|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6581st Meeting (AM & PM)
Security Council Adopts Text Expanding Criteria for Secretary-General’s List
‘Naming and Shaming’ Violators of Conflict-Affected Children’s Rights
Targeting of Attacks on Schools, Hospitals
By Resolution 1998 (2011) Hailed as Speakers Urge Equal Attention to Crimes
Building on more than a decade of contributions towards a comprehensive framework for protecting children affected by conflict, the Security Council today declared schools and hospitals off limits for both armed groups and military activities, calling for all parties that attacked such facilities to be held accountable and placed on the Secretary-General’s annual list of those committing grave violations against children.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1998 (2011) at the start of its day-long debate on children and armed conflict, the Council expressed deep concern about attacks — as well as threats of attacks — against schools and/or hospitals and their staffs, called on all conflict parties “to immediately cease such attacks and threats”, and urged them to refrain from any actions that impeded children’s access to education and health services.
Further by the resolution, the Council requested the Secretary-General to include in the annexes to his annual reports on children and armed conflict — which already lists groups that recruit children into armed forces, kill or maim children, or commit sexual violence against them — “those parties to armed conflict that engage [in] recurrent attacks on schools and/or hospitals [and] in recurrent attacks or threats of attacks against protected persons in relation”.
The Council also expressed deep concern that certain parties persisted in committing violations and abuses against children, and expressed its readiness to adopt “targeted and graduated measures against persistent perpetrators”, taking into account the relevant provisions of its related texts on children and armed conflict, including resolutions 1539 (2004), 1612 (2005) and 1882 (2009).
Hailing the adoption of the resolution as a significant advance on the Council’s previous efforts, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “Places of learning and places of healing should never be places of war.” The Council’s actions continued to send a consistent and clear message: protecting children in armed conflict was a peace and security issue, and the international community would not tolerate grave violations of that principle.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, Mr. Ban’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said the Council’s decision to add attacks on schools and hospitals as listing criteria came at a time when such actions were becoming more frequent and more appalling. “Schools are increasingly under physical attack, resulting in either full or partial destruction, oftentimes in violation of international humanitarian law,” she reported, noting that teachers and students were sometimes killed and maimed in targeted attacks.
Military use of schools was also a concern, she noted, stressing that depriving children of education destroyed their future and sowed the seeds of further conflict. Hospitals were also vital to children’s welfare, particularly during war, and attacks on them were “two-fold atrocities” because they not only killed and wounded children, but denied them access to treatment. Such attacks also deprived the community of a much-needed lifeline, she said, pointing out that protecting hospitals and their personnel was, in fact, the founding element of modern humanitarian law. As such, “the promise of this resolution is very real”, she said.
The Council had begun a journey of great promise in 1999, she said, recalling that its demand for clear monitoring of violations, the proper implementation of action plans and real accountability had been among the important landmarks along the way. Government and non-State actors had begun to respond to the Council’s calls for action, and in 2010 alone some 10,000 children had been released from armed forces and groups. “We hope [today’s resolution] will help usher in an era where children can study, play and learn in an atmosphere of safety and dignity,” she said.
Recounting the stories of young people who had had their childhoods ripped away “at the point of a gun”, Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that stories of children being kidnapped and forced to fight in wars they didn’t understand, or being raped by armed soldiers were not unique, but they were being painfully repeated in conflicts around the world. “Today, the Security Council has affirmed that attacks on schools and hospitals are attacks on children and must be treated as such,” he said.
Like many other speakers, he described the tragedy of schools and hospitals being bombed and burned to the ground, classrooms used as barracks and playgrounds used as graveyards. “We must not fail these children,” he declared, calling for universal action to protect the schools where they learned and the hospitals where they healed. Doing so would help them rise above the horrors they had witnessed to gain the skills and care that would protect them from future violence, while disrupting the vicious cycle of poverty, despair and conflict.
While praising today’s action, he nevertheless stressed that reporting and listing alone were not enough, and that sanctions were not “silver bullets”. Although denunciation gave expression to the outrage felt by all, it would not, on its own, move Governments to action. “To do that, we also have to find practical new ways to prevent these acts from occurring,” he said. “Action plans are an important part of this [and] the United Nations should have access to all Governments and other groups which want to pursue them.”
Presiding over the meeting, which featured interventions by more than 50 delegations, was Guido Westerwelle, Foreign Minister of Germany, which holds the 15-nation Council’s rotating presidency this month. Describing attacks on schools and hospitals as “barbaric”, he stressed that children should be kept safe when they were weak, sick or wounded, and hospitals should also be protected as safe places. “Societies should be judged by the way they treat their children,” he said, adding: “Our attitude towards [them] is a testament to our attitudes towards our future.”
All speakers hailed the Council’s commitment to addressing the plight of conflict-affected children and welcomed the progress made thus far, particularly since the Secretary-General had been authorized to annually “name and shame” armed forces and groups that committed grave crimes against children. However, several delegations urged the Council to take a more robust stand on impunity, particularly by authorizing targeted measures against “repeat offenders” who appeared on the list of abusers again and again. One speaker pointed out that it was unacceptable that 16 parties to armed conflict had been listed by the Secretary-General for five years or more.
Highlighting a different view, María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, Colombia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, stressed that prevention and cooperation policies were more effective than finger-pointing and excluding Governments from the debate and the search for solutions. More results would be achieved if the United Nations upheld its commitment to national Governments, she stressed, adding that listings created difficulties and made the search for national solutions more complex.
Moreover, she continued, changing the focus, privileging cooperation and dialogue among United Nations members, respecting the Organization’s guiding principles in all national tasks and turning Governments into allies was the way to achieve results and ensure that children had freedom. She proposed in that context a “serious and un-politicized” evaluation of the effects of implementing the Council’s resolutions, saying that such an evaluation was imperative since the issue had been discussed for decades with little result.
Among the speakers whose countries were listed in the Secretary-General’s report, Sri Lanka’s representative said that a breakaway faction of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) known as the “TMVP” had ceased to be an armed group and had joined the political process as a registered party. It was clear that the child soldiers of the defeated rebel movement had been used as cannon fodder and sent to an early grave. Urging the Council and its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to ensure that the information collected was objective, accurate, reliable and verified by experts, he said inaccurate reporting would cast doubt on the credibility of both the sources and the report itself.
Also speaking today were the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development of South Africa and the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal.
Other speakers participating were representatives of the United States, United Kingdom, Brazil, Russian Federation, Lebanon, France, Nigeria, Gabon, India, China, Italy, Mexico, Canada (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict), Slovenia, New Zealand, Switzerland (on behalf of the Human Security Network), Iraq, Japan, Luxembourg, Peru, Pakistan, Thailand, Hungary, European Union, Australia, Finland (also on behalf of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), Liechtenstein, Belgium, Israel, Papua New Guinea, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Austria, Ukraine, Chile, Yemen, Azerbaijan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Korea, Armenia and Benin.
The meeting began at 10:09 a.m. and suspended at 1:05 p.m. Resuming at 3:08 p.m., it ended at 5:39 p.m.
Before the Council was the report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict (document A/65/820–S/2011/250) covering January to December 2010, as well as some developments extending beyond that period. It provides information on grave violations committed against children, in particular their recruitment and use as soldiers, the killing and maiming of children, rape and other sexual violence against them, the abduction of children, attacks on schools and hospitals, and the denial of humanitarian access to children by parties to armed conflict, in contravention of applicable international law.
Outlining the Secretary-General’s recommendations, the report notes his concern over the increasing trend of attacking schools and hospitals, saying he encourages the Council to ensure that such facilities remain protected, including by calling on all parties to take all possible protective measures and ensure the functioning of schools and hospitals. Special attention should be paid to protecting girls’ access to schools and hospitals, given the increasing targeting of such facilities in some countries, he states, recommending that the Council consider including parties that attack schools and/or hospitals in the annexes to his report.
The Secretary-General welcomes the signing of action plans by the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA)/Free Will and SLA/Mother Wing-Abu Gasim, and the Afghan National Security Forces, as well as the progress made by parties in releasing children and addressing impunity on the part of perpetrators. He strongly urges listed parties who have not concluded action plans to do so without delay. He encourages concerned Member States to facilitate contacts between the United Nations and non-State actors to ensure broad and effective protection for children, stressing that such contacts will not prejudge the political or legal status of those non-State actors.
Concerned about reports of child casualties in the course of military operations, the Secretary-General reminds all parties and mandated international forces of their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, urging them to ensure that they continuously review tactical directives to guarantee that children are not harmed. Pointing to the growing trend of detaining children on grounds of association with armed groups, he invites interested authorities to work with his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, to devise appropriate measures to better protect such children.
Annexed to the report is a list of parties that recruit or use children, kill or maim them, and/or commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against them in situations of armed conflict on the Council’s agenda. A second annex lists parties that recruit or use children, kill or maim them, and/or commit rape and other forms of sexual violence against them in situations of armed conflict not on the Council’s agenda.
