SECURITY COUNCIL STRESSES NEED FOR BROAD CONFLICT PREVENTION STRATEGY TO ENHANCE CHILDREN’S PROTECTION LONG-TERM, END IMPUNITY FOR ABUSES AGAINST THEM
SECURITY COUNCIL STRESSES NEED FOR BROAD CONFLICT PREVENTION STRATEGY TO ENHANCE CHILDREN’S PROTECTION LONG-TERM, END IMPUNITY FOR ABUSES AGAINST THEM
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
5834th Meeting (AM & PM)
SECURITY COUNCIL STRESSES NEED FOR BROAD CONFLICT PREVENTION STRATEGY TO ENHANCE
CHILDREN’S PROTECTION LONG-TERM, END IMPUNITY FOR ABUSES AGAINST THEM
Secretary-General’s Special Representative Says, Despite Progress,
Situation of Children Affected by Armed Conflict ‘Grave and Entirely Unacceptable’
In a presidential statement that wrapped up a day-long meeting today, the Security Council once again addressed continuing recruitment and use of children in armed conflict and other grave offences against children, including killing and maiming of children, sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian access and attacks against schools and hospitals, stressing the need to adopt a broad strategy of conflict prevention, which would address the root causes of armed conflict, in order to enhance the protection of children on a long-term basis.
Read out by its President, Samuel Lewis Navarro, Vice-President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Panama, the statement called for full implementation of the Council’s monitoring and reporting mechanism on children and armed conflict, which should continue to provide timely, objective and reliable information on violations and abuses against children, operating in cooperation with national Governments and relevant United Nations and civil society actors. It also welcomed sustained activity of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and invited it to continue adopting conclusions and proposing effective recommendations for the Council’s consideration and implementation, where appropriate.
Strongly emphasizing the need to end impunity for violations and abuses against children in armed conflict, the Council welcomed the fact that several individuals had been brought to justice by national, international and “mixed” courts, but expressed its grave concern over persistent violations of its resolutions that had been identified by the monitoring mechanism, including parties to whom precise and immediate requests had been addressed. In that connection, the Council reaffirmed its intention to make use of all the tools provided in its resolution 1612 (2005).
In order to further strengthen the comprehensive framework of the protection of children in armed conflict, considering the changing nature of armed conflicts and the issues raised in the Secretary-General’s report (document S/2007/757), the Council expressed its readiness to review the relevant provisions of its resolutions on children and armed conflict, building on the provisions of resolution 1612, with a view to further increasing the efficiency of its actions.
Today’s debate was opened by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, who outlined the main areas of concern, saying that 58 offending parties had been listed in the annex to the Secretary-General’s report. In spite of impressive progress, the overall situation of children affected by conflict remained “grave and entirely unacceptable”.
“It is now time that the Security Council move from words toward effective action,” she urged. There were 16 persistent violators who had been on the lists of violators for five consecutive years. The Council had already expressed its intention to take concrete and targeted measures against those parties. It was most important to make good on its promise. Measures could include the imposition of travel restrictions on leaders and their exclusion from any governance structures and amnesty provisions; the imposition of arms embargoes; and restrictions on the flow of financial resources.
“No one who has looked into the eyes of a child soldier can be at peace unless we rid this world of this scourge,” she said, adding, “No one who has held the hand of a young girl who has suffered multiple rapes can ever forget their duty to work for the protection of the vulnerable.”
Opening statements were also made by the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Ann M. Veneman, and a representative of a non-governmental organization, Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict.
Overall, more than 55 speakers today elaborated on the plight of children affected by armed conflict and weighed in on the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report, in particular, those that related to the need to give equal weight to all categories of grave violations set out in resolution 1612, including gender-based violence, on the list of violations that triggered inclusion in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s report. Speakers also considered other recommendations of the Secretary-General, including that the Council continue to call on parties in armed conflicts to prepare concrete time-bound action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children.
Charles Michel, Minster for Development Cooperation of Belgium, was among the speakers who insisted that the Secretary-General’s recommendations must be rapidly implemented. He also said that the annexed lists of offenders were an important dissuasive instrument, which had given the Council a tool with which to act. The protection of children in armed conflict was not negotiable, and the Council must adopt the necessary sanctions. In the framework of monitoring, sexual violence was now only taken into account if it related to child soldiers. However, he favoured strengthening resolution 1612 and including in the annexes a list of those responsible for sexual crimes.
Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Slovenia’s representative welcomed the work already carried out by the monitoring and reporting mechanism, and complimented the Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict for the concrete conclusions it had adopted. The Union encouraged the Council to take appropriate and concrete measures against the parties listed in the annexes, and called on it to take appropriate account of all categories of grave violations. As a first step, the Council could expand the criteria that triggered the listing of a party to include the crime of rape and other grave sexual and gender-based violence against children.
“The tragedy of child soldiers forces us to be determined and uncompromising,” said Bernard Kouchner, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of France. His country would like to see the deterrent aspect of the Council increased. Its members must not shrink from the adoption of strong, targeted measures against non-complying parties. The Council must demand that the action plans drawn up by the belligerents integrated measures to end sexual violence -- and followed through on their implementation. The Working Group should tackle the tragedy of sexual violence against children in armed conflict independently of whether they were child soldiers or not. It should also address impunity.
Agreeing that rape and other acts of sexual violence against children should be added to those violations that triggered inclusion in the annex list, Vittorio Craxi, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, said that a comprehensive strategy was needed, which was not limited to children’s recruitment. The International Criminal Court should continue its investigations. Italy also endorsed the Union position of adopting legal instruments to ban munitions that caused insufferable harm to civilians, including children.
While fully supporting the efforts to end unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers, the United States representative said his delegation did not agree that the Council should have a general policy of referring cases to the International Criminal Court, as not all Member States were parties to the Rome Statute. He also objected to the recommendation on cluster munitions, saying that the Council’s Working Group should focus on the substantial issues already and clearly within its mandate. Discussion of cluster munitions was better left to weapons experts.
Also speaking today were several representatives of the countries that had been named in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s report, including the representative of Myanmar, who reiterated his Government’s long-held policy of zero tolerance towards the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict and strongly urged objectivity and fairness in treating all situations that affected children in armed conflict. He was greatly disappointed that Myanmar’s national army, Tatmadaw (Kyi), was still listed in annex I of the report, while the remaining insurgent groups had been given undue favourable treatment.
Noting the specific reference in the Secretary-General’s report to the Philippines, that country’s representative acknowledged that there was, indeed, room for improvement in the documentation of violations of children’s rights, and efforts were under way to strengthen the coordination among the agencies involved. The Philippines had been more than willing to cooperate on the issue before the Council today, and called on the Working Group to be more transparent in its working methods. An open working environment would surely lead to enhanced cooperation and a speedier resolution of the issue.
Additional speakers in the debate were the representatives of Libya, Russian Federation, South Africa, United Kingdom, Burkina Faso, China, Viet Nam, Croatia, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Panama, Iceland (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Japan, Mexico, Kazakhstan, Australia, Netherlands, Georgia, Chile, Brazil, Republic of Korea, Uruguay, Argentina, Guatemala, Israel, Canada, Austria, Nepal, Uganda, Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Guinea, Iraq, Switzerland, Thailand, Afghanistan, Peru, United Republic of Tanzania, Egypt, Nicaragua, Qatar, Germany, Colombia, Liechtenstein, Bangladesh, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria and Rwanda, as well as the observer for Palestine.
The meeting was called to order at 10:20 a.m., suspended at 1:15 p.m., reconvened at 3:12 p.m. and adjourned at 8:10 p.m.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2008/6 reads as follows:
“The Security Council takes note with appreciation of the seventh report of the Secretary-General (document S/2007/757) on children and armed conflict, and the positive developments, as well as outstanding challenges, in the implementation of its resolution 1612 (2005) reflected therein.
“The Security Council, reiterating its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, reaffirms its commitment to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on children, its determination to ensure respect for and the implementation of its resolution 1612 (2005), and all of its previous resolutions on children and armed conflict, as well as respect for other international norms and standards for the protection of children affected by armed conflicts.
“The Security Council stresses, in this regard, the need to adopt a broad strategy of conflict prevention, which addresses the root causes of armed conflict in a comprehensive manner in order to enhance the protection of children on a long-term basis, including by promoting sustainable development, poverty eradication, national reconciliation, good governance, democracy, the rule of law and respect for and protection of human rights.
“The Security Council reiterates the primary responsibility of national Governments in providing effective protection and relief to all children affected by armed conflicts, and encourages further cooperation and coordination between Member States, the United Nations system and the international community, in a spirit of partnership.
“The Security Council reiterates 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, and stresses the importance for all, within the framework of humanitarian assistance, of upholding and respecting the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
“The Security Council calls for the full implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism on children and armed conflict, as called for in paragraph 3 of Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) in all situations of armed conflict listed in the annexes to of the Secretary-General’s report S/2007/757.
“In this regard, the Security Council reiterates that the mechanism should continue to collect and provide timely, objective, accurate and reliable information on violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict and to operate with the participation of and in cooperation with national Governments and relevant United Nations and civil society actors, including at the country level.
“The Security Council commends the work carried out by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, including her field activities in situations of armed conflicts.
“The Security Council also commends the work carried out by UNICEF and the child protection advisers of peacekeeping operations and political missions in cooperation with other relevant United Nations entities.
“The Security Council welcomes the sustained activity of its working group on children and armed conflict, as outlined inter alia in the latest report by its Chair (document S/2007/428), and invites it to continue adopting conclusions and proposing effective recommendations for consideration and, where appropriate, implementation by the Council including through mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions.
“The Security Council will continue to consider including or enhancing the presence of child protection advisers in the mandates of all relevant United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions.
“The Security Council strongly emphasizes the need to end impunity for violations and abuses perpetrated against children in armed conflict, and in this regard, welcomes the fact that several individuals who are alleged to have committed such crimes have been brought to justice by national, international and “mixed” criminal courts and tribunals.
“The Security Council acknowledges that the implementation of its resolution 1612 (2005) has already generated progress, resulting in the release and reintegration of children in their families and communities, and in a more systematic dialogue between the United Nations country task forces and parties to the armed conflict on the implementation of time-bound action plans.
“Nonetheless, the Security Council strongly condemns the continuing recruitment and use of children in armed conflict in violation of applicable international law, killing and maiming of children, rape and other sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian access to children and attacks against schools and hospitals by parties to armed conflict.
“The Security Council is concerned with the widespread and systematic use of rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, in particular girls, in situations of armed conflict, and calls on all parties to armed conflicts to take special measures to protect girls and boys from sexual and gender-based violence, particularly rape, in situations of armed conflict.
“The Security Council expresses its concern that civilians, particularly children, continue to account for the vast majority of victims of acts of violence committed by parties to armed conflicts, including killing and maiming as a result of deliberate targeting, indiscriminate and excessive use of force in violation of applicable international law. The Council condemns these acts and demands that those parties immediately put an end to such practices.
“The Security Council is gravely concerned by the persistent disregard of its resolutions on children and armed conflict by parties to armed conflict identified in the reports of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, including parties to whom precise, immediate and unequivocal requests have been addressed. Recalling the statement S/PRST/2006/48 made by its President on 28 November 2006, the Security Council reaffirms its intention to make use of all the tools provided in its resolution 1612 (2005).
“The Security Council reiterates its call on parties to armed conflict listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report S/2007/757 that have not already done so to prepare and implement, without further delay, concrete time-bound action plans to halt recruitment and use of children in violation of applicable international law, and to address all violations and abuses against children in close cooperation with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, as well as with UNICEF and the United Nations country taskforces on monitoring and reporting.
“The Security Council expresses concern over the casualties inflicted on children in armed conflict by the indiscriminate use of landmines and cluster munitions, and in this regard, calls upon all parties to armed conflicts to desist from such practice.
“In order to further strengthen the comprehensive framework of the protection of children in armed conflict, considering the changing nature of armed conflicts and the issues raised by the Secretary-General in his report, the Security Council expresses its readiness to review the relevant provisions of its resolutions on children and armed conflict, building on the provisions of resolution 1612 (2005), with a view to further increasing the efficiency of its actions.
“The Security Council recognizes that a stronger focus is required on the reintegration and rehabilitation of children associated with armed forces and armed groups, and in this regard invites all parties concerned, including Member States, regional organizations, the Secretariat and other relevant United Nations entities, including UNICEF, UNFPA, UNIFEM, WHO, UNDP, UNHCR, OHCHR, ILO and UNESCO, international financial institutions, including the World Bank, as well as civil society, to enhance their exchange of information about programmes and best practices, bearing in mind the relevant provisions of international law, Security Council resolutions on children and armed conflict, as well as the “Paris Principles to protect children from unlawful recruitment by armed forces or groups”, and ensure that adequate resources and funding are available to support national strategies or action plans in the area of child protection and welfare, and community-based programmes, with a view to ensure the long-term sustainability and success of their programmatic response to the release, rehabilitation and reintegration of all children associated with armed forces and armed groups.
