Survivor Tells How Rebel Group Stole His Youth before Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 2143 (2014) Condemning Child Recruitment in Armed Conflict
Survivor Tells How Rebel Group Stole His Youth before Security Council Unanimously Adopts Resolution 2143 (2014) Condemning Child Recruitment in Armed Conflict
|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7129th Meeting (AM)
Survivor Tells How Rebel Group Stole His Youth before Security Council Unanimously
Adopts Resolution 2143 (2014) Condemning Child Recruitment in Armed Conflict
Attacks on Schools, Hospitals Deplored as More than 60 Speakers Feature in Debate
“My childhood was robbed by the Revolutionary United Front for two years,” former child soldier Alhaji Babas Sawaneh — abducted and conscripted in Sierra Leone at the age of 10 years — told the Security Council today just before it unanimously adopted a resolution strongly condemning all violations of international law applicable to the recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict.
Deeply concerned over the lack of progress on the ground in situations where parties to conflict continued to violate relevant provisions of international law with impunity, the 15-member Council, by resolution 2143 (2014), called on Member States to devise ways to facilitate the development and implementation of action plans to eradicate the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, stressing the importance of regular and timely consideration of such violations and abuses.
The Council also welcomed the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign initiated by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), urging Member States to undertake all efforts to ensure that there were no children in their ranks during conflict. It also reiterated its deep concern about attacks against schools and hospitals, and the military use of such facilities in contravention of applicable international law.
Opening up the day-long meeting, which featured more than 60 speakers, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “All children deserve and are entitled to protection, not exploitation. They belong in school, not armies and fighting groups.” Urging greater protection for schools and hospitals by all parties, he said today's resolution provided new impetus for the protection of children in armed conflict. In addition, States had renewed their commitment at the 6 March launch of the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign, he said. He added that he counted on the Council to prevent a new generation of children from having to endure the same privations as the preceding one.
Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said it was possible to achieve child-free Government armed forces by 2016, the deadline set by the “Children, Not Soldier” campaign. “It is time to make child soldiers history," she emphasized. “Hundreds of thousands of children have their eyes upon you as you continue to lead the way in protecting children from armed conflict.”
Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF, said United Nations agencies were already partnering with eight Governments to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in national armed forces. Afghanistan, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia and South Sudan had signed action plans with concrete, time-bound steps, he said. Child soldiers emerging from conflict needed to be reintegrated into society, he said, stressing that a country that invested in counselling, educating and training them was investing not only in their future, but in its own as well.
The Council also heard statements by Jean Asselborn, Council President for March and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg; Hector Marcos Timerman, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina; and Neris Germanas, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania.
Delivering statements at the ministerial level were representatives of Luxembourg, Argentina and Lithuania.
Also delivering statements were representatives of Rwanda, United States, France, China, Australia, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Jordan, Chile, Chad, Slovenia, India, Colombia, Liechtenstein, Guatemala, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, Thailand, Japan, Austria, Syria, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Estonia, Canada, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Spain, Honduras, Greece (on behalf of the Human Network and in its national capacity), Uruguay, Turkey, Netherlands, Germany, Indonesia, Slovakia, Qatar, New Zealand, Switzerland, Pakistan, Uganda, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Morocco, Philippines, Sudan, Botswana, Armenia, Portugal and Azerbaijan.
The Head of the European Union Delegation also delivered a statement.
A representative of Syria took the floor a second time.
The meeting began at 10:05 a.m. and ended at 6 p.m.
The Security Council met this morning to hold an open debate on children and armed conflict, in the course of which it was expected to adopt a draft resolution on the subject.