Also before the Council was a letter from the Permanent Mission of Germany addressed to the Secretary-General (document S/2011/409) which transmits a concept paper for today’s meeting. It recalls that in its last presidential statement on children and armed conflict (document S/PRST/2010/10), the Council expressed its intention, when establishing or reviewing the mandate of relevant sanctions committees, to consider provisions pertaining to parties in violation of applicable international law relating to the rights and protections of children in armed conflict.
The paper notes that under resolution 1882 (2009), the Council expanded the gateway to the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual reports on children and armed conflict to include not only parties to conflict that recruit and use children, but also those responsible for the killing and maiming of children in contravention of international law, and/or rape and other forms of sexual violence committed against children, in situations of armed conflict. The Council has also repeatedly expressed its readiness to adopt targeted measures against listed parties that have consistently refused to enter into dialogue with the United Nations to end violations against children.
In May 2010, the paper states, Special Representative Coomaraswamy briefed the Council’s Sanctions Committee established pursuant to resolution 1533 (2004) concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo. That led to the Committee’s listing in December 2010 of a number of individuals for violations perpetrated against children in that country. In May 2011 the Special Representative briefed the Sanctions Committee established pursuant to resolutions 751 (1992) and 1907 (2009) concerning the situation in Somalia and Eritrea on violations committed against children by parties to conflict in Somalia.
Action on Draft Resolution
Council President GUIDO WESTERWELLE, Foreign Minister of Germany, making introductory remarks in his national capacity, stressed that the world community did not wish to see children being injured, harmed or killed. “We want children to grow up knowing that their schools are safe places,” he said. “Attacks on schools and hospitals are barbaric acts.”
He further underlined that children should be kept safe when they were weak, sick or wounded, stressing that hospitals should also be protected as safe places. With the passage of today’s resolution, the Council would expand the criteria for listing parties who committed violations against children by adding attacks on schools and hospitals. Developing action plans was the only way to get off those lists, he said, noting that while there had been encouraging progress towards that end, more must be done to ensure that those who harmed children faced credible consequences, including through targeted sanctions. “Societies should be judged by the way they treat their children,” he said.
The Council then unanimously adopted resolution 1998 (2011), the full text of which reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Reaffirming its resolutions 1261 (1999) of 25 August 1999, 1314 (2000) of 11 August 2000, 1379 (2001) of 20 November 2001, 1460 (2003) of 30 January 2003, 1539 (2004) of 22 April 2004, 1612 (2005) of 26 July 2005, and 1882 (2009) of 4 August 2009, and all relevant statements of its President, which contribute to a comprehensive framework for addressing the protection of children affected by armed conflict;
“Reiterating its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and, in this connection, its commitment to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on children;
“Calling on all parties to armed conflicts to comply strictly with the obligations applicable to them under international law for the protection of children in armed conflict, including those contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of Children in armed conflict, as well as the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977;
“Acknowledging that the implementation of its resolutions 1612 (2005) and 1882 (2009) has generated progress, resulting in the release and reintegration of children into their families and communities, and in a more systematic dialogue with the United Nations country-level task force and parties to the armed conflict on the implementation on time-bound action plans, while remaining deeply concerned over the lack of progress on the ground in some situations of concern where parties to conflict continue to violate with impunity the relevant provisions of applicable international law relating to the rights and protection of children in armed conflict;
“Stressing the primary role of Governments in providing protection and relief to all children affected by armed conflict, and reiterating that all actions undertaken by United Nations entities within the framework of the monitoring and reporting mechanism must be designed to support and supplement, as appropriate, the protection and rehabilitation roles of national Governments;
“Convinced that the protection of children in armed conflict should be an important aspect of any comprehensive strategy to resolve conflict;
“Recalling the responsibilities of States to end impunity and to prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other egregious crimes perpetrated against children;
“Stressing the need for alleged perpetrators of crimes against children in situations of armed conflict to be brought to justice through national justice systems and, where applicable, international justice mechanisms and mixed criminal courts and tribunals in order to end impunity;
“Noting also relevant provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court;
“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 11 May 2011 (A/65/820-S/2011/250) and stressing that the present resolution does not seek to make any legal determination as to whether situations which are referred to in the Secretary-General’s report are or are not armed conflicts within the context of the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols thereto, nor does it prejudge the legal status of the non-State parties involved in these situations;
“Expressing deep concern about attacks as well as threats of attacks in contravention of applicable international law against schools and/or hospitals, and protected persons in relation to them as well as the closure of schools and hospitals in situations of armed conflict as a result of attacks and threats of attacks, and calling upon all parties to armed conflict to immediately cease such attacks and threats;
“Recalling the provisions of the resolution of the General Assembly on “The right to education in emergency situations” (A/RES/64/290) related to children in armed conflict;
“Noting that article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child recognizes the right of the child to education and sets forth obligations for State parties to the Convention, with a view to progressively achieving this right on the basis of equal opportunity;
“1. Strongly condemns all violations of applicable international law involving the recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict, as well as their re-recruitment, killing and maiming, rape and other sexual violence, abductions, attacks against schools or hospitals and denial of humanitarian access by parties to armed conflict and all other violations of international law committed against children in situations of armed conflict;
“2. Reaffirms that the monitoring and reporting mechanism will continue to be implemented in situations listed in annex I and annex II (“the annexes”) to the reports of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, in line with the principles set out in paragraph 2 of its resolution 1612 (2005), and that its establishment and implementation shall not prejudge or imply a decision by the Security Council as to whether or not to include a situation on its agenda;
“3. Recalls paragraph 16 of its resolution 1379 (2001) and requests the Secretary-General to also include in the annexes to his reports on children and armed conflict those parties to armed conflict that engage, in contravention of applicable international law;
(a) in recurrent attacks on schools and/or hospitals
(b) in recurrent attacks or threats of attacks against protected persons in relation to schools and/or hospitals in situations of armed conflict, bearing in mind all other violations and abuses committed against children, and notes that the present paragraph will apply to situations in accordance with the conditions set out in paragraph 16 of its resolution 1379 (2001);
“4. Urges parties to armed conflict to refrain from actions that impede children’s access to education and to health services and requests the Secretary-General to continue to monitor and report, inter alia, on the military use of schools and hospitals in contravention of international humanitarian law, as well as on attacks against, and/or kidnapping of teachers and medical personnel;
“5. Invites the Secretary General, through the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, to exchange appropriate information and maintain interaction from the earliest opportunity with the governments concerned regarding violations and abuses committed against children by parties which may be included in the annexes to his periodic report;
“6. While noting that some parties to armed conflict have responded to its call upon them to prepare and implement concrete time-bound action plans to halt recruitment and use of children in violation of applicable international law;
(a) Reiterates its call on parties to armed conflict listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict that have not already done so to prepare and implement, without further delay, action plans to halt recruitment and use of children and killing and maiming of children, in violation of applicable international law, as well as rape and other sexual violence against children;
(b) Calls upon those parties that have existing action plans and have since been listed for multiple violations to prepare and implement separate action plans, as appropriate, to halt the killing and maiming of children, recurrent attacks on schools and/or hospitals, recurrent attacks or threats of attacks against protected persons in relation to schools and/or hospitals, in violation of applicable international law, as well as rape and other sexual violence against children;
(c) Calls upon those parties listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict that commit, in contravention of applicable international law, recurrent attacks on schools and/or hospitals, recurrent attacks or threats of attacks against protected persons in relation to schools and/or hospitals, in situations of armed conflict, to prepare without delay, concrete time-bound action plans to halt those violations and abuses;
(d) Further calls upon all parties listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict, to address all other violations and abuses committed against children and undertake specific commitments and measures in this regard;
(e) Urges those parties listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict to implement the provisions contained in this paragraph 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;
“7. In this context, encourages Member States to devise ways, in close consultations with the United Nations country-level task force on monitoring and reporting and United Nations country teams, to facilitate the development and implementation of time-bound actions plans, and the review and monitoring by the United Nations country level task force of obligations and commitments relating to the protection of children and armed conflict;
“8. Invites the United Nations country-level task force on monitoring and reporting to consider including in its reports the relevant information provided by the government concerned and to ensure that information collected and communicated by the mechanism is accurate, objective, reliable, and verifiable;
“9. Reiterates its determination to ensure respect for its resolutions on children and armed conflict, and in this regard:
(a) Welcomes the sustained activity and recommendations of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict as called for in paragraph 8 of its resolution 1612 (2005), and invites it to continue reporting regularly to the Security Council;
(b) Expresses deep concern that certain parties persist in committing violations and abuses against children and expresses its readiness to adopt targeted and graduated measures against persistent perpetrators, taking into account the relevant provisions of its resolutions 1539 (2004), 1612 (2005) and 1882 (2009);