“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to submit his next report by May 2009 on the implementation of its resolutions on children and armed conflict.”
The Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on Children and armed conflict (document S/2007/757), which covers progress in the implementation of resolution 1612 (2005) on that topic, from October 2006 to August 2007, and includes information on compliance in ending grave violations, such as the recruitment and use of child soldiers, as well as cross-cutting issues that have arisen due to the changing nature of conflicts.
According to the report, the use of child soldiers continues in Afghanistan, Burundi, Chad, Central African Republic, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Somalia, Sudan, Sri Lanka and Uganda. On the positive side, no new cases of child recruitment have been recorded during that period in Côte d’Ivoire. The parties to the conflict there have not only ceased recruitment, but have taken measures to identify and release children associated with them for rehabilitation.
The Secretary-General points to the close link between child recruitment and internal displacement, noting that the lack of security around refugee and internally displaced person camps, and the “convenient concentration of vulnerable children”, make these camps “prime recruiting grounds”. He also warns that armed groups are moving across borders to recruit children from refugee camps, especially along the Sudan-Chad border. Both Sudanese and Chadian armed groups are recruiting children from Sudanese refugee camps in eastern Chad, while Chadian refugee children are being recruited by Sudanese rebel groups in Darfur.
Among other cross-cutting issues, the report discusses targeting of children during armed conflicts for sexual and gender-based violence, including rape. Some 60 per cent of sexual and gender-based violence cases recorded in Kisangani, in the northern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, involved victims between the ages of 11 and 17. In the Great Lakes region, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi, the High Commissioner for Human Rights indicated appalling levels of sexual and gender-based violence. “It is imperative that perpetrators of acts of rape and other sexual violence, which leave a long-term, devastating impact on the victims, are prosecuted in accordance with the gravity of such crimes,” the Secretary-General writes.
Increasingly, children are also allegedly being detained for association with armed groups in violation of international standards, such as in Burundi, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Israel and the Philippines. While some children have been released, owing to United Nations advocacy efforts, many remain in detention. Another concern is the escalation of systematic and deliberate attacks on schoolchildren, teachers and school buildings in certain conflict situations, including Afghanistan and Iraq, which warrants increased attention and action by the global community, the Secretary-General states.
The Secretary-General urges the Security Council to consider a range of measures, including bans on military aid and travel restrictions on leaders, targeting parties to armed conflict who continue to systematically commit grave violations against children. The report recommends that the Council consider giving equal care to children affected by conflict in all situations of concern and attach equal weight to all categories of grave violations, including recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, grave sexual violence, abductions, attacks against schools or hospitals and denial of humanitarian access to children. The Council is also encouraged to continue to call upon parties in situations of armed conflict to prepare concrete time-bound action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children and other violations, and to expand the call for action plans for all situations of concern. Adequate funding should be made available by donors to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of all children who have been associated with armed forces or armed groups.
The Secretary-General also recommends national action to bring to justice individuals responsible for grave violations against children and encourages the Council to refer violations against children in armed conflict to the International Criminal Court. In this regard, he points to “important precedents” set to end impunity for crimes against children. The Court has issued arrest warrants for five senior members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), including its leader, Joseph Kony, who faces charges on 33 counts, including the forcible enlistment and use of children in hostilities. The sentencing by the Special Court for Sierra Leone of three men and the conviction of a fourth for the recruitment and use of child soldiers sends an important message that such crimes against children “will not be tolerated and that those who engage in the practice will be brought to justice”.
RADHIKA COOMARASWAMY, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, introduced the Secretary-General’s seventh annual report on the issue, which concerned 18 situations, recording systematically the grave violations of: killing or maiming of children; recruiting or using child soldiers; attacks against schools or hospitals; rape and other grave sexual violence against children; the abduction of children; and the denial of humanitarian access to children. Fifty-eight offending parties were listed, drawn from 13 situation of concern. All 58 parties were responsible for the recruitment and use of child soldiers. Expressing her satisfaction that the report had been the result of a United Nations system-wide collaborative effort, she stressed that the hallmark of the monitoring and reporting exercise had been a constructive dialogue with the Member States.
She said that, in the past year, much had been accomplished. The Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict had met six times, with positive results. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, former Mai-Mai Commander Kyungu Mutanga had been brought to trial. Thomas Lubanga, from the same country, was also facing charges of recruiting child soldiers, and others were also being brought to trial. Increasingly, parties were implementing key commitments regarding protection of children. Among other gains, Côte d’Ivoire had seen a delisting of parties from the annexes, which was a first. Progress had also been made in the Central African Republic, Myanmar, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Uganda and Chad. Colombia’s Government had accepted to implement the monitoring and reporting mechanism pursuant to Council resolution 1612 (2005).
In spite of the impressive progress, it was with regret that she reported that the overall situation of children affected by conflict remained “grave and entirely unacceptable”. The protection of children was an issue that necessitated the concerted efforts of all Member States. It was important to note that in certain situations, the inability of the United Nations monitoring and reporting regime to engage in dialogue with non-State actors had impeded progress on securing the release and rehabilitation of children associated with such groups. She urged the Council to call on relevant Member States to facilitate such dialogue.
Drawing attention to several urgent challenges requiring close examination, she said there were changing characteristics of conflict, with “grey zones” that blurred lines between armed conflict and criminal violence. Terrorism and counter-terrorism measures posed their own special problems. The use of suicide bombing was entirely unacceptable. Children had been used as suicide bombers, and many had been killed by such bombings. Counter-terrorism strategies sometimes saw the killing and maiming of children as collateral damage. Systematic and deliberate attacks on schoolchildren, teachers and school buildings had escalated. In Afghanistan, such attacks were targeted against girls’ schools. In regional conflicts, cross-border recruitment of children from internally displaced persons and refugee camps was surging.
Continuing, she said that the detention of children for alleged association with armed groups, in violation of international standards, was worrisome. The use of indiscriminate weapons, such as cluster munitions, had a severe impact on children. Sexual and gender-based violence, including rape against children, was a devastating consequence of conflict in many parts of the world. Like the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence was always a deliberate, targeted and direct consequence of criminal intent.
The recruitment and use of child soldiers had been the main concern of the Council and the gateway to the annexed lists of the annual reports, she said. However, there were five other grave violations and child victims of those grave violations and abuses deserved the attention and protection of the international community and the annexed list of parties should include all grave violations. The inclusion of grave sexual violence would represent an important step forward in the monitoring process.
“It is now time that the Security Council move from words toward effective action,” she urged. There were 16 persistent violators who had been on the annexed lists for five consecutive years. The Council had already expressed its intention to take concrete and targeted measures against those parties. It was most important that it make good on its promise, in order to ensure the credibility of that exercise. Measures could include the imposition of travel restrictions on leaders and their exclusion from any governance structures and amnesty provisions; the imposition of arms embargoes; and restrictions on the flow of financial resources.
The Security Council was playing a historical role when it dealt with the children and armed conflict theme. “No one who has looked into the eyes of a child soldier can be at peace unless we rid this world of this scourge,” she said, adding, “No one who has held the hand of a young girl who has suffered multiple rapes can ever forget their duty to work for the protection of the vulnerable.”
ANN M. VENEMAN, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said it was fitting that the Council was meeting on the sixth anniversary of the entry into force of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. States that had not done so should be urged to sign, ratify and fully implement that instrument. Children continued to suffer from the horrors of war, often coping with trauma, violence, and the loss of family, homes and community. Many had been killed or maimed, even long after conflict had ended. They were all too often victims of indiscriminate weapons, such as cluster munitions, and must be protected from their effects. Children also suffered from the resurgence of preventable diseases. Conflict and post-conflict countries had some of the highest rates of under-5 mortality, and conflict and strife often broke down public health services and contributed to food insecurity, displacement and continued instability. Misuse, occupation or attacks against schools were some of the worst violations against children in situations of armed conflict.
She said that UNICEF had a long history of advocating for and assisting in the release and reintegration of children used by armed forces and groups. It knew from experience that it was possible to reintegrate those children, especially when they were provided with assistance and skills to become productive members of society. Yet reintegration was a difficult and long-term process requiring patience and long-term commitment. For several years, UNICEF country offices had worked with States and non-State actors, which had recruited and used children, in order to bring an end to that abhorrent practice. The Secretary-General’s report referenced UNICEF’s engagement in the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire and the Sudan. The 2007 Paris Commitments had helped reinforce international consensus on the unlawful recruitment and use of children in armed conflict. They had also reiterated measures States could take to protect and help reintegrate children involved in hostilities. States should be urged to endorse those Commitments.
There must be greater focus and attention to the issue of sexual violence against children, and abuse, rapes and sexual violence of all kinds must be halted, she urged. UNICEF welcomed the efforts of the Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. In a relatively short time, the monitoring and reporting mechanism had produced positive results by focusing on grave violations in the six categories of abductions, recruitment, sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals, killing and maiming of children, and denial of humanitarian access. More should be done to better monitor, prevent and respond to those violations. The best interest of the child should be the guiding principle of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, above all other considerations.
In conclusion, she said that young voices had been heard in a compilation of stories and recommendations from conflict zones entitled “Will You Listen”, which was launched last October as a supplement to the 10-year Graca Machel Strategic Review, and submitted to the General Assembly. Many of those children spoke of the important role they played in providing change, and of the need to act swiftly. As a young woman from Colombia said, “We are the future, and people should be aware of that. Right now, we are inheriting a very unstable world.” Ms. Veneman appealed to Council members to keep those words in mind “as we move forward with a shared sense of urgency in helping to build a better and safer world for our children”.
JO BECKER, representative of Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, welcomed such achievements as the monitoring and reporting mechanism, the development of action plans to end the use of child soldiers, and efforts by the Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. “However, we are not here to celebrate,” she said. In many ways, children in armed conflict today were no better off than their peers had been years ago. Impunity for those who brutally attacked them was still the norm. Today, it was as important as ever that all the Council Members stayed focused on the purpose of their work and redouble their efforts to make real change for children.
She urged the Council to take several critical steps without delay, including strengthening the monitoring and reporting mechanism and expanding its scope; taking consistent action against perpetrators who repeatedly violated children’s rights; demanding accountability by imposing targeted measures, when warranted; and utilizing the full range of actions from the Working Group’s “toolkit”.
A recent Watchlist field-based study had found that the Council’s monitoring and reporting mechanism had made impressive strides in the quest to collect accurate, timely and objective information, she continued. It had also identified obstacles and challenges, including: the need for greater collaboration with other existing networks; stronger support for the participation of civil society groups; better efforts to protect the safety of survivors and others who provided information; and more effective responses to violations.
She explained that the Watchlist provided practical recommendations to the United Nations and partners. As recommended by the Secretary-General, she urged the Council to give equal consideration to all six grave violations against children, as any of them could trigger the application of the monitoring and reporting mechanism and the listing of a party in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s reports. As a next step, she encouraged the Council to add rape and other forms of gender-based violence as an additional trigger.
Between 2002 and 2008, 14 parties to armed conflict had been named in all five of the Secretary-General’s reports on children and armed conflict, she said. Those persistent violators included the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN), also in Colombia, the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and the Government forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Myanmar. Those violators should be subjected to the Council’s strongest action. So far, the Council had initiated targeted measures against just one individual, imposing a travel ban and asset freeze on a former commander in Côte d’Ivoire.
She stressed that the Council could not expect to achieve accountability based on empty threats. To ensure its own credibility, it must be prepared to exercise its powers to impose targeted measures, when warranted. That entailed systematically referring information to relevant sanctions committees, and in some cases, applying measures through country-specific or thematic resolutions by the full Security Council. The Working Group’s toolkit provided a valuable array of actions to encourage parties to armed conflict to comply with their international obligations.
CHARLES MICHEL, Minister for Development Cooperation of Belgium, said that 300,000 children had been torn away from their families. They faced a cruel dilemma: kill or be killed, and they had to commit the worst atrocities, sometimes against their own family. That scourge could not be accepted. During his visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he had personally witnessed the distress children affected by armed conflict had to endure. Children who had only known war and the safety of their “Kalashnikov” were not a lost cause for peace and development; they were an essential part of it. The problem of children and armed conflict was not just a question of humanitarian assistance and human rights and development, but also one of peace and security. The Secretary-General’s recommendations made must be rapidly implemented, as too many children had already seen their fate sealed.