Secretary-General’s Opening Remarks
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said he had just returned from Sierra Leone, a country that offered an important case study in the value of United Nations engagement. "We are seeing a remarkable transformation," he said, recalling that the Council had taken a series of wise and timely decisions to deploy successive peacekeeping and political operations, in addition to supporting long-term development. Not long ago, Sierra Leone had been engulfed in war and synonymous with the tragic plight of children in armed conflict, he said. The transformative examples of Ishmael Beah and Al Hadji Babas Sawaneh attested to the ability of former child soldiers to rebuild their lives and help restore peace in their countries.
Recalling also that the Council had adopted its first resolution on children in armed conflict 15 years ago, he said the protection of children should be part and parcel of both peacekeeping and special political missions, with staff training carried out before deployment. At the 6 March launch of the "Children, Not Soldiers", States had renewed their commitment to the plan of action on ending and preventing the recruitment of children into armed forces, he said. The United Nations would work to mobilize non-State actors also to end their recruitment, he pledged, stressing: "All children deserve and are entitled to protection, not exploitation."
He continued: "They belong in school, not armies and fighting groups." Schools and hospitals should be places where children could learn and receive care in safety. Yet, in too many war zones, they had been targeted or caught in the crossfire, he said, an "egregious" violation of their right to education, health and life. In Syria, 40 per cent of public hospitals had stopped functioning and more than 2.25 million children were out of school. All parties should strive to ensure greater protection for such facilities. The draft resolution to be adopted today would provide a new impetus to efforts for the protection of children in armed conflict, he said, adding that he counted on the Council to use all the tools at its disposal to protect children on the front lines of conflict and to prevent a new generation from having to endure the same privations as the preceding one.
LEILA ZERROUGUI, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, noted that, at a time marked by an upsurge of conflict, including in South Sudan, Central African Republic and Syria, only concrete action would ultimately make a difference for children. She applauded the measures taken to date, noting that the Council had continued to mainstream children and armed conflict into thematic and country-specific agendas.
Welcoming the Council’s endorsement of the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign, she said the goal of child-free Government armed forces by 2016 was achievable. Eight national Government armed forces remained on the Secretary-General's list of violators of prohibitions against recruiting children, she said, remarking on the commitment to end recruitment shown by representatives of their countries when she had met them yesterday. "It is time to make child soldiers history," she stressed.
New partnerships and the strengthening of existing ones lay at the heart of implementing Security Council resolution 1998 (2011) on children and armed conflict, she said, adding that she was pleased with the strengthened language on the military use of schools contained in today's draft resolution. "Hundreds of thousands of children have their eyes upon you as you continue to lead the way in protecting children from armed conflict," she said in conclusion.
ANTHONY LAKE, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that its new advocacy effort, “Children, Not Soldiers”, focused on national action. United Nations agencies were partnering with eight Governments to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in national armed forces. Afghanistan, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia and South Sudan had signed action plans with concrete, time-bound steps, he said. Yemen was finalizing its plan, while Sudan was now in discussions with the United Nations on how to develop its plan. The Organization must continue to provide resources, advice and technical assistance to those Governments, he emphasized. Verifying soldiers’ ages was an important first step, he said, noting that, with United Nations support, Chad had accelerated efforts to screen its troops last year, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been working to identify and release children from its security forces. Birth registration, a child’s passport to protection, was also essential.
The action plans developed by those two countries included campaigns to register every child, he continued, stressing that prevention required greater awareness at the community level. The Government of Myanmar had invested in a television, radio and billboard campaign to inform communities that child recruitment was prohibited, as well as a telephone line on which to report relevant cases. Child soldiers emerging from conflict needed to be reintegrated into society, and a country that invested in counselling, educating and training them was not only investing in their future but in its own. In a recent encounter with a young woman in the Central African Republic who had joined an armed group at the age of 14 years, he recalled, he had asked about her hopes for the future now that she was free. She had replied that she wished to be reunited with her missing parents. She would soon begin professional training, still haunted by the nightmare, but dreaming of a better future for herself, her family and her country, he said. The young woman’s story personified not only horror, but hope that, with support, investment and encouragement, other such young men and women could rebuild their lives, transform themselves and their societies, and help their countries emerge from the shadow of conflict.