(c) Requests enhanced communication between the Working Group and relevant Security Council Sanctions Committees, including through the exchange of pertinent information on violation and abuses committed against children in armed conflict;
(d) Encourages its relevant Sanctions Committees to continue to invite the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict to brief them on specific information pertaining to her mandate that would be relevant to the work of the committees, and encourages the Sanctions Committees to bear in mind the relevant recommendations of the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict and encourages the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to share specific information contained in the Secretary-General’s reports with relevant Sanctions Committees expert groups;
(e) Expresses its intention, when establishing, modifying or renewing the mandate of relevant Sanctions regimes, to consider including provisions pertaining to parties to armed conflict that engage in activities in violation of applicable international law relating to the rights and protection of children in armed conflict;
“10. Encourages Members States that wish to do so to continue to communicate relevant information to the Security Council on the implementation of its resolutions on children and armed conflict;
“11. Calls upon Member States concerned to take decisive and immediate action against persistent perpetrators of violations and abuses committed against children in situations of armed conflict, and further calls upon them to bring to justice those responsible for such violations that are prohibited under applicable international law, including with regard to recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and other sexual violence, attacks on schools and/or hospitals, attacks or threats of attacks against protected persons in relation to schools and/or hospitals 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;
“12. Stresses the responsibility of the United Nations country-level task forces on monitoring and reporting and United Nations country teams, consistent with their respective mandates, to ensure effective follow-up to Security Council resolutions on children and armed conflict, to monitor and report progress to the Secretary-General in close cooperation with his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and ensure a coordinated response to issues related to children and armed conflict;
“13. Reiterates its request to the Secretary-General to ensure that, in all his reports on country-specific situations, the matter of children and armed conflict is included as a specific aspect of the report, and expresses its intention to give its full attention to the information provided therein, including the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions and of the recommendations of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, when dealing with those situations on its agenda;
“14. Reaffirms its decision to continue to include specific provisions for the protection of children in the mandates of all relevant United Nations peacekeeping, peacebuilding and political missions, encourages deployment of Child Protection Advisers to such missions and calls upon the Secretary-General to ensure that such advisers are recruited and deployed in line with the Council’s relevant country specific resolutions and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) Policy Directive on Mainstreaming the Protection Rights and Well-being of Children by Armed Conflict;
“15. Requests Member States, United Nations peacekeeping, peacebuilding and political missions and United Nations country teams, within their respective mandates and in close cooperation with the Governments of the countries concerned, to establish appropriate strategies and coordination mechanisms for information exchange and cooperation on child protection concerns, in particular on cross-border issues, bearing in mind relevant conclusions by the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and paragraph 2 (d) of its resolution 1612 (2005);
“16. Welcoming the progress achieved by the Country Task Forces on Monitoring and Reporting and stressing that a strengthened monitoring and reporting mechanism with adequate capacities is necessary to ensure an adequate follow-up on the Secretary General’s recommendations and on the conclusions of the Working Group of Children and Armed Conflict, in accordance with its resolutions 1612 (2005) and 1882 (2009);
“17. Requests the Secretary-General to continue to take the necessary measures including, where applicable, to bring the monitoring and reporting mechanism to its full capacity, to allow for prompt advocacy and effective response to all violations and abuses committed against children and to ensure that information collected and communicated by the mechanism is accurate, objective, reliable and verifiable;
“18. Stresses that effective disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programmes for children, building on best practices identified by UNICEF and other relevant child protection actors, including the International Labour Organization, are crucial for the well-being of all children who, in contravention of applicable international law, have been recruited or used by armed forces and groups, are a critical factor for durable peace and security, and urges national Governments and donors to ensure that these community-based programmes receive timely, sustained and adequate resources and funding;
“19. Calls upon Member States, United Nations entities, including the Peacebuilding Commission and other parties concerned to ensure that the protection, rights, well-being and empowerment of children affected by armed conflict are integrated into all peace processes and that post-conflict recovery and reconstruction planning, programmes and strategies prioritize issues concerning children affected by armed conflict;
“20. Invites the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to brief the Security Council on the modalities of the inclusion of parties into the annexes of the periodic report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, enabling an exchange of views;
“21. Directs its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, with the support of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, to consider, within one year, a broad range of options for increasing pressure on persistent perpetrators of violations and abuses committed against children in situations of armed conflict;
“22. Requests the Secretary-General to submit a report by June 2012 on the implementation of its resolutions and presidential statements on children and armed conflict, including the present resolution, which would include, inter alia:
(a) Annexed lists of parties in situations of armed conflict on the agenda of the Security Council or in other situations, in accordance with paragraph 19 (a) of resolution 1882 (2009) and paragraph 3 of the present resolution;
(b) Information on measures undertaken by parties listed in the annexes to end all violations and abuses committed against children in situations of armed conflict;
(c) Information on progress made in the implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism established in its resolution 1612 (2005);
(d) Information on the criteria and procedures used for listing and de-listing parties to armed conflict in the annexes of his periodic reports, in accordance with paragraph 3 of the present resolution, bearing in mind the views expressed by all the members of the Working Group during informal briefings to be held before the end of 2011;
“23. Decides to remain actively seized of this matter.”
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said that since 1998, the Council had adopted eight resolutions on the situation of children in armed conflict. Further, it had asked the Secretary-General to report on the recruitment and use of child soldiers, the killing and maiming of children, rape and other sexual violence, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals, as well as the denial of humanitarian access to children by parties to armed conflict. The Council had sent a consistent and clear message: protecting children in armed conflict was a peace and security issue, and the international community would not tolerate grave violations of that principle.
“Today’s resolution takes us one step further,” he continued, saying that the text not only emphasized that schools and hospitals should be zones of peace respected by all parties to conflict. It had added attacks on schools and hospitals as listing criteria in his annual reports on children in armed conflict. Welcoming that advance, he said places of learning and of healing should never be places of war. “Our proactive efforts on previous listed violations, such as the recruitment and use of child soldiers, have yielded positive results,” he noted, also thanking Governments, civil society and non-governmental organizations for their work.
He went on to note that their efforts — and the “action plan” concept laid out in Security Council resolution 1539 (2004) and later resolutions — had led to the signing of 15 action plans covering nine conflict arenas. Two more action plans were expected this year, he said, underscoring that such successes showed the value of “naming and shaming”. Indeed, around 10,000 children associated with armed groups had been released in 2010 alone. “We must now secure longer-term international support for their full reintegration back into their communities,” he said. “This is an essential component of peacebuilding and development.”
Emphasizing that the United Nations system was fully committed to protecting children in armed conflict, he said his Special Representative on the issue was working with “dedication and courage”, adding that the work of his Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Margot Wallström, was also helping to combat impunity. In addition, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations was playing an important role. It had deployed child protection advisers in at least 13 missions since 2001, and today had advisers in seven peacekeeping missions and three political missions helping to support implementation of Security Council resolutions.
He went on to add that United Nations country teams, too, were making an important contribution, not only in monitoring and reporting under resolution 1612 (2005), but also in supporting reintegration and other humanitarian interventions. UNICEF, in particular, played a key role in that regard, he said, acknowledging also the work of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, of which Germany was the Chair. With the innovative and steadfast engagement of many partners, the Council had demonstrated that protecting children in armed conflict was both a moral and a security imperative, he said. “Let us keep working together to ensure that children everywhere can grow up safe, healthy and educated so they can help to build a secure and sustainable future for themselves, their families and their societies.”
RADHIKA COOMARASWAMY, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said that in 15 of 22 situations covered in the Secretary-General’s report, evidence had been found of attacks on schools and hospitals. Describing the devastation, she said some schools had been completely destroyed, bombed or burned to the ground, while others had broken window panes and empty classrooms, abandoned when children had been recruited as child soldiers. She said she had also met girls whose fellow students stayed away from school fearing that, as female students, they may be victims of acid attacks.
“Schools are increasingly under physical attack, resulting in either full or partial destruction, oftentimes in violation of international humanitarian law,” she reported, noting that teachers and students were sometimes killed and maimed in targeted attacks. Military use of schools was also a concern, she noted, stressing that depriving children of education destroyed their future and sowed the seeds of further conflict. Hospitals were also vital to children’s welfare, particularly during war, describing attacks on them as “two-fold atrocities” because they not only killed and wounded children, but also denied them access to treatment. Such attacks also deprived the community of a much-needed lifeline, she said, pointing out that protecting hospitals and their personnel was, in fact, the founding element of modern humanitarian law.
