It had also continued to play a crucial role in calling on the parties to implement existing provisions of international law for protection of children in armed conflict. He hoped a new resolution of the Council would take into account the action points highlighted in the Secretary-General’s report to further improve the well-being of affected children.
Quoting from a recent statement by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, he went on to say that no peace was likely to be sustainable unless children and youth were provided with rehabilitation and hope, so that they could become a constructive force in rebuilding their country. For that reason, his Government, together with the non-governmental organization (NGO) Slovene Philanthropy, had established a regional centre for the psychological well-being of children. In cooperation with other interested countries and international and local parties, Slovenia wanted to create an efficient framework for comprehensive, continuous and organized assistance to the traumatized children in south-eastern Europe and elsewhere.
In conclusion, he reiterated his country’s strong support for the work of the Special Representative, and expressed recognition of the important contribution to the cause of children by UNICEF and other United Nations agencies, as well as by NGOs. Their activities and cooperation were crucial to truly ameliorate the plight of children. He hoped that the special session of the General Assembly on children, which had been postponed because of the tragic events of 11 September, would result in a new and ambitious agenda for children.
YOSHIYUKI MOTOMURA (Japan) said that his country was deeply concerned that in recent armed conflicts, more civilians, including children, had been directly affected. Besides being involved in conflict as soldiers, children were also exploited, and he was particularly concerned about sexual abuse of girls. Those children suffered huge traumas and psychological damage. In that context, it was particularly important for the international community to energetically tackle the issue in cooperation with NGOs.
First of all, children must be protected from all violence, he continued. The use of children as soldiers must be ended, and in post-conflict situations, such children should be kept away from danger and cared for. Japan had participated in the projects to reduce small arms in post-conflict areas, including Cambodia; to eliminate anti-personnel mines; and to reactivate quality primary education in Kosovo.
Turning to the question of social integration of former child soldiers, he said that in March this year, in collaboration with Mr. Otunnu’s office, the Government of Japan had conducted a survey on reintegration of such soldiers into society. Based on that survey, he believed that more efforts should be made by the international community to provide former child soldiers with access to basic and vocational education, and establish a social safety net for physically and psychologically traumatized or orphaned children. Special measures should be taken for sexually abused girls in their communities.
Indeed, he said, the issue of sexual abuse and exploitation of children, particularly girls, under conditions of armed conflict called for a stronger response. It was necessary to raise awareness and share information on the issue. He believed that the Second World Congress against Commercial and Sexual Exploitation of Children, to be held in Yokoyama, Japan, next month, would provide an opportunity to realize that goal. His Government called for high-level participation in the Congress by Member States.
In conclusion, he touched upon the situation of Afghan children, reiterating his support for resolution 1378, which called upon all Afghan forces to refrain from acts of reprisal and strictly adhere to their obligations under human rights instruments and international humanitarian law. His delegation looked forward to the forthcoming meeting to establish the broad-based government in that country and pointed out that special attention should be given to the situation of refugees and internally displaced children in and around Afghanistan, where severe winter was about to begin.
JEANETTE NDHLOVU (South Africa) said that commitments on paper and Council debates remained a necessary but insufficient condition for saving children from the scourge of armed conflict and from being abused to further the war aims of unscrupulous adults. The Council needed to take a lead in establishing the parameters of acceptable conduct regarding children in conflict situations. It could monitor and ensure compliance with its current resolutions, as well as improve communication and coordination with other United Nations organs and authoritative bodies involved in the protection of civilians, particularly children.
In addition, she continued, the Council could ensure that the post-conflict environment nurtured the rights and needs of children, including rehabilitation, which was integral to future stability and development. Also, it could take an integrated and interdisciplinary approach and give due consideration to the rights of children when considering peacekeeping operations.
The international community, she said, should remain constantly vigilant for signs of abuses and stand ready to exert pressure where it was necessary. It should also encourage recalcitrant parties to adhere to those international instruments that protect the rights of children in conflict situations.
PAUL HEINBECKER (Canada) said the events of the past two months had been a reminder of the importance of protecting civilians, particularly children. That task was highly relevant to the Council’s work as it gave priority to human security. The Secretary-General’s report had emphasized that, despite laudable progress, that task was far from concluded. He commended the Council for acting to protect children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sierra Leone. Now, it should focus systematically on the further implementation of its two landmark resolutions on the subject. As the Secretary-General had noted, that required significant political will and resources.