ALHAJI BABAS SAWANEHfrom Sierra Leone recalled that during his first address to the Council in 2001, as a 14-year-old with two years of experience as a child soldier, he had pleaded with the United Nations to act firmly against State actors who recruited and used children in armed conflict. Abducted and conscripted at the age of 10 years, "my childhood was robbed by the Revolutionary United Front for two years", he said. "I call on the attention of the United Nations, especially the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, not only to hold those individual actors accountable who recruit and use children, but also to put an end to the recruitment and use of children in all armed conflicts." He said that, with help from his foster family, he had been able to return to school and had graduated from the University of Sierra Leone with a degree in peace and conflict resolution after writing a thesis on good governance and public sector reform.
He said that in 2013, he had met Romeo Dallaire, founder of the Child Soldiers Initiative, in Freetown, where he had participated in training on preventing child recruitment, organized training sessions and helped children tell their stories. But, the story did not stop here. "There's much more that we need to do and to accomplish," he emphasized. "Really, we are still at the beginning of our work. Today there are so many children in desperate need of our help." With the launch of the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign, ending child recruitment by Government armed forces, though a huge job, was possible. There had been child soldiers in Sierra Leone 15 years ago. "I was one of those children," he recalled. "Today Sierra Leone is child-soldier-free, so it is possible to change one country at a time. I hope to see the end of child recruitment by armed forces in 2016. I am asking for your help, on behalf of all children affected by armed conflict."
JEAN ASSELBORN, Council President and Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, spoke in his national capacity, expressing hope that all Member States would support the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign. The international community must not lose sight of the abuses committed by armed groups against children, and must tackle them as resolutely as it had tackled abuses by Governments, he said. He recalled that in Turkey’s refugee camps, he had seen distraught Syrian orphans with empty eyes that hinted at at the horrors they had witnessed. More than 10,000 children had lost their lives in the Syrian conflict. Faced with the urgency of the humanitarian situation, it would be a mistake to accord a lesser priority to children’s right to education and health, he emphasized. With almost 3,000 schools destroyed, an entire generation of Syrians risked becoming illiterate, and polio was reappearing, posing a grave danger to public health. All violations against children must be condemned equally firmly, he said, stressing that there could be no impunity for those guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Child recruitment in the Central African Republic had doubled since the resurgence of violence in 2013, bringing the current estimated number of child soldiers there to 6,000. Meanwhile, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), the armed group most notorious for child recruitment and barbaric war tactics, remained active in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic, he pointed out, calling for a redoubling of efforts for the full implementation of the children and armed conflict agenda.
HÉCTOR MARCOS TIMERMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship of Argentina, recalled that his country had been among the first to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Serious violations of children's rights were clearly defined and implementing plans of action that could positively impact their living conditions went hand in hand with the imperative of holding perpetrators accountable, he emphasized, adding that the International Criminal Court was the body charged with ensuring that accountability was an international norm. He urged that specialists be included in Security Council-mandated missions, and that the United Nations include training and capacity-building in the field of children and armed conflict. For States, preventive measures should include the creation of legal frameworks to ensure that children were not recruited, as well as birth registries. He also called for devising protection instruments to ensure the provision of comprehensive care to victims.
EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA ( Rwanda) recalled that, in 1994, thousands of children had been killed, abducted and maimed in his country, while others had been forced to join the militia by the same Government that was supposed to protect them. It was unfortunate that children today were still caught up in conflict, with some suffering the effects of sexual violence. Reports of deliberate attacks against schools as a tactic of war were of equal concern, he said, calling on belligerents to halt such actions and declare that children belonged "in schools, not in the bushes". He called on all parties to conflict to protect children and abide by their obligations, urging universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Rwanda called for Council action against persistent perpetrators of abuses against children, and for the deployment of child-protection advisers in peacekeeping missions.