Turning to resolution 1998 (2011), she said that by providing for the listing of parties who attacked schools and hospitals, or used intimidation to force their closure, the text reaffirmed the need to enhance the monitoring and reporting of such incidents, and gave concrete impetus for action to protect those facilities. “The promise of this resolution is very real,” she stressed, recalling also a number of achievements since the adoption of resolution 1612 (2005) on the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
In February, the Afghan Government had signed an action plan for the prevention of underage recruitment into the Afghan security forces, including the police, she said, noting that the Ulema Shura, Afghanistan’s highest religious body, had proclaimed a fatwa on violations committed against children. In Nepal, 2,973 minors had been discharged in 2010, and despite a few reintegration concerns, the United Nations country team there was offering programmes and following up on children who returned to their communities. In January 2010, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines had signed an action plan with the United Nations that enjoyed the Government’s full support. The rebel group had issued a supplemental general order warning its commanders of sanctions for the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
Enumerating other successes, she said 525 children in the Central African Republic had been separated from the ranks of one armed group, while in Sri Lanka 562 had been released after one year of rehabilitation. Thanking the Supreme Court of Sudan for dismissing the death sentences imposed on four minors associated with the Justice and Equality Movement, she said that in June, the Government of Chad and the United Nations had signed an action plan for the release of children. She expressed hope that an action plan would be completed with Myanmar in the coming months.
Against that backdrop of successes, however, little action had been taken against persistent violators of children on the Secretary-General’s list, she stressed, describing their impunity as a blot on both international and national justice systems. The Council must, in time, deal with that issue in a comprehensive manner, she said, attaching a list of persistent violators to her statement. As for the reintegration of children, which was often left on the doorsteps of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners, it required further resources and personnel, she said, adding that, even as the accountability issue was tackled, more must be done to understand the root causes of violations against children. “Without prevention, without understanding, long-term solutions will not be sustainable.”
The Council had begun a journey of great promise in 1999, she recalled, noting that among the important landmarks along the way had been its demand for clear monitoring of violations, the proper implementation of action plans and accountability. Government and non-State actors had begun to respond to the Council’s calls for action, she said, adding that its commitment had had real and positive effects on the lives of thousands of children. Indeed, 10,000 children had been released from armed forces and groups in 2010, and they had been reintegrated into their communities. Today’s resolution acknowledged the importance of schools and education to children all over the world, especially in conflict areas, she said. “We hope it will help usher in an era where children can study, play and learn in an atmosphere of safety and dignity.”
ANTHONY LAKE, Executive Director of UNICEF, recalled that during a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo earlier in the year, he had met a 16-year-old boy who had recounted how he had been kidnapped from his village and forced to fight as a soldier from that day forward. “He lost his freedom, his childhood was taken away from him at the point of a gun,” said Mr. Lake, adding that during the same visit, he had met a young girl who had also been violently robbed of her childhood; she had lived through the horror of being raped by an armed soldier. Such stories were not unique, and they were being painfully repeated in conflicts around the world, he said.
“Millions of children bear the brunt of war — killed, maimed, orphaned, forced to flee their homes, sexually assaulted, pressed into the service of armed groups and exposed to unspeakable violence,” he continued, underscoring that such actions were not only violations of international humanitarian law, but also of common humanity. “Today, the Security Council has affirmed that attacks on schools and hospitals are attacks on children and must be treated as such. For these grave violations are alarmingly common.” He described the tragedy of schools being bombed and burned to the ground, classrooms used as barracks and playgrounds used as graveyards. Moreover, hospitals were now routinely looted and vital immunization campaigns interrupted.
“The human costs of these attacks are beyond statistical calculation,” he said, noting that economic costs were also very high, forcing communities to rebuild schools and replace stolen supplies and equipment after conflicts ended. It was “a cost that most can little afford, few budgets provide for and humanitarian aid rarely covers”. In addition, the costs to society were also staggering, because, for example, more that 40 per cent of all children out of primary school today lived in conflict areas in countries that were already among the poorest in the world. Those same children were less likely to see a doctor or visit a health clinic, he said, emphasizing that education was the most effective way to oppose war. It was also an indispensable foundation for peace and prosperity, and the very heart of equity.
“We must not fail these children,” he declared, calling for universal action to protect the schools where they learned and the hospitals where they healed. To do so would help them rise above the horrors they had witnessed and gain the skills and care that would protect them from future violence, while disrupting the vicious cycle of poverty, despair and future conflict. Noting that by today’s action, the Council had acted to build on significant progress made in recent years, he nevertheless stressed that reporting and listing alone were not enough, and that sanctions were not “silver bullets”. While denunciation gave expression to the outrage felt by all, it would not on its own move Governments to action. “To do that, we also have to find practical new ways to prevent these acts from occurring,” he said. “Action plans are an important part of this [and] the United Nations should have access to all Governments and other groups which want to pursue them.”
The resolution just adopted might lead to the necessary discussion on military use of schools and hospitals, encouraging more Governments to follow the lead of Nepal and the Philippines in protecting such facilities as zones of peace, he said. He went on to remind the Council that while children trapped in conflict were all too often viewed as victims to be pitied, they were remarkably resilient and brave beyond imagining. “They deserve our admiration, perhaps even our awe,” he said, stressing that projects must be designed to help them make the most of their potential and contribute positively to their societies.
MARÍA ÁNGELA HOLGUÍN CUÉLLAR, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Colombia, said the Council’s decisions, if focused correctly, had an impact on the solutions that States were able to provide. To that end, she stressed that the welfare of children affected by conflict must be the central motivation for finding definitive solutions. In that context, prevention and cooperation policies were more effective than finger-pointing and excluding Governments from the debate and the search for solutions, she said. Yet, in recent years, the Governments of affected countries had been excluded from the debate and working mechanisms. That trend took the world community further away from the solutions it sought, despite the fact that the results so far obtained were the product of Government action.
It was “naïve and disingenuous” to think that the United Nations could change the mindset of terrorist organizations that, among other things, used children to achieve their ends, she stressed. That was why Colombia had often repeated that attempts to talk to such groups were unacceptable and inadmissible. More results would be achieved if the United Nations upheld its commitment to national Governments, she stressed, adding that listings created difficulties and made the search for national solutions more complex. Changing the focus, privileging cooperation and dialogue among United Nations Members, respecting the Organization’s guiding principles in all national tasks and turning Governments into allies was the way to achieve results and ensure that children had freedom, she said, proposing in that context, a serious and un-politicized evaluation of the effects of implementing the Council’s resolutions. Such an evaluation was imperative since the issue had been discussed for decades with little result, she added.
SVEN ALKALAJ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, while emphasizing the primary responsibility of the State for ensuring the human rights of all individuals in its territory, said all available tools should be used to end impunity for violations committed against children. Perpetrators must be brought to justice and held accountable. In particular, more vigorous and targeted measures against persistent perpetrators must be applied where appropriate, he said, calling on all listed parties to respect their obligations under international and humanitarian law, halt violations and enter into dialogue with the United Nations.
They must commit to preparing and implementing time-bound action plans, he said, stressing that effective reintegration programmes for children recruited by armed forces were a critical element in ensuring their welfare. Expressing deep concern about the number of attacks, threats and closures of schools and hospitals, as well as their military use, he called for innovative efforts to provide tangible results and achieve a measurable impact on the ground. Bosnia and Herzegovina had supported today’s resolution on the basis of its conviction that its terms would improve the situation of thousands of children, he said.
JEFFREY THAMSANQA RADEBE, Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development of South Africa, said he was deeply concerned about the continuing recruitment of child soldiers and would continue to work with the international community to end the practice. South Africa was also concerned about the emerging trend of attacking schools and hospitals, and welcomed today’s expansion of the punitive measures to be taken against perpetrators. Going on to express concern about the number of imperilled children in Africa, he welcomed the improvement in the situation of children in Burundi, while urging all other African States remaining on the Secretary-General’s list to carry out actions to improve the conditions in which children lived. He also encouraged all States to set out practical action plans to address children’s rights.
SUSAN RICE ( United States) said abuses against children in armed conflict “do not just tear at our hearts, they tear at the very fabrics of our societies [and] impel all of us to do more”. The toll never ceased to shock, she said, noting that a recent report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) revealed that between 1998 and 2008, some 2 million children had been killed in conflict situations and some 6 million wounded. “Let there be no doubt we are failing the world’s children so long as so many are suffering such violence and abuse,” she stressed. While there was no doubt that significant steps were being made, it was clear that a great deal more needed to be done.
Pointing out that she had just returned from witnessing the birth of the Republic of South Sudan, she welcomed the release of almost 1,200 children from the service of armed groups, but noted that abuses by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and others persisted. Furthermore, the Government of Sudan and its armed forces had not signed an action plan. Also, the former Sudan People’s Liberation Army must recommit to its now expired 2009 action plan.
Urging the Government of “ Burma” to sign an action plan and draw on the relevant expertise of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and UNICEF, she also expressed concern about the situation of children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which she also urged to sign an action plan. The United States had led the push to list persistent violators and with the adoption of today’s resolution, she noted, the Council had pledged to consider a broad range of measures against them, she noted. That had been an important step towards holding egregious violators of children’s rights accountable.