He welcomed the Council’s adoption today of another very significant resolution, which responded to the Secretary-General’s recommendations and reaffirmed the Council’s commitment to children’s protection. That must be integrated into the peace and security agenda. At the same time, cooperation should continue with NGOs on the front lines of protecting children. He also welcomed the establishment of an NGO watch list on children and armed conflict, which should lead to better monitoring and follow-up action -- before, during and after conflicts. The ECOWAS’ creation of a child-protection unit was a potentially very important initiative that should serve as a model for other regional organizations.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child had moved the world closer to a global ban on the use of child soldiers. All governments should sign and ratify it, as its universal implementation was an important step towards protecting the child. The abduction and conscription and use of children in armed conflict were unacceptable. Recently, more than 100 primary school students had been used by Burundian forces for the defence of democracy, in a curious interpretation of the forces’ aims. Dozens remained in rebel hands. He called upon the Council to condemn that crime and punish its authors. Next year’s special session on children was an important opportunity to redeem the process and strengthen commitments.
MOHAMMED A. ALDOURI (Iraq) said he would have preferred the Secretary-General’s report to have made some reference to the situation of children in Iraq and Palestine, particularly since it referred to children in other parts of the world and particularly those in Africa. The issue of children and armed conflict demanded the implementation of an important dictate of the Charter –- to save future generations from the scourge of war. Since children were the most vulnerable in any society, it should be well known that they would be the first affected by armed conflict. Yet, despite the numerous instruments to protect the most vulnerable, there was evidence that some States had no interest in the fate of children and, in some cases, deliberately turned them into targets. That was a deliberate violation of international instruments and an undeniable international crime.
He said that, while the discussion in the Council today about children affected by armed conflict was a positive sign, it should not preclude consideration of the issue in a broader arena such as the General Assembly in which all States had equal footing. The Council had become incapable, through its composition, of dealing with certain conflicts and was even responsible for some where children were deprived of basic rights, including their right to life. Iraqi children, for example, were the first victims of the military aggression by the United States and its allies in 1991. More than 80,000 tons of bombs were launched that hit civilian targets and infrastructure. All of that had a direct and indirect negative impact on children, not to mention the effects of depleted uranium on them.
He went on to say that after that aggression, the United States had imposed, in the name of the United Nations, the most global and unprecedented sanctions regime on an entire people. Those sanctions had killed half a million children under the age of five between 1991 and 1998. The total number of victims to date numbered some 1.6 million, with 5,000 children being killed each month. This was a crime of genocide that was taking place with the full knowledge of the Security Council, which did not even offer the slightest explanation as to why the sanctions against his country were taking place. As if that was not enough, the United States and the United Kingdom continued to wreak vengeance on Iraq.
He said the daily bombing of civilian targets still continued, killing children, causing terror in villages and towns, setting fire to agricultural land and destroying schools. And that all continued despite condemnation by the entire international community and despite the statement by the United Nations that the imposed no-fly zone was the application of unilateral force on the use of air space. He said Palestinians were also subject to occupation, oppression, siege and blockade. Their land had been usurped without the United Nations making an attempt to address the Zionist terrorism that mowed down Palestinian children daily. He hoped the two examples he chose today would show the United Nations and the international community that they were still far from having achieved their objective with respect to commitments made on the issue of children in armed conflict. His delegation would also like to have seen a draft resolution that contained provisions addressing children who were suffering from foreign occupation and embargoes. He hoped that, in the future, the Council would not be so selective on its response to certain issues.
YEHUDA LANCRY (Israel) said children in his region had suffered terribly from decades of conflict and from terrorism. The Middle East had endured more than its share of wars that had left scars on all the people and particularly on the region. For that reason, Israel had supported international initiatives aimed at protecting children from the devastation of conflict, including the landmark Convention on the Rights of the Child. His country’s accession to that instrument was followed by the adoption of Basic Law: Human Dignity and
Liberty –- legislation that ensured that the rights of the child were guaranteed constitutional protection. The adoption of that law also sparked a flurry of judicial and legislative activity that broadened and extended Israel’s commitment to the principles of the Convention.
Last week in New York, during the recently concluded general debate, Israel’s Foreign Minister Shimon Peres had signed the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed Conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. That signified his country’s enduring commitment to preserving the innocence of youth, as a fundamental right to be enjoyed by all children. Becoming a signatory to the Optional Protocols was sure to inspire even more revisions to Israel’s legislation. He said children who were taught to hate and to embrace death and violent struggle would not grow up to be responsible adults prepared to live in peace and resolve differences peacefully. They would, instead, believe in power and the virtue of force and violence.
“When it comes to the education of our children, we must take a long view of the situation and consider the well-being of children and the nature of the society they will inherit”, he said. The scars that war and terror inflicted on children were immeasurable, and could result in psychological problems and anti-social behaviour long after the conflict had ended. Children would only be truly sheltered from the horrors of war once terrorism had ended and they were no longer viewed as pawns in a larger struggle.