SAMANTHA POWER ( United States) said that events occurring in Sierra Leone during the 1990s had done much to awaken the world to children in armed conflict, as underlined by Mr. Sawaneh's reminder of the harsh reality. In 2008, the United States had adopted the Child Soldier Prevention Act, prohibiting the Government from providing military assistance to perpetrators of child recruitment. The International Criminal Court had also sent a strong message with its ruling on Thomas Lubanga and his recruitment of children. Despite those and other efforts, however, too many children still suffered, and no State named for violations had been removed from the Secretary-General's list, she pointed out. Thousands of children had been killed and more affected by the fighting in Syria, an estimated 6,000 young people had been recruited into armed groups in the Central African Republic, and LRA still operated around the Democratic Republic of the Congo, she said, welcoming the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign’s effort to address situations in those and other countries of concern.
NERIS GERMANAS, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, emphasized that schools must enjoy immunity from war and the Council must tackle impunity for violent attacks on children at school, as well as absenteeism for fear of attack. There was a need for more partnerships to monitor and report on such attacks, he said, adding that it was essential to initiate dialogue among local community leaders, armed groups, Government forces and Government officials, as well as to strengthen legislation towards that end. Lithuania welcomed the development of the Lucens Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from military use during armed conflict, as they could help States improve domestic legislation and military doctrines. Action plans for ending the recruitment and use of children required political will and resources, he emphasized. Describing the deployment of United Nations child protection advisers and aid for national capacity-building as vital, he encouraged the Special Representative to continue engaging with non-State armed groups on concluding action plans. They must address attacks on schools, he said, adding that they must also incorporate the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign. Accountability for perpetrators of violations against children should be strengthened and national laws criminalizing child recruitment should make it possible to prosecute those responsible. That would send a strong signal, he said, emphasizing that, when national authorities were unwilling or unable to bring perpetrators to justice, the International Criminal Court should play a role. The Council should use targeted sanctions against perpetrators of violence against children or other targeted measures in the absence of dedicated sanctions committees.
GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) said the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign envisioned a world in which Governments did not recruit children, while action plans had enabled two States to avoid being "named and shamed". Yet, children remained the primary victims of armed conflict, recruited into the ranks of combatants. The ex-Séléka and anti-Balaka groups in the Central African Republic had recruited more than 6,000 children, and France would table a draft resolution on the deployment of a peacekeeping mission in that country, he said. Emphasizing that schools could not be used to meet military objectives, he noted that “blind bombing” by the regime in Syria had denied a generation of children their right to education. A dialogue on child recruitment between the Free Syrian Army and the United Nations was open, and should lead to a plan of action, he said. Recalling that the International Criminal Court had convicted Thomas Lubanga of child recruitment, he expressed hope that national courts would strengthen their actions against such crimes.
LIU JIEYI ( China) said that ensuring children's safety was the responsibility of Governments and the international community. Children continued to bear the brunt of armed conflict and their overall situation was worrisome. Condemning all violations against children in armed conflicts, he urged all parties to abide by their obligation to protect them. Governments bore the primary responsibility to protect children in conflict situations and the international community should help them to strengthen their capacity and resolve both their financial and technology difficulties, he said. United Nations organs should work in their respective spheres of influence, with the Council fulfilling its responsibility to reduce conflict through good offices and mediation efforts. Welcoming the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign, he emphasized the need to address the symptoms and root causes of child recruitment, with a focus on working to eliminate the root causes of conflict.
GARY QUINLAN ( Australia) expressed concern that there were some 6,000 child soldiers in the Central African Republic, while more than 10,000 children had lost their lives in the Syrian conflict. The denial of humanitarian assistance was depriving children of food and basic necessities, which represented a terrible stain on collective efforts for the maintenance of peace and security. Three main areas needed greater attention: ending child recruitment by Government forces and non-State armed groups; addressing military use of schools; and ensuring accountability for those who violated children’s rights during conflict. He concluded by expressing his country’s strong support for the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign. Australia also stood behind UNICEF efforts to help the Government of Myanmar implement its action plan to end the recruitment and use of children by its armed forces.