He said that the annexed lists were an important dissuasive instrument, which had given the Council a tool with which to act. The protection of children in armed conflict was not negotiable, and the Council must adopt the necessary sanctions. Combating impunity was an indispensable prelude to reconciliation and lasting peace. Sexual violence was another scourge. In the framework of monitoring, that violence was only taken into account if it related to child soldiers. However, his Government would favour strengthening resolution 1612 (2005) and including in the annexes a list of those responsible for sexual crimes. The Council must encourage other United Nations bodies to strengthen their political pressure to put an end to the abuses. The Member States must turn commitment into concrete action. Belgium would continue to plead in favour of a binding instrument to tighten controls on small arms and light weapons. Armed conflicts were still victimizing children. “Let us give them hope,” he said.
VITTORIO CRAXI, Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, aligning himself with the European Union’s statement, said his country supported the work of the Special Representative and that of UNICEF and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), as well as of all the non-governmental organizations that worked for children. The figures in the Secretary-General’s report required immediate action by the international community. His country had been actively involved in the promotion of children’s rights. In 2003, under the Italian Presidency, the European Union had adopted guidelines on children in armed conflicts. There was a need to take up specific projects in health and labour to offer children alternatives, in order to help them integrate in civil society.
He said that Italy was developing new assistance strategies. UNICEF’s projects in Afghanistan had been financed by Italy. Italy also focused on Iraq. He hoped the Working Group would have a greater impact in the future. A comprehensive strategy was needed, which was not limited to children’s recruitment. Rape and other acts of sexual violence against children should be added to those violations that triggered inclusion in the annex list, and the International Criminal Court should continue to investigate such acts. Italy also endorsed the Union’s position of adopting legal instruments to ban munitions that caused insufferable harm to civilians, including children. Today’s debate should be a decisive stage towards adoption of a new Security Council resolution, which included lessons learned and progress made since the passage of resolution 1612 (2005).
GIADALLA ETTALHI ( Libya) said the Secretary-General’s consecutive reports indicated that shameful acts against children, such as recruiting them into armed conflicts, were on the rise. States should take serious measures within their national legislation and in accordance with international humanitarian law to hold perpetrators responsible for such actions and to impose the maximum deterrent penalty on them, without any opportunity for impunity.
He said that the detention of children in conflict zones based on claims of linkage with armed groups was a serious violation of international legal standards. Strongly condemning the Israeli military operations that had killed more than 500 children in the past year, he said that the international community must take the necessary measures to address the situation of children detained in Israeli prisons. Also condemning the use of cluster bombs and the effect on children of air bombing operations by coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, he expressed support for the establishment of a convention banning cluster bombs. International support should also be mobilized for programmes aimed at sustainable reintegration of affected children into society. The Working Group must avoid selectivity, double standards and politicization in its recommendations and conclusions, while the Council should consider the full impact of its sanctions.
ALEJANDRO D. WOLFF (United States) said that the development of action plans by States and non-State actors had proven to be a positive way to guide and measure progress. It would be useful for all the parties listed in the annex to the Secretary-General’s report to be similarly required to submit such plans. As for the Council’s Working Group, as its work evolved, it might need additional tools, including targeted and graduated measures against persistent violators to persuade them to comply with applicable international law.
He said he was pleased with the progress in Côte d’Ivoire, where parties previously associated with unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers had ended those practices. However, the Council’s work had just begun. Over a quarter of a million child soldiers remained engaged in conflicts around the globe. He remained deeply concerned by the situation of children and armed conflict in Burma, urging immediate and unimpeded access to communities in that country. In the Sudan, he urged full cooperation from the Government of National Unity and Government in Southern Sudan to follow through on their commitments and to put an end to all violations against children. He also deplored continued use of rape as a weapon of war in Darfur, with the increasing targeting of young girls. His delegation urged the commitment of all parties to put an end to those violations and to grant United Nations entities unimpeded access for monitoring and verification purposes. Regarding Chad, he urged all parties to permit access to the United Nations monitors and others attempting to ascertain the extent of the problem. He welcomed the news that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was working to increase its child protection there.
Turning to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, he said that recidivism, or the child’s inability to function properly within his family or community, was an issue of great concern to everybody, and certainly to his Government, as a major donor of such programmes. The United States applauded the hard work of UNICEF, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and their partners. He encouraged Member States to allow full access to conflict areas, in order to accomplish the goals of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.
While fully supporting the effort by the Secretary-General, his Special Representative and the Security Council to end unlawful recruitment and use of child soldiers, he did not agree that the Council should have a general policy or practice of referring cases to the International Criminal Court, as recommended in the Secretary-General’s report. Different States had different views about the best mechanism for combating crimes against children. It was important to bear in mind that not all Member States were parties to the Rome Statute, and those who were not should be taken into account.
As for the recommendation that Member States should immediately address the subject of cluster munitions, he said his delegation would ask that the Working Group focus on the substantial issues already and clearly within its mandate. Discussion of cluster munitions was better left to weapons experts operating through the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects.
VITALY CHURKIN ( Russian Federation) said that his country was committed to ensuring the rights of children, and it intended to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child concerning children and armed conflict. He shared the Secretary-General’s concern in the report over the deteriorating situation of children in Afghanistan and Iraq and emphasized the responsibility of all the parties, including multinational forces, for the implementation of the norms of international humanitarian law. Unfortunately, the report did not contain information on the death of children, owing to the activities of private security firms in Iraq. He supported the inclusion of the Taliban on the lists of the violators, which opened the way to the consideration of the matter by the Council’s Working Group.
Relevant attention should be paid to Iraq, he said, adding that he had recently seen a tape of Al Qaida terrorists teaching child soldiers to kill and abduct. Another matter of concern related to the incarceration of children by multinational forces. UNICEF should pay attention to the causes and conditions of their captivity, and the Council’s monitoring and reporting mechanism should be involved in that regard. He supported the Secretary-General’s suggestion that advisers on the protection of children be sent to Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon, as well as Darfur, Chad and the Central African Republic. He welcomed the gains made in Côte d’Ivoire, which resulted in the delisting of some parties, and he agreed with the need to continue to focus on those situations, so that the improvements did not turn out to be short-lived.
All serious violations, including the murder and maiming of children, should receive the Council’s attention, and the monitoring and reporting mechanism should be involved in all situations of concern. Priority in that regard should be given to the most acute and widespread conflicts on the Council’s agenda. It would be impossible to protect children without interaction with the Governments of countries in conflict and post-conflict situations. The United Nations and the Security Council should focus more on supporting national measures directed at strengthening such protection; effective implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes; and the establishment of social and legal conditions for preventing recruiting and other crimes against children. Systemic efforts would result in concrete results, easing the situation of children in armed conflict.
DUMISANI KUMALO (South Africa) said that the Council should continue to call upon all parties in armed conflicts to prepare concrete time-bound action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children and to halt the abuses against them. The Council should also consider giving equal weight to all six categories of the relevant grave violations and it should refer cases to the International Criminal Court for investigations and prosecutions within its jurisdiction.
Further, he said, mainstreaming child protection into peacekeeping operations would enhance the monitoring and reporting mechanism. The inclusion of child protection advisers should be considered when reviewing or creating mandates, so as to provide for greater consistency in advocacy and response. A zero-tolerance policy for United Nations personnel should be implemented with regard to sexual exploitation and abuse of children, with a comprehensive strategy developed for assistance and support for victims. Finally, international support should be provided as a priority for the reintegration and rehabilitation of children who had been associated with armed groups. The special concerns of girls in such situations should be taken into account.
JOHN SAWERS (United Kingdom), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that, committed to playing an active role in international efforts to protect children affected by armed conflict, it supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to include child protection advisers within the mandates of peacekeeping and relevant political mission in the future. He was pleased to note a number of positive developments, including in Côte d’Ivoire and in Nepal. The decrease in unlawful recruitment of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a further positive sign and the cooperation of the country with the International Criminal Court was also very welcome. He would welcome further details on progress made in the development and implementation of the action plans of parties within Burma. He urged the Myanmar Government to adhere to its commitment to the Special Representative to cooperate in establishing a monitoring and reporting mechanism.
He said that all six grave violations remained of great concern to his country, which stood ready to contribute to a review of the violations that triggered the listing of a party in the annexes. He was greatly concerned that instances of sexual and gender-based violence, including rape, during conflict had increased, including in Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. There was evidence that rape was used as an instrument of war in those regions to terrorize local populations. It was important that such crimes did not go unpunished, he said, expressing full support for the role of the International Criminal Court in investigating and prosecuting those and other violations against children in armed conflict that fell within its jurisdiction. The Council and its Working Group should make full use of the range of options for addressing systematic violations set out in resolution 1612 (2005) and in the Working Group’s “toolkit”, including targeted measures. Inaction was not an option.
MICHEL KAFANDO ( Burkina Faso) said that thousands of children still died each year from direct and indirect consequences of war. The report had noted the persistence of serious violations against children by armed groups and armed forces. Thousands of children were still being abducted and forcibly used as child soldiers. Violence stemming from cluster bombs and attacks against schools continued to kill and wound thousands of children. It was vital that appropriate measures be taken.
He called on Governments to criminalize recruitment of child soldiers and encouraged States that had not done so to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol. He called on the international community to ensure that schools were not targeted. Parties to a conflict must spare health-care services and water deliveries, and ensure safe passage for humanitarian organizations. He encouraged the Council to contemplate mandatory measures against any party that continued to systematically violate measures to protect children. It was the Council’s duty to ensure full implementation of all resolutions thereto. He welcomed the establishment of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, which had a deterrent effect, and recommended extending it to cover all violations.
LIU ZHENMIN ( China) said that his country was against the recruitment and use of child soldiers and other violations, and supported the efforts of the international community and the Security Council to enhance the protection of children in armed conflict. The need to protect children in armed conflict stemmed from the existence of the armed conflicts, themselves, and the Council should strengthen its efforts to prevent conflict and safeguard peace, preventing and resolving conflicts at their origin. Thus, efforts should be made to improve the effectiveness of peacekeeping and peacebuilding.
He said that the role of the Governments concerned must be respected and supported. As emphasized in resolution 1612 (2005), the Governments concerned bore the primary responsibility for the protection of children. The Council and its Working Group should enhance their communications with those Governments and support the positive measures they took. The question of children should not be politicized and used as a pretext to interfere with a country’s internal affairs. Resolution 1612 (2005) should continue to serve as the basis for improving the monitoring and reporting mechanisms, and the functioning of the Working Group. Under the coordination of France as the Chair, the Working Group had considered several countries and submitted relevant recommendations to the Council. Hopefully, that instrument would maintain its professionalism and seek to address relevant issues through cooperation with the Governments concerned. China always stood for dialogue to resolve relevant issues and opposed the wilful use or threat of sanctions.
In post-conflict reconstruction, the international community should prioritize the reintegration of children and ensure that adequate resources were provided, he said. To solve the question of children and armed conflict, the efforts of the Council alone were not enough. UNICEF and other relevant organizations should play a greater role. Also welcome was the positive role played by non-governmental organizations. Not long ago, China had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. He called on all the countries that had not done so, to ratify and accede to the Protocol.
LE LUONG MINH ( Viet Nam) said that, although progress had been made regarding recruitment and use of children in armed conflict and the willingness by Governments to punish those acts, the continuation of the practice was of grave concern. Such acts, together with attacks on schoolchildren, sexual abuse of children, torture, and deprivation of food and education, constituted serious violations of basic rights. There was a need for a broad strategy of conflict prevention that would address the root causes of armed conflict in a comprehensive manner, in order to enhance children’s protection on a long-term basis, including by promoting sustainable development, poverty eradication, national reconciliation and respect for and protection of human rights.
He stressed the importance of strengthened dialogue and cooperation with national Governments in the efforts to monitor and report on the issue of children in armed conflict. The fact that some Governments had complained that they had not been consulted, leading to consideration of their views in the preparation of the Secretary-General’s report, and that the situations in their respective countries were not armed conflicts and, thus, should not have been mentioned in the report, deserved the Council’s attention. Equal treatment of all situations of armed conflict could also be an area for improvement. The Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict should improve its performance and working methods, with a view to putting greater emphasis on prevention.
NEVEN JURICA ( Croatia) said that reporting on the six grave violations against children should not be solely contingent on a country being listed as recruiting child soldiers. Rather, the application of the monitoring and recruiting mechanism should be expanded to include those violations in all situations identified in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report. Condemning in the “strongest possible terms” the rising sexual violence against children and women in situations of armed conflict as unacceptable methods of warfare, he encouraged the Council to use targeted measures whenever needed to protect women and girls from gender-based violence. There should be a zero tolerance policy against sexual abuse of women and children by United Nations and related personnel, including those guarding the camps of the internally displaced persons, which had become recruiting grounds for child soldiers.