LUÍS BRITES PEREIRA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal, recalled that his delegation had, during its last tenure on the Council, promoted the first debate on children and armed conflict. Since then, the Council had made significant progress on that issue, and today’s resolution enlarged the causes for listing parties and enabled the Council to act in a consistent and timely manner to further protect children and their access to education and health services. Noting that armed conflict deprived 28 million children of the right to education, according to UNESCO, he said that “totally unacceptable” situation must be urgently redressed. Describing action plans as an excellent tool for engaging armed forces and organized armed groups, he suggested nevertheless that they might not be as efficient as expected in cases where military or non-State armed groups lacked firm command structures. More must also be done to address cross-border child-protection concerns, he stressed.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) highlighted the successes achieved in a number of countries, including Nepal and the Central African Republic, but stressed that more must be done in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and “ Burma”. While today’s adoption of resolution 1998 (2011) marked another step forward, it must not mark the end of ambition, he said. Indeed, efforts must focus on practical action, particularly the implementation of action plans. Contexts must be examined thoroughly in each case to make the maximum difference on the ground, he stressed. He went on to emphasize that United Nations actions worked when they were practically, rather than theoretically, focused. That was why the expansion of listing triggers to include attacks on schools and hospitals was so welcome.
MARIA LUIZA RIBEIRO VIOTTI (Brazil), welcoming the resolution’s condemnation of attacks against schools and hospitals, said education and health were indeed basic human rights and building blocks of peaceful societies. “To attack them is to attacks the very notion of human dignity.” Respect for international humanitarian law must be the guiding principle when dealing with situation of armed conflict, she said. Indeed, it was not necessary for the Council to create a new body of norms to deal with cases in which international humanitarian law was being violated. The Council might decide that more direct involvement was necessary to protect the most vulnerable, she said, recalling that it had reiterated time and again the responsibility of all conflict parties to protect civilians. “We must avoid selectivity and be consistent in our demands for strict observance of international humanitarian law,” she said. As for cases outside the Council’s purview, Member States should promote national and international mechanisms to promote and protect children’s rights, and where conflicts were under way, its actions must be closely linked with its broader goal of maintaining international peace and security.
ALEXANDER PANKIN ( Russian Federation) said the protection of children should be carried out by the entire United Nations system, with close coordination between the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission. There was a need to ensure coordination and coherence, as well as to respect the principle of burden-sharing. He also urged giving priority attention to the work of specialized bodies, including UNICEF. It was also important to establish dialogue and trust among all parties on the ground in carrying out plans and programmes effectively. Despite the comprehensive nature of the Secretary-General’s report, the “doubtful reliability” of some of the evidence it contained was troubling, he said, saying more balanced reporting would lead to more practical implementation.
He was also concerned about the report’s “loose interpretation” of the term “armed conflict”, he said, noting that “situations of concern” seemed now to be routinely included in the report. There was no justification for listing situations in countries such as India, Pakistan, Thailand, Philippines and Haiti, which could not be considered “conflict situations”, he said, adding that the time had come to address seriously such lapses in the report. There was a need for long-term measures to ensure that children were effectively reintegrated into society. Impunity for any violations, including those committed by international military presence, was not acceptable. Such deaths should not merely be written off as “collateral damage”, a clear contravention of the Geneva Conventions. The detention of children in the military prisons of international forces must also be investigated, he said, urging the Special Representative to pay special attention to that issue.
NAWAF SALAM (Lebanon) said that while some progress had been made on the normative protection framework and in some specific cases, the overall situation remained of great concern. Indeed, attacks against schools and hospitals were a growing trend and Lebanon had experienced their effects first-hand during the recent conflict with Israel. By introducing a new listing criterion, today’s resolution represented critical progress in sending a clear warning to perpetrators. Noting the far-reaching impact of attacking schools on economic growth and development, he recalled that educating children, particularly girls, was considered a cornerstone of sustainable development. The six grave violations enumerated in resolution 1612 (2005) were of equal gravity and must be accorded equal attention by the Working Group, he stressed. Lebanon, for its part, looked forward to the extension of the listing criteria to all six grave violations, he said, underscoring also the importance of more effective follow-up to the Working Group’s recommendations.
GÉRARD ARAUD ( France), underlining the need for robust and targeted sanctions, suggested that the Working Group pay more attention to that issue. The sanctions architecture needed overall coherence to enhance the Council’s actions, he said, adding that there was also a need for more cooperation between the Working Group and the International Criminal Court, and highlighting the latter’s work on the Thomas Lubanga case in that respect. He called on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and “ Burma” to complete their own action plans without delay.
JOY OGWU (Nigeria) said the current resolution had taken a determined stance against perpetrators of grave violations, including by condemning attacks on schools and hospitals. With the steady growth in the number of action plans and the growing implementation of international human rights and humanitarian law, the world had, in a sense, become a safer place for children. At the same time, the increasing attacks against health facilities and schools were troubling, she said, stressing that such facilities should be maintained as safe havens. Urging support for national efforts to build judicial capacities, especially to fight impunity, she expressed hope that today’s resolution would help the international community move beyond the incremental improvements made thus far and bridge the accountability gap once and for all. As a signatory to the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and an active participant in all efforts to shield young people from such violations, Nigeria would continue to work with the international community to bring perpetrators to justice.
ALFRED MOUNGARA MOUSSOTSI (Gabon) condemned all violations of international law and Security Council resolutions by armed forces and non-State actors, while applauding the various resolutions adopted by the Council in creating a body of norms to address perpetrators of violations against children. Those resolutions were the basis for an effective international architecture to strengthen peacekeeping operations, specialized United Nations agencies and national actors dealing with child soldiers. At the same time, he cautioned that successes in securing the release of children from armed groups in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo should not cloud the fact that much remained to be done. Hopefully, the Security Council’s actions in that area would be reviewed constantly and updated with a view to ending impunity and the crimes to which children were all too often subjected.
HARDEEP SINGH PURI (India) said the efforts of the United Nations on children in general, and children and armed conflict in particular, were among its most important activities. Yet, India had a number of concerns about the manner in which a number of resolutions were being interpreted. Stressing that the provisions of the United Nations Charter must be preserved, he said the responsibilities of nation States must not be “outsourced”, adding that “mandate creep” must be identified and checked. Free and compulsory education had been declared an enforceable fundamental right in India, which had also created a national plan for children, he said, adding that civil society was an integral part of its national and international efforts on children’s issues. Finally, he said the United Nations must address the destitution of children, which claimed many more lives than armed conflict. It was important not to lose sight of that larger emergency, he emphasized.
LI BAODONG ( China) emphasized that more attention must be paid to preventing armed conflicts. In that regard, the Council must encourage and support the peaceful settlement of disputes through good offices and mediation. Furthermore, its resolutions must be strictly implemented, he said, expressing support for the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and stressing that measures to protect children should be designed on the basis of individual circumstances. Sanctions should be a last resort, he said, emphasizing national ownership and the need to respect the principle of State sovereignty. The Working Group should strengthen communication with the Governments concerned, he said, adding that the Secretary-General and his Special Representative must establish the necessary channels.
CESARE MARIA RAGAGLINI (Italy) said the protection of children’s rights during armed conflict was one of his country’s top priorities. It had consistently supported the Council’s actions to tackle that scourge and welcomed the resolution adopted today. It also welcomed the Secretary-General’s report and the recommendations included therein. Italy joined other delegations in calling on the Council to adopt more vigorous measures against persistent violators. “Impunity can seriously undermine the credibility of the protection system we have created,” he continued, adding that relevant sanctions committees must address that issue within their respective mandates. His delegation attached great importance to action plans and welcomed the recent elaboration of such a measure by Afghanistan. All Governments that had signed such plans must follow up effectively on their commitments. Italy also hailed the work of child protection advisers and urged donors to support the initiative by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in cooperation with UNICEF and Save the Children. He favoured development of a comprehensive and systematic training programme for those advisers, which performed such vital functions in United Nations peacekeeping operations.
CLAUDE HELLER ( Mexico) said the resolution’s adoption was a positive step since it gave both the Council and the relevant Special Representatives of the Secretary-General new and strengthened tools with which to tackle the issue. It included cases of attacks against schools and hospitals and the staff of such facilities. That was significant because such attacks not only targeted children, teachers, doctors and nurses, but were also attacks against the very foundations of the societies in which they were carried out. While that step was significant, he stressed that no measures against violators of children’s rights would be successful without effectively tackling impunity for persistent perpetrators. The relevant sanctions committees and working groups must prioritize child-protection measures and enhance their focus on ending impunity.
GILLES RIVARD (Canada), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, an informal group of 38 interested Member States, applauded the actions taken by the Council to strengthen accountability for persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children. However, he called for further decisive action, including by ensuring that those grave violations triggered sanctions when mandates were established or renewed. He also called on the Secretary-General to include in his annual reports actions taken by the sanctions committees regarding additional steps to ensure accountability. Citing accountability gaps, he called on national authorities and all parties concerned to take appropriate legal actions against persistent perpetrators. He also called for the Council to take decisive action against all persistent perpetrators listed in annexes of the Secretary-General’s reports on an urgent basis and underlined the need for follow-up to the Working Group’s recommendations.