EVGENY ZAGAYNOV ( Russian Federation) said the Council should refrain from focusing on issues not pertinent to the maintenance of international peace and security, emphasizing that efforts should not be duplicated. The Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, led by Luxembourg, had done considerable work, and close cooperation must be developed with countries of concern to change the situation on the ground for children. Combating crimes against children was important in post-conflict situations and perpetrators must be punished. Turning to the harm caused to civilians by unmanned aircraft, he said several hundred civilians had been documented recently, including 37 cases involving the deaths of children. Attacks by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) against Libya had also caused many deaths, he said, expressing hope that the perpetrators would be punished. The Russian Federation hoped that the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign would lead to greater participation in the pursuit of common goals.
OH JOON ( Republic of Korea) said the Council had demonstrated its strong commitment to protecting children during armed conflicts, yet many remained affected, including those in Syria, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali. Much more needed to be done to enhance their protection, he said, noting that greater efforts could be made in respect of non-State armed groups that forcibly recruited children. There was a need to ensure child protection in United Nations missions and to hold perpetrators accountable, he said, concluding that "saving children is saving the very future of mankind".
KAYODE LARO ( Nigeria) said he had taken note of the September 2013 agreement between the Special Representative and the African Union, which outlined collaboration for the protection of children in peace and security activities, the deployment of child specialists, and the joint development of child-protection guidelines. In terms of the regional legal framework, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child prohibited the recruitment of anyone under the age of 18 years and called upon States parties to respect international humanitarian law applicable in armed conflicts. It also required measures to ensure that children did not take part in hostilities, he said, noting that 47 of the 54 African Union member States had ratified it. To support the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign, Nigeria called upon States, civil society, international and regional groups, non-governmental organizations and others to launch a sustained drive to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
MARK LYALL GRANT ( United Kingdom) said that while thousands of children had been released, reintegrated and given protection, violations continued. In Syria, more than 10,000 children had been killed and 3,000 schools damaged or destroyed. "It is high time that Member States uphold their responsibility to protect children," he emphasized, urging the mainstreaming of the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign throughout the work of the United Nations. For its part, the United Kingdom was working to gain the release of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Chad and Burma, he said, adding that regional groups could make important contributions in that regard. All parties to armed conflicts must abide by international law, he said, urging the Secretary-General to strengthen monitoring, reporting and response efforts, and the Working Group to increase pressure on perpetrators.
MAHMOUD HMOUD ( Jordan) said that, despite noticeable recent progress in the development of international humanitarian law and human rights instruments, children’s rights were still subject to violations, especially in fragile, conflict environments. Children were subjected to attacks on populated areas and threats, such as landmines and other unexploded ordnance. The use of schools as weapons depots, training grounds and bases for launching military operations were grave violations that resulted in the deprivation of children's rights and limited the possibility of their rehabilitation. Jordan supported the adoption of concrete short-term measures that would ensure that parties would develop and implement mechanisms to guarantee the implementation of special child protection conventions and agreements, while integrating them into national legislation. Combating grave violations against the rights of the child also required long-term programmes to rehabilitate children belonging to armed groups, and to ensure child protection training for those participating in peacekeeping missions, he said, urging international bodies to monitor violations closely and to develop the instruments, guidelines and training materials required to strengthen monitoring and reporting mechanisms.