He said that all troop-contributing countries should provide training for participants of peacekeeping operations on the rights of children. Furthermore, Governments should end impunity for perpetrators accused of committing violations against children in armed conflict, and the Council should refer violations to the International Criminal Court in situations where national systems failed to address them. As an active member of the Working Group, he called for the strengthening of the Group’s methods by using organized briefings with concerned countries six months after adoption of the Group’s conclusions by the concerned countries. All possible actions in the “toolkit” should be used, as needed, especially field trips, followed by reports.
JORGE URBINA ( Costa Rica) said that his country shared a particular concern for children and love of peace with Panama, which was expressed in the wish of both peoples to live in peace. The situation of children in zones of conflict remained a source of concern. While there had been encouraging progress in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers in some countries, there had been a lack of progress in many other areas. Children who were manipulated or forced to carry a rifle instead of schoolbooks required more than an annual debate. They required a naming of the perpetrators and fighting them with determination. The situation of child victims of abuse and other violations required serious consideration of measures to protect them. The Council had the responsibility to ensure compliance with all of its resolutions. The Working Group should recommend measures or sanctions against those who consistently violated the resolutions. It was time to bring those responsible to justice, leaving aside national conveniences or interests.
He urged the Council not to shy away from referring cases to the International Criminal Court, thereby sending a powerful message to those who sacrificed children for their selfish concerns. It was important to immediately revise monitoring criteria to include all six offences against children. Equal importance should be attached to all violations. It was the responsibility of all States to protect their people, and that responsibility was particularly grave in case of children. When such responsibility was not observed, the international community should step in. The quantity and location of cluster munitions should be provided, in order for the affected areas to be cleared. It was also necessary to conclude an international instrument on the use of cluster munitions.
MARTY M. NATALEGAWA ( Indonesia) said the sight of children carrying machine guns and engaging in combat was absolutely unacceptable. It was an affront to international humanitarian law, which clearly prohibited such practices, either by armed forces or armed groups. The Council had to act to forge alliances with the concerned States to eradicate such practices. Delivery of humanitarian assistance to all children affected by armed conflict was vital. All humanitarian actors should continue to carry out their work based on the principles of neutrality, humanity, impartiality and independence. Situations such as those outlined in the report often pertained to developing countries facing complex and sometimes insurmountable difficulties. Progress on the issue, therefore, also depended on their capacity-building.
He said that the concern could only be properly addressed by adopting a broad strategy of conflict prevention and by tackling the root causes of armed conflict. Ultimately, the promotion of sustainable development, poverty eradication, national reconciliation, good governance and democracy, the rule of law and protection of human rights were the best guarantors of children’s welfare. A successful release, rehabilitation and reintegration of children associated with armed forces and armed conflict required a comprehensive approach. On a specific point, he said he strongly deplored the use of cluster munitions targeted directly or indirectly at children. The Council should pronounce itself clearly in rejecting that practice by State or non-State actors. In conclusion, he stressed the importance of the Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed conflict to further enhance its working methods to achieve transparency and inclusiveness.
BERNARD KOUCHNER, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of France, said “the tragedy of child soldiers forces us to be determined and uncompromising”. In spite of the countless, inevitable difficulties, there must only be one objective: the eradication of that barbarity. “The UN must play a central role in combating this heinous form of slavery which turns victims into assassins.” The Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, presided over by France, was an innovative mechanism that had resulted in tangible progress. Thousands of children had been freed and returned to civilian life, notably in Burundi. Progress had also been made in Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, there were still children on the battlefields of Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burma, as well as in the Central African Republic and Afghanistan. The international community must remain mobilized and redouble its efforts.
He said his country would like to see the deterrent aspect of the Council increased. Its members must not shrink from the adoption of strong, targeted measures against parties that failed to comply with its recommendations. Action was not limited to the issue of child soldiers. The other five serious violations of children’s rights, including sexual violence as a weapon of war, should also be addressed. Failure to react would be reprehensible. The Council must demand that the action plans drawn up by the belligerents integrated measures to end sexual violence and followed through on their implementation. The Working Group should tackle the tragedy of sexual violence against children in armed conflict independently of whether they were child soldiers or not. It should also address impunity. Council action, however irreplaceable, did not prevent other initiatives, such as from the International Criminal Court, the European Union and UNICEF.
France, in cooperation with UNICEF, had organized a ministerial conference in February 2007, called “Free Children from War”, at which 59 countries signed on to the Paris Commitments, a raft of principles and good practices aimed at strengthening action significantly, he noted. A follow-up conference last October saw seven more countries join the Commitments. Another forum on the Paris Commitments, which sought to facilitate the financing of reintegration programmes, had a first meeting scheduled for September, on the sidelines of the General Assembly.
Speaking in his national capacity, Council President, SAMUEL LEWIS NAVARRO, Vice-President and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Panama, said that everybody recognized the negative impact of armed conflict on children. The international community had an obligation to prevent that. The Working Group created by the Council was evidence that the world would no longer address that issue in a fragmented manner. Peace and security, development and human rights were the pillars of the United Nations system. Those issues were interlinked and mutually reinforcing. Protection of children in armed conflict should not be undertaken by the Security Council alone. The General Assembly also had an important role to play. The Working Group’s practice of meeting with States affected by its decisions should be used by other subsidiary bodies on many other occasions.
He said he welcomed the important recent advances, including recent convictions by the Special Court for Sierra Leone and charges issued by the International Criminal Court. While he was pleased by international efforts to put an end to persistent violations, he was concerned over the rising use of refugee and internally displaced persons camps for child soldier recruitment, as well as the proliferation of intentional attacks against teachers and schools, and the use of sexual violence as a tool of war. He encouraged the International Criminal Court to continue safeguarding children’s rights when investigating war crimes and crimes against humanity. He also supported placing advisers on the issue of children and armed conflict in peacekeeping missions and stressed the need for greater focus on the reintegration into society of children affected by conflict.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC ( Slovenia), speaking on behalf of the European Union, and noting progress made in Colombia and Côte d’Ivoire, said there were still worrying situations in Somalia and Iraq and the Middle East, continued attacks against schools in Afghanistan, and sexual and gender-based violence in the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. The Union strongly condemned the continuous use of rape as a method of warfare in Darfur. Perpetrators of such violence must be brought to justice. The Union also condemned the relatively new phenomenon of using children as human shields or in suicide attacks. The scope of child casualties as a result of small arms, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions was equally worrying. The Union welcomed the proposal to consider concluding a binding instrument on cluster munitions.
She said that the Union was encouraged by the work already carried out by the monitoring and reporting mechanism, and complimented the Working Group for the concrete conclusions it had adopted, following its review of the Secretary-General’s reports. It encouraged the Council to take appropriate and concrete measures against those parties listed in the annexes, and called on it to take appropriate account of all categories of grave violations. As a first step, the Council could expand the criteria that triggered the listing of a party to include the crime of rape and other grave sexual and gender-based violence against children. She reiterated the importance of the inclusion of specific child protection advisers.
While welcoming indications of progress on action plans with some parties to conflict situations, she said that, in order to see even more progress, access to all parties involved, including the non-State parties, must be ensured. Member States should also play a greater role in facilitating dialogue with parties involved in armed conflict. The Union was mainstreaming children’s rights into its advocacy, policies and programmes, and it continued to monitor the situation of children in armed conflicts, particularly throughout the implementation of its Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict. The Union also advocated a systematic mainstreaming of human rights, gender issues and child protection.
Special attention must be paid to sexual and gender-based violence, girl combatants, as well as girls associated with armed groups, she said. It must be ensured that they would be included in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes. Sexual exploitation of children by State and non-State parties remained a widespread atrocity affecting millions of victims. Also, a greater focus should be given to the reintegration of children associated with armed groups. The Paris Commitments and Principles furthered the coherence of efforts to prevent unlawful recruitment of children and ensure their sustainable reintegration into families and communities.
HJÁLMAR W. HANNESSON ( Iceland), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries -- Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden -- expressed support for the recommendation that the Council give equal weight to all six categories of grave violations. At the same time, the Nordic countries were mindful of the need to expand the efforts of the Working Group with due regard to existing resources and capabilities. In view of those constraints, it had been suggested that violations perpetrated with the intent to harm children should be prioritized. Sexual and gender-based violence were not an inevitable consequence of war, and could and must be prevented. In line with the report’s recommendations, he supported inclusion of gender-based violence on the list violations contained in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s report.
He welcomed the progress made by the International Criminal Court and the Special Court for Sierra Leone in bringing charges against individuals suspected of grave violations of children’s rights. Increased efforts by national courts were also needed towards ending impunity. It was in the interests of Governments to cooperate closely with the monitoring and reporting mechanism to bring the perpetrators to justice. The Nordic countries encouraged the Council to refer violations against children in armed conflict to the International Criminal Court when national Governments failed to prosecute such crimes. He also endorsed the Secretary-General’s recommendation that encouraged States to conclude a binding instrument on cluster munitions, which caused unacceptable harm to civilians. The Special Representative should be encouraged to continue her reporting on that crucial issue.
The monitoring and reporting mechanism greatly enhanced the Council’s ability to receive reliable and timely information, and he underlined the importance of dialogue between the parties to a conflict, the international community and civil society in furthering the interests of children affected by armed conflict. To enhance the relevance of that approach, the Nordic countries encouraged the Council to call upon the parties in all relevant situations of armed conflict to submit concrete time-bound plans detailing their efforts to end grave violations against children. He welcomed last week’s decision by the Colombian Government to take part in the mechanism. The Council should not shy away from considering effective targeted measures against those who committed grave violations against children. The Working Group should explore the full range of measures to bring persistent perpetrators “to book” when they fell dramatically short of their own action plan objectives or chose to ignore the mechanism altogether. The Council should pay equal attention to children affected by armed conflict, whether the specific situations were on its agenda or not.
YUKIO TAKASU ( Japan) said he was encouraged by the noticeable progress in the implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, as well as important steps taken by the International Criminal Court and Special Court for Sierra Leone to end impunity for crimes against children. The Paris Commitments and Principles were milestone documents in reaffirming the international community’s commitment to prevent the unlawful recruitment of children and provide model guidelines for protecting children from being forcibly associated with armed groups. The 10-year Strategic Review of the Graca Machel Report had offered an excellent opportunity to examine issues related to children in armed conflict.
He said that, today, the use of more than 250,000 child soldiers, the killing and maiming of children, rape and other forms of sexual exploitation and abductions persisted. It was essential that the international community continue to support the monitoring and reporting mechanism and extend cooperation with United Nations activities, such as deployment of child protection advisers, as appropriate, to peacekeeping and political missions, as had been done in the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and United Nations Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL). It was indispensable that the Council and its Working Group give equal attention to children in all situations of concern and equal weight to all six categories of grave violations. The concept of human security provided a vitally important perspective for protection and empowerment of children affected by armed conflict.
A comprehensive and integrated approach based on human security was highly relevant, he added. It must start from prevention of recruitment of child soldiers and include their release, demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration into normal social life. Japan, as an initiator of the Friends of Human Security in New York, would work with interested countries to operationalize that approach in all the policies and programmes of the United Nations system seeking to tackle the problem. The protection and empowerment of children affected by armed conflict was an important challenge in successful post-conflict peacebuilding. The promotion of human security through the Millennium Development Goals and consolidation of peace would be one of three priorities for the upcoming Tokyo International Conference on African Development IV, in May.
CLAUDE HELLER (Mexico) said that the report highlighted the fact that, although progress had been achieved in certain countries, children continued to suffer more and more as a consequence of the changing nature of war. He shared the concerns about the continued recruitment of displaced and refugee children, sexual violence, the rise in attacks against teachers, students and institutions, and the persisting impunity of those who committed crimes against children, in particular those recruiting children into governmental forces and armed groups. Reintegration of children into society during peacekeeping must also be addressed.
He said that the Council must provide the same level of attention to all violations of the rights of children in armed conflicts, not only the ones pertaining to recruitment of child soldiers. The Council must also adopt selective effective sanctions against persisting offenders. It was important to have advisers on the protection of children within peacekeeping missions and special political missions. “Children represent the future of our society. If we destroy them, we are also destroying our possibilities for living together peacefully,” he warned.