In his national capacity, he said education was the strongest tool for enabling children’s brighter future. Thus, one thematic priority of Canada’s international assistance focused on children and youth. He called on the Council and its relevant sanctions committees to impose sanctions more systematically on perpetrators of grave violations against children, and he urged it to take more vigorous and targeted measures against persistent violators who had been listed in the Secretary-General’s annual report for at least five years. Canada also called on the Working Group to hold urgent or informal meetings to ensure a more timely response to new situations of grave violations against children.
SANJA ŠTIGLIC (Slovenia) also called for the further imposition of targeted measures on persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children as a preventive measure. Her delegation strongly supported the new trigger on attacks on schools and hospitals, both by expanding the Secretary-General’s list of parties to the conflict that engaged in such attacks, as well as the monitoring and reporting mechanism. That decision further developed the protection framework for children affected by armed conflict and was a step in the right direction. She hoped that framework would soon encompass all six grave violations against children in armed conflict.
She underlined the importance of regional cooperation in protecting children in armed conflict, stressing that borders did not prevent children from fleeing a country or from being sold or trafficked. Slovenia supported the universal ratification of the Optional Protocols of the Child Rights Convention by 2012. It would also remain engaged in rehabilitating disabled children affected by armed conflict, as well as in efforts to remove landmines and other unexploded ordnance.
JIM MCLAY (New Zealand) said that for the Council’s decisions to be effective, the commitment and investment of the wider United Nations membership was needed. “For the 177 countries that can’t sit at this table, participation in the Council’s work ensures that commitment, and regard to our voices encourages the investment. For once, we are more than just faces against the window,” he said, adding that as the meeting was taking place, children were still being forced out of classrooms and playgrounds and onto battlefields. The Council’s actions could improve the lives of those children, as proved through institutional innovations such as the creation of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism and through consolidation and implementation of the protection framework.
But, as always, he said, more concrete action could be taken to improve the lives of conflict-affected children, including girls, indigenous and minority children and children with disabilities. With that in mind, he urged the Council to better target persistent perpetrators, ensure the broader implementation of its resolutions and decisions, and when and where possible, allow United Nations country teams to contact non-State actors so they could prepare action plans and carry out other protection measures.
PAUL SEGER (Switzerland), speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, said accountability for persistent violators of grave violations against children must be strengthened. He called on the Council to carry out further decisive action to that end, including through targeted and graduated measures against the perpetrators, and to consider ways to address the accountability gap through proactive and effective means. “We also call for more efforts to address impunity and to investigate, prosecute and punish all those who commit grave violations against children,” he said. From a human security perspective, it was important to complement existing action plans with a strong programmatic response to support Governments in the implementation of broad national strategies that included prevention measures and provided social protections for conflict-affected children. The Human Security Network encouraged the Council to enhance its efforts in order to approach the protection of civilians in a more systematic and coordinated manner, taking into account the situation of women and children.
HAMID AL BAYATI (Iraq), stressing that his country was not a conflict area, said that the security situation had continued to improve since 2003, with very few terrorist attacks seen during 2010. Indeed, the killing of the Al-Qaida leader had served to disperse the group’s members and to curb its activities. As mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) (document S/2011/213), the recent peaceful elections indicated a clear improvement in security. He further noted that the youth wing of Al-Qaida, which was referred to in paragraph 97 of the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict, had been discovered before 2010 and intensive campaigns had been carried out to end its activities. Consequently, the youth wing had not committed any terrorist attacks in 2010; thus, there had been no need to refer to it in the Secretary-General’s report.
Paragraph 98 of that report, he said, presented a picture that ran counter to the current level of stability in Iraq, where the security forces controlled all areas and had ease of movement, including in areas previously reported to be dangerous. Furthermore, there were no direct clashes between security forces and terrorists. Referring to paragraph 99, he said no schools had been closed during 2010 due to terrorist attacks. Pointing out that the report made no mention of the various improvements he raised today, he stressed that its section on Iraq needed more accuracy and further monitoring. Moreover, some of its information contradicted data included in other recent reports from the Secretary-General on Iraq, he said.
TSUNEO NISHIDA ( Japan) condemned the perpetrators of attacks on schools and hospitals during conflicts, expressing particular condemnation for those who targeted girl students and girls’ schools. Attacks on and military use of educational and medical facilities, or on students and personnel, were not permissible in any circumstances or in conflict situations in particular. While welcoming resolution 1998 (2011), he expressed concern that as many as 15 conflict parties had been listed for more than five consecutive years in the Secretary-General’s annexes. The Council must reinforce targeted measures against them. He welcomed the inclusion by the Sanctions Committee on the Democratic Republic of the Congo of several individuals, and encouraged briefings by both of the Secretary-General’s Special Representatives, for Children and Armed Conflict and on Sexual Violence in Conflict, to the sanctions committees.
He underlined the need for comprehensive cooperation between Member States and the United Nations system in ensuring seamless support for the protection of children in conflict through the rehabilitation, care and reintegration of those who were associated with armed forces or groups, or were victims of sexual violence. Children’s perspectives should always be considered in programmes and processes related to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration; security-sector reform; and landmines, unexploded ordnance and cluster munitions. Japan also expected the Working Group to be more creative in holding special meetings and issuing political messages in a timely manner. Finally, he noted Japan’s support for protecting and empowering children in conflict and post-conflict countries.
SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg) said the “list of shame” in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s reports was of vital importance in obliging the international community to face up to the brutal situation facing children trapped by armed conflict. The initial tangible results of the work of the Council and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General had led to the release of more and more children from the service of armed groups. Yet much remained to be done, and she called on the Council to press ahead with its activities, including consideration of ways to enact targeted measures to deal with situations not being monitored by a specific sanctions committee.
She also hoped that the list “triggers” for being named in the Secretary-General’s reports would be expanded. Luxembourg also considered that synergy among the Organization’s main bodies was essential to deal effectively with the issue. As the Council had just stressed the need to deal with those who carried out attacks against schools and hospitals, she noted that the theme of the 2011 session of the Economic and Social Council, currently under way in Geneva, was “education for all”.
PALITHA KOHONA (Sri Lanka) expressed serious reservations about a report by Conflict Dynamics International, launched under the auspices of Canada and Germany, which included the “sadly incomplete and misleading” assertion that individuals implicated in crimes against children in his country continued to hold high Government positions. Stressing that a breakaway faction of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) known as the “TMVP” had ceased to be an armed group and joined the political process as a registered party, he said it was clear that the child soldiers of the defeated rebel movement had been used as cannon fodder and sent to an early grave. Urging the Council and the Working Group to ensure that the information it collected was objective, accurate, reliable and verified by experts, he said inaccurate reporting would cast doubt on the credibility of both the reporting sources and the Secretary-General’s report itself.
He noted a recent UNICEF report which indicated that more than 60 per cent of the Tigers’ fighting force from 1982 to 2002 had consisted of boys and girls under 18 years old. More than one generation of children had been sacrificed to a megalomaniac terrorist’s dream. On the other hand, despite Sri Lanka’s progress in undertaking action to address the situation of children in armed conflict, it remained on the “naming and shaming” list of the Secretary-General’s annexes. The reason for that appeared to be the unresolved cases relating to five children, he said. In comparison to other situations around the world, that would appear to be “trite and unreasonable”, he said, pointing out that the individual allegedly responsible for the situation had been indicted for intimidation, had pleaded guilty and been sentenced on 22 November 2010. Sri Lanka therefore called on the Council and its Working Group to undertake a “holistic and fair” assessment of the Sri Lankan case and de-list the country.
ROBERTO RODRÍGUEZ ARNILLAS(Peru) noted the progress that had resulted from the Council’s growing resolve to act practically to protect children in armed conflict, as well as the growing awareness resulting from its attention. Pointing to the rising number of attacks on schools and hospitals, he welcomed today’s resolution, which added such attacks to the criteria for inclusion to the Secretary-General lists. He called for stronger communication between the sanctions committees and the Special Representative, and stressed that the issue of children and armed conflict must be addressed through specific and clear peacekeeping and peacebuilding mandates. The possession of information was crucial in fashioning reliable responses to sexual violence in conflict, he said, urging the bolstering of information exchanges. He also called for appropriate administrative and financial support for the Working Group and saluted the work undertaken by the Special Representative and the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
ABDULLAH HUSSAIN HAROON (Pakistan) said his country’s Government took pride in being actively involved in the protection and promotion of children’s rights at all levels. The National Commission for Child Welfare and Development, in collaboration with ILO and UNICEF, had successfully carried out a number of projects dealing with, among others, the elimination of child labour, the rehabilitation of working children, formal and non-formal education, as well as prevocational training and skills development. Pakistan had also signed the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children and was “in very advanced stages” of working towards signing the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. However, Pakistan believed that over the years, the Council’s resolutions and the Secretary-General’s report had begun to stretch the child-protection mandate to cover matters that did not directly threaten international peace and security, he said. Even worse, today’s report contained misleading information about Pakistan to the effect that, among other things, it gave “undeserved respectability to terrorists and criminals”, which was “terribly unfortunate”. It was, therefore, time to end the ambiguity “so we can comprehend where we all stand, so we can do the good work that we have before us, he said, expressing hope that future reports would be grounded in objectivity and correspond “squarely” with the mandate given to him by the Council.