It was regrettable that Egypt’s representative this morning had failed to mention the dozens of Israeli children decimated recently by Palestinians and also over the years. Egypt had permanently ignored such atrocities as if they had never occurred. His country regretted any harm caused to civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian, and especially to children who should be in school. Those who incited violence and tolerated anti-Semitic rhetoric were also responsible for the abuse of Palestinian children and the suffering that ensued. In conclusion, he reaffirmed that the protection of children in armed conflict was best achieved by ending such conflict. “Our attempts to protect the lives and well-being of our children cannot be separated from our broader efforts to ensure that peace, security and prosperity extend to every region of the world.”
S.A. ADEKANYE (Nigeria) said that children traumatized by the experience of war were scarred for life, both physically and psychologically. Because they were made to serve as child-soldiers, they might grow up to embrace violence unless they were properly rehabilitated. The case of girls was even worse, as they were vulnerable to sexual abuses, rape and drug addictions, and exposed to HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.
The international community could not stand aloof in the face of that deplorable situation, he said. In his country’s subregion, a number of initiatives had been taken to address the problem as part of a broad commitment towards enhancing the social, economic and cultural well-being of women and children. They included the establishment last April of a specific unit within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to protect and enhance the rights of children caught in conflict situations in the subregion.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child provided States with the most comprehensive instrument to date for strengthening the rights of children, he said. It was noteworthy that the Optional Protocol to the Convention would enter into force in February 2002. However, the existing ratifications of the Convention, as well as the Protocol, were not enough; those instruments must be backed by concrete action.
HASMY AGAM (Malaysia) agreed with the Secretary-General that the best way to address the problem of children in armed conflict was to prevent armed conflicts from occurring in the first place. Hence, his emphasis was on the promotion of a culture of peace and prevention.
It was impossible to make a distinction between forced and voluntary child soldiers, he said. Some children joined armed groups for food, survival or to avenge atrocities in their communities; others were physically abducted for war by armed groups. Illegal arms trafficking and poor monitoring of the legal trade in small arms made it easy for almost anybody to obtain those weapons and put them into the hands of children. Under those circumstances, the protection of children in armed conflict should be all-encompassing. They should be assured of their physical security and provided with legal protection under international law.
There must be no leniency or amnesty for crimes perpetrated against innocent children, he continued. At the same time, it was necessary to be humane in dealing with children who had been manipulated into taking part in armed conflicts, as had been the case in Sierra Leone. His delegation also condemned in the strongest terms the use of rape as a deliberate weapon of warfare. Sexual violence against women and children must continue to be prosecuted as a war crime. He pointed out that the Statute of the International Criminal Court designated rape as both a crime against humanity and a war crime.
While commending the excellent work carried out by the United Nations, his Government was concerned with what it perceived as gaps in the protection of children, particularly those in the Middle East. In order to have any meaningful discussion of the problem of children and armed conflict, it was necessary to address the issue of the Middle East. Between the paralysis of the Security Council on the Middle East and the focus by the Special Representative on situations of armed conflict, predominantly in Africa, the plight of Palestinian children and children under foreign occupation seemed all but forgotten.
Should the problem be the lack of a mandate, he said, the situation should be looked into and remedied without delay. One must not quibble over mandates when children became victims of an ongoing conflict, as was clearly the case in the occupied Palestinian territory, where a large number of those killed were children.
Another area of concern was the plight of children suffering under sanctions, he said. Reports by specialized agencies and NGOs had highlighted the catastrophic effects of the sanctions imposed against Iraq, which had claimed the lives of more than 1.5 million people, mostly children. His delegation had persistently called for an immediate review and lifting of the comprehensive sanctions, and would urge that all future sanctions, if they needed to be invoked as a measure of last resort, should only be imposed after an in-depth study of their potential impact on civilians, especially children.
Mr. OTUNNU, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said he had taken note of the critiques and comments, and he would do everything in his power to act on them. No one in the international community should discriminate against children in armed conflict, regardless of their geographical status. He had taken note of the Council’s desire to see the gap between words and deeds narrowed, and he hoped that the next time the Council returned to debate the question, there will have been at least some modest steps to reduce that gap. He had also taken note of the Council’s wish to make Afghanistan an example of a more proactive response to the needs and rights of children.
Ms. BELLAMY, Executive Director of UNICEF, said the partnership that had developed over the last years between the Council and UNICEF was an increasingly strong one, and she hoped that they complemented each other in all that they did. She acknowledged the positive response to Alhaji's participation and hoped that that would be the beginning of children’s participation in the work of the Council. She recognized that this was the fourth time that the Council had taken up the issue, and she urged that the resolution be transformed by the Council into country-specific action.
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