BYRGANYM AITIMOVA ( Kazakhstan) said that, despite progress made, recruitment and use of children in armed conflict were still continuing in 13 countries. It was crucial that all Member States took effective measures to bring to accountability those who perpetrated grave violations against children. Also, an effective mechanism should be established for compliance with the main provisions of the Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols, as well as with those of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict.
She expressed support for targeted measures against groups and persons who involved children in armed conflicts and for Council referrals to the International Criminal Court. More support was needed for the reintegration and rehabilitation of children who had been associated with armed groups, and she stressed that their re-recruitment should be prevented. Prosecution of children for their crimes when perpetrated as soldiers should be avoided, since those actions should be considered in the framework of juvenile justice. The issue of protection of children in armed conflict should be a main priority of the Council.
ROBERT HILL (Australia), welcoming the gains, stressed the need for further progress in all situations of children affected by armed conflicts, including those in the Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia. Children in armed conflicts, including those displaced by conflict, were not only vulnerable to recruitment, but also to other grave violations, including killing and maiming, rape, abduction, attacks on schools and denial of humanitarian access. No hierarchy could be ascribed to those abuses, and the triggering of the monitoring and reporting mechanism should occur for all of those violations, especially for rape. He encouraged the Council to continue to call on parties listed in the annexes to prepare time-bound action plans to stop recruitment and other violations against children.
He also encouraged the Council to consider targeted measures against persistent violators of children’s rights, saying that the efforts of all key stakeholders remained essential in combating violations against children in times of conflict and ensuring adherence to relevant international law. As well as ensuring that measures were taken at the international, regional and national level to combat such crimes, Governments must also ensure that perpetrators of those crimes were brought to justice. In that regard, he highlighted the important role of the International Criminal Court, and encouraged Member States that had not yet done so to ratify the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts and the Court’s Rome Statute, without delay.
FRANK MAJOOR ( Netherlands) said that concerted efforts were needed at all levels, and that required political will. The Netherlands funded a number of projects targeting children in armed conflicts. In particular, it was supporting a UNICEF project in Uganda, which provided vocational training in camps for children caught up in conflict, having contributed a total of €1.3 million to it. The country was also a major bilateral donor of the World Bank Multi-Country Demobilization and Reintegration Programme in the Great Lakes Region.
Ending impunity was a critical element in ending violations and abuses against children, he said, advocating effective action by Member States concerned to bring to justice individuals responsible for violations of children’s rights. Where national systems of justice failed, the situation should be referred to the International Criminal Court. A recent arrest of a former commander of the Nationalist Integrationist Front (FNI) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was a notable example, which showed how the International Criminal Court and the Congolese national authorities cooperated in the fight against impunity.
Commendable progress had been achieved by the Council, but there was a need for further commitment and action, he said. For example, the current scope of the monitoring and reporting mechanism should be reviewed. Child soldiers constituted a relatively small share of affected children, and the Council should give equal consideration to all categories of grave violations against children in armed conflict. Moreover, included in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s report should be a comprehensive listing of parties to armed conflict responsible for any of those grave violations. An initial expansion of the trigger mechanisms could include the crime of rape and other grave sexual violence against children. Progress in ending such violations could be measured, allowing for delisting, and be an incentive for change. There was no room for complacency or even a business-as-usual approach. He urged the Council to continue to address the issue to fill existing protection gaps.
LESLIE B. GATAN ( Philippines) elaborated on his Government’s policy and legislation on the protection of children. Measures had been adopted to protect them from harm and assure their safety and well-being. Children rescued from conflict were accorded special treatment by Government forces. To further ensure the protection of children’s rights, a memorandum of agreement on the handling and treatment of children involved in armed conflict had been signed in 2000, and a year later, an executive order on the framework for children involved in armed conflict had been issued. An inter-agency committee on children in armed conflict had been created as the key body that coordinated the efforts of the Government. Following consultations among relevant Government agencies and non-governmental partners in June 2007, current challenges had been identified, as well as the necessary next steps towards resolving the issue of children in armed conflict.
He said his Government recognized the need for enhanced monitoring and reporting, and an inter-agency operational database monitoring system on children in armed conflict would be made functional in the near future. The Government was also developing a procedure for data collection, which would include information pertaining to the six violations enumerated in resolution 1612 (2005). As institutional coordination among the frontline agencies, and with communities, was needed, the Government was implementing a comprehensive communications plan on the protection of children, designed for concerned sectors. The Department of Social Welfare and Development continued to provide the victims with residential and other social services, such as financial and legal assistance, counselling, skills training, values formation and spiritual enrichment, livelihood services and education. The Government was also creating an even more comprehensive rehabilitation and reintegration programme in the conflict areas.
Noting the specific reference in the Secretary-General’s report to the Philippines, he acknowledged that there was, indeed, room for improvement in the documentation of violations of children’s rights. That had already been recognized as a concern, and efforts were under way to strengthen the coordination among the agencies that came into direct contact with children in armed conflict. His Government looked forward to the visit of the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict. The Philippines had been more than willing to cooperate on the issue before the Council today, and called on the Working Group to be more transparent in its working methods. An open working environment would surely lead to enhanced cooperation and a speedier resolution of the issue.
IRAKLI ALASANIA (Georgia), associating himself with the statement of the European Union, said he supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation that mandates of all future peacekeeping and relevant political missions should include child protection advisers. That would increase the effectiveness of the monitoring and provide timely and accurate information. The Council should move forward and start acting in response to challenges before it. Any form of grave violations against children must be given equal priority.
He said that, for the past 15 years, his country had been dealing with the consequences of ethnic conflicts. Apart from the generation of youth that had lost their lives during the civil war, that conflict had produced a generation, which, due to ethnic cleansing, had been forced into exile. His Government did all it could to support refugees and internally displaced children, including through special care to cope with their post-war psychological traumas. It was heartbreaking to see how children of all ethnic origins were becoming victims of physical and psychological violence. Lack of security in certain areas prevented children from integrating into society. He drew attention to the situation of Georgian-speaking children in Abkhazia, who were deprived of their fundamental right to study in their mother tongue. Another matter of concern was the problem of mines, left behind after military operations had ended.
The circle of violence and hatred could be stopped only through joint international efforts, he said. His Government had provided channels for international organizations to be involved in the most critical confidence-building measures, namely bringing children from both sides of the war-torn society together and helping them to restore their faith in peaceful coexistence with each other.
HERALDO MUÑOZ (Chile) said he strongly supported multilateral actions to reduce and eradicate the scourge of violence against children, particularly in situations of conflict, and urged the Council to “bravely” use its authority to identity and punish those responsible for the atrocities documented in the report. Although the international community recognized that children were precious subjects of law, paradoxically, their rights were flouted daily in situations of armed conflict, between and within States.
He supported the work done by the Council Working Group, UNICEF, non-governmental organizations and civil society, which were contributing to the implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism. In view of the persistence of the heinous acts, and the impunity noted by the Council, greater efforts must be made, however, to ensure the implementation of the mechanism. The Council, therefore, should include cases of rape and other sexual violations in acts that triggered inclusion in the annexes. He also urged adoption of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, in particular the recommendation that the mandate of all future peacekeeping missions and relevant political missions should include the presence of child protection advisers, as appropriate.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) said that, in recent years, the United Nations efforts to focus international attention on child-specific issues, in the context of armed conflicts, had been expanding. She expected the Council to perform its work in close coordination with the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council. An effective response to the issue of children affected by armed conflicts would benefit only by placing it squarely within the context of the more general problem of children in need. A strong commitment by Governments and the full cooperation of all relevant United Nations entities were essential to reverse the situation. The work of the United Nations on children and armed conflict should be guided by the existing international framework, in particular the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as all relevant resolutions of the General Assembly and Security Council. The Optional Protocol to the Children’s Convention was of particular importance.
She shared the recommendation that effective action should be taken through national justice systems to bring to justice perpetrators of violence against children. She also strongly supported the strengthening of the International Criminal Court and full implementation of its decisions in cases of violations against children in armed conflict, which fell within its jurisdiction. Brazil was particularly concerned about gender-based violence. Another important aspect of the problem involved reintegration of former child soldiers in countries emerging from conflict and protection in situations in which they became vulnerable, such as exposure to cluster munitions and landmines. The Peacebuilding Commission had an important role to play, and should include a discussion of concrete measures for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former child combatants.
Broad and comprehensive coordination was essential to maximize the effect of the Council’s actions in its efforts to make the best use of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, she said. Besides the involvement of UNICEF and other relevant agencies, funds and programmes was the need to fully integrate into the process the newly established post of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on violence against children.
KIM HYUN CHONG ( Republic of Korea) said that progress had been made in 11 countries since the adoption of the reporting and monitoring mechanism. Especially welcome had been the significant developments in ending impunity for crimes against children, particularly the recruitment of children in armed conflicts. Actual sentencing of the perpetrators would send a strong and clear message, as child recruitment was still an issue of grave concern. The Council must address that fact, as well as the lack of security in refugee and internally displaced persons camps, which were known hotbeds for recruitment. The Council must also take effective and targeted measures against persistent perpetrators, by such means as an arms embargo, a ban on military assistance, travel restrictions, the freezing of assets and a restriction on the flow of financial resources.
He said he was disturbed by the sexual violence and abuse against children in armed conflict. As many as 60 per cent of the victims of sexual violence were children in armed conflict, and sexual violence and rape had been deliberately employed for political and military purposes. In that context, he urged the Council to widen the scope of the monitoring and reporting mechanism. As ending impunity was a critical element for halting violations, the Council should refer those accused of systematic and persistent violations against children to the International Criminal Court. He also emphasized the need to strengthen the role of major actors and the coordination among them. The role of the Working Group should also be bolstered. National Governments should take responsibility for the protection of children. Technical and financial assistance should be provided for capacity-building, and Governments should fully cooperate with the Council.
ELBIO O. ROSSELLI (Uruguay), protesting the fact that no Permanent or Deputy Permanent Representative of Council members, except two, were present, and noting that he also had important work to do, asked his country’s representative to the Third Committee to read the prepared statement.
DIANELA PI continued, saying the report allowed Member States to appreciate the progress achieved, but it also illustrated the remaining challenges. There was no region in the world that was immune to the problem. The number of children killed, maimed or recruited was overwhelming, as was the number of girl children subjected to sexual violations, which left devastating and permanent scars. The impunity still enjoyed by those committing crimes against children should be addressed. The subject was part of the Assembly agenda, in which her country played an important role.
She said that two years after adoption of resolution 1612 (2005), which had established the monitoring and reporting mechanism, it was time to make an assessment. Six types of violations had been identified, but the mechanism was restricted to recruitment. All violations should be treated as equal, however. Only through a joint endeavour and strengthening the rules of international law, as well as using the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, would it be possible to put an end to the serious violations against children. The inclusion of child protection advisers in peacekeeping missions should be stepped up, and the institution should receive sufficient financial support. Children who had participated in armed groups needed special support.
JORGE ARGÜELLO ( Argentina) welcomed the advances made through the joint action of States and the mechanisms created by the United Nations system, with the invaluable contribution of civil society. He valued the actions of some national Governments to put an end to crimes committed against children affected by armed conflict and to bring perpetrators to justice. Despite the progress made, the measures for the protection of children affected by armed conflict must be strengthened in the framework of an integral approach, which should not be limited to security aspects. Rather, it must include political, juridical and socio-economic measures. The Council must reaffirm the clear message that further violation of the rights of children in conflict would not be tolerated. The commitment of Member States in support of the monitoring and reporting mechanism must also be bolstered, both politically and in terms of resources.
He urged the Council to consider incorporating into the Working Group’s agenda those situations where the six categories of grave violations arose. Also necessary was the inclusion of child protection advisers in the mandate of all relevant future peacekeeping missions and special political missions. Additionally, the demobilization, reintegration and rehabilitation programmes should be strengthened. The fight against impunity and the search for justice were at the core of any effective response, and it was indispensable, therefore, to explore all means to bring the perpetrators to justice, including via the International Criminal Court, where applicable. The exploitation of children, in any situation, was indescribable, inexcusable and an affront to the very heart of the common values in all societies.
JOSÉ ALBERTO BRIZ GUTIÉRREZ( Guatemala) said that since the Council’s open dialogue on children and armed conflict, changes had occurred in the nature of warfare, with civilian populations increasingly becoming the target of atrocities. During the same period, some progress had been achieved, as well. It was clear that the six types of grave violations identified over the years deserved appropriate attention. Now, it was time to address systematic violations and rape of children, as well as their subsequent stigmatization in society. Other forms of violence, including mutilation, maiming, displacement, denial of access for humanitarian assistance and attacks on schools and hospitals, should also be addressed.