OCTAVIO ERRÁZURIZ ( Chile) said that the situations in Syria, Central African Republic and Somalia must remind States of their responsibility to protect children. Chile welcomed the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign, aimed at eradicating the use of children in Government armed forces by 2016, but it should not distract from action aimed at eradicating similar abuse by armed groups. States bore the primary responsibility for ending impunity for perpetrators of such crimes, and international commissions of inquiry must tackle that issue. Birth registries allowed the verification of recruited children’s ages, providing evidence that could be used to punish perpetrators. The Council should consider imposing sanctions on persistent perpetrators of serious violations against children, he said, emphasizing also the need to respect the civilian character of schools. Chile expected the Secretary-General to continue monitoring and reporting on the military use of schools and hospitals, he added.
MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF ( Chad) said the international community was still far from being able to protect children in armed conflict, and atrocities committed against them in the Central African Republic corroborated that sad reality. The violence was unprecedented, with many having been killed or had limbs amputated. Noting that the international community often stood by powerless or reacted too late to stop such violations against children, he said that long-term conflict in Chad had resulted in the long-standing recruitment of children for use in the armed forces. Although it had been difficult, the country had now put a professional army in place and ended the recruitment of children into its armed forces. Chad had fully implemented its action plan, as agreed with the United Nations, he said, adding that the international community must mobilize support for ending the recruitment and use of children by 2016.
TAMARA VONTA, State Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister, Slovenia, said it was a matter of grave concern that more than half the parties listed in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict were persistent perpetrators. The Security Council must address the issue urgently by imposing targeted measures on perpetrators and considering ways to increase pressure on them in the Working Group. Slovenia remained strongly concerned over increasing reports of attacks against schools and their use for military purposes, and therefore, welcomed the drafting of the Lucens Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict. As for the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign, she stressed that its goal of eliminating the recruitment and use of children by national security forces by 2016 should not be missed. Slovenia also underlined the importance of preventive measures, such as birth registration.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the European Union Delegation, said that the bloc continued to pay attention to the education and well-being of children affected by conflict. Its Children of Peace initiative — a legacy of its Nobel Prize — was specially designed to provide education to children in emergencies. Through that programme, the European Union had reached out to about 108,000 children in Syria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Pakistan, Colombia and other countries during the 2012-2014 period. All its member States were parties to the to the Child Rights Convention’s Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict and adhered to the same international child protection standards, he said.
He went on to state that the bloc had made a serious effort in the past months to strengthen its child protection capacity both at headquarters and in operational terms. In June, it had organized the first regular training for its staff on children in armed conflict, a course that would be given annually. In October, the bloc had tested its predeployment child protection training module for civilian and military personnel. As of last month, it had finalized a toolkit aimed at integrating children’s rights into development cooperation for use by European Union staff and also available to other donors, as well as to civil society organizations. In 2013, the bloc had been careful to mainstream the promotion of human rights, child protection and international humanitarian law into the mandate of its training mission in Mali, and this year it had incorporated child protection into the planning documents for its operation in the Central African Republic.
BHAGWANT BISHNOI (India), citing extensive use of child soldiers by various group, said the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) had noted with concern allegations that 30 to 40 per cent of Nduma défence du Congo/Sheka elements could be under the age of 18 years. Despite such evidence, the Council had authorized the creation of an intervention brigade to carry out targeted offensive operations in the country, although the rules of engagement were silent about engagement with child soldiers. The traumatizing nature of such engagements must be considered, he said. Those who exploited children should be held to account, and the most effective way to do that was through building the capacity of Member States, with guidance from the General Assembly and the Peacebuilding Commission. National efforts on the ground should be supported by political missions since civilian-protection advisers embedded in peacekeeping operations could only play a limited role. It was also necessary to address the socioeconomic marginalization of the poorest nations, which was driving hundreds of millions, and could make them "part of tomorrow's problem rather than tomorrow's solution", he warned.
MARIA EMMA MEJÍA VELEZ (Colombia) said that, following a visit by a United Nations special representative in 1996, her country had adopted measures to prevent and punish the recruitment of children under the age of 18 years by national security forces. Since 2010, Colombia had spent $190 million on the implementation of a child protection initiative, and although illegal practices had not been completely eradicated violations against many children had been prevented. More than 1,000 investigations had been opened. In the fight against the recruitment of children, the focus should also be on preventive measures, he said, emphasizing that child protection could only take place in an environment of reconciliation and peace.
STEFAN BARRIGA ( Liechtenstein) said that most of the parties listed in the annexe to the Secretary-General’s report were non-State actors, as were 10 of the 11 persistent perpetrators. Liechtenstein fully supported the Special Representative’s efforts to engage with all relevant parties, and for many years it had financially supported Geneva Call, one of the many essential civil society organizations in the fight to end child recruitment. Expressing deep concern over ongoing violations by both sides in the Syrian conflict, he said they were documented in the Secretary-General’s most recent report, and called for their immediate end. To ensure accountability on the part of those committing atrocities in Syria, particularly crimes against children, the Council should refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. He said the outcome of a Princeton University workshop on strengthening the United Nations children and armed conflict agenda — organized in December by Watchlist and the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination — had recently been published as an official United Nations document, and contained several useful recommendations for all stakeholders.
GERT ROSENTHAL ( Guatemala) said his Government gave the highest priority to addressing children in armed conflict and strengthening child protection in all United Nations missions, including via deployment of child protection advisers. Joint global efforts had been invaluable and field visits of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict were very informative. Guatemala had participated in the mission to Myanmar last December, which had enabled assessment of the Government's political will to end child recruitment as a first step towards verifying age at recruitment centres. That required universal registration of birth certificates, especially in remote, rural areas. He supported strengthening of national capacity and reform of justice and security sectors, as well as the creation of specialized chambers and mixed tribunals to combat impunity. Persistent perpetrators should not receive amnesty or serve in any post in their respective Governments and armed forces. The military use of schools was alarming, he added, voicing support for the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign.
MÅRTEN GRUNDITZ ( Sweden), speaking also on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland and Norway, endorsed the campaign to end the recruitment and use of children by Government security forces by 2016. The next true test of the Council’s work in ending violations against conflict-affected children would be measured by how it dealt with so-called “persistent perpetrators”, or parties to conflict that chronically violated children’s rights, as had been identified in the Secretary-General’s annexes for more than five years. The Nordic countries were deeply concerned about the ongoing violations against children in Syria and urged all Member States to act to protect schools, teachers and students from attacks and to hold the perpetrators accountable. National and international accountability mechanisms, including the International Criminal Court, would help fight impunity for perpetrators of such grave violations against children.
BÉNÉDICTE FRANKINET ( Belgium) underscored significant progress made in child protection, including through disarmament, demobilization and reintegration and national action plans signed between the parties involved. But, huge challenges remained, including the urgent need for dialogue between Government and non-governmental forces. Her delegation was particularly concerned about increases in the use of schools for military purposes and in attacks on schools and hospitals in places such as Syria. That was why Belgium had co-sponsored a relevant resolution and was organizing an awareness-raising event on the margins of the Human Rights Council’s session. Without appropriate support, child victims could themselves become perpetrators of sexual and other forms of violence. Stigmatization must be addressed, she said, noting that in Sudan, the victims remained silent because they feared social exclusion. She called on States to ratify the Optional Protocol as soon as possible.
SEBASTIANO CARDI ( Italy) expressed his concern over the widespread use of schools for military purposes, including as torture sites. Children and teachers were put at risk and students’ right to education was denied. In too many parts of the world, violations against children were carried out in a climate of impunity, which undermined the credibility of the protection system created by the Security Council. The body must step up its political engagement in that field, he said, adding that cooperation with national and international courts was also crucial. States parties to the Rome Statute should consider referring such serious crimes to the International Criminal Court, when national judicial systems were unwilling or unable to deal with those situations.
NORACHIT SINHASENI ( Thailand) said "children should play with joy in playgrounds, not cower with fear in battlefields”. Thailand had rules to ensure that children under age 18 were not conscripted, recruited or involved in combat. Underscoring the need for clear mandates, he said peacekeepers and peacebuilders required predeployment and in-mission training on issues related to children and armed conflict. His Government also envisaged increasing the role of female peacekeepers in child protection and rehabilitation, he said, noting that Thailand was working to increase the number of female peacekeepers who were trained in the rights of women and children. More broadly, he urged the creation of synergies via strengthened coordination within the United Nations. He also recognized the need for accurate information from all sources, including civil society.
MOTOHIDE YOSHIKAWA ( Japan) welcomed the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign to end recruitment. Japan had provided support for the reintegration of child combatants into societies in Africa, the Middle East and Asia through bilateral aid and international organizations, in line with the human security concept. It had given some $75 million in the past five years to the United Nations Human Security Fund towards that goal, including to Sri Lanka to support job training for former child soldiers. The country planned to contribute further to the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Mauritania and South Sudan. The Council should respond more firmly to persistent perpetrators, including by considering asset freezes. He welcomed the de-listing from the Secretary-General’s reports of conflict parties in Sri Lanka and Nepal, owing to their considerable progress in implementing the agreed action plan. Peacekeeping operations should serve as a model for child protection, and troop-contributing countries must train personnel at home to avoid their abuse of children in the field. Japan supported the draft Lucens Guidelines and felt consideration should be given to referring offenders to the International Criminal Court, when national judicial systems were unwilling or unable to handle such matters.
ANDREAS RIECKEN ( Austria) welcomed the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign and expressed confidence that it would yield tangible results. Still vital was the United Nations’ engagement with and access to non-State armed groups and the Special Representative’s continued efforts to formulate action plans with non-State actors. The Council should make better use of the tools available to it and be ready to act vigorously against perpetrators, including by applying targeted sanctions. It should consistently condemn attacks against schools and their misuse. He welcomed the work of the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack in the Lucens Guidelines as a concrete step forward to protect schools and to limit the negative impact of conflict on student safety and education. He called for the more systematic inclusion of child protection advisers to United Nations missions, particularly if grave children's rights violations had occurred. He welcomed the peacekeeping department's work to develop training standards, noting that Austria had helped to develop a specialized training programme for such staff; the first session would be held later this year. In May, it would host a United Nations Training of Trainers course on civilian and child protection.
BASHAR JA'AFARI ( Syria) said he had taken to heart reports of visits to refugee camps and he hoped future visits to Syria would confirm the millions of children suffering from bombs and recruitment by armed groups. The Syrian crisis had led to extremist behaviour and suffering as attempts were made to impose Wahabi beliefs. The heinous acts included brutal slayings and human and organ trafficking. Yet, not one country, including some Council members, had endeavoured to pressure those extremists to release kidnapped women and children. The major disaster, however, was not only the commission of such acts by criminals and terrorists, but the fact that those were being funded by foreign Governments. Despite unprecedented challenges, his Government had made every effort to protect children, including by documenting cases of violations against them. But, not one person in the United Nations had asked the Government for details. The authorities were also taking every legal measure to investigate any recruitment of children for combat, a crime punishable by imprisonment. The polio virus, eradicated in Syria for years, had reappeared, owing to the presence of armed groups from various areas. Yet, the United Nations had not made a single reference to the violations by armed groups, which included forced marriage.
RAJA REZA RAJA ZAIB SHAH ( Malaysia) said that discussions on children affected by armed conflict would not be complete without making reference to the role of United Nations peacekeepers. Training was an underpinning element in ensuring the effectiveness of peacekeepers’ efforts to protect children. Peacekeepers must be exposed to the issues and instruments on the protection of children in the field. As a State party to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, Malaysia had reaffirmed its commitment to promoting and protecting the rights of children by acceding on 12 April 2012 to two Optional Protocols, namely on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, as well as on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.
YANERIT MORGