SECURITY COUNCIL REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO ADDRESS WIDESPREAD IMPACT OF ARMED CONFLICT ON CHILDREN, AFTER HEARING OVER 60 SPEAKERS IN DAY-LONG DEBATE

29 April 2009
SC/9646

SECURITY COUNCIL REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO ADDRESS WIDESPREAD IMPACT OF ARMED CONFLICT ON CHILDREN, AFTER HEARING OVER 60 SPEAKERS IN DAY-LONG DEBATE

29 April 2009
Security Council
SC/9646
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

6114th Meeting (AM & PM)


SECURITY COUNCIL REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO ADDRESS WIDESPREAD IMPACT OF ARMED


CONFLICT ON CHILDREN, AFTER HEARING OVER 60 SPEAKERS IN DAY-LONG DEBATE


Former Child Soldier from Uganda Offers Testimony;

Secretary-General Urges Council to ‘Strike a Blow against Impunity’


The Security Council today reaffirmed its commitment to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on children and expressed its intention to consider bolstering its measures to protect war-affected children by targeting parties who not only recruited them as combatants, but those who killed, maimed, raped or committed other grave sexual violence against them, with the expectation of taking action on the matter by the end of July.


Capping a day-long meeting during which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged the 15-nation body to “strike a blow against […] impunity”, by, at a minimum, expanding its criteria to include on the so-called “list of shame”, parties committing rape and other serious sexual violence against children in armed conflict, the Council adopted a presidential statement(S/PRST/2009/9) reiterating its strong condemnation of all such acts and violations of international law regarding the protection of children.


In the statement, read out by the representative of Mexico, which holds the Council Presidency for the month, Council members recognized “the importance of including in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s reports on Children and Armed Conflict those parties to armed conflict that commit acts of killing and maiming of children that are prohibited under applicable international law or acts of rape and other sexual violence against children that are prohibited under applicable international law, in situations of armed conflict”.


The Secretary-General’s annual report on the implementation of resolution 1612, which in 2005 established a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism and set up a Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, explicitly lists in its annexes both State and non-State parties, who have recruited child soldiers or committed other grave violations against children.  It covers compliance and progress in ending six grave violations:  the recruitment and use of children; killing and maiming of children; rape and other grave sexual violence; abductions; attacks on schools and hospitals; and denial of humanitarian access to children.  This year’s report (S/2009/158) lists 56 such parties, including 19 persistent violators who have been listed for more than four years. 


The Council today reiterated its call on parties to armed conflict listed in the annexes of the report that had 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 other violations and abuses committed against children and undertake specific commitments and measures in this regard.


In his opening remarks, Secretary-General Ban said that the Council’s milestone resolution 1820 (2008) had focused specifically on sexual and gender-based violence.  While that had been a crucial step, it would only have true meaning when its provisions were translated into action.  “I urge the Council to expand the trigger of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism to include sexual violence and, if possible, intentional killing and maiming of children,” he said, adding that such a move would be a crucial first step towards accountability for those terrible crimes.


More than 60 speakers took part in the debate, but the sobering highlight was the testimony of Grace Akallo, who at the age of 18, was abducted from her school along with 138 other girls in northern Uganda by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).  Although the school’s headmistress had successfully negotiated the release of 109 of the other girls, she was not among those lucky ones.  Instead, she was forcibly marched to southern Sudan, where she was given an AK-47 and sent repeatedly into battle against the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).  After one battle, she was so thirsty and hungry that she fainted.  The rebels, thinking she was dead, buried her in a shallow grave.


In addition to being forced to fight, she and her friends were “distributed” to the rebel commanders.  They were forced to kill other girls who tried to escape or refused their “husbands”.  She was repeatedly raped by an LRA commander, but she was determined to survive.  After seven months in captivity, she got a chance to escape when LRA was attacked by the rebels from southern Sudan.  She walked for two weeks without food, surviving on wild leaves, soil and morning dew.  Finally rescued by villagers in southern Sudan, she was returned to her school and her parents.  Luckily, she went back to high school and eventually attended university, but many girls -- even if they too escaped -- were not as fortunate.


While her story was being heard, thousands went unheard, she continued.  Dozens of armies and rebel groups were continuing to ruin children’s lives around the world.  The Secretary-General’s report showed amazing progress had been made in preventing the use of child soldiers, but it should be asked, what was being done for the boy and girl victims of rape?  The perpetrators of sexual violence had to be stopped and punished.  She believed the Council would act on this and succeed, just as it had succeeded in helping rescue child soldiers in the first place.  “I still wait for some of my friends to return, and I hope that everyone here will be committed to bring people like my friends back home,” she added. 


Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said the Council’s decision to demand a list of parties that recruited and used children, and to consider targeted measures against them, had led to thousands of children being identified and released.  Armed actor after armed actor had told her that they were determined to be removed from the list, she said.  Those successes, however, had also created an imbalance in the focus of the Council with regard to all other grave violations, she continued. 


“The moment is now ripe for the Council to extend its focus beyond child soldiers to deal more effectively with other violations,” she said, adding that ideally, the Secretary-General’s list should include all grave violations.  The child protection community was unanimously calling on the Council to begin, at a minimum, with expanding the listing criteria to include parties that committed rape and other grave sexual violence against children.  The inclusion of killing and maiming of children would also be an important step forward.  She welcomed the recent finalization by the Department of Peacekeeping of its child protection policy.


“What am I to say to […] Grace and to the hundreds of girl and boy victims of sexual violence, who I meet on my missions to conflict affected countries?” she asked.  “Is it fair to say that these children suffer a ‘second class violation’, that the Council does not wish to apply the same focus and engagement for these children?  In my heart of hearts, I believe this is not the intention of the international community and that this day will mark a new age in what my predecessor called the era of application.”


Among the delegations taking part in the meeting, which was presided over by Patricia Espinosa, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, the representative of France agreed with most speakers that everything possible must be done to end such vile acts as sexual violence against, and deliberately killing or maiming, children.  He also agreed more attention should be devoted to addressing the other five grave violations under the Council’s purview.  Nevertheless, at a time when there were believed to be 200,000 child soldiers in the world, the international community could not turn its attention away from that tragedy.  The principal aspects of the policy to fight the scourge of children in armed conflict remained unchanged, he said. 


The representative of Sri Lanka said his country had consistently rejected the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict under all circumstances and had been among the first countries to set up a National Task Force to monitor and report on those activities.  The Council should impose the strongest measures against those who perpetrated such crimes.  The Secretary-General’s report referred to the recruitment of children as young as 14 years old by the LTTE terrorist group.  Such recruitment had intensified in recent months. 


Sri Lanka called on the Council to consider deterrent action against such persistent violators.  A break-away faction of the group, however, now registered as a political party, had released most child conscripts.  LTTE was among those groups against whom targeted measures might be applied.  The fact that LTTE had not changed its policy on the recruitment of children would not inspire confidence in the process undertaken by the Council.  Member States must deploy all efforts to find ways and means to make such non-State actors as LTTE fall into line.


Marie-Ange Lukinana Mufwankol, Minister for Gender, Family and Children Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said the Special Representative’s visit to the country had had positive results and today’s debate was of vital importance to her country.  Recruitment and abuse of children in armed conflict was being perpetrated by a number of rebel factions.  Given the scope of the challenge, she reiterated her country’s appeal for effective support in promoting democracy, both in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in other countries in the Great Lakes region. 


She said the Democratic Republic of the Congo was doing everything it could to put an end to grave violations against children.  Several actions, and with the help of the Child Protection Fund and the Fund for the Protection of Women, had helped in the fight against impunity and to implement disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and reintegration programmes.  Her Ministry had launched an appeal for mobilization against violations of rights against women and children, culminating with women protesting on 16 December 2008, she added. 


Also briefing the Council were Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, and Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).


Statements were made by the representatives of Croatia, Russian Federation, United States, China, Libya, Costa Rica, Japan, Austria, Burkina Faso, Viet Nam, Uganda, Turkey, United Kingdom, Philippines, Canada, Brazil, Czech Republic (on behalf of the European Union), Chile, Australia, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, Finland (also on behalf of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), Ireland, Israel, Ecuador, Uruguay, Italy, Bangladesh, Ghana, Liechtenstein, Peru, Nepal, Germany, Morocco, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Argentina, Switzerland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, El Salvador, Iraq, Luxemburg, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Rwanda, Qatar, Myanmar, Colombia, Azerbaijan, Thailand, Armenia and Benin.


The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and suspended at 1:15 p.m.  It resumed at 3:20 p.m. and adjourned at 7:50 p.m.


Presidential Statement


The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2009/9 reads as follows:


“At the 6114th meeting of the Security Council, held on 29 April 2009, in connection with the Council’s consideration of the item entitled “Children and armed conflict”, the President of the Security Council made the following statement on behalf of the Council:


“The Security Council takes note with appreciation of the 8th report of the Secretary-General (S/2009/158) on children and armed conflict and of the positive developments referred to in the report, and notes the continuing challenges in the implementation of its resolution 1612 (2005) reflected therein.


“The Security Council reaffirms its commitment to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on children, and its determination to ensure respect for, and the implementation of, its resolution 1612 (2005) and all its previous resolutions on children and armed conflict, as well as respect for other applicable international lawrelated to the protection of children affected by armed conflict.


“The Security Council stresses, in this regard, the importance of adopting 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 acknowledges that the implementation of its resolution 1612 (2005) in situations listed in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s report (S/2009/158) has generated progress and invites the Secretary General, where applicable, to strengthen the efforts to bring the monitoring and reporting mechanism to its full capacity in order to allow for prompt advocacy and effective response to all violations and abuses committed against children.  In this regard, the Council reiterates its request to the Secretary-General to provide additional administrative support to its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.


“The Security Council reiterates its equally strong condemnation of 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 Council condemns all other violations of international law, including international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law, committed against children in situations of armed conflict.  The Council demands that all relevant parties immediately put an end to such practices and take special measures to protect children.


“The Security Council expresses deep concern that civilians, in particular children, continue to account for a considerable number of casualties resulting from killing and maiming in armed conflicts, including as a result of deliberate targeting, indiscriminate and excessive use of force, indiscriminate use of landmines and cluster munitions and use of children as human shields.


“The Security Council further expresses deep concern with the high incidence and appalling levels of brutality of rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, girls and boys, committed in the context of and associated with armed conflict, including the use or commission of rape and other forms of sexual violence in some situations as a tactic of war.


“The Security Council recognizes the importance of including in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s reports on Children and armed conflict those parties to armed conflict that commit acts of killing and maiming of children that are prohibited under applicable international law or acts of rape and other sexual violence against children that are prohibited under applicable international law, in situations of armed conflict, and expresses its intention to continue its consideration of this issue, in order to take action within three months of this date.


“The Security Council reiterates its call on parties to armed conflict listed in the annexes of the Secretary General’s report (S/2009/158) 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 otherviolations and abuses committed against children and undertake specific commitments and measures in this regard, in close cooperation with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the United Nations country-level task forces on monitoring and reporting.


“The Security Council expresses its concern with situations where insufficient or no progress has been made by parties listed in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s reports in halting recruitment and use of children in violation of applicable international law, including through the preparation and implementation of concrete time-bound action plans, and reiterates its determination to ensure respect for its resolutions on children and armed conflict, making use of all the tools provided in its resolution 1612 (2005), including action as appropriate in accordance with paragraph 9 of its resolution 1612 (2005).


“The Security Council strongly emphasizes the need for concerned Member States to take decisive and immediate action against persistent perpetrators of violations against children, and to bring to justice those responsible for the recruitment and use of children in violation of applicable international law and other violations against children through national justice systems and, where applicable, international justice mechanisms and mixed criminal courts and tribunals, with a view to ending impunity for those committing crimes against children.


“The Security Council reiterates the primary responsibility of States in providing effective protection and relief to all children affected by armed conflicts, andcalls upon them to comply with their obligations under applicable international law, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocols thereto and encourages States to strengthen national measures for the prevention of violations against children in armed conflict, including  recruitment and use of children and their use in hostilities in violation of applicable international law, inter alia, by enacting legislation that explicitly prohibits such recruitment and use as well as other violationsand urges States that have not yet done so to consider ratifying or acceding this Convention and its Optional Protocols.


“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 remains concerned with the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons and its effect on and their use by children in armed conflict.


“The Security Council welcomes the sustained engagement of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and requests it to adopt, with the administrative support of the Secretariat, timely conclusions and recommendations in line with resolution 1612 (2005).  The Council encourages its Working Group to continue its review process, to enhance its ability to follow up the implementation of its recommendations and the development and implementation of action plans to halt recruitment and use of children, and to consider and react in a timely manner to information on situations of children and armed conflict, in collaboration with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and UNICEF.  It also invites its Working Group to enhance its communication with relevant Security Council Sanctions Committees, including by forwarding pertinent information.


“The Security Council commends the work carried out by the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, and emphasizes the importance of her country visits in promoting collaboration between the United Nations and governments and enhancing dialogue with parties to armed conflict.


“The Security Council also commends the work carried out by UNICEF as well as other relevant United Nations agencies, funds, programmes within their respective mandates, the Child Protection Advisers of United Nations peacekeeping, peacebuilding and political missions in cooperation with national Governments and relevant civil society actors.


“The Security Council encourages the efforts of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in mainstreaming child protection into all peacekeeping missions, in close collaboration with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF; and encourages the deployment of Child Protection Advisers to peacekeeping operations, as well as into relevant peacebuilding and political missions.


“The Security Council invites the Peacebuilding Commission to continue to promote child protection in post-conflict situations under its consideration.


“Given the regional dimension of some conflicts, the Security Council encourages Member States, United Nations peacekeeping, peacebuilding andpolitical missions and United Nations country teams to establish appropriate strategies and coordination mechanisms for information exchange and cooperation on cross-border child protection concerns such as recruitment, release and reintegration of children.


“The Security Council recognizes the important role of education in armed conflict areas, includingas a means to achieve the goal of halting and preventing recruitment and re-recruitment of children in violation of applicable international law, and calls upon all parties concerned to continue to ensure that all children associated with armed forces and groupssystematically have access todisarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes where they can benefit, inter alia, from education.


“The Security Council also urges parties to armed conflict to refrain from actions that impede children’s access to education, in particular attacks or threats of attackon school children or teachers as such, the use of schools for military operations, and attacks on schools that are prohibited by applicable international law.


“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to submit his next report by May 2010 on the implementation of its resolutions on children and armed conflict.”


Background


When the Security Council met this morning, it had before it the Secretary-General’s latest annual report on children and armed conflict (document A/63/785-S/2009/158), which covers compliance and progress in ending six grave violations against children caught up in armed conflict:  the recruitment and use of children; killing and maiming of children; rape and other grave sexual violence; abductions; attacks on schools and hospitals; and denial of humanitarian access to children.


Submitted pursuant to Security Council presidential statement S/PRST/2008/6, by which the Council requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the implementation of its resolutions 1612 (2005), 1261 (1999), 1314 (2000), 1379 (2001), 1460 (2003) and 1539 (2004) on children and armed conflict, it also includes information on progress made in implementing monitoring and reporting mechanisms and action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children.  It also assesses progress made in mainstreaming children and armed conflict issues in United Nations peacekeeping and political missions and provides a brief summary of the progress and conclusions of the Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.


In the report, the Secretary-General underlines the particular vulnerability of children to rape and sexual violence in armed conflict situations, as well as the culture of impunity that prevails for such crimes, and recommends that the Council consider expanding the criteria for the report’s annexes to include parties that commit such crimes.  To this end, mechanisms and arrangements for monitoring and reporting rape and sexual violations during armed conflict should be strengthened.


He encourages the Council to continue to insist that parties listed in he report’s annexes prepare and implement concrete, time-bound action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children, take measures against any parties that fail to comply and undertake specific commitments and measures to address other violations and abuses committed against children.  Contact between the United Nations and non-State parties should be allowed by concerned Member States to ensure the broad and effective protection of children in situations of concern, including for the purposes of preparing action plans.


Systematic communication should also be established between the Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and the relevant sanctions Committees and their expert groups in country situations of common concern, he says, stressing that where no existing sanctions committees exist, the Council should consider means by which targeted measures may be applied against persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children.  Further, all relevant United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions should include the deployment of child protection advisers.  Given the regional dimension of some conflicts, appropriate strategies and coordination mechanisms for information exchange and cooperation on cross-border child protection concerns, such as recruitment, release and reintegration of children, should also be established.


He says strong and urgent action to bring to justice individuals responsible for the recruitment and use of children should be undertaken through national justice systems.  The Council should also refer to the International Criminal Court, for investigation and prosecution, violations against children in armed conflict that fall within its jurisdiction, and other international justice mechanisms should also prioritize accountability for crimes against children.  Given how critical effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes for children are, Governments and donors should ensure that such programmes receive timely and adequate resources and are community-based.


The report also states that the Secretary-General’s Special Representative has identified several emerging concerns that are key priority areas for action and continued advocacy:  internally displaced children and their particular risks for recruitment; terrorism and counter-terrorism measures and its impact on children; the accountability of child soldiers for acts committed during armed conflict, and special protections accorded to them; control on the transfer and use of arms and ammunitions, particularly to countries where children are known to be, or may potentially be, recruited or used in hostilities; and measures to achieve sustainable reintegration of children affected by conflict.


Opening Statements


The President of the Security Council, PATRICIA ESPINOSA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, thanked all delegations for their keen interest in the issue, as well as for the support they had given her country’s presidency.  At the same time, she noted that Mexico was currently faced with a difficult situation in the wake of the recent outbreak of the swine flu virus.  She assured the international community that Mexico had acted with full transparency and a sense of responsibility to its own citizens and all citizens of the world.


She said Mexico would continue to act in that manner, especially as the virus was starting to spread to other countries.  She stressed that even when faced with crises, all nations should work together to build bridges of cooperation.  Mexico was working with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other multilateral agencies to address the epidemic.  Mexico appreciated the help and assistance offered and provided by the wider international community.


In his opening remarks, BAN KI-MOON, United Nations Secretary-General, said he had been “relieved and encouraged” by Ms. Espinosa’s address.  As the flu virus had begun to spread to many other parts of the world, it had become a global challenge requiring global coordination, action and support.  All United Nations agencies were now mobilizing their resources and expertise to address the threat, led by the World Health Organization.  The United Nations Secretariat was meeting at the “core group” level, led by the Deputy Secretary-General, Asha-Rose Migiro.  He said that, in the face of the current health crisis, along with the ongoing food and economic crises, as well as climate change, he would count on the cooperation of not only the Security Council, but the entire international community.


Turning to the topic of today’s meeting, he said truth was the first casualty of war, and, when it came to the youngest victims, what they lost first was their childhood.  Indeed, fighting shattered more than infrastructure; it destroyed the precious principles enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  As bombs devastated schools, hospitals and families, children lost their rights to education, health care and love.  Far too many even lost their right to life, he added, noting that he himself had witnessed, and had been outraged by, such scenes of unbearable suffering, including during visits to sexually abused girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


“Painful as it is to describe these atrocities, silence serves only to shield the perpetrators and perpetuate their crimes,” he said, adding that victims’ testimony ‑‑ their dignity even after such appalling violation ‑‑ had made him more determined than ever to raise his voice to decry their suffering and demand action.


Today’s meeting affirmed again that the plight of children caught in conflict zones was a threat to international peace and security.  Since 1998, the Council had adopted six resolutions aimed at stopping the recruitment of child soldiers, the killing, maiming and rape of children, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, and obstacles to humanitarian access.  “You have done more than adopt resolutions.  You have established a dedicated working group, as well as a monitoring mechanism that reports to that group on grave violations against children in situations of concern,” he stressed, adding that, for his part, he had asked his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to take those efforts even further.


Mr. Ban focused the rest of his remarks on what he believed the Council should do next.  He said his appeal was also directed at parties to conflicts and the broader international community.  The Secretary-General’s latest report on the question of children and armed conflict named 56 parties, including States and non-State actors, which recruited child soldiers and committed other grave violations.  Of those, 19 were persistent violators who had been listed for more than four years.


“I urge the Council to consider action to strike a blow against this impunity, and stop these violators from continuing to victimize children.  The protection framework needs to be strengthened,” he said, adding that his report recommended that the Council, at a minimum, expand the criteria for the annexes of the report to include parties that committed rape and other grave sexual violence against children in armed conflict.


He said that, last year, the Council had adopted a milestone resolution 1820, focused specifically on sexual and gender-based violence.  That had been a crucial step, but it would only be truly meaningful when its provisions were translated into action.  He, therefore, urged the Council to expand the trigger of the monitoring and reporting mechanism to include sexual violence and, if possible, intentional killing and maiming of children.  “That is a crucial first step toward accountability for these terrible crimes,” he said.


“We must also do everything possible to ensure that, no matter how severely conflicts may rage, schools are always protected,” he continued, urging support for efforts of humanitarian partners to keep schools running in times of crisis, and to safeguard the right to education.  He further called on all parties to conflicts to keep schools as safe zones for both boys and girls.  He also urged Member States to allow contact between the United Nations and non-State parties aimed at ensuring the protection of vulnerable children.


“We need to work with such parties in order to prepare action plans to halt the recruitment and use of children.  We need to engage them so that they undertake specific commitments to address all grave violations committed against children,” he said.  Finally, he appealed strongly to parties to conflict to comply with international humanitarian law for the protection of children and all civilians.  He also stressed the role of the Council in holding violators accountable.  “We must send a strong signal to the world that those committing appalling crimes against children in conflict situations will be brought to justice,” he said.


Briefings


RADHIKA COOMARASWAMY, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, introducing the Secretary-General’s report, said progress on the issue had been made, especially regarding the recruitment and use of child soldiers.  Action plans had been secured, in Côte d’Ivoire, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda, and others were being finalized for the Philippines, the Central African Republic and Burundi.  Six parties had already been removed from the “list of shame”.  That demonstrated the power of the Council’s focused attention.  Some Governments, including that of Myanmar, had approached her office to deepen their engagement on the recommendations of the Council’s Working Group.  In Nepal, planning was under way for the release of 3,000 minors in Maoist cantonments.  This morning, she had been informed that the Justice and Equality Movement in the Sudan was in discussion with the United Nations country team on finalizing an action plan.


She said, however, that the report continued to present a disturbing picture of grave violations committed against children.  It had identified 20 situations of concern where children remained vulnerable to abuse and chronicled 56 parties that continued to recruit and use children as child soldiers.  Nineteen persistent violators had been listed in the annexes for four years or more.  The Council must now ensure that its words were not empty threats and move forward with discussions on targeted measures against repeat offenders.  In that regard, more systematic communications between the Working Group and relevant sanctions committees was critical.


The Council’s decision to demand a list of parties that recruited and used children, and to consider targeted measures against them, had led to thousands of children being identified and released.  Armed actor after armed actor had told her that they were determined to be removed from the list, she said.


Those successes, however, had also created an imbalance in the focus of the Council with regard to all other grave violations, she continued.  The moment was now ripe for the Council to extend its focus beyond child soldiers to deal more effectively with other violations.  Ideally, the Secretary-General’s list should include all grave violations.  The child protection community was unanimously calling on the Council to begin, at a minimum, with expanding the listing criteria to include parties that committed rape and other grave sexual violence against children.  The inclusion of killing and maiming of children would also be an important step forward.  She welcomed the recent finalization by the Department of Peacekeeping of its child protection policy.


She said her most recent field trips had been to Gaza and southern Israel and to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Dungu, 300 children had been abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) since September 2008.  In North Kivu, the rapid integration of the Congrès national pour la défense du people (CNDP) and other armed groups into the Congolese Armed Forces had resulted in children being associated with the national Army.  In South Kivu, military operations against the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) raised serious concerns of displacement and use of children as soldiers.  It was crucial that the Council follow those developments carefully to ensure that children were protected to the maximum extent possible.


Turning to Gaza and southern Israel, which she visited days after the fighting had ended, she said children, teachers and parents in Gaza were in a state of shock.  The children had demanded accountability and the international community must respond.  The crossings must be opened and reconstruction must begin in haste.  In southern Israel, where children also lived in fear, girls and boys had spoken freely of reaching out to their Palestinian brothers and sisters.


She said she intended to send a special envoy to Sri Lanka.  The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) continued to recruit children to fight on the frontlines and used force to keep civilians, including children, in harms way.  She hoped that short-term military gains would not blind authorities to the long-term demands of reconciliation.  People stripped of their dignity were unlikely to forget, especially the children.


She said that, in North Kivu, she had met with Adila, a 12-year-old girl.  She had joined the Mai Mai because her parents could no longer pay for school and because, by carrying a gun, she would be protected from rape.  Adila had, however, been sexually violated and had to fetch water, cook and clean in addition to her combatant activities.


“What am I to say to Adila, Grace and to the hundreds of girl and boy victims of sexual violence, who I meet on my missions to conflict affected countries?” she asked.  “Is it fair to say that these children suffer a ‘second class violation’, that the Council does not wish to apply the same focus and engagement for these children?  In my heart of hearts, I believe this is not the intention of the international community and that this day will mark a new age in what my predecessor called the era of application.”


ALAIN LE ROY, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, said, with the adoption of resolution 1261 (1999), the Security Council had formally recognized that protecting children in armed conflict was crucial for broader peace and security.  Beyond that resolution, the Security Council had continued to promote the notion that child protection issues were key to United Nations peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.  With that in mind, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations had made the protection of children in armed conflict one of the central features of its operational strategy and was committed to continuing to do so.


Among other things, he said the Peacekeeping Department had bolstered its in-house capacity on child protection in the form of Child Protection Advisers approved by the Council in 2001.  That approval had enabled the Department to deploy eight such advisers in key peacekeeping missions, including the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).  Further, the Department had built up support staff in United Nations peace missions made up of both national and international staff.  He added that the national child protection advocates remained as a vital in-country source of expertise after mission mandated had expired and operations had drawn down.


He went on to say that the Child Protection Advisers supported the heads of United Nations missions in addressing child protection concerns throughout all stages of the peace process.  As a result, peacekeeping operations were now able to promote protection and address violations of children’s rights.  By example, he said that there had been significant progress on the release of children in North Kivu after a high-level sensitization campaign on prohibiting child soldiering had been launched by the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) and UNICEF in 2008.  While there had been some “significant setbacks” in that regard during the most recent crisis in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, including instances of re-recruitment, MONUC and UNICEF had continued their campaign.


He said that child protection focal points had been placed in United Nations peacekeeping missions and those mechanisms had been further enhanced through cooperation between child protection staff and other mission components, including human rights monitors. The Peacekeeping Department had increasingly engaged in other areas, such as training all peacekeeping personnel on child protection and child rights, implementation of monitoring and reporting mechanism approved under Security Council resolution 1612 (2005), and dialogue among parties on the ground.  He added that training was aimed at creating awareness and knowledge of international legal norms and standards that governed the protection of children and armed conflict.  The impact of mission training was bearing fruit and promoting a “child conscious” approach among troops, police and civilian staff.


He assured the Security Council that the Peacekeeping Department would continue to consolidate and further institutionalize its commitment to child protection throughout its work and the work of its peace operations.  Indeed, the Department had set up a programme to ensure that child protection became a “benchmark” of all its work.  That plan had been elaborated in cooperation with the Secretariat, UNICEF and the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.  The Department was committed to close follow-up of all relevant resolutions by the Council to provide children with the benefits of lasting and sustainable peace.  While the Department would continue to work as closely as ever with UNICEF, United Nations country teams and the Secretariat, it would, as always, count on the continued support of the Council.


ANN M. VENEMAN, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said the collective engagement at the highest possible levels was making a real difference in the lives of children by serving as a strong platform for advocacy.  Millions of children continued to be impacted by armed conflict.  Conflict was all they knew.  It was no surprise that under-5 mortality rates were among the highest in conflict-affected countries.  Children were not only the unintended victims of war, they were in some cases directly targeted.


She said she had met with girls who had been brutally raped by soldiers and scarred for life.  Some had contracted HIV.  In places such as Afghanistan, schools had been attacked.  In Gaza, schools had been damaged or destroyed.  Sadly, the report illustrated disrespect for the sanctity of schools.  “Children remain the victims of the wars of adults,” she said.


There were glimmers of hope, however.  She said that in Burundi, just a few weeks ago, 342 children had been released.  Since January, around 1,200 children in North Kivu had been released by armed groups and forces.  Action plans had prevented and had ended grave violations against children.  The Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism had become a key component of UNICEF’s overall child protection strategy.


She said UNICEF’s responses to children who were victims of grave violations included support for national child protection systems and survivors of sexual violence, along with rights training for armed forces personnel and reintegration of children used by armed forces.  2009 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the Geneva conventions and the twentieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  In December 2008, UNICEF had welcomed the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as around 40 per cent of all civilians killed by such munitions were children.


Turning to the Secretary-General’s report, she noted the recommendation to expand the triggers to be listed in the annexes of the report to parties who committed rape and other forms of sexual violence against children and, if possible, other grave violations, such as intentional killing and maiming.  That development would be an important step forward and send a strong signal from the international community that perpetrators of grave violations, such as rape and sexual violence, must be held accountable.  Adherence to international humanitarian law and respect for children’s rights must be strengthened and those who committed violations against children must be held accountable.


GRACE AKALLO, a former child soldier from Uganda, thanked the Council for the opportunity to “give a small voice to the many voiceless children in wars”.  She spoke on behalf of all children in armed conflict who had to face and survive war’s atrocities, suffering through the abuses of being used as a child soldier, while often being raped and sexually abused.  While attending a high school in northern Uganda, her dormitory was stormed on 9 October 1996 and she was abducted at gunpoint by the Lord’s Resistance Army, with 138 other girls.  Although the school’s headmistress successfully negotiated for the release of 109 of the other girls, she was not among those lucky ones.  Instead, she was forcibly marched to southern Sudan, where she was given an AK-47 and sent into battle against the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) many times.  After one battle, she was so thirsty and hungry that she fainted.  The LRA, thinking she was dead, buried her in a shallow grave.


In addition to being forced to fight, she said she and her friends were “distributed” to the rebel commanders.  They were forced to kill other girls who tried to escape or refused their “husbands”.  She was repeatedly raped by an LRA commander.  “It was like a rock being thrust into my skin”, she said.  Yet, she was determined to survive and, after seven months in captivity, she got a chance to escape when the LRA was attacked by the rebels from southern Sudan.  She walked for two weeks without food, surviving on wild leaves, soil and morning dew.  Finally rescued by villagers in southern Sudan, she was returned to her school and her parents.  Happy to be back, she was nevertheless saddened by the loss of so many friends she had left behind.  Luckily she went back to high school and eventually attended university, but many girls ‑‑ even if they too escaped ‑‑ were not as fortunate.


While her story had been heard, thousands went unheard, she said.  Dozens of armies and rebel groups were continuing to ruin the lives of children around the world.  The Secretary-General’s report showed amazing progress had been made in preventing the use of child soldiers, but it should be asked, what was being done for the boy and girl victims of rape?  The perpetrators of sexual violence had to be stopped and punished.  She had heard the Special Representative ask what she should say to victims of sexual violence.  The answer was, “There is hope.”  There was hope, because she believed the Council would act on this and succeed, just as it had succeeded in helping rescue child soldiers in the first place.  “I still wait for some of my friends to return, and I hope that everyone here will be committed to bring people like my friends back home.”


Statements


RANKO VILOVIĆ (Croatia) supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation that the Council expand the criteria for the annexes of his reports on armed conflict to include parties that commit rape and other grave sexual violence against children in armed conflict, without prejudice to possibly expanding that criteria in the future to include other violations.  An atmosphere of impunity and lack of accountability would allow perpetrators to continue hurting children in various ways.  Without serious repercussions or the threat of targeted Council measures, perpetrators had no reason to stop their acts.  All grave violations required the same level of attention in the Council.  But, children in armed conflict were particularly vulnerable.  Intentional acts of rape and sexual violence had long-term repercussions for children and the societies in which they lived.  He expressed deep concern over findings from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that attacks on schools, students and teachers had risen six-fold between 2003 and 2006.


Those deliberate acts and many reported incidents of girls having acid thrown in their faces aimed to deny children an education, leaving them even more vulnerable to future violations, he said.  He expressed alarm that numerous humanitarian workers had been killed, abducted, beaten or threatened.  Such acts and the looting of humanitarian aid conveys cut off children’s access to lifesaving humanitarian assistance and they must be stopped.  To ensure children in armed conflict were protected, the Council could adopt a resolution on the matter that extended the monitoring and reporting mechanism to cover rape and other sexual violence against children.  The resolution could also authorize relevant United Nations personnel to start a dialogue with armed forces and groups, in order to verify implementation of time-bound action plans.  Further, it could request that the Secretary-General include information on implementation of all requests put forth in the Working Group’s conclusions.  The Council should also consider referring individual cases of grave violations against children in armed conflict to the International Criminal Court, particularly when national courts failed to address them.


VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said he supported the Secretary-General’s appeal to pay attention to all grave violations of children, as well as his recommendation for including killing and maiming and sexual violence in the annexes.  He condemned the use of force against civilians and disproportionate use of force such as had been used by Georgia in 2008.  Also, one could not pass over violations of international humanitarian law by Israel in Gaza.  He called upon the parties to conflict to abide by international humanitarian law and to refrain from using force against civilians.


He said Al-Qaida in Iraq should be included in the report, along with the Taliban.  In Afghanistan, despite repeated assurances, incidents against civilians by the international armed forces occurred continuously.  The excuse that they were collateral damage could not be accepted.  He advocated investigation of the incidents and punishment, if possible.  Underlining the importance of the monitoring and reporting mechanisms, the inclusion of child protection advisers in peacekeeping operations and plans of action to demobilize child soldiers, he said contacts by United Nations missions with armed groups could only take place with the consent of the Government.  The Working Group had made concrete recommendations, but their implementation required the cooperation of States concerned.  A decisive factor in protecting children would be support by the international community for national efforts to protect children’s rights.


JEAN-MAURICE RIPERT ( France) said his country was fully committed to the fight against the use and recruitment of child soldiers and had hosted the 2007 Paris conference “Free Children from War”, which had given rise to the drafting of the Paris Commitments.  Unfortunately, much remained to be done.  “If the parties to a conflict do not implement action plans to free children, despite repeated calls by the Security Council, we must not hesitate to impose tough, targeted sanction.”  He welcomed also the actions taken by the International Criminal Court and the international criminal justice system.  Although legitimate Governments and armed groups should not be put on the same footing, according to the Paris, principles they had the same responsibilities.


He said there was a need for substantial progress regarding the other five grave violations of children’s rights that had been referred to the Council. France agreed with the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report. Everything possible must be done to end such vile acts as sexual violence against and deliberately killing or maiming of children.  The Working Group’s conclusions should be followed up more effectively.  It should make greater use of the information provided by the Secretariat and by non-governmental organizations, among other things.  The responsiveness of the Working Group could be improved.  Although it had adopted conclusions on all the reports that had been submitted to it, it had not been able to find the resources to react formally to troubling information that it might receive from the field.  The Group’s work must also be more transparent, for instance by holding formal meetings in public.


The international community could not ‑‑ at a time when there are believed to be 200,000 child soldiers in the world ‑‑ turn its attention away from that tragedy.  The principal aspects of the policy to fight the scourge of children in armed conflict remained unchanged.  France was translating the guidelines into actions, as attested by the creation of two attaché positions specializing on the issue of children in armed conflict at the diplomatic missions in the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with their own budget.  “It would be unrealistic for us to deny the fact that our work often involves complex procedures and long maturation processes.  Nevertheless, we must be animated by a spirit of urgency.”


SUSAN RICE ( United States) said that the hearts of the people of the United States were with the people of Mexico.  The United States Government applauded the way Mexico was handling the swine flu outbreak and was prepared to continue to work hand in hand with that brotherly country to confront the challenges ahead. On the topic at hand, she said there was “good news” from Uganda, which had in the past been listed on the Secretary-General list, but which had recently signed and implemented an action plan to address child soldiering.  She encouraged other countries to develop and adopt similar plans.


At the same time, the United States was deeply concerned about the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, especially what the report described as “widespread sexual abuse” and in Sri Lanka, where reports of large numbers of civilian casualties were alarming.  Equally alarming were reports that the LTTE were using civilians as human shields and placing children in harms way.  She said the United States was frustrated and concerned that the Government of Sri Lanka had not yet allowed a United Nations humanitarian team to assess the situation and facilitate evacuation procedures.


She said that the United States was also concerned by the situation in the Sudan, where attacks against, and restrictions on, humanitarian workers had hindered the delivery of aid to children.  Moreover, the Government’s recent expulsion of humanitarian agencies had put the children of Darfur at even greater risk.  She said that the situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, the Sudan and elsewhere reminded everyone of how much more remained to be done.  A worthwhile step would be expanding the list of triggers to include rape and sexual violence against children, as well as killing and maiming.  The United States fully supported such an expansion, and noted that the presidential statement to be adopted later pointed towards the same goal.


She said that where armies and militias continued to depend on children to fill their ranks, the Security Council had the duty to take action.  The United States, for its part continued to work with its international non-governmental organization partners to provide education, sustenance and hope in conflict zones.  In conclusion, she said that, while the Council and the international community had made noteworthy progress, “we must not stop now”.  The inspiring stories of success, such as Grace Akallo, should “spur us all to do more.”


ZHANG YESUI ( China) said all six violations against children defined by the Security Council should be accorded equal attention. He also said all relevant United Nations organs had the common duty to protect children in armed conflict and to ensure that they returned to normal life in the aftermath of war.  With that in mind, he said the matter required “an integrated and joint response” that included the Council, the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and relevant agencies. The Council, for its part, should work from the perspective of conflict settlement and on eliminating the root causes of armed conflict.


In recent years, escalating tensions in some conflict areas had subjected local children to severe hardships, while in other situations, positive peace processes had provided hope for children.  That dichotomy showed that the Council must concentrate more on conflicts themselves, as well as on conflict prevention.  Continuing, he said that in protecting children in armed conflict, the Governments of the countries concerned must be respected.  They must also be encouraged to play a major role in the effort.  Resolution 1612 (2005) had stressed such Governments bore the primary responsibility for protecting their own children.


To that end, parties charged with protecting children should cooperate fully with Governments.  Further, he said the Council and its working group should communicate frequently with the Governments of the countries concerned.  It must also acknowledge and support positive measures those Governments had adopted, and continually strengthen mutual trust.  He went on to say that the Council should continue to work in line with resolution 1612 (2005) and improve the monitoring and reporting mechanism.  Specifically, that mechanism’s main task was to collect information and it should, therefore, necessarily enhance its communication and cooperation with the Governments of the countries concerned.  On the Working Group, he said that panel was “heavily burdened” with a huge workload and China hoped it would set clear standards to improve its efficiency.  China was not in favour of “rashly relaxing” the listing criteria for the Secretary-General’s report, as that would lead to an over-extension of the Group’s work, he added.


ABDURRAHMAN MOHAMED SHALGHAM (Libya) said that, although the report focused on progress achieved in implementing resolution 1612 (2005), much remained to be done by the international community to completely implement it, as recruitment and use of children in armed conflict still continued.  Children were used to inflict violence and were subjected to sexual violence.  He supported the call by the Secretary-General to take stringent measures, within the framework of national legislation, to hold accountable the perpetrators of those crimes.  Protection of children in armed conflict should also be an important factor in the strategy to avoid armed conflict.  He also shared the view of the Secretary-General that detaining children on the pretext of being linked to an armed group was wrong.


Drawing attention to Palestinian children in Israeli prisons, he condemned the Israeli operations that had led to killing and displacement of thousands of Palestinian children by destroying their homes and killing their parents, and hindering their visits to schools through the use of checkpoints.  He appealed to the Working Group, however, to avoid double standards and politicization of its recommendations.  The state of abject poverty, the widening areas of conflict, the absence of development and the lack of basic services and opportunities were factors that increased the danger of child recruitment.  International financial institutions should set aside resources for United Nations agencies and civil society to promote child protection.  The best protection of children could be achieved through treating the root causes of conflict.


JORGE URBINA ORTEGA ( Costa Rica) said the use of new tools already showed very positive achievements in the fight against children’s recruitment.  Throughout the world, parties in conflicts had reached agreements to halt the recruitment of children and for their demobilization and reintegration.  Nevertheless, despite those gains, paramount challenges remained.  The limited number of situations where action plans had been implemented was a major concern, as was the limited scope of the existing mechanisms.  Those dealt mainly with recruitment of children, relegating to secondary consideration all the other grave violations.  The lack of systematic follow-up of the Working Group’s recommendations had restricted its scope and efficiency.


Suggesting that today’s discussion was an opportunity to take stock of and strengthen the Working Group, he advocated expanding the number of violations that triggered the monitoring and reporting mechanism, adding that all six established in resolution 1612 (2005) were equally grave and must receive balanced consideration.  Costa Rica also supported the progressive application of a new approach that triggered the monitoring and reporting mechanism, starting with the killing and maiming of children and sexual violence against them as legitimate reasons for triggering the instrument.  As for action plans, the reasons for their limited application should be carefully reviewed, as those plans should be able to respond not only to recruitment, but also to other grave violations.  They should also include a component for comprehensive treatment and support for the victims, including access to basic services, such as education and health.  Lastly, it was vital to systematically follow up the Working Group’s recommendations.


YUKIO TAKASU (Japan) said he was encouraged by noticeable progress to implement action plans to release child soldiers in Burundi, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.  But 19 parties had remained on the annexes to the Secretary-General’s report for the past four years.  He expressed deep concern about vulnerable children in those areas, particularly in Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Sri Lanka.  The Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict should focus more on following up and effectively implementing its conclusions.  The Council should mobilize all available mechanisms ‑‑ peacekeeping operations, special political missions, integrated missions, the Peacebuilding Commission and Sanctions Committees ‑‑ to combat violations against children and send a strong political message.  The Council should also respond to other grave violations against children in armed conflict, such as sexual violence.  Systematic rape as a war tactic should not be permitted.


The Council should react firmly and forcefully against all acts of sexual violence in armed conflict, he continued.  It should strengthen monitoring and reporting mechanisms.  He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to include in the annexes to his reports parties that committed rape and other grave sexual violence against children.  Expanding the criteria could enhance the ability of UNICEF and other agencies to monitor and report on what was happening on the ground.  Landmines, unexploded ordnance and cluster munitions also posed serious threats to many children.  In 2007, approximately 5,500 people ‑‑ more than one third of them children ‑‑ were killed or maimed by landmines and unexploded ordnance.  He lauded the recent signing conference of the Convention on Cluster Munitions.  It was crucial to prevent the deaths of innocent civilians and to provide support to landmine victims.  In that regard, Japan had contributed more than $300 million in the past decade and it continued to give funds for such activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad, Sudan, Afghanistan and Lebanon.


The presence and use of small arms and light weapons seriously affected violence against children, including their recruitment and abuse as soldiers, he said.  As small arms and light weapons were often traded illegally, all countries should be encouraged to strengthen implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action on the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons.  Japan was actively supporting projects to control small arms’ use, such as the Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups in Afghanistan and the Small Arms Control Programme in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  A more fundamental solution, however, would be to restrict weapons’ export to countries in armed conflict or with a history of it.  Japan’s long-standing policy on weapons’ export imposed strict criteria for transferring arms to any country.  He supported creation of a common international standard to ensure the responsible transfer of conventional weapons.


THOMAS MAYR-HARTING ( Austria), aligning his delegation with the forthcoming statement on behalf of the European Union, expressed appreciation for the implementation of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism in new country situations.  The signing of two additional formal action plans and the delisting of one party were also welcome developments.  But, with the Secretary-General’s report demonstrating that less than 10 per cent of all parties listed in its annexes had entered into formal action plans, these parties should follow suit.  Since the majority of them were non-State actors, direct contact between the United Nations country teams and non-State actors was clearly called for, and should be allowed by concerned Member States within the framework of resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005).  Given that 19 parties to conflict had been listed in the report’s annexes for at least four years, the Council should also make better use of available tools to ensure respect for its resolutions.  More systematic communication was needed between the Working Group and relevant sanctions committees.  More should also be done to end impunity.


He stressed the importance of including provisions for children’s protection in the mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions.  Similarly, their protection should be systematically considered in peace agreements.  Child protection advisers were doing important work in this area and their increased deployment over the past years was welcome.  The Secretary-General’s focus in his report on the issue of rape and sexual violence was also welcome.  Those horrendous crimes had no obvious link to warfare, but were reaching appalling levels in many conflict situations.  A clear response was needed, and, in order to ensure the effectiveness and credibility of the Council’s work, the gateway to listing parties in the Secretary-General’s annexes should be expanded beyond the recruitment and use of child soldiers to include the crime of rape and grave sexual violence as an additional trigger.  A strategy to improve data collection and reporting on sexual violence should also be developed, with the special situation of children with disabilities being considered in this context.  Complementary processes for documentation or reporting on the mutually reinforcing resolutions 1612 (2005) and 1820 (2008) should also be explored.


PAUL ROBERT TIENDRÉBÉOGO (Burkina Faso) said, even though substantial progress had been registered in the field of protecting children in armed conflict, much remained to be done.  Indeed, as new reports showed almost continuously, children continued to be recruited as child soldiers and continued to bear the brunt of humanitarian catastrophes and emergencies.  Children were systematically attacked in some areas.  They were also subjected to rape and other sexual abuse.  Such practices were unacceptable, as was the increase, in some areas, of attacks against schools and child day care centres.


It was time to end the social inertia that allowed such grave violations against children, he said.  A coordinated and integrated international response was required across all disciplines and, to that end, Burkina Faso supported efforts to ensure active and independent judiciaries in all countries.  He said that, until another resolution was adopted, resolution 1612 (2005) would guide international efforts to protect children in armed conflict.  The elaboration by States of action plans to address child protection issues was also proving helpful, as were the development of monitoring mechanisms.  Still, he reiterated the need to ensure a broad and coordinated response led by the United Nations that included all peacetime activities, including disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes and reconstruction initiatives.  He added that, while States had the primary responsibility to protect their children, the international community and its organizations had an important role to play.


BUI THE GIANG ( Viet Nam) said the successful creation of monitoring and reporting mechanisms, action plans and concrete commitments to end grave violations of children’s rights in armed conflict was heartening.  The Special Representative’s country visits had considerably helped facilitate collaboration between the United Nations and State partners to implement Council resolution 1612 (2009).  He expressed deep concern, however, that as armed conflict escalated in many parts of the world, children continued to be killed, maimed, sexually violated and recruited as soldiers, and that attacks on schools and hospitals continued.  All parties must comply with international human rights and humanitarian law in situations of armed conflict.  He condemned acts of violence and abuse against children.  He called on the United Nations and the international community to step up efforts to assist children in armed conflict.  He supported the Secretary-General’s recommendation to enhance the child protection mandate of all relevant United Nations peacekeeping and political missions by creating specific provisions to protect children and deploy child protection advisers.


He endorsed the proposal of creating appropriate strategies and coordination mechanisms between relevant Member States, United Nations peacekeeping and political missions and United Nations country teams to exchange information and cooperate on cross-border child protection concerns.  As violations during armed conflict adversely affected children in the long-term, the Council should pay equal attention to all grave violations and address them accordingly.  Timely and sufficient human, material and financial support were crucial to effectively and sustainably disarm, demobilize and reintegrate children into society.  All necessary measures in that context should be part of a broader strategy of conflict prevention and response that addressed the root causes of armed conflict ‑‑ hunger and poverty ‑‑ as well as social, economic and development issues.  The United Nations should be involved in that strategy, with close collaboration among peacekeeping and political missions, UNICEF, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), other specialized agencies and United Nations bodies.


Education was important in preventing armed conflict and address violations against children in conflict areas, he said.  The public, particularly children, must be made aware of children’s rights and how such rights were implemented, so that people would willingly report abuses and work to end them.  He supported activities to raise public awareness on children’s rights and disseminate best practices to protect children in conflict areas.  In that regard, United Nations agencies, particularly UNICEF, could greatly help.  He also encouraged civil society organization to constructively contribute to such efforts.


PATRICK MUGOYA ( Uganda) said the preparation of the report had involved broad consultation with all stakeholders.  Such a focused and participatory approach would ensure more effective protection of children in armed conflict.  Uganda supported the United Nations efforts to promote protection of children in armed conflict and condemned the continued recruitment and use of children.  The negative consequences on children could not be over emphasized.  He was concerned, however, that out of the 56 parties listed in the annexes, only four had signed action plans.  Uganda had signed and implemented an action plan and there had been no cases of recruitment by the now disbanded local defence units, or by the defence forces.  Many former combatant children had been released and reintegrated.


He said one of the most disturbing issues concerned sexual and gender-based violence, with young girls being the most vulnerable group.  He supported the recommendation that the Council should consider including rape and grave sexual violence for triggering inclusion in the annexes.  He was concerned at the increase in indiscriminate killing of children and attacks on schools, and called on the international community to take action against perpetrators of those crimes, including against the LRA.  He welcomed the recommendation that effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes were vital for children.  Such programmes should be community-based and should receive adequate resources for their sustainability.  Such programmes had turned out to be a growing factor in achieving durable peace and security.


BAKI İLKIN (Turkey), recalling that several criteria and issues had been elaborated during the Working Group’s deliberations, said the following points should be borne in mind:  there was a wide and justified expectation from the Council on all issues and problems related to children; States should be urged to continue cooperating with the Working Group; and the work of the Group should be expedited and facilitated by timely consideration of reports.  When children lost their lives during armed conflict, it was not only a tragedy of first degree, but also deprived their nations.  And, minors who were raped or faced with grave sexual violence were physically and mentally wounded forever.  “We must protect and save our young and future generations from such intolerable shame and burden,” he said.


He said that the cultural values of humanity throughout the world required the protection of children.  No one should feel that they could trample that “cardinal” right and principle.  “We have zero tolerance for the abuse of children under any pretext,” he said.  Turkey was party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and that Convention’s Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, as well as the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict.  As such, those international instruments had become an integral part of national legislation.  Turkey was also party to various instruments outside the United Nations framework, which promoted children’s rights.  All loopholes for the violators of those rights must be closed, he said, stressing that, if the world community wanted to halt that horrific crime, there should be no impunity for the criminals and violators.


PHILIP PARHAM ( United Kingdom) paid tribute to the outstanding work being carried out by the United Nations agencies and funds in the area of protection of children in armed conflict.  Praise was also due the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the non-governmental organizations working on the issue.  Indeed, much of the success the Security Council had had in implementing its resolution had been due, in large part, to the work being carried out on the ground by civil society partners.


He said that today’s meeting provided an opportunity to applaud the solid progress in the area of child protection, but also to examine some of the mechanisms that weren’t working so well.  To that end, he said that, while his delegation continued to support the efforts of the Council’s relevant Working Group, he would reiterate the concern that the panel did not make use of all the tools available to it.  Among other things, the Security Council must expand the listing criteria to include sexual violence and other grave violence, such as maiming.  That should be matched by expansion of the areas of responsibility of the Working Group.  Such a move would be consistent with the Secretary-General’s recommendations and address the worrying trends he had highlighted in his most recent report.  He went on to call for enhancing the mechanism monitoring implementation of the Working Group’s recommendations.


Turning to some specific issues of concern, he said that United Kingdom Foreign Secretary David Milliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner were today in Sri Lanka, where tens of thousands of civilians, including many children, were at risk due to the ongoing fighting there.  The United Kingdom called on all parties to exercise restraint and allow humanitarian access to the conflict area.  Next, he said the United Kingdom was concerned by forced labour in the military in Burma.  Bringing those who committed such acts to account would express the Burmese Government’s commitment to addressing the issue.  He went on to urge the release of minors in Nepal from cantonments.  The international community must be prepared to take action against individuals and groups that harmed children or placed them in harm’s way.  “We look to the Working Group to lead such action,” he said.


Speaking in her national capacity, Ms. ESPINOSA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, said that, in spite of progress made, children continued to be direct and defenceless victims of armed conflicts.  The international community must redouble its efforts to offer broad and effective protection to children affected by armed conflicts.  She condemned any act that damaged the integrity of children, including attacks against schools; recruiting or using children as soldiers; rape and other grave sexual violence; abduction; denial of humanitarian access; maiming; and killing.  Violations of international humanitarian law constituted an international crime and impunity should be addressed, among other things by the International Criminal Court.


She invited those States that had not done so to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols and other instruments.  She called on the Council to promote concrete actions in order to implement the recommendations of the Working Group, including by imposing sanctions on the parties to a conflict.  As President of the Working Group, Mexico would promote actions directed at ending the atrocities committed against children, with particular attention to refugees, displaced and kidnapped children, those affected by HIV/AIDS, disabled, and subjected to sexual violence, as well as addressing the consequences of the trafficking of weapons, anti-personnel mines and ammunitions, which hampered the life and future of children.


She called upon the international community to strengthen efforts to protect children, among other things by:  reducing recruitment and avoiding re-recruitment into armed groups; guaranteeing humanitarian access; preventing maiming from landmines and the proliferation of arms; and provisions of assistance to affected States in strengthening and establishing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.  The international community should also provide the assistance needed with due consideration for age and gender, which included health care, psychological support and education.


HILARIO G. DAVIDE ( Philippines) said his country’s commitment to the protection of children was particularly demonstrated when it facilitated the Special Representative’s visit on 7 to 13 December 2008.  During that trip, she had dialogues with key officials from across the Government, local officials, civil society actors and some women and children affected by conflict.  Through that, she saw an embodiment of the national Comprehensive Program on Children Involved in Armed Conflict.  As an extraordinary measure, the Special Representative also had an opportunity to visit with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to discuss concerns about the presence of children within the ranks of that rebel group.  He reiterated that engaging such armed groups, including for the protection of children, should be done carefully and any strategy to protect children should be in harmony with the larger peace processes.  In fact, the Government was already including specific provisions on child protection in all peace agreements and ceasefires.


As he had previously told the Council, his country’s Constitution enshrined the protection of the rights of children.  In addition, there was a vast arsenal of statutes, including Republic Act No. 7610, which prohibits the use of children in armed combat, protects them from armed conflicts, establishes children as zones of peace and provides for evacuation of children during armed conflict.  His Government had begun the process of amending the Act with the purpose of effectively making operational the concept of children as zones of peace and ensuring provisions for the non-criminal treatment and non-judicial rehabilitation of the affected children, as recommended by the Special Representative.


Reaffirming the Philippines’ commitment to ensuring that children’s rights were protected, including in the context of armed conflict, he said any allegation against the country’s Armed Forces was, therefore, taken seriously.  In such situations, he assured that all Government mechanisms for investigation and military justice were fully in place to deal with such cases.  The country’s Armed Forces were currently conducting a review of its procedures with a view to improving and reporting on the handling, treatment and turnover of affected children; ensuring that directives to field commanders concerning child protection measures were carried out in their operations; and strengthening the Government’s links with social development agencies to ensure effective rehabilitation of those children.  In closing, he stated that what his country had accomplished, so far, in the area of children and armed conflict and its excellent cooperation with the United Nations justified her removal from the Annex 2 list of entities in resolution 1612 (2005).  “Justice demands and due process supports such delisting,” he said.


JOHN MCNEE ( Canada) said his country strongly supported resolution 1612 (2005) and the implementation of an effective monitoring and reporting mechanism for violations against children.  The impact of 1612 (2005) was real and measurable, as demonstrated by the release of children from the ranks of armed groups around the world.  He hoped to see further advancement of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, engaging with youth and strengthening the mechanism for the security of those children.  The actionable conclusions and guidance issued by the Working Group had demonstrated the Council’s commitment to preventing crimes against children in situations of conflict and ensuring that those responsible were held accountable under national and international laws.  He hoped that, in the coming months, the Working Group could travel to the field to better inform its work.


He said that there remained an environment of impunity for persistent violators of the most serious crimes against children in situations of armed conflict.  He reiterated, in that regard, Canada’s strong view that the existing Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism should be triggered by all six grave violations against children outlined in resolution 1612 (2005).  A new resolution should provide for a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism triggered by recruitment and use of children, rape and other grave sexual violence, intentional killing and maiming of children, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals and the denial of humanitarian access to children.


MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI ( Brazil) commended the progress achieved in implementation of the relevant Council resolutions, especially resolution 1612 (2005).  She encouraged the continuation of monitoring and reporting mechanisms, and new actions plans with parties to conflicts.  Also welcome had been the progress made in mainstreaming children and armed conflict issues in United Nations peacekeeping and political missions.  One aspect deserving particular attention was the protection of displaced persons camps, where recruiting children was reportedly taking place.  Failure to protect families and individuals from that scourge not only inflicted new suffering on people already struck by tragedy, but threatened the Organization and its missions with unacceptable discredit.


Reviewing the document before the Council, she was particularly struck by instances where a variety of State actors were engaged in violence against children or in behaviour that endangered children; States bore a special responsibility in that regard.  From the mountains of Afghanistan to the towns in Gaza and the villages in Africa, children in armed conflicts must find in States an active protector and never an agent of violence, even if unintended.


Brazil was also particularly concerned with all forms of sexual violence against children in armed conflict, she said, adding that the proposed inclusion of rape and other grave sexual violence in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report certainly merited careful consideration, in light of the Council’s mandate.  Moreover, Council members should reflect on the most appropriate way to address killing and maiming of children.  Brazil was also concerned with children’s reintegration in countries emerging from conflict.  The Peacebuilding Commission had an important role to play, in that regard.  Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes must address the recovery and development of children affected by the violence of armed forces.  The Secretary-General’s report was yet another powerful call on Member States to fight violence against children in armed conflicts.  “We should heed the call,” she said.


MARTIN PALOUŠ (Czech Republic) said the European Union, on whose behalf he spoke, remained deeply concerned about the situation of children affected by armed conflict and endorsed the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report.  More efforts were needed to eliminate the harmful practices affecting boys and girls in conflict.  The short- and long-term impacts of armed conflict on children should be addressed in an effective, sustainable and comprehensive manner.  The European Union called on all countries to universally implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to adhere to and implement the Paris Commitments and Principles on Children Associated with Armed Forces and Armed Groups, which was adopted in February 2007.


Emphasizing the need for close coordination of policies and protection of civilians across the scope of United Nations activities, he welcomed the implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism on children and armed conflict established in resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005), particularly the progress on the design and implementation of actions plans.  In this respect, child protection advisers were especially needed in peacekeeping, peacebuilding and political missions.  Access to all parties involved, including non-State parties, must also be ensured.  He affirmed support for the International Criminal Court’s work to fight impunity, and stressed that more intensive cooperation between the Council’s Working Group and the relevant sanctions committees was needed.  The Council should also take appropriate account of all categories of grave violations against children in armed conflict.  Sanctions should be used for repeat offenders who were unwilling to engage in meaningful dialogue to end their violations.  At the same time, the criteria of violations should also be expanded to include parties to armed conflict that commit rape and other grave sexual violence against children, as well as the intentional killing and maiming of them.


For its part, the European Union continued to implement the updated Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict through the monitoring and reporting mechanism in 19 priority countries, he said.  It was cooperating with the United Nations, national and regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and civil society regarding resolution 1612 (2005).  It also financed a vast range of child protection projects through various instruments, including the thematic programme “Investing in People” and the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.  It further advocated a systematic streamlining of human rights, gender issues and child protection into the European Security and Defence Policy operation.


MARIE-ANGE LUKINANA MUFWANKOL, Minister for Gender, Family and Children Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, said the Special Representative’s visit to the country had had positive results and the theme of the current debate was of vital importance to her country.  It had suffered from a long social and political crisis, with armed conflicts that had resulted in acts of violence against women and children.  Recruitment and abuse of children in armed conflict was being perpetrated by a number of rebel factions.  Given the scope of the challenge, she reiterated her country’s appeal for effective support in promoting democracy, both in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in other countries in the Great Lakes region. 


She said the Democratic Republic of the Congo was doing everything it could to put an end to grave violations against children.  Several actions, and with the help of the Child Protection Fund and the Fund for the Protection of Women, had helped in the fight against impunity and to implement disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and reintegration programmes.  Her Ministry had launched an appeal for mobilization against violations of rights against women and children, culminating with women protesting on 16 December 2008. 


Supporting implementation of the Secretary-General’s recommendations, she said the disarmament, demobilization, repatriation and reintegration programmes for national and foreign armed groups must be completed.  In order to put an end to the use of children in armed conflict, the United Nations and the Council must strengthen international solidarity for building peace in her country and eliminating foreign armed groups.  An international emergency plan for reconstruction was necessary.  The promotion of democracy in the Great Lakes region was also necessary, in order to put an end to war, impunity and the suffering of the people, especially of children.


HERALDO MUNOZ ( Chile) endorsed the statement made by Ireland as chair of the Human Security Network.  Chile supported the work being done by the Council’s Working Group under resolution 1612 (2005), as well as by UNICEF, non-governmental organizations and civil society, in contributing to the implementation of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism established in that resolution.  He confirmed his country’s commitment to initiatives to eliminate all forms of violence against children, especially in armed conflict, and noted Chile’s endorsement of the Paris Principles.   Chile supported multilateral action to reduce and eradicate this scourge through more consistent programming, sustainable reintegration and prevention activities.


He further encouraged the Council to use its authority to identify and punish those responsible for the atrocities documented in the Secretary-General’s report, stressing that it also implement the report’s recommendations.  To that end, the monitoring mechanism envisaged in resolution 1612 (2005) should be expanded, so it could be triggered in cases of intentional actions not constituting collateral damage.  Further, the criteria for being listed in the report’s annexes should be expanded to include parties that commit rape and other grave sexual violence against children during armed conflict and, possibly, other violations, such as the intentional killing and maiming of children.  He called for guarantees that the mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions would continue to include provisions for children’s protection, the ongoing deployment of child protection advisers and the training of troops in this question, highlighting the Chilean Joint Peacekeeping Operations Centre’s work in this area.  Vigilance in reporting violations against children should also be linked to effective measures to prevent such violations, and the Working Group should be provided sufficient resources to efficiently perform its work.


ROBERT HILL ( Australia) restated his country’s commitment to strong and effective measures to protect and rehabilitate children from harm and exploitation in situations of armed conflict and commended the Special Representative’s progress in mainstreaming this issue.  Recognizing the importance of effective disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, Australia had endorsed the Paris Principles and had committed funding to UNICEF for its work on child soldiers, particularly in Sri Lanka.  While recent progress in implementing resolution 1612 (2005) and operationalizing the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism in all situations listed in the Secretary-General’s report was welcome, more work was needed.  In this regard, he expressed particular concern about ongoing reports of forced recruitment and use of child soldiers by LTTE in Sri Lanka and by national forces and other parties in Myanmar.


Reiterating that there should be no hierarchy of treatment amongst the six grave violations, he expressed further concern at the large number of reported sexual violations in the Secretary-General’s report, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  While the threat to peace posed by rape and other sexual violations were recognized in resolution 1820 (2008), the Council should consider the feasibility of a new resolution that expanded the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism’s scope to include, at a minimum, rape and other forms of sexual violence as a trigger for listing.  The mechanism should only be expanded, however, if it enhanced the protection of children in armed conflict and the effectiveness of resolution 1612 (2005).  A well-supported and adequately resourced Working Group was also crucial to the mechanism’s effectiveness.


He went on to stress that effective action at the national level was also needed.  Concerned States, including Myanmar, should allow United Nations access to listed non-State parties to discuss possible child protection measures.  Effective domestic legislation, including the criminalization of rape and other sexual crimes, was of paramount importance.  On the broader issue of violence against children, he highlighted his Government’s release today “Time for Action”, a major report from the Australian National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and Their Children and its intention to act on 18 of the report’s 20 priority recommendations.


PEIT DE KLERK ( Netherlands) said it was a sad reality that, as the Council met, many children around the world were being harmed for life by fighting and armed conflicts.  While, sometimes, they simply happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, more often than not, children were a tool or target of “shameless violence”.  Whatever the case, every member of the international community had an urgent obligation to protect children from armed conflict.  “This is a political and moral imperative for all of us,” he said, stressing that, with matters relating to the integrity of children, the integrity of the United Nations and everything it stood for were at stake.  The Netherlands commended the work of the Secretary-General, his Special Representative on Children in Armed Conflict, and the Council’s relevant Working Group on the issue.


As for the Council itself, he said, the 15-nation body should take further action to ensure that children in conflict were protected from all forms of violence and related threats to their well-being.  To that end, the Council should expand its focus to include other grave violations against children in armed conflict, including rape and other grave sexual violence.  That, he hoped, would be the first step in a longer-term incremental expansion that would eventually include all six “triggers”.  The Netherlands was calling for such change largely because, over the past 20 years, rape and other sexual violence had been documented in at least 50 conflicts, affecting millions of individuals.


Like child soldiering, sexual violence was an intentional act committed by individual perpetrators, he said.  Parties to armed conflict could take action to hold such perpetrators accountable for their actions and, he added, progress towards ending such violations could be measured, allowing for de-listing -– an incentive for change.  He went on to say that, in dozens of ongoing conflicts, sexual violence continued to threaten the lives of women, girls and, in some instances, boys.  Such violence might have a long-term impact on the victims, and since Council resolution 1820 had stressed that sexual violence could significantly exacerbate situations of armed conflict, expanding the trigger mechanism to include such sexual violence should be seen as an appropriate step.


PARK IN-KOOK ( Republic of Korea) said information on compliance and progress in ending the recruitment of children contained in the Secretary-General’s report showed that there had been progress in some countries, like Côte d’Ivoire.  However, in most situations, child recruitment and victimization remained an issue of serious concern.  Indeed, only 9 of the 63 armed groups listed in the annexes to the report had signed action plans to stop recruiting children.  He agreed that concerned Member States should allow contact between the United Nations and non-State actors to prepare action plans, without prejudice to the political or legal status of those groups.


Dealing with persistent violators, especially those that committed sexual violence, also remained a critical issue that must be urgently addressed, he continued.  To that end, the Council needed to stand resolute and apply targeted measures to address such persistent perpetrators.  The Republic of Korea was disturbed by the continuing deplorable situation of sexual violence against children in armed conflict.  The Secretary-General’s report painted a “worrisome” picture, especially regarding the situations in Burundi, Chad, Central African Republic, Haiti and Somalia, among other countries.  The Security Council and the wider international community must take strong action against such violations, he said, strongly endorsing the Secretary-General’s recommendation to identify additional criteria for inclusion in the annexes, starting with rape and other grave sexual violence.  Another key step to strengthen child protection on the ground was expanding the trigger of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism to include grave sexual violence, which would require a new resolution.  He strongly supported starting work on such a resolution as soon as possible. 


JARMO VIINANEN (Finland), also speaking on behalf of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, said that, while a single act could destroy a young life before it had really begun, that violence was all too often sustained and even systematic.  The trauma lingered and affected whole societies, providing fuel to vicious circles of conflict that affected stability across countries.  He fully endorsed the Secretary-General’s report, as well as the recommendations contained therein.  Indeed, all forms of violence against children must be condemned unequivocally and each of the six categories of grave violations set out in resolution 1612 (2005) addressed with equal vigour.  But, given the particular vulnerability of women and girls to rape and sexual violence and the systematic use of those heinous crimes to achieve military or political ends, the Council should consider expanding, at a minimum, the criteria triggering listing in the report’s annexes to include these crimes.


He underlined how efforts to monitor and address gender-based and sexual violence and other grave violations set out in resolution 1612 could benefit from increasing interaction and collaboration among United Nations and regional actors working to promote human rights and to improve gender equality.  Useful synergies could also be established between the monitoring mechanisms created to support the implementation of resolutions 1612, 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008).   Finland looked forward to the finalization of the Global Policy on Child Protection Advisers developed by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and its roll out to the field.  He also commended civil society’s efforts to provide invaluable information and take concrete action.


The nearly universal recognition of the prohibition on recruiting or using child soldiers must be matched by effective implementation on the domestic level, he continued.  All parties to relevant situations of armed conflict needed to present concrete, time-bound action plans for ending and preventing the use of child soldiers, sexual violence and other grave violations.  While the International Criminal Court’s trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo was a milestone in ending impunity, further determined action was needed.  The Council’s Working Group should use the full range of measures available to it in dealing with persistent perpetrators.  Interaction between the Working Group and the sanctions committees should be made more speedy and effective.  Referrals should also be made to the International Criminal Court when national Governments failed to carry out their responsibility to protect children.  Further, more work was needed to designate schools as safe sanctuaries.


PAUL KAVANAGH ( Ireland), aligning his remarks with the statement made on behalf of the European Union, expressed strong support for all endeavours made at the United Nations and at regional and national levels to address the situation of children in armed conflict.  Warmly welcoming the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s current report, he particularly commended the significant progress made in mainstreaming the issue in United Nations peacekeeping and political missions.  The deployment of child protection advisers in a number of such missions was a positive step and helped enhance monitoring, improve dialogue with conflict parties and ensure systematic training on children’s rights.  As the current chair of the Human Security Network, Ireland underlined that the harmful and widespread impact of armed conflicts on children had been one of the organization’s priority issues since its establishment.  Ireland had chosen to focus its chairmanship on the theme of gender-based violence, which was a grave concern during times of conflict when the rule of law was frequently absent and impunity reigned.


Stressing how successive Security Council resolutions had similarly recognized such egregious abuses as rape and other forms of sexual abuse and the need for measures to protect women and girls, he underlined the Secretary-General’s observation that resolutions 1612 (2005) and 1820 (2008) were mutually reinforcing.  Ireland also welcomed the attention given in the report to rape and other grave sexual violations and supported the recommendation that the Council expand the criteria for violations that would trigger a party’s being listed in the annexes to include such crimes, as well as the intentional killing and maiming of children.


GABRIELA SHALEV ( Israel) said the increased international focus on the issue discussed had resulted in improved protection for many of the estimated 300,000 child soldiers around the world, and notable achievements had been reached.  Another area that warranted greater attention was rape and other grave forms of sexual violence against children.  She called, in that regard, for the addition of grave sexual violence to the list of violations that triggered the listing of a party in the annexes. 


She said terrorism deliberately targeting civilians, including children, continued to plague many regions in the world.  The recent armed conflict between Israel and the Hamas terrorist entity in Gaza had been initiated by Hamas’ year-long barrage of rockets and mortars into southern Israel, often launched in close proximity to schools and hospitals.  During the conflict, Hamas terrorists had hidden among Gaza’s civilian population, using them as human shields.  Although children had been trained, indoctrinated and used by Hamas, the Secretary-General’s report had stated that community members were reluctant to provide information on such cases.  As childhood indoctrination into prejudice, hatred and the ways of terrorism had devastating effects, more attention should be paid to that practice in the reports of the Special Representative.


Although the Special Representative was a tireless advocate for children, certain aspects of her work deserved more careful examination, especially those aspects in reports that relied heavily on unsubstantiated allegations, she said.  That practice was so extensive as to cast a shadow over those reports.  She urged the Office of the Special Representative to carefully document and vet sources of information.  More intensive work should be done to ensure the long-term effectiveness of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes.  The longer children languished in camps, the dimmer the prospects were for their effective reintegration.  A candid assessment of the Working Group’s impact on various situations should be carried out, in order to arrive at best practices.


DIEGO MOREJON ( Ecuador) said significant results had been achieved on the issue of protection of children in armed conflict.  No doubt, the provisions in various international instruments were a solid body of international law.  Strengthening international instruments and extending their jurisdiction were indispensable for guaranteeing the protection of children.  One of the saddest realities was the deep suffering of children exposed to armed conflict. 


He said the number of displaced persons coming to Ecuador had reached an alarming level.  Providing protection to those people, including children, was one of his Government’s priorities.  Ecuador had undertaken legal reforms to respond to the needs of those people, and its policies encouraged equal social development, especially of children.  Because of the consequences of illegal trafficking of arms and land mines, Ecuador had co-sponsored a resolution in the General Assembly that created a working group for the establishment of an arms trade treaty.  Allowing children to take up arms was inhumane.  Progress made in eliminating recruitment was considerable, but there was still a long way to go.  The international community must apply more specific measures, in that regard. 


JOSE LUIS CANCELA ( Uruguay) said, despite recent achievement, the issues highlighted in the Secretary-General’s latest report were, nevertheless, troubling.   Uruguay had, year after year, continued to raise the issue of children in armed conflict in the General Assembly, since the matter fell under its mandate.  At the same time, it appreciated the work undertaken in the area by the Security Council, through the adoption of many resolutions and the holding of frequent debates.  The Council’s efforts had led to the identification of six grave areas of violations, as well as to the creation of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism.


His delegation understood that matters related to the expansion of the list of triggers that would place countries on the lists annexed to the Secretary-General’s report would require careful consideration.  At the same time, Uruguay believed that, once identified, any and all violations of children’s rights needed to be addressed and, to that end, the Council should actively refer such violations to the International Criminal Court, which was the appropriate global legal body to deal with such issues.  He said Uruguay believed that more attention needed to be paid to reintegration of children into society following conflict.  As one of the United Nations top troop-contributing countries, Uruguay reiterated its commitment to protecting civilians in general, and children in particular.


GIULIO TERZI (Italy), aligning his remarks with those made on behalf of the European Union, said the protection of children’s rights during armed conflicts was one of his country’s top priorities.  During Italy’s term on the Council, it had actively proposed inserting child protection provisions into United Nations mission mandates from Côte d’Ivoire to the Sudan to Afghanistan, and was happy to see the practice had become standard whenever a mandate was renewed.  Welcoming the Secretary-General’s report, he strongly endorsed its recommendations, particularly the proposal to include sexual violence as a trigger for the Council’s action.  As resolution 1820 (2008) recognized, sexual violence was one of the primary threats to children in situations of armed conflict, and including it in the criteria for inclusion on the Secretary-General’s annexes would be another major step forward in the Council’s work against that appalling crime.  Moreover, such a step would signal that the Council had heard the voices of child victims worldwide.


Italy shared the Secretary-General’s emphasis on action plans, he said, noting how such plans had resulted in the release and reintegration of child soldiers in countries where the relevant parties agreed to detailed and time-bound commitments.  He said that the importance of the work performed by the 83 child protection advisers currently working in United Nations missions should not be underestimated, and Italy stood ready to support actions to strengthen the training of United Nations personnel in this area.  It also welcomed the drafting of common guidelines by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and underlined the need to listen to children themselves in developing child protection strategies.  Further, the Council and its Working Group should consider how to develop practical cooperation with the International Criminal Court in fighting impunity.  The first step would be imposing targeted measures on offenders, as contemplated by resolution 1612.


SHABBIR AHMED CHOWDHURY ( Bangladesh) said that, as societies inevitably broke down during conflict, many children perceived armed groups as their best chance for survival.  While some were coerced, others joined armed groups to escape poverty.  Still others did so out of desperation to avenge the killing of family members.  Taking all that into account, it should be clear that successfully ending children’s involvement in armed conflict depended on success in addressing the root motivating causes, as well as building societies that respected the rights and dignity of all children.  He stressed that, despite many successes, especially the action plans on releasing child soldiers, thousands of children remained in the ranks of countless armed groups around the world.


Peace remained the main hope for securing their release, he said, calling for child protection provisions to be made part of all United Nations peacekeeping missions, and for the Peacebuilding Commission to ensure children’s demobilization and reintegration needs were met throughout the range of peacekeeping activities.  He went on to say that some kind of enforcement could be contemplated to ensure that parties listed in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s reports complied with relevant actions plans in a timely manner.  On other matters, he said the issue of children living under occupation needed to be appropriately addressed; parties, including non-State actors, needed to be included in the dialogue to develop child protection action plans; and the Working Group must be encouraged to use the full range of tools at its disposal, especially to address the lag time between the consideration of reports and the issuance of conclusions.


ALBERT FRANCIS YANKEY ( Ghana) said the ongoing brutalization and dehumanization of children did not auger well for social advancement and long-term peace and stability.  His delegation welcomed substantial progress in putting in place mechanisms and procedures to identify child recruitment and other violence against children.  At the same time, non-State actors continued to defy the will of the international community with “rampant impunity”, especially in that such groups continued to recruit child soldiers and carry out widespread sexual violence against children.  With that in mind, Ghana supported the call to expand the “trigger mechanism” to include rape and other grave sexual violence against children.


Looking ahead, he said further efforts would be needed to ensure progress in the effort that had begun nearly a decade ago to protect war-affected children.  Such measures would need to take into account “new and disturbing trends”, such as the maiming of children, abduction and kidnapping, attacks against schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access.  In the meantime, the international community would need to remain committed to the full implementation of the mechanisms already in place, while stepping up efforts to ensure accountability and end impunity.


GUENTER FROMMELT ( Liechtenstein) said the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism had brought about a tangible progress in the advancement in the protection of children affected by armed conflicts, as illustrated by the de-listing of various situations in the Annexes.  Taking into account the recent progress made in issues covered by resolution 1820 regarding the protection of civilians, the linked agendas of both resolutions 1820 and 1612 should be developed in a holistic manner.  Only one out of the six grave violations -– the recruitment and use of child soldiers -– currently triggered inclusion in the annexes, however.  A new resolution could expand the criteria that triggered inclusions to include all six violations. 


He called for inclusion of child protection advisers in all peacekeeping missions and for States concerned to allow direct contacts between the Office of the Special Representative and non-State actors.  Holding perpetrators accountable for their crimes against children affected by armed conflicts had already proven to be a deterrent.  Although such accountability should take place in national judiciaries, the Security Council should be mindful of its competence to refer cases to the International Criminal Court.  Furthermore, measures taken by the Working Group should be complemented by effective enforcement measures, such as sanctions.


LUIS ENRIQUE CHAVEZ ( Peru) said that the Council should give equal attention to all children affected by armed conflict, wherever in the world.  Condemning the repeated practice of sexual abuse of children as a tool of war, he urged the Council to consider the Secretary-General’s recommendation to include in the report’s annexes those parties committing such acts.  Resolutions 1612 and 1820 should mutually reinforce each other, in that regard.  The Council should also continue using further instruments and measures to stop the abuse of children’s rights in conflict.  He called on parties involved in armed conflict to commit themselves to protecting children’s rights. 


He said a new means of cooperation between the Working Group and sanctions committees should be considered and the Council should continue to take specific measures to protect children in peacekeeping and political missions.  Member States, especially those affected by armed conflict, must also continue to take measures to identify perpetrators and apply the necessary sanctions.  Neither amnesty nor impunity were acceptable.  Since field missions were a part of the implementation of resolution 1612, the Office of the Special Representative should have the means to carry out such missions.  The progressive development of international humanitarian law had provided the legal instruments to protect children in armed conflict.  The international community and States must, therefore, be vigilant and ensure compliance with such international law.


MADHUBAN PRASAD PAUDEL ( Nepal) said children were the most vulnerable section of society during times of conflict.  Easily used and abused, they were incapable of judging what was right and wrong for them.  Thus, Governments, the international community and civil society must come up with rapid, effective and coordinated efforts to prevent heinous crimes against them during conflict.  Commitments in that regard must be commensurate with adequate human and financial resources on the ground to monitor the situation, rescue the victims and bring the violators to justice.  Time-bound, tailor-made action plans for rescuing those child victims and reintegrating them into their families and societies were clearly needed.  A comprehensive approach linked with overall development policies for the sustained promotion and protection of children’s rights was also required.


He said that, with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement on 21 November 2006, Nepal had come quite a distance in its historic political transformation.  For the first time, its people were writing their Constitution through elected representatives in the Constituent Assembly.  As a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Nepal had devised the necessary legal instruments and established a legal and administrative framework for the promotion and protection of those rights.  The Government reiterated its commitment to the release of minor combatants, the end of impunity for crimes against children and the protection of children from sexual violence and other grave crimes.   Nepal’s Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction had taken the lead role in the release, reintegration and rehabilitation of minor combatants and would welcome cooperation from United Nations agencies, including the United Nations Mission in Nepal, for the early release and reintegration of minor combatants.


MARTIN NEY (Germany), fully aligning his statement with the one made on behalf of the European Union, said his country attached great importance to the promotion and protection of children’s rights, particularly in situations of armed conflict.  It was, as a result, one of the main bilateral and multilateral donors in that field.  Although Germany fully endorsed the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General’s report, it remained acutely aware that the United Nations child protection framework for children in armed conflict needed further strengthening.  Progress made since the milestone adoption of resolution 1612 (2005) showed that the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism was working.  It provided evidence of grave violations being committed against children in armed conflict.  The “naming and shaming” of perpetrators in the Secretary-General’s report also seemed to have a real impact on the ground, as parties to conflict entered into a dialogue with United Nations country teams, or adopted actions plans to address their violations.


While that was no small achievement, the impact of the Organization’s child protection framework on the ground was not as decisive as it could or should be, he said.  The international community must not watch silently in light of deteriorating conflict situations, such as the one in Sri Lanka, where an immediate humanitarian ceasefire was imperative to allow for a United Nations-assisted evacuation of those people –- many of them children –- still trapped in the conflict zone.


Further, to meet the more general challenges, Germany fully endorsed the Secretary-General’s proposals to expand the trigger for listing perpetrators in the annex of his annual report to include rape and other forms of sexual violence, he said, calling on the Council to take appropriate steps as a matter of urgency.  He further underlined the need for synergies with other protection agendas.  It was also essential that the threat of the Council’s forceful follow-up to reported violations remained credible.   Germany called on the Council to consider strong and urgent measures, including targeted sanctions or referrals to the International Criminal Court, where appropriate, for those parties consistently included in the report’s annexes.  More systematic communication between the Working Group and the sanctions committees was needed.  The Council should also remain fully engaged in mainstreaming the issue of children in armed conflicts into all United Nations peacekeeping and political operations, including by increasing the number of child protection advisers deployed.


MOHAMMED LOULICHKI ( Morocco) said young boys and girls in situations of armed conflict were being submitted to atrocities and were deprived of their childhood.  The children of Gaza had been confronted with war, with severe consequences for their psychological well-being.  Children were systematically recruited by armed groups.  The specific resolutions adopted by the Council had culminated in important mechanisms that had yielded important progress, including the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, which had led to the release of children.  Still, progress had been limited.  The United Nations and the Council’s will was necessary to promote national measures aimed at protecting children, establishing disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes and prevention of recruitment. 


He said specialized institutions such as UNDP and UNICEF should coordinate their actions with the Working Group.  The approach to the problem must be preventive, as well as reactive.  It was vital to attack the root causes of conflicts, to prevent all involvement of children.  Morocco was party to the Convention on the Rights of Children and its Protocols.  The commitment of Governments was essential in order to implement the Paris Principles and the unconditional release of child soldiers as part of the conclusion of peace agreements.


GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) said the results since adoption of resolution 1261 and six others had been decidedly mixed.  In spite of some progress achieved, there had been a change in the tactics of war, where the civilian population, including boys and girls, had been even more exposed to a spiral of violence.  Resolution 1612 (2005) had been an important achievement.  Special attention must be paid to the social disintegration caused by gender-based violence and displacements, as well as brutal violence and sexual slavery to which girls were submitted, with the resulting stigmatization in their communities.  He hoped the Department of Peacekeeping Operations would finalize its policy directive on mainstreaming the protection of children affected by armed conflict in peacekeeping operations, as requested by the Special Committee on Peacekeeping Operations in 2008.


He supported the recommendation that specific child protection provisions should be included in peacekeeping mandates, as well as deployment of child protection advisers.  The Department of Peacekeeping Operations, however, must further elaborate the role and responsibilities of those advisers and strengthen the mechanisms for curbing sexual violence.  He reiterated his deep concern about the delay in the appointment of a Special Representative on violence against children.  He stressed the importance of the training of uniformed personnel in peacekeeping missions on child protection measures, since effectiveness was measured in the timely execution of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes for boys and girls.  Those programmes must receive more resources, so that they became sustainable in the long term.


MOHAMMAD ERFANI AYOOB (Afghanistan) said the Secretary-General’s country-specific report on children and armed conflict in Afghanistan had provided his Government with an initial opportunity for discussion with its partners on ways to better implement resolution 1612 (2005).  The Government looked forward to discussing the Working Group’s conclusions on Afghanistan when they were finalized next month.  For that debate to continue effectively, however, two facts had to be recognized.  First, the chief threat to children in Afghanistan was terrorism.  Second, to overcome that threat, the international community and Afghan Government had to work together.  The deterioration of the security situation in Afghanistan resulted from the surge of terrorist activities carried out by Al-Qaida, the Taliban and other associated armed groups.  Those groups remained the main violators of human rights, including children’s rights, and their violations would continue until the security situation improved.  Not only did the growing number and increasing barbarism of those attacks threaten children, terrorists were recruiting, training and exploiting children as combatants and sending them out as suicide bombers.  Moreover, the intensification of the Taliban’s intimidation campaign had created an atmosphere of terror that prevented children from accessing basic Government services.


Against that backdrop, he said common efforts must concentrate on defeating terrorism and finding the ways and means to protect Afghan children.  The Government welcomed the suggestions of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, including proposals to exert pressure on the Taliban and other groups to stop recruiting children.  Yet, those measures would prove counterproductive, if they offered recognition or legitimization to these terrorist groups.  He also stressed that reported cases of the alleged recruitment and detention of, and sexual violence against, children by individuals in the Afghan Government or National Army and Police were disturbing.  But, they were isolated cases and the Government was deeply committed to the full implementation of resolution 1612.  It had developed domestic laws relating to children, established juvenile judicial institutions and ratified most of the international human rights treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols.  The penal code further prohibited sexual violence against children, as well as the recruitment of persons under 18 to the National Police and under 22 to the National Army.  The legal age of criminal responsibility had been established at 12, and the detention of children in adult prisons was prohibited, even if the child was accused of terrorism.


JORGE ARGUELLO ( Argentina) said that his delegation understood that matters regarding the protection of children fell primarily within the purview of the General Assembly and, to that end, it would keep working towards the strengthening of existing mandates and the search for new institutional solutions.  At the same time, Argentina recognized the very positive advances reached in the area since the adoption of Council resolution 1612 (2005), as well as through the joint action by Member States and the mechanisms created by the wider United Nations system, with the valuable support of civil society.


He said Argentina attached great importance to the promotion and protection of the rights of children and would stress, among other things, that the fight against impunity and the search for justice were at the core of any effective response aimed at preventing and eliminating human rights violations.  It was imperative, therefore, that more efforts be made to end impunity, including in cases of systematic and generalized sexual violence.  Further, it was imperative to secure due process and the right of the victims to adequate legal remedies, including through the International Criminal Court, where applicable.  He also recommended that the work of the Security Council Working Group be extended to all situations of armed conflict, beyond child recruitment to include rape and other sexual violence.


Continuing, he said his delegation was convinced of the need to carry out demobilization and reintegration as well as rehabilitation so that victims had a real opportunity to re-enter their societies.  Such programmes must be sufficiently funded, pragmatic and efficient mechanisms to achieve sustainable results over time.  Argentina believed that was an indispensable component for peacebuilding and it should receive adequate political attention in all relevant forums, including the Peacebuilding Commission.


PETER MAURER ( Switzerland) urged the Council to use both strong action and all its leverage to ensure the implementation of the provisions of resolution 1612.  The goal should be to mainstream the issue, particularly in situations on the Council’s agenda, and to make better use of existing mechanisms, tools and instruments with respect to sanctions regimes, mandated peacekeeping operations, political missions, statements and resolutions.  To that end, Switzerland fully endorsed the recommendations in the Secretary-General’s report.  Given the particular vulnerability of children to sexual violence in situations of armed conflict, it especially supported the idea of expanding the list of criteria that trigger a party’s listing in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s report to include rape and other grave sexual violations.  Such an expansion should be carried out in an incremental approach that would eventually include all six grave violations.


He said the Security Council should continue to insist that all parties listed in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s report prepare and implement time-bound action plans to halt their recruitment and use of children in armed forces, and to take action against those failing to comply.  The Working Group should also be encouraged to bring to the attention of the relevant sanctions committees those parties that were routinely responsible for persistent violations against children.  Concrete recommendations should also be made on applying targeted measures against such parties or individuals.  Switzerland encouraged the Council to refer violations against children to the International Criminal Court, when appropriate.  The Working Group should also be strengthened through the provision of appropriate administrative and budgetary support.


IVAN BARBALIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina), aligning his statement with the one made on behalf of the European Union, said the creation and adoption of a comprehensive strategy to address the root causes of conflicts by the United Nations and its specialized agencies, regional organizations, non-governmental organizations and other concerned parties could lead to the development of more effective tools for fighting violence against children.  The Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict should also take more serious steps towards putting an end to child recruitment and other serous violations perpetrated against children, by working more closely with the existing sanctions committees.  The protection of children should be scrutinized and addressed by States parties to the relevant international humanitarian and human rights laws and conventions.  He joined others in calling on those countries that had not yet done so to accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.


As a State party to the Rome Statute, his country viewed the International Criminal Court as an adequate and indispensable legal body to investigate and prosecute those crimes perpetrated against children that fell within its jurisdiction, he said.  It was the only avenue for ending impunity in cases where a national judiciary was unable to do so.  Because field reports from child protection advisers were indispensable tools for analyzing lessons learned and identifying effective solutions, the deployment of those advisers should be considered for every peacekeeping operation and political mission.  Their participation in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes was also critical.


JAN GRAULS ( Belgium) said he supported the recommendation to strengthen the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism to put sexual violence perpetrators in the annexes.  The Mechanism should take into consideration sexual violence.  In the Council, Belgium had constantly emphasized combating impunity, be it through national mechanisms or through the International Criminal Court.  Fighting impunity was a vital element of reconciliation.  He supported the Secretary-General’s plea to extend the sanctions regimes against individuals and groups who persisted in recruiting children.  He also supported the integration of ex-child combatants.  The Paris Principles underlined that reintegration should be envisioned over the long term. 


He said today’s issues transcended the scope of the Council.  The Peacebuilding Commission also had an important role to play, for instance in coordinating disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes and in education on the issue of child soldiers.  The Commissions’ Central African Republic Configuration had made a commitment to educate partners to mobilize long-term financial support for children.  UNICEF was currently implementing a demobilization programme for child soldiers in the Central African Republic. 


CARMEN MARIA GALLARDO HERNANDEZ ( El Salvador) said the implication and the moral and political challenges for peace and security and respect for the rights of children were important cross-cutting issues.  Her country was party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol.  El Salvador, itself a post-conflict country, recognized the recruitment of children as a grave violation of the rights of children.  Progress must be made in the application of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism and Action Plans, as well as the mainstreaming of children and armed conflict issues in United Nations peacekeeping missions. 


She said violations and other grave acts of sexual violence against children in conflict situations were of true concern to the international community.  The protection of the rights of children and their reintegration into post-conflict societies were fundamental, and must be considered in strategies of peacebuilding and national reconciliation.  She welcomed the recommendations of the Secretary-General and stressed the importance of establishing national task forces.  Officers responsible for gender violence and the protection of children should establish joint modalities to share information.  Special mention must be made of the fact that children in armed conflict had often been involuntarily separated from their families.  El Salvador had established a commission, in that regard, to seek family reunification. 


Mr. AL-MUSAWI ( Iraq) said the Secretary-General’s report covered 2008 and everyone knew that the situation in his country had significantly improved in recent months, especially in the area of security.  The performance of the Government had also improved and that had had a significant impact on the people of the country, especially as violent acts against civilians had declined.  He noted that the situation had been noted in the Secretary-General’s latest report on the work of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), which had also stressed that Al-Qaida and other armed groups had begun to lose their momentum in the country.  Moreover, the Government had taken strides in a number of areas to address the protection of civilians and children.


He said that Iraq hoped that, in the future, information provided by the Office of the Special Representative on Children in Armed Conflict could be corroborated with the head of the Iraq Mission.  If such effort was not taken to provide the latest information on the situation in Iraq, then the Secretary-General’s report on children in armed conflict would include outdated, incorrect and misleading data.  Meanwhile, he told the Council that Iraq had undertaken significant efforts to promote and protect the rights of its youth, in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  It had also worked hard to promote a culture based on the awareness of children’s rights and needs.


H.M.G.S PALIHAKKARA ( Sri Lanka) said his country had consistently rejected in the strongest possible terms the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict under all circumstances.  It had been among the first countries to set up a National Task Force to monitor and report on those activities.  The Council should impose the strongest measures against those who perpetrated such crimes.  The report referred to the recruitment of children as young as 14 years old by the LTTE terrorist group.  Such recruitment had intensified in recent months.  Sri Lanka called on the Council to consider deterrent action against such persistent violators.  A break-away faction of the group, however, now registered as a political party, had released most child conscripts.  LTTE was among those groups against whom targeted measures might be applied.


He said his country had established successful disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes and hoped that they would receive timely and adequate resources and funding.  His country condemned, in the strongest possible terms, rape and other grave sexual violence against children in armed conflict.  Any expansion of the Council’s mandate could only be effective if non-State actors were held to account through deterrent measures.  The fact that LTTE had not changed its policy on recruitment of children would not inspire confidence in the process undertaken by the Council.  Member States must deploy all efforts to find ways and means to make such non-State actors as LTTE fall into line.


Efforts of the Council and its Working Group must focus more on the real underlying issue of the recruitment of children and tangible international action, as opposed to mere expressions of concern, he said.  As LTTE terrorism neared its end, the main priority for the Government was to care for and protect the children and people affected by that conflict, in particular those who had suffered as a result of LTTE’s persistent and deplorable practice of using children as soldiers and as human shields.


JEAN OLINGER ( Luxembourg) said there was an entire range of political and legal instruments to protect children from suffering, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the treatment of children in armed conflict.  It was also important for States to consider joining the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which had special provisions on the issue.   Luxembourg agreed with the Secretary-General that impunity for crimes committed against children must end and such crimes must be forwarded to the International Criminal Court, when appropriate.


He went on to say that all situations in which children might be affected by conflict must be addressed effectively.  To that end, the ongoing fighting in Sri Lanka was having a serious impact on the civilian population, especially children.  While the Government was taking some responsibility for the protection of children, including help with reintegrating some children that had left armed groups, indiscriminate fire in densely packed civilian areas was cause for concern.  He said Luxembourg, through its work on the Peacebuilding Commission, was committed to Burundi and would continue to support the re-adaptation and socio-economic reintegration of children and youth in the country.  The broad effort under way showed that the Commission could play an important role in mobilizing international support for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration campaigns and relevant initiatives on behalf of children in the countries on its agenda.


MOHAMED EDREES (Egypt) said that, despite all efforts and field visits, the report had shown that violence against children still prevailed in armed conflict situations and that it also had taken new forms.  The United Nations should study the root causes of the increase of the use of children in armed conflicts.  The mass atrocities committed by the Israeli Defence Forces against children in Lebanon and the Palestinian Occupied Territories had been recorded by the report.  He demanded that the Council guarantee Israel’s cooperation with the United Nations and hand over the necessary information on the cluster bomb sites in Lebanon. 


He said the report had revealed grave violations perpetrated by Israel against Palestinian children in Gaza.  Describing those violations, he said the Council must guarantee that they were effectively addressed, with the aim of further preventing them and bringing the perpetrators to justice.  The Council should give attention to the implementation of the recommendations adopted by the Committee of the Rights of the Child upon reviewing the first report submitted by Israel in 2002, which had been completely ignored by the Government of Israel.  He also demanded that Israel implement the recommendations adopted by the Human Rights Council during its last session.


He said Egypt supported the recommendation regarding the expanding of the criteria for inclusion in the annexes of the report to those who committed rape and sexual violence against children.  But, indictment should rely on verified data, field visits and field follow-ups.  The Working Group should follow up on its recommendations, especially those regarding children in the Arab occupied territories.  The Working Group should also take into consideration recommendations adopted by the Committee of the Rights of the Child regarding situations of children in armed conflict.


SERIK ZHANIBEKOV ( Kazakhstan) said that, with the full use of existing tools, the United Nations system could promote a considerable decrease in the number of children affected by armed conflicts.  The Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism was the main source of data for adequate measures to address violations of children’s rights.  Incorporating new components in the scope of research of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism might lead to a more balanced and comprehensive protection of children’s rights, including their health. 


Turning to the issue of rehabilitation and reintegration of former child combatants, he underlined the necessity of education.  High-quality education was key to avoiding children’s exploitation, violence and recruitment into armed groups.  Lack of education, and as a result poverty and an inadequate level of development, could only aggravate the condition of the population in conflict areas.  Although there were no armed conflicts on its territory, Kazakhstan had acquired a solid experience in overcoming financial and social difficulties and had decided not to cut the financing of education, despite its current difficult period of development.  A missed opportunity in providing a proper education might lead to the loss of a generation on which a new State could be built.


ALFRED NDABARASA (Rwanda) said that, if the international community was to adequately address the scourge of child soldiering and other violations of children’s rights, it was imperative that global actors use the tools already in place, including employing the principle of the “responsibility to protect”, to help address the causes of conflict and prevent conflicts from arising in the first instance.  Turning to the Secretary-General’s report, he said that the recently concluded joint operations between the Governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Rwanda had greatly undermined the capabilities of FDLR and its sub-groups and had led to the reintegration of CNDP into the Congolese Armed Forces.  Most importantly, those operations had resulted in the repatriation of refugees, including many children that had been held hostage by FDLR factions.


He went on to say that FDLR and its sub-groups listed in the annexes to the report as persistent offenders, however, continued to forcibly recruit children into their ranks, as well as to commit other serious crimes, including sexual violence.  He called on the international community, through the Security Council, to support and help build on the progress made by the two Governments, and to utilize targeted measures, including sanctions, at its disposal to eliminate the threat posed by those factions.  He said that the 1994 genocide in his country had been characterized by many inhumane acts targeted at women and girls.  To that end, Rwanda welcomed the Secretary-General’s recommendation to expand the protection framework by adding rape and other grave acts of sexual violence against children as a gateway to the lists annexed to his annual reports.


ALYA AHMED AL-THANI ( Qatar) said the recommendations of the Secretary-General and the Working Group must be implemented and not merely confined to the thematic level.  Further, such actions to address serious violations of the rights of children must include all such acts, including acts of sexual violence and violence perpetrated against schools and hospitals.  She said the international community must also generate the political will to address the situation of children living under occupation.


The Israeli aggression against Gaza that began at the end of last year had been a prime example of how the destruction of schools and hospitals could be used to uproot children and sow despair for generations to come.  With that in mind, the First Lady of Qatar had begun a wide-ranging campaign aimed at ensuring that the education of children was not disrupted during times of conflict.   Qatar, meanwhile, would call on the international community to continue to press for an independent investigation into Israeli aggression in Gaza, especially its deliberate targeting of schools and shelters and obstruction of humanitarian access to that area.


THAN SWE ( Myanmar) said his delegation shared the view that the most effective and sustainable way to address matters related to the protection of children in armed conflict was to address the root causes of conflicts.  Therefore, it was vital to ensure the promotion of sustainable development, eradication of poverty, promotion of national reconciliation, good governance and protection and promotion of human rights.   Myanmar was striving to promote economic, social and political development throughout the country and in border areas, as well.  It had also taken steps to prevent child recruitment and protect children in armed conflict.  He said that stringent laws and regulations had been put in place and had been strictly and actively followed up.


Continuing, he said Myanmar’s military, under the Defence Services Act, was prohibited from conscripting or recruiting children under the age of 18.  Due to difficulties in verifying the age of some children, in the absence of birth certificates, new recruits were required to undergo strengthened scrutiny, not only during recruitment and training, but also during post-training periods.  To further strengthen that screening process, the Government had established in 2004 a high-level committee on preventing such underage recruitment.


He said that, through 2009, that body had detected and discharged from the military some 296 recruits, and while those children had been returned to their respective guardians, punitive actions had been taken against the military personnel that had failed to abide by recruitment rules and regulations.  That committee worked in close consultation with UNICEF and the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Myanmar.  Despite the Government’s strong commitment to protecting children at all levels, it was regrettable that the Secretary-General’s latest report had listed the country’s well-trained and well-disciplined army in the annex of his latest report.  He urged that due recognition be given to the progress made by the Government, and that Myanmar’s army be removed from the list in future reports.


CLAUDIA BLUM ( Colombia) said Colombia had voluntarily accepted the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism in December 2008 and recognized the contribution the United Nations could make to the primary role of the national Government in providing protection to children affected by the actions carried out by illegal armed groups.  Colombia had established a comprehensive strategy that included the prevention of recruitment and use of children by illegal armed groups, as well as the protection, recovery and reintegration of the children who had been separated from those groups.  As for the report, she said mention of criminal organizations or gangs, such as those devoted to drug trafficking, had not been included.  She also took issue with references to Colombia, saying that Colombia was about to initiate implementation of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism and that it was inappropriate to make assessments in advance.


Turning to the Secretary-General’s recommendations, she said the clear distinction established by Council resolutions between situations that were on the agenda of the Council and those which were not should be maintained in Annex I and Annex II of the Secretary-General’s report.  The Council should also continue to attach different weight and higher priority to the recruitment and use of children.  Any implementation of targeted measures must be in accordance with Chapter VII of the Charter.  Rejecting every form of sexual violence, she said Council resolutions 1325 and 1820 constituted the guiding compass on that matter.


TOFIG F. MUSAYEV ( Azerbaijan) said the occupation by Armenia of Azerbaijan territories had a considerable impact on the humanitarian situation.  The country continued to suffer from one of the highest proportions of refugees and displaced persons in the world, large numbers of which were children.  In the course of the conflict, serious offences against international law had been committed, during which even children had not been spared.  In February 1992, for instance, 63 children had been intentionally killed by the invading Armenian forces in the town of Khojaly, in the Nagorny Karabakh region.


While supporting the view that equal weight should be given to all grave violations against children affected by armed conflict and that the existing criteria of violations should be expanded to include those responsible for intentional killing and maiming of children, he said particular consideration should be given to internally displaced children in the context of realization of their inalienable right to return.  Attention should also be paid to the protection of children’s rights, in cases of illegal policies and practices in situations of foreign occupation.  Urgent action was also required regarding children taken hostage and reported missing in connection with armed conflict.


Underlining the Council’s significant contributions on the issue of children and armed conflict, SANSANEE SAHUSSARUNGSI ( Thailand) welcomed the mainstreaming of child protection at the United Nations, particularly in the ongoing attempt to incorporate children’s issues in peacekeeping operations during all phases of mission planning.  She also welcomed the inclusion of a “child-conscious” approach in various political and peacebuilding missions.  Having followed the effort to strengthen the Council’s mechanism on children and armed conflict, Thailand agreed with the view that an incremental approach based on thorough reflection should be taken.  Because challenges relating to children were diverse and multi-dimensional, Thailand believed that greater coordination and coherence among relevant United Nations fora and agencies -– including the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council, the Human Rights Council, United Nations funds and programmes and other relevant human rights treaty bodies -- was needed.  A holistic approach was also critical, so the challenges related to children and armed conflict could be addressed and the political, economic and social conditions causing them could be tackled.


She joined other delegations in reiterating that the primary responsibility for ensuring effective protection and promotion of the rights of the child fell to the States concerned.  Still, the international community could play a complementary role by providing constructive encouragement and appropriate support.  More investment was needed in areas that could make a real difference on the ground, including the provision of basic needs, improvement of the people’s well-being, basic health care and education, poverty alleviation, security, rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights.


She said Thailand’s commitment to the advancement and protection of children had been strong, firm and consistent.  It was a State party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols and was committed to the effective implementation of its resulting obligations.  As the Chair of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), Thailand had been working closely with all ASEAN members to advance human rights in the region, including those of children.  She could not stress enough the need for care in preparing the Secretary-General’s report.  Any reference in that report to any country where there was no situation of armed conflict, such as Thailand, was not only unwarranted, but also misleading, and should not, therefore, be repeated in the future.


KARINE KHOUDAVERIAN ( Armenia) said her region had witnessed a number of armed conflicts throughout the past decades.  Thus, the problems and concerns mentioned today were, unfortunately, not of a purely humanitarian nature to the region’s population.  Today, the final resolution of the conflicts in the South Caucasus was still pending.  A “no war no peace” situation could not ensure a safe and decent future for the children and youth who had already witnessed all the atrocities that war brought.


She said only a fundamental and comprehensive political settlement of the existing disputes could bring a long-lasting peace and stability to the region, thus securing the rights of its children for a peaceful future.  Armenia had more than once reiterated its commitment to the peaceful resolutions of the conflicts.  Addressing the “rhetoric” of the representative of Azerbaijan, she said that country had unleashed a full-scale war against the population of Nogorny Karabakh, resulting in numerous refugees and internally displaced persons.  It was in everyone’s interest to take decisive steps to move the peace process forward, in order to protect the children from renewed violence.  Instead, rhetoric from Azerbaijan created an atmosphere of hostility and hatred in which new generations of Azerbaijan youths were being brought up.  Armenia believed in a negotiated settlement.


JEAN-FRANCIS R. ZINSOU ( Benin) said the disturbing report said a great deal about the scale of recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, as well as of massive violations of human rights against children in armed conflict.  For Benin, which had sponsored resolution 1612, the fresh upsurge of violations was most alarming.  That situation required bold measures in order to step up pressure on parties that continued to commit grave violations against children’s rights.  The Council should use all instruments at its disposal to deal with repeat violators.  A situation of double standards should be ended.  The six forms of violations established by the Council, including sexual violence, were serious enough for the International Criminal Court to get involved, if national Governments could not render justice. 


He said the children exposed to armed conflict should not be abandoned.  The international community had a responsibility to assist.  There was also a need to bring an end to impunity.  The United Nations should fully utilize all instruments provided by resolution 1612.  If there was a need for an additional resolution to increase the effectiveness of protection, such a resolution should not meet artificial obstacles.  The possibility of setting up appropriate assistance programmes to ensure rehabilitation and reintegration of demobilized children should be seriously considered.  The best form of protection of children in armed conflict, however, would result from the cessation of conflicts. 


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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.