He said that, while it was the prime responsibility of the State to protect children, civil society could be a great ally in that regard, as well as in implementing the monitoring and reporting mechanism, and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration efforts. Appropriate assistance should be provided to both girl and boy children affected by armed conflict, and international standards of justice for minors should also be upheld. Additionally, the situation of children accused of crimes when associated with armed conflicts should be addressed.
Also important was to end impunity, and repeat offenders should be subjected to targeted sanctions. Given the sensitive nature of the subject, any information going to the United Nations should be verified. Coordination and verification of information needed to be ensured, as well as transparency. Guatemala recognized the valuable role of the Paris Principles and the so-called “toolkit” designed by the Council’s Working Group.
DAN GILLERMAN ( Israel) said that Israel was the only democracy in the world where nurseries were protected by guards. His country assigned great importance to the protection of children and was a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on armed conflict. Last year, Israel had welcomed Special Representative Coomaraswamy for a visit, cooperating with her as she sought to better understand the impact of conflict on children in the region.
He said that children often became the object of terrorist interest –- for purposes of recruitment, incitement to violence, human shielding and even targeted attacks. The situation in his region provided a snapshot of some of the most daunting challenges faced in the protection of children. As an example of indoctrination -- as dangerous as the acts of violence and terrorism themselves -- he referred to a recent episode of the Hamas television show “Pioneers of Tomorrow”, which featured a malevolent rabbit that ate Jews. Other programmes were known to praise Jihad and violence. Palestinian terrorists used similar tactics to actively recruit children to carry out terrorist operations. And then there were cases of parents who strapped suicide belts on their own children.
Moreover, the use of civilian areas to carry out acts of terrorism was being seen with alarming frequency, he continued. For example, Hamas terrorists had recently fired mortars from the yard of a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) elementary school in Beit Hanoun. That cynical abuse of the school and violation of a United Nations installation for terrorist purposes had been rightfully condemned by the Secretary-General, but the incident was absent from the Secretary-General’s report. Similarly, while the report provided statistical data on the number of Israeli children physically injured by Qassam rockets, it failed to reflect on the long-term damage, such as psychological conditions and stress disorders. The psychological effects were no less damaging than physical wounds. The rockets, sadly, imposed devastating physical suffering, as well. For example, over the past weekend, two brothers had been seriously wounded when a rocket slammed into their hometown of Sderot.
There was no monopoly on suffering, he said. All children -- Palestinian and Israeli -- suffered from, and were victims of, Palestinian terrorism. Terrorism, in all its varieties and forms, was unacceptable and could never be justified.
In conclusion, he expressed concern regarding the methodologies utilized in compiling the report, specifically in the sections where ambiguities might allow for misinterpretation. The tendency to rely on unsubstantiated reports, third-party testimonies, and hearsay harmed the document’s credibility and effectiveness. All efforts should be made to utilize credible testimonials and evidence. His delegation was engaged in active dialogue and cooperation with the Office of the Special Representative, and he hoped those concerns would be reflected in future reporting.
JOHN McNEE ( Canada) said that the Council had a central role to play in protecting children from the horrific effects of armed conflict and in holding accountable those responsible for committing the atrocities. Canada strongly supported the need to give equal attention to all children affected by armed conflict, whether in situations on the Council’s agenda or not, as well as the need to give equal weight to all categories of grave violations, and to implement the monitoring and reporting mechanism within the framework of 1612 (2005) in all situations of concern. The protection framework created by resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 was a complex web of instruments, which could lead to concrete actions to end violations, but only with the cooperation of Member States. Those who criticized the complexity of those instruments should not forget the important successes, including the de-listing from the report’s annexes of the parties in Côte d’Ivoire.
He said that, while his country was generally satisfied with the current state of implementation of 1612, there remained clear gaps. Several parties persistently committed grave violations against children in conflict situations. In order to end that culture of impunity, it was essential that the Council applied targeted measures against those violators and worked on their referral to relevant tribunals. Canada was pleased by several charges, trials and sentences by the International Criminal Court and the Special Court for Sierra Leone. He urged the Working Group to continue its efforts and the Council to use that route, as well as to pursue targeted measures through specific country mandates. The Council should also adopt a new resolution to expand monitoring and reporting, as well as the Working Group’s agenda, in order to tackle heinous sexual violations against children. That should be done as soon as possible.
GERHARD PFANZELTER (Austria), aligning himself with the statement of the European Union, said that, by now, there was a comprehensive set of instruments prohibiting and criminalizing the recruitment and use of child soldiers, as well as other abuses of children in armed conflict. There was, however, still a long list of perpetrators who had continued to systematically commit serious violations. Unfortunately, some of the existing mechanisms and tools of the Council and the Working Group had been underutilized. He, therefore, called for the full use of the range of measures available to the Council, including targeted measures and referrals to the International Criminal Court. He also supported the recommendation to give equal weight to all categories of grave violations against children.
He said he was deeply shocked by the appalling level of sexual and gender-based violence against children. Those responsible must be brought to justice. Austria had increased its support to campaigns against sexual violations and assistance programmes for victims of sexual violations, in particular in Eastern Congo. He related some of the relevant activities undertaken in his own country, including: integration of child rights into training programmes for peacekeeping personnel; and the provision of financial support to the Machel Strategic Review. Austria was also contributing to projects that addressed sexual and gender-based violations.
RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for Palestine to the United Nations, said that, for children in situations of armed conflict, including foreign occupation, all aspects of life were detrimentally impacted and the meaning of childhood was lost. “We know this to be true, and yet, regrettably, children continued to be the victims of appalling human rights violations and crimes,” he said. Ending impunity for violations against children was paramount. Targeted measures should be taken, including sanctions, against those who persistently committed grave violations against children in armed conflict.
He said that decades of human rights violations and hardship had indelibly marked Palestine’s children. They continued to be killed and wounded in Israeli military assaults and to be traumatized by the vicious cycle of violence, with nearly 1,000 children killed since September 2000. Children continued to be used as human shields by the occupying forces, and their schools remained targets of attacks. More than 400 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years old, continued to be imprisoned by Israel, under inhumane conditions, subjected to ill-treatment, including torture and threats of sexual violence. Palestinian children also continued to suffer displacement, with such consequences as induced poverty, as a result of the occupying Power’s wanton destruction of homes and unlawful construction of the wall and settlements.
Palestinian children also continued to suffer gravely from the deliberate denial of humanitarian access by the occupying Power, he said. Israel’s obstruction of access for humanitarian supplies and personnel was violating children’s rights to food, health care, education and, in some cases, the right to life. Sixty-seven children had reportedly died due to blocked access to proper medical care. Medical research estimated that at least 70 per cent of children in Gaza were anaemic. Even a simple outbreak of influenza could cause severe illness and widespread death among children.
He said he sincerely hoped that current peace efforts would lead to a just and lasting settlement that would bring Palestinian children freedom, security and well-being in their independent State, living side-by-side with Israeli children in peace and security. He also reiterated that the rights and needs of children living in situations of armed conflict, including foreign occupation, could not be postponed or withheld. Collective efforts must be exerted to ensure their protection and their rights, as well as their necessary assistance and rehabilitation. Child protection advisers should be placed in, among other places, the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
MADHU RAMAN ACHARYA ( Nepal) said that recruitment of children in armed conflicts remained an issue of overarching concern and the successful reintegration of recruited children was key to finding a lasting solution. The sexual abuse and exploitation of children during armed conflicts was an issue of serious concern, and impunity of such heinous crimes should not be tolerated. He welcomed the recommendation that the Council should give equal importance to all categories of grave violations.
Regarding the situation in his country, he said that, in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the process of verification of the CPN-Maoists combatants now living in cantonments had been completed, and children under the age of 18 had been identified. Together with the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN) and United Nations agencies, the Government was developing modalities for releasing and rehabilitating the minors. The election of the Constituent Assembly, to be held on 10 April, would pave the way for a better future for children affected by the decade-long conflict.
His Government was committed to preventing children and youth from being part of any violent activities, and it was also determined to end impunity for crimes committed against them under any pretext, he said. Establishment of a truth and reconciliation commission, which was being considered, would also address that issue. As a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol, Nepal was committed to taking measures to enact and implement the provisions of those instruments.
BENEDICT L. LUKWIYA (Uganda) said that, in the annex to the Secretary-General’s report, references had been made to the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), as well as to the now-defunct Local Defence Units as parties who had also been responsible for committing rape and other grave sexual violence against children in the reporting period. It was alleged that, due to the lack of effective monitoring at the local level, children had continued to join the armed forces. Uganda had evolved a very effective mechanism to monitor recruitment. A medical examination was undertaken at the recruitment centres to verify both the age and medical condition of the applicant. Examinations were also performed during the training period. Any recruit found to be below the age of 18 and medically unfit was discharged. No mechanism or system was perfect, but Uganda was determined to ensure that children were not allowed to join the Armed Forces.
Regarding 16 cases of recruitment and use of children between the ages of 14 and 17, he said that these represented a miniscule fraction of the total force. Some cases slipped through the system, but all efforts were made to avoid that. Uganda handled such cases through immediate demobilization and sanctions against those who assisted in the violation. Demobilization and reintegration were immediate. The Government had built a large primary boarding school in Gulu to facilitate that process. It had never been the official policy of the military to occupy schools or any other education or social institutions. However, in a few isolated cases, the conflict situation had led the army to occupy some school structures that had been abandoned. New structures had since been constructed or were under construction. The community was not deprived of educational services, as the report seemed to suggest.
Regarding the agreed action plan, which had been finalized in August 2007, he informed the Council that, in November, the Office of the Special Representative, as well as the Chairman of the Council’s Working Group, had been furnished with a matrix from his Government showing its achievements as of that month, together with agreed terms of reference for the Uganda monitoring and reporting task force. The Government was showing maximum cooperation with the Special Representative’s Office and other partners. He was disappointed, therefore, that the Government’s dedication to the implementation of the action plan was being questioned. As for the children within the ranks of the Local Defence Units, those Units had been disbanded. Some of the personnel had been integrated into the Uganda People’s Defence Forces and Uganda Police, but recruits had been diligently vetted for qualifications. As a non-existing entity, Local Defence Units should no longer be listed under annex II.
Reported cases of rape were always investigated and tried accordingly, he said. The “UPDF Act” prescribed death for rape, if the perpetrator was found guilty by an appropriate military tribunal. As for rape and sexual offences committed by people in internally displaced persons camps, those were civilian cases and were handled by civilian courts. In some cases, no conclusive action had been taken, owing to the weak investigative capacity, unwillingness of witnesses to speak and failure of victims to cooperate due to the fear of social stigma.
Regarding other allegations, he added that it was not the policy of the Government or the Uganda People’s Defence Forces to use children to gather intelligence. Whenever children were rescued from the Lord’s Resistance Army, the Uganda People’s Defence Forces undertook a normal debriefing exercise to establish their areas of origin, education levels and age to facilitate their psychosocial rehabilitation. In some cases, however, those children had information of military value and could help the army recover hidden arms. They were immediately released upon completion of any arms recovery.
“We should be de-linked from LRA as it is no longer operating in Uganda,” he said. The international community and Security Council should exert maximum pressure on the Lord’s Resistance Army to release all women and children within its ranks and captivity. The Uganda People’s Defence Forces should be removed from annex II of resolution 1612 (2005), given the circumstances under which it had been put there and the measures taken to ensure that people under age were not recruited into the country’s Armed Forces. He hoped the country would not be forced to have second look at its cooperation with the Office of the Special Representative, if the current unjustified trend continued.
PRASAD KARIYAWASAM ( Sri Lanka) said that his country took great pride in the remarkable strides it had made in the social sectors, especially in health care and education. The country was determined that its children continue to reap the benefits of those measures. Recognizing the need to safeguard its children from non-State actors who recruited children as agents of violence and terrorism, the Government had unveiled specific measures to strengthen the regime of protection and welfare for children. Primary responsibility for the children’s protection lay with the State, and his Government, just as it rejected terrorism, continued to reject recruitment and use of children in armed conflict as unjustifiable under all circumstances. It sought the support of the international community to eradicate that menace, and urged stronger international measures against those who perpetrated such crimes. He reiterated his Government’s long-held policy of zero tolerance towards the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.
Referring to the situation in Sri Lanka, the Secretary-General had called upon the offenders listed in the annex to his report to mend their despicable behaviour, he noted. Specifically identifying the terrorist group, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), as responsible for numerous repeated grave abuses, the Secretary-General had listed that group as a persistent violator. The Karuna faction of LTTE had also been listed. He looked forward to the opportunity to consider the issue as it related to Sri Lanka at the Council’s Working Group. The LTTE deserved stronger targeted measures against it. The group’s public undertaking to cease recruitment and use of children as combatants had never been implemented.
He said that his delegation agreed with the views expressed in the Secretary-General’s report on the responsibility of Governments in relation to rehabilitative measures for children who sought special protection and surrendered to Government forces. However, successful reintegration of children into society required resources and expertise. Tangible international assistance and support for such efforts, as opposed to mere declarations of concern, would be invaluable, not only to promote the welfare of children, but also to consolidate peace and peacebuilding efforts. The Council should be more resolute in taking action to prevent children from being used as soldiers and accessories in conflicts.
CARMEN MARÍA GALLARDO HERNÁNDEZ ( El Salvador) said the matter of children and armed conflict was extremely sensitive, not only in matters of impunity and human rights, but also for consolidation of peace, reconciliation and reconstruction. She echoed the importance of national efforts to establish a legal framework that would define such grave violations of children’s rights in armed conflict, such as murder and maiming, rape, kidnapping, denying access to humanitarian assistance and attacks against schools and hospitals. In an armed conflict, children were targets of different forms of sexual violence, a clear violation of their human rights. Rape was a method of war. That situation generated a culture of violence, which might be reproduced by children.
She said that post-conflict and peacebuilding processes required the international community to work with countries emerging from conflict in their efforts to achieve national reconciliation. The Peacebuilding Commission might be more closely involved in dealing with those matters. Strengthening communication and coordination within the United Nations system and with post-conflict countries could contribute to greater efforts to reintegrate children. She welcomed the dialogue between the United Nations and countries emerging from conflict.
PAUL GOA ZOUMANIGUI ( Guinea) said the Organization’s founding fathers had stressed the need to save future generations from the scourge of war and, therefore, to maintain international peace and security. Modern conflicts affected civilian populations more, including children. He was pleased with the fact that the Council had been dealing with the issue of children and armed conflict on a permanent basis since 1999. Welcoming progress achieved, he shared concerns expressed in the report and asked for in-depth consideration of the Secretary-General’s recommendations.
He urged the Council to conduct a comprehensive assessment of, among other things, the impact of small arms and light weapons and of cross border issues on the matter under discussion. He also urged better cooperation between the Council and the Peacebuilding Commission. He supported the United Nations zero tolerance policy, as well as support for the victims of sexual abuse. Rape, under no circumstance, should serve as a weapon of war. The scope of the illicit use of light weapons had shown that the scourge went beyond national competence and that international measures were necessary. Although his country had not been a theatre of armed conflict, it belonged to a region that had been scarred by armed conflict. He was encouraged by the process of peace and reconciliation in the Manu River basin, Côte d’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau.
HAMID AL BAYATI ( Iraq) said that Iraqi children had gone through tremendously difficult circumstances over the last three decades during the previous regime. After the fall of the dictatorship in 2003, Iraqi children had been victims of terrorist acts and sectarian violence. Many of them had been subjected daily to threats to their lives because of suicide bombings and roadside bombs. The report had noted that there were indications of children being recruited as combatants by non-State armed groups, Al-Qaida and affiliated groups. Recent documentaries prepared by Al-Qaida showed clearly the recruitment of children of approximately 11 years old to carry out suicide operations and plant explosive devices.
He said that, in 2007, Iraq had witnessed progress in the situation of children, owing to the decrease in the number of terrorist operations and the implementation of the Baghdad law enforcement plan. His Government had established the National Committee for Children to consider means of improving the situation. It had also completed steps to ratify the two optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and it had extended a formal invitation to Ms. Coomaraswamy.
Describing other activities for children, he said his Government was keen to cooperate with United Nations agencies, including UNICEF, to invest donor contributions amounting to $40 million in 2007, in the delivery of critical health care, safe water and sanitation, education and other essential services to millions of children and their families. Some 4.7 million Iraqi primary school children had already benefited from investments in education. A monitoring system for the assessment of children’s institutions was a top priority. He thanked all those countries and institutions for their tremendous efforts to help the Iraqi children and hoped for their continued support.
PETER MAURER ( Switzerland) said that the Secretary-General’s recommendations deserved the Council’s full attention and, above all, it was necessary to obtain tangible results in the field. In the context of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, the Council should give priority to the extension of the field of application regarding violations against children in armed conflicts to the six categories of grave violations, in particular rape and other grave forms of sexual violence. A series of effective targeted measures must be taken against parties responsible for grave and persistent violations against children. He agreed with previous speakers that the Council should refer to the International Criminal Court all cases in which national courts either had not exercised their jurisdiction, or had not done so in accordance with their obligations under international law, when such cases were within the Court’s competence.
Also imperative, he said, was for all listed parties to armed conflicts to be reminded that they were under an obligation to prepare and implement concrete action plans. Child protection advisers should be included in peacekeeping and political missions, when appropriate. He called upon all the parties mentioned in the annexes to continue, in the framework of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, the dialogue the Council had begun with the Governments concerned, the United Nations agencies and national and international civil society actors. The Secretary-General should also formulate, in his next report, specific recommendations on the protection of children in armed conflicts in relation to the use of small arms and light weapons. Gender-specific dimensions should be taken into consideration more systematically in the international community’s response to the needs and rights of child victims of grave violations. The Council might want to consider the problem of children and armed conflict in conjunction with resolution 1325 (2000) on women, peace and security, and resolution 1674 (2006) on the protection of civilians in armed conflict.
DON PRAMUDWINAI ( Thailand) said that, while the Council had made significant strides in the area under consideration, the mechanism it had established was still in its nascent stage. There was certainly room for improvement and consolidation, and a thorough reflection by the Council was necessary, for which an incremental, step-by-step approach offered the best way forward. The advancement of the children agenda could be recognized in various forms and forums, including the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Human Rights Council, Executive Boards of specialized agencies, funds and programmes and relevant human rights treaty bodies. As the issue of children was multidimensional, so should be the approaches to it. Greater effort should be made to address root causes of armed conflicts through greater international cooperation in the areas of poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
He said that his Government’s track record in the realization of “A World Fit for Children” spoke for itself. Thailand had already become a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols. It was determined to ensure the most effective domestic legal framework for its children. A broad range of policy initiatives had also been implemented.
Regarding the Secretary-General’s report, he added that its scope and follow-up should be restricted to situations of armed conflict. Any reference to any country where there was no situation of armed conflict was, not only unwarranted, but also misleading, and should not be repeated in the future.
ZAHIR TANIN ( Afghanistan) said his country had suffered from decades of armed conflict, which had had a devastating impact on children. It had nevertheless achieved considerable progress in promoting and safeguarding the rights of children since 2001. Afghanistan was party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols. Some 7,444 underage soldiers recruited by illegal armed groups had been demobilized. Reintegration committees and vocational schools had been established to reintegrate former soldiers. He called on Afghanistan’s international partners for assistance in that regard. His Government had also established a special task force to prevent children from being abducted and falling victim to traffickers.
He said that, despite progress, terrorism remained a harsh reality in the lives of Afghanistan’s children. Terrorists had increased attacks against schools, teachers, school children and clinics, resulting in 300,000 children out of school. Terrorists had increased attacks in densely populated areas or within the vicinity of public gatherings. In the most malicious practice conceivable, terrorists were recruiting children and using them as suicide bombers. He remained extremely concerned over the use of religious schools (madrasas) in the region where children were indoctrinated and deceived into carrying out terrorist acts. He was also concerned at the loss of life and injury suffered by children during counter-terrorism operations, resulting mainly from the Taliban’s use of the civilian population as human shields.
Addressing the protection of children in armed conflict required the collective commitment of the international community, he stressed. It also necessitated a comprehensive strategy. The international community should accord a special focus on poverty alleviation, by rendering financial and economic assistance to post-conflict countries.
ROMY TINCOPA ( Peru) asked that the Secretary-General’s recommendations in his report be adopted. In situations of conflict, it was necessary to stress the importance of adhering to international instruments. The Council should extend the use of instruments at its disposal to address the situation of children in armed conflict. She urged countries affected by conflict to prosecute those abusing children. Neither amnesty nor impunity was acceptable, and she underlined the role the International Criminal Court could play in that regard.
She said that the Council should afford the same importance to all categories of grave offences. The task of implementing resolution 1612 should be approached in a coordinated fashion by States, the United Nations and civil society. It was important for the Special Representative to compile disaggregated data on rape and sexual abuse of children. Progress made in Côte d’Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of the Congo showed that, when peace agreements were achieved, conditions tended to improve. Emphasis should, therefore, be placed on supporting the work of the Peacebuilding Commission. Human rights, national security and development were interlinked and should be dealt with in an integrated manner.
JOYCE KAFANABO (United Republic of Tanzania) said that it was necessary to provide assistance and support to victims of rape, sexual violence and abuse. She noted with relief that the number of cases of sexual violence and abuse by peacekeepers had declined. She urged the Secretary-General not to relent on the zero tolerance policy in that regard. She condemned the attacks on civilians and public property, especially those targeting schools and teachers. Stern measures should be taken against all those violating international law relating to children in armed conflict.
She stressed the need to send a clear message that those violating the rights of children, including those recruiting and using children to fight adult wars, would be prosecuted under the full weight of international law. She called upon Member States to end impunity and prosecute those responsible for such violations. She commended the efforts of the International Criminal Court and Special Court for Sierra Leone to prosecute the perpetrators, and urged Governments to support their work. The Council should consider targeted sanctions against the worst offenders. Her delegation was encouraged with the positive results in the implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, which also provided a good example of teamwork and collaborative efforts on the ground. The Council should extend the mechanism to all situations of children in armed conflict and not only those on the Council’s agenda. The mechanism should be supported and adequately financed.
While commending the efforts of the Security Council and its Working Group in following up on the reports from the monitoring and reporting mechanism, she encouraged members of the Group to also undertake field visits to see the reality on the ground. She welcomed the Group’s adoption of the toolkit, and encouraged the Council to make greater use of it. Also necessary was to address the root causes of conflict, as well as other issues that could improve the situation of children and other civilians in situations of conflict. At the same time, it was important to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of children who had been associated with armed forces. There was the need for child protection mandates and advisers in all peacekeeping and political missions, as appropriate.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said that the monitoring mechanism should be extended to situations related to children in occupied Palestine, as reflected in the report, as well as to the sufferings of Lebanese children from the extensive and unprecedented use by Israel of cluster bombs during the 2006 conflict in southern Lebanon. All violations should be treated on an equal footing, and no child should be left under those or any other conflicts without international protection. Egypt supported most of the Secretary-General’s recommendations especially that equal weight be given to all categories of grave violations.
He also supported the recommendations aiming at making adequate resources and funding available by donors to national Governments, the United Nations and partners to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of children in armed conflicts and address immediately the grave humanitarian, human rights and development consequences of cluster munitions. In the annexes, it was necessary to include a reference to the violations of Israel of its commitments as an occupying Power, particularly those related to guaranteeing peace and security of children in the Occupied Arab Territories, in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.
Egypt appreciated extensive efforts by the Working Group, according to its current mandate, without expanding it to include the imposition of targeted measures on parties who committed grave violations against children in all situations of concern. Such an expansion of the mandate might affect the balance needed to deal with all aspects of situations of concern listed in the annexes, whether they were included on the Council agenda or not, without concentrating on a certain aspect at the expense of others. To accomplish all targeted goals, the office of the Special Representative should coordinate with the new office of the Special Representative for Violence against Children.
MARIO H. CASTELLÓN DUARTE ( Nicaragua) said that children were the greatest treasure of mankind, representing its future. He shared the concerns of the Secretary-General in connection with violations of children’s rights, including their recruitment and displacement, cross-border trafficking and targeting by gender-based violence, including rape. The Secretary-General’s report also detailed the fact that children were detained for their alleged links with armed groups and described systematic and deliberate attacks against teachers and schools, as well as the use of weapons with indiscriminate effect, including cluster munitions, which caused serious consequences for children. Urban trafficking, spread of disease, separation of families and the loss of services were also associated with conflict and post-conflict situations.
He emphasized the priority importance of ending impunity, saying that recent developments associated with the International Criminal Court and the Special Court for Sierra Leone were of great importance. National authorities should also prosecute the perpetrators. He supported the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report, particularly those on giving equal importance to all offences in the areas of concern, the possibility of targeted sanctions against repeat violators and addressing the impact of cluster munitions.
NASSIR ABDULAZIZ AL-NASSER( Qatar) said that, despite almost universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, millions of children in conflict-ridden areas were still subjected to killing, mutilation, abduction, recruitment and rape. Their schools were targeted, their textbooks were burned and their teachers were killed. Such conditions invited children to carry weapons. The Council’s monitoring and reporting mechanisms had become capable of detecting serious violations targeting children in conflict-torn areas and had made concrete progress in ending recruitment of children. Despite progress, however, education had suffered in conflict areas, and some 43 million children were deprived of basic education opportunities.
He said that Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser al-Misnad, Consort of the Emir of Qatar, had had a major impact at the national, regional and international levels in drawing attention to the need to support education in poor countries and countries affected by conflict. As the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)’s Special envoy for Basic and Higher Education, Her Highness had expressed her concern in several international forums. Her message had emphasized that quality education had cumulative benefits, which reduced the impact of conflicts on children and helped prevent future ones.
Recognizing the importance of concrete results achieved through the monitoring mechanism, and the important role of the Working Group, he said that it was imperative to further develop work plans to realize the right to education in times of conflict and crisis, and in the post-conflict peacebuilding phase.
MARTIN NEY (Germany), aligning himself with the European Union statement, welcomed progress made on the issue, but was mindful of the fact that an estimated 300,000 child soldiers remained worldwide and that tens of thousands of children were still killed, maimed, raped or abducted as a result of unlawful recruiting practices every year. Resolution 1612 was a milestone in creating an effective international monitoring and reporting mechanism. Ample information and evidence of grave violations had been collected in six major categories of violations against children, while focusing on the illegal recruiting and use of children as child soldiers. While agreeing with that emphasis, he said the Council should not shy away from including new perspectives in the scope of dealing with those issues. Sexual violence was one such issue that deserved undivided attention. Perpetrators of such acts should be included in the annexes.
He said that where national systems failed to provide adequate protection for children in armed conflict, the Council should refer violations to the International Criminal Court. The issue of children should be mainstreamed in peacekeeping and political missions, for instance, through child protection advisers and enhanced cooperation of relevant United Nations actors. There was a clear link between the issues of refugees, internally displaced persons and armed conflict, and the likelihood of children becoming involved as soldiers in volatile situations in the aftermath of armed conflict. His Government already supported -- in the context of conflict prevention and post-conflict rehabilitation -- measures countering the recruitment of child soldiers and their reintegration into civilian life, in the Sudan and Nepal.
U KYAW TINT SWE ( Myanmar) said that his country had gone through more than four decades of insurgency and had recently emerged from a situation of armed conflict, with the return to the legal fold of 17 major insurgent groups. Only a few groups still continued to take up arms against the Government and engage in terrorist activities. Except for counter-insurgency operations against those groups, major military campaigns were no longer conducted in Myanmar. He was greatly disappointed that Myanmar’s national Army, Tatmadaw (Kyi), was still listed in annex I of the report. The country’s military was an all-volunteer army. Under the Defense Services Act and relevant regulations, the minimum age of recruitment was 18 years. To prevent children who lied about their age from joining the military, the Government set up a special high-level committee in 2004 and was implementing stringent scrutiny at the recruitment and training stages.
He said that between February 2007 and January 2008, some 962 underage persons had been rejected at the recruitment stage. Between 2002 and January 2008, disciplinary action had been taken against 44 military personnel who had failed to strictly abide by the recruitment criteria. The Government was also closely cooperating with the United Nations country team, including UNICEF. It had drawn up a plan of action and had regularly provided updates on its activities. During the Special Representative’s visit, the Government had agreed to cooperate in the establishment of the monitoring and reporting mechanism. Those developments had been reflected in the Secretary-General’s reports. Several workshops and seminars had been held in the country, and public awareness campaigns had been intensified.
For some inexplicable reason, he said, the groups that had been clearly mentioned in the body of the report for recruiting child soldiers and causing them harm were not listed in the annexes. He strongly urged objectivity and fairness in treating all situations that affected children in armed conflict. The report mentioned United Nations country teams as the primary sources of information, stating that information was vetted and verified for accuracy. That was certainly not the case with regard to allegations concerning Tatmadaw (Kyi) and the insurgent groups that had returned to the legal fold. In contrast, the remaining insurgent groups had been given undue favourable treatment. He was greatly disturbed that, in the annex, Tatmadaw (Kyi) had been falsely described as responsible for the killing and maiming of children and denial of humanitarian access to children. That had been added despite the admission that those reports could not be confirmed. He insisted that those references be deleted.
He also found objectionable the unfounded allegations made earlier in the morning, some of which had even found their way into the report. Those allegations had crept in because of the lack of cooperation with member Governments. It was only through cooperation and partnership, and acting transparently, that it was possible to address the issue of children and armed conflict. He reiterated his Government’s commitments made at the highest level, that no one under the age of 18 would be recruited into Myanmar Armed Forces. The six armed groups that had come back to the legal fold (DKBA, KIO (KIA), KNPLF, Myanmar National Democratic Army, KNU-KNLA Peace Council and the UWSA) had openly declared that they would not recruit child soldiers.
JAIRO MONTOYA PEDROZA ( Colombia) said his Government had implemented a number of national laws and programmes to prevent the recruitment of children under the age of 18 into armed conflict. Beyond the basic legal framework that prevented the recruitment of minors and defined those used by illegal armed groups as victims, Colombia had also introduced a national recruitment prevention programme through the Colombian Institute of Family Welfare, an awareness campaign through the Central Command of the Military Forces and had issued a directive prohibiting the use of children for intelligence purposes through the Ministry of Defence.
He welcomed the report’s mention of the demobilization of more than 46,000 members of illegal armed groups in Colombia, but wanted to clarify its reference in paragraph 116 to four criminal groups devoted to drug trafficking as new organized illegal armed groups. Since those groups were criminal organizations devoted to drug trafficking, they were being combated as such by the appropriate authorities and were subject to State action only with the purpose of dismantling their structures and taking them before the justice system. On a more general level, he reiterated the importance of taking into account the central role of national Governments in the protection of, and effective assistance to, children, and stressed that any action by the United Nations should be carried out in consultation and coordination with respective Governments.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER ( Liechtenstein) said the monitoring and reporting mechanism established by resolution 1612 had proved to have had a positive effect on the ground. It was important to keep the momentum going and further develop and enhance tools aimed at improving the safety and security of children affected by armed conflict. However, one out of six grave violations currently triggered the inclusion of countries in the annex. Other violations should be accorded the same effect, and all types of violations should be given equal weight. It was difficult to understand how differential treatment of grave violations could be compatible with the universality of human rights and the principles of international humanitarian law. He called for the inclusion of a child protection adviser in the mandate of all future peacekeeping missions and, where appropriate, political missions.
He said that any measures taken by the Working Group should be complemented by effective enforcement. An option in that regard was the expansion of the Working Group’s mandate to recommend targeted measures. He also supported the recommendation for the Council to refer to the International Criminal Court violations of the rights of children that fell within the Court’s jurisdiction. As member of the “Group of friends of children affected by armed conflicts”, his country would continue to be actively involved in the development of United Nations mechanisms to address the plight of those children.
TAREQ ARIFUL ISLAM( Bangladesh) agreed with the Secretary-General’s action-oriented recommendations for the benefit of children affected by armed conflict. He also expressed appreciation for the compliance with the recommendations of the Working Group on the issue by some parties to conflicts, and urged others to follow suit. Ensuring compliance by non-State actors and armed groups remained a large challenge, however, and attempts should be made to address that challenge in a more resolute manner.
In addition, he supported the idea of using advisers to mainstream child protection in peacekeeping operations, and called upon parties to conflicts to collaborate with those operations in implementing time-bound action plans to halt and prevent recruitment and other abuses of children. The decline in abuse by United Nations personnel had been encouraging, and he hoped that ongoing programmes would result in further improvements. The situation of children in post-conflict societies, those suffering regional displacement, and those under occupation and unregulated sanctions regimes should also receive due attention.
JEAN-MARIE EHOUZOU ( Benin) noted that three years ago, Benin, as President of the Council, had organized a similar debate, which had resulted in adoption of resolution 1612. The Secretary-General’s report was exhaustive and informative on the scale of violations of which children were victims. He welcomed the effective consideration of the matter by the Council Working Group, as well as the mobilization of civil society for strengthened monitoring. The Council, however, had not yet fully expressed in actions the need to give equal attention to violations of children regardless of whether or not a country was on its agenda, as a consequence of insufficient resources to monitor situations in those countries not on its agenda.
He said the Council had also not displayed all necessary firmness to make violators abide by international law. Effective measures must be taken against parties that did not meet the obligations of the relevant resolutions. International justice, and in particular, the International Criminal Court, must become more active. He welcomed the cooperation between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Court. Council actions had made possible children’s demobilization, but the matter of reintegration had not received the necessary attention. The international community must find the means to ensure the appropriate reintegration of children freed by armed groups. It must also put an end to the use of rape as a weapon of war. The United Nations must redouble its efforts to eliminate sexual exploitation and abuse in peacekeeping operations.
GUILLAUME N. BALLY ( C ôte d’Ivoire) said that internal instability and conflicts created an uncontrolled movement of the population. As a result, children were often left to fend for themselves. His country had experienced the phenomenon of child soldiers. The Secretary-General’s report mentioned that recruitment of children and displacement were closely linked. It should also be noted that, in situations of armed conflict, children increasingly suffered from HIV/AIDS. For that reason, his country saluted UNICEF and other agencies in his country for their contribution to the protection of children.
His country had made peace its second religion, he said. Thanks to the implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement, Ivorian parties were no longer listed in the report, as there was no substantiating evidence on the recruitment and use of child soldiers by armed groups. However, the monitoring and reporting task forces should continue to ensure that the trend continued. He also noted the draft conclusions of the working group this month, which clearly illustrated the evolution of the situation in Côte d’Ivoire. He encouraged the group to continue its noble mission.
Continuing, he welcomed a recent field mission by the Special Representative, which verified that Côte d’Ivoire was no longer among the countries that had child soldiers. Aware that the future of the nation depended on the quality of its youth, the country had taken a number of actions, including the development of the action plan to stop child recruitment. Reinsertion was being implemented in the framework of the Ouagadougou Agreement and citizenship training services were being planned.
He asked the international community to help his country combat impunity, particularly as the judicial authority still did not cover the whole territory of Côte d’Ivoire. The police and gendarmerie were not deployed in the zones formally occupied by the Forces Nouvelles. He added that his country stood ready to share its unique experience with others. The authorities were striving to bring the country out of crisis through transparent and fair elections. For that reason, the Government expected greater material and financial support to redeploy its institutions, including police and gendarmerie, in the zones occupied by the Forces Nouvelles.
LAWRENCE AKINDELE (Nigeria) noted the evidence of progress cited in the Secretary-General’s report and asked if it was not time to tackle the question of the abuse of the rights of children from the angle of “prevention”, rather than “effects”. That could pave the way for finding a resolution to conflicts. Therefore, effective dialogue, poverty-alleviation measures, technical assistance, political and economic “inclusion” and tackling the root causes of conflict should be considered side by side with the recommendations in the report.
With regard to conflict management, he urged that greater attention be paid to the illicit spread of the small arms and light weapons that tended to fuel conflicts, especially in developing countries. He said the International Criminal Court should also play its role regarding violations of the rights of children that fell within its purview and jurisdiction. His country had made remarkable progress in enacting domestic legislation to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child, with 17 states of the federation having adopted the 2003 Nigerian Child Rights Act. To further strengthen achievements in protecting children and moving towards the ending of impunity and bringing to justice the violators of rights, States should ratify and implement the relevant international instruments. Likewise, agencies and stakeholders should pay attention to rehabilitation, technical assistance, reintegration programmes and other post-conflict challenges.
JOSEPH NSENGIMANA ( Rwanda) said that, when talking about children in armed conflict and the sexual violence against and rape of children and women in zones of conflict, his country spoke from experience, having suffered the scourge in the 1994 genocide. After that genocide, his country had made the demobilization of child soldiers, as well as the fight against rape and sexual violence, a major objective of its policies. Among the results achieved, there were no more child soldiers and policies against sexual violence were in force, with severe penalties for violators.
He said that his country deplored the recruitment of children, and rape and sexual violence in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and did everything in its power to defuse that situation. The real resolution of the problem, however, would be achieved with the disarmament of the armed groups (Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda, Ex-FAR Interahamwe), which, after having committed genocide in Rwanda in 1994, continued to occupy land whose owners languished in refugee camps. Those forces made massive use of child soldiers and rape, and continued to threaten Rwanda, where they still wanted to finish their dirty task: genocide. The most appropriate way to free women and children in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo was to liberate the region of those genocidal forces that had openly taken residence there. The United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), in cooperation with the countries concerned, must make that its priority.
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