NORACHIT SINHASENI (Thailand) also expressed hope that the Secretary-General would review and streamline future reports in accordance with the authorized mandate, stressing that attempts to reinterpret the mandate without due regard to the Council’s original intention would undermine its importance, as well as the Council’s work on the issue in the long run. He went on to emphasize the importance of coordination among the various relevant mechanisms within the United Nations system, saying that it was imperative that the information collected and communicated in producing the report be accurate, objective, reliable and verifiable. That information should be the only basis for listing parties in the report’s annexes. Stressing that cooperation between the United Nations and concerned Governments was indispensable, he said there should be no denying the primary responsibility of Governments in promoting and protecting children’s rights.
CSABA KÖRÖSI (Hungary), aligning himself with the statement to be delivered on behalf of the European Union, said that in adopting today’s “landmark” resolution, the Council had strengthened the United Nations protection framework for children in armed conflict. He stressed that no culture could endorse attacks against schools and hospitals, and moreover, abducting children from such facilities was a crime against children, their families and the wider communities concerned. Perpetrators could only be held accountable through an effective monitoring and reporting mechanism, he said, adding that grave violations against children should be incorporated as a criterion for imposing sanctions.
PEDRO SERRANO, Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union, said the bloc valued highly the progress made over past decades in creating a strong normative framework for the protection of conflict-affected children. Looking forward to the comprehensive implementation of resolution 1998 (2011), he encouraged the Council to address the “accountability gap” in instances where no country-specific sanctions regime was in place, and to deal with violations of applicable international law committed against children in such cases.
Reiterating his delegation’s frequently repeated call that every effort must be made to combat impunity, including through the International Criminal Court, he said children were especially protected by the Rome Statute, and welcomed the Court’s work in that field, of which the ongoing Thomas Lubanga trial was the first example. He went on to highlight some of the work under way by the European Union to protect and promote the rights of children, including through its revised implementation strategy for European Union Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict. It had also enhanced its practical cooperation with the Office of the Special Representative and the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, he said.
ANDREW GOLEDZINOWSKI (Australia) said he hoped the Government of Myanmar would allow the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to gain access to armed groups there so that they could elaborate action plans. Despite the success of action plans, however, the increase in attacks on schools and hospitals was a cause for concern, he said, noting that they affected entire societies. In that regard, Australia welcomed the inclusion of such actions as triggers for listing in the Secretary-General’s annual report, and looked forward to increasing attention by the Council’s sanctions committees to situations of children in armed conflict under their respective purviews.
JARMO VIINANEN (Finland), also speaking on behalf of Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, expressed appreciation for the approach of the Working Group’s Chair in turning country situation reports into timely Council recommendations. That was crucial for the recommendations to have a real impact, he said, citing the country conclusions on Afghanistan and Chad, approved in March and April, respectively. Both countries had, in the last few months, committed themselves to action programmes aimed at ending the use of child soldiers. Clearly, such powerful tools for ensuring that all the rights of all children were respected should be used, he said.
Stressing that hospitals and schools should be equally respected as humanitarian spaces during conflict, he said that was indeed a fundamental prerequisite for fulfilling the rights of all girls and boys to education. It was also a basic requirement for improving education in emergencies, promoting child-friendly schools and promoting schools and hospitals as zones of peace. Children’s access to health and education was a fundamental building block of lasting peace and sustainable development, and attacks on them should rightly trigger listing, he said. Urging the Council to find ways to hold perpetrators to account through the existing sanctions regimes, he suggested that it also explore new ways to ensure accountability for violations committed during conflicts not yet covered by dedicated sanctions committees.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein), aligning himself with Canada’s statement on behalf of the Group of Friends, expressed alarm over the UNESCO report Attacks on Schools and Hospitals in Armed Conflict of 30 June, noting that in almost all circumstances, attacks on schools were violations of international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity. The Government of Liechtenstein was, therefore, deeply concerned about reports of the dual use of school buildings as teaching facilities and military sites, and urged all parties to refrain from blurring the lines between civilian and military activities and institutions. He stressed that all six grave violations against children should be triggers for the monitoring and reporting mechanism, while suggesting that the Working Group should make better use of all tools available to it, including emergency meetings and field visits. The 16 persistent violators listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report for more than five years must be subjected to the Council’s strongest and most urgent action, he emphasized. Measures taken by the Working Group in that regard should be complemented by effective enforcement actions, such as sanctions, arms embargoes, bans on military assistance and travel restrictions, he said.
JAN GRAULS (Belgium) said that as Chair of the Central African Republic Configuration of the Peacebuilding Commission, he recalled that LRA was still active throughout that country, actively recruiting children as soldiers or sex slaves. Those children were in dire need of humanitarian and psycho-social assistance, he said, noting that countless others in the Central African subregion who had been separated from armed groups required assistance beyond the disarmament and demobilization programmes now in place. The United Nations was “seriously lacking” in resources and capabilities to address such matters, he said, noting that expanding the listing criteria would not be effective if the people charged with implementing the Council’s edicts on the ground lacked the resources to carry out their mandates. He also called for greater attention to conflict-affected children who were often “forgotten”: those born of rape, who were often treated as pariahs; and those who had witnessed the rape of their mothers, sisters or other family members.
RON PROSOR (Israel) said that while he was deeply proud of having raised his children in Jerusalem, they had grown up in a region “where abnormality has become the norm”, where every education institution — from preschools to kindergarten and high school — must be protected by armed guards. “The international community cannot accept this normality as a normal way of life,” he said, stressing that more attention must be paid to protecting children in the face of terrorism and extremism. In the Meddle East, terrorists continued to single out children for attack, he said, recalling that in April, Hamas had deliberately attacked a school bus in southern Israel. In the past six months, 100,000 Israeli children had been kept out of school on numerous occasions to avoid the danger posed by rockets fired into Israel. Child victims of terrorism were real, each with a name and a family. The international community must not accept the perpetuation or justification of terrorism in the Middle East or anywhere else, he said.
ROBERT AISI (Papua New Guinea) said his country continued to support implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, including in relation to children in situations of armed conflict. The Government continued to support the Convention’s four core principles: non-discrimination; devotion to the child’s best interests; the right to life, survival and development; and respect for the views of the child. Underlining the importance of schools and children’s right to education, he called for the creation of “zones of peace” around schools and urged the Council to support actions to secure schools around the world.
MOHAMMAD SARWAR MAHMOOD (Bangladesh), commending the Council efforts to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers, noted, however, the need for a greater focus on the “supply side” of the child soldiers issue, underlining that the use of children by non-Sate armed groups did not indeed take place in a vacuum. The conditions that made children vulnerable to recruitment included poverty, discrimination, inequality, exclusion, hopeless and desperate situations, as well as a culture of political violence, tensions over religion and identity, and a history of using child soldiers. Success in ending children’s involvement in armed conflict depended on addressing those root causes, he stressed. Turning to the 16 violators listed for more than five years, he suggested the creation of enforcement criteria. Another area that must be appropriately addressed concerned the issue of child casualties.
ZAHIR TANIN (Afghanistan) said the legacy of war and violence had had a devastating impact on his country, where violence still took a heavy toll, as seen today with the killing of President Hamid Karzai’s brother in Kandahar. Sadly, such miseries also affected children, who continued to bear the brunt of conflict in the country. Indeed, they were increasingly targeted by terrorists and extremists, he said, adding that there was no “war zone” or “front line” in Afghanistan. As such, Afghan children were at risk merely by trying to live their normal lives. Some 44 per cent of all child casualties were caused by improvised explosive devices, he noted, stressing also that the Government and the international community must address the disturbing rise in child suicide bombers employed by extremist militant groups. Recent reports of terrorist networks training and selling children to such groups were violations of children’s rights in all countries, he noted. Even in the face of such challenges, significant progress had been made, he said, noting that more than 7 million boys and girls were currently enrolled in schools, and more than 4,000 schools had been built throughout the country. Some 9 million children would be enrolled in school by 2020, he predicted.
HAN THU (Myanmar) said children were the international community, and the United Nations in particular had an essential role to play in helping States create environments in which children’s rights were protected and promoted, and where the young could achieve their potential. Myanmar had declared that no children under 18 years of age could be recruited into the military services, regulation that was strictly enforced. The Government had also established an advocacy programme to prevent the recruitment of under-age children. It had made crystal clear its intention to ensure that the national army was de-listed by the Secretary-General, and to achieve that goal, it was preparing, partly on the basis of elements provided by UNICEF, a draft national plan of action that would hopefully be completed soon. In that regard, a technical working group comprising officials from the Defence, Foreign Affairs, Labour and Social Welfare Ministries had met four times with representatives from UNICEF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) between September 2010 and March 2011.
CHRISTIAN EBNER(Austria), aligning himself with the European Union statement, the Human Security Network and the Group of Friends, said that close cooperation among all parties seeking to protect children became increasingly important with every new child-protection resolution. He welcomed the Council’s intention, reflected in today’s resolution 1998 (2011), to ensure that provisions relating to the rights of children were included as listing criteria for its sanctions regimes, noting that the Sanctions Committee on the Democratic Republic of the Congo provided a particularly good example in that regard. He urged the Council to take actions on persistent violators in countries for which there were no specific sanctions regimes. Encouraging the Council to continue including child protection in peacekeeping mandates, he welcomed the initiative of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to provide the relevant training for both military and civilian personnel.
OLEKSANDR PAVLICHENKO (Ukraine), aligning himself with the European Union, welcomed the expansion of the triggers for listing in the Secretary-General’s reports and welcomed the exchange of information with the sanctions committees, encouraging more such interaction among them, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and the Working Group. All those who committed grave violations against children should be investigated, prosecuted and punished, he stressed, encouraging the Council to include provisions to that effect, where appropriate, in the mandates of the sanctions committees. Underscoring his country’s commitment to child welfare and the protection of children’s rights, he noted that the Committee on the Rights of the Child had considered Ukraine’s initial report under article 8 of the Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict this year, and had welcomed the country’s 2007 endorsement of the Paris Commitments and Principles. It had also welcomed the mandatory training provided to Ukraine’s military peacekeepers on children in armed conflict.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ (Chile) said his Government had been among the sponsors of the resolution adopted today and had been an active supporter of the Council’s work in the area over the years. He welcomed the increased exchanges between the Special Representatives on Children and Armed Conflict and on Sexual Violence in Conflict “as they are dealing with two sides of the same coin”. Urging the international community to pay more attention to the psychological impact of conflict on children, he said justice must be done for conflict-affected children, suggesting that the international community consider “reparations” in the form of special education or training programmes.
ABDULLAH ALI FADHEL AL-SAADI (Yemen), noting that his country’s economic and political circumstances were known to all, said the Government was striving to build a modern Yemen that protected and promoted the rights of its children. It had enacted a series of laws on juvenile care, among other things, and had created institutions to implement that legislation. Technical committees under the auspices of the Ministry of Human Rights were actively promoting the rights of children, and the Government would reaffirm its commitment to ensuring that no children were illegally conscripted into the national armed forces. Yemen had been cooperating with all international and civil society organizations to ensure that children were not recruited into armed conflict, he continued. It had issued a decree allowing amnesty for all those who had participated in the current rebellion, including children who had fought on the side of the opposition. He said much progress had been made since Yemen had been listed in the Secretary-General’s 2010 report, and the country would make every effort to implement its international obligations. However, Yemen did not believe that the list of triggers needed expanding.
TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan), aligning himself with the European Union, said his country’s determination to ensure more effective protection of children’s rights and to improve the situation of conflict-affected children stemmed from its keen interest in sustainable peace and development, as well as its practical experience in addressing the impact of armed conflict on civilians, including children. Indeed, the war unleashed against Azerbaijan and the military occupation of its territory exerted considerable influence as the country continued to suffer one of the world’s highest proportions of refugees and displaced persons.
He noted that in the resolutions adopted in 1993 in response to the occupation of Azerbaijani territories, the Council referred specifically to violations of international humanitarian law, including the displacement of a large number of civilians. The European Court of Human Rights had later concluded that the behaviour of those carrying out the incursion were acts of particular gravity that could amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity, he said. Despite the formal ceasefire, the occupier’s deliberate attacks against Azerbaijani civilians and civilian objects had become more frequent and violent in recent years, resulting in the killing and maiming of children, he said, stressing that internally displaced children deserved particular consideration in the context of ensuring their inalienable right to return and protecting their rights under illegal policies and practices in situations of foreign occupation.
MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya) said that attacks against schools and hospitals, while deplorable, were symptomatic of deeper and more troublesome situations of civil strife, human rights abuses and failures of governance, law and order. For Kenya, the situation in Somalia presented a “clear, persistent and continuing threat” to national security and economy, he said. Engaging armed terrorist groups like Al-Shabaab for the purpose of curbing children’s involvement in armed conflict remained a formidable challenge, and the consequences of that involvement was devastating not only inside Somalia, but also in Kenya, which hosted the world’s largest refugee camp. Kenya therefore urged the Council to redouble its efforts to help Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government and neighbouring countries in “putting down” terrorist groups. “We must not attempt to placate or dialogue with terrorists,” he emphasized. He went on to point out that his country carried another heavy burden resulting from the number of child soldiers used during the civil war in Sudan. Joining others in congratulating the Republic of South Sudan on its independence, he encouraged States and other international actors to support the new country’s Government in promoting the physical and psychological recovery and reintegration of conflict-affected children and families. As a troop-contributing country, Kenya also welcomed the Secretary-General’s call for the inclusion of specific child-protection provisions in peacekeeping mandates, he said.
TALAIBEK KYDYROV (Kyrgyzstan) said more stringent measures were needed to bring to justice criminal gangs and individuals who were constantly committing serious violations against children, and to end the impunity of those listed in the Secretary-General’s report for the past five years. Kyrgyzstan welcomed the new action plans signed by the United Nations, the Sudan Liberation Army factions and the Afghan Government, and joined the call for other parties involved in the recruitment and use, killing and maiming, and sexual violation of children to finalize action plans as soon as possible. Urging the timely implementation of those action plans, he said the Council should develop concrete measures to track progress in that regard. He condemned attacks on schools and hospitals, stressing also that child protection must be reflected consistently in peace agreements, and the special needs of children taken into account in post-conflict planning and peace financing. Moreover, protecting children in armed conflict should always be part of a wider conflict-prevention strategy and responses aimed at ending hunger and poverty while promoting development, he said.
SHIN DONG IK (Republic of Korea) said that despite solid progress in efforts to protect and promote the rights of conflict-affected children, there was still “widespread impunity” in many countries for grave crimes perpetrated against them. The Council must therefore stand resolute and apply robust, targeted measures to confront persistent perpetrators of such crimes, he said. He said he also supported the Secretary-General’s recommendations to consider including child recruitment and the use of child soldiers in the mandates of all the Council’s sanctions committees, including those dealing with counter-terrorism. “Incorporating more expertise in the field of child protection into the Council’s sanctions committee expert groups, as well as scaling-up reporting on violations against children would be steps in the right direction,” he added. Supporting the listing of persistent perpetrators of rape and other sexual violence, he encouraged close consultations between the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict.
GAREN NAZARIAN (Armenia), underscoring the devastating consequences of conflict on children, stressed that their protection deserved the international community’s utmost attention. Moreover, it should be the primary responsibility of all countries because it was a serious humanitarian concern, as well as a security issue requiring a multidimensional and comprehensive approach. He further stressed the particular importance of today’s debate to his country, which hosted tens of thousands of refugee children. Indeed, despite the current socio-economic hardships facing it, the Armenian Government had placed the post-conflict rehabilitation of children, particularly in relation to health care and education, at the centre of its attention.
Stressing that efforts on the national, regional and international levels must be complementary, he said it was unfortunate that despite the legal safeguards in place, horrendous violations of children’s rights continued. While it would be naive to expect that problems of such gravity could be resolved by the mere provision of the relevant legal norms, Armenia fully supported today’s adoption of resolution 1998 (2011), which requested, among other things, enhanced communication between the Working Group and the relevant sanctions committees. Finally, he described today’s debate as an opportunity to engage in serious discussions on how to address cross-border violations against children.
JEAN-FRANCIS ZINSOU ( Benin) said his Government was pleased with the dedication shown by the Special Representative and her team in supporting the monitoring and reporting mechanism. He encouraged the Council’s Working Group to continue unfailingly to cooperate with other parts of the United Nations system working with children affected by armed conflict. Noting the General Assembly’s adoption in 2010 of resolution A/RES/64/290, which, among other things, condemned attacks against children, schools and hospitals, he said the Council’s initiative to expand the triggers under the monitoring and reporting mechanism demonstrated its response to the Assembly’s concerns, as well as to the Secretary-General’s appeal on such matters. Guaranteeing humanitarian access remained a critical issue, he stressed, urging the Council to harness all available tools in furthering the protection of children in armed conflict, including by establishing appropriate partnership programmes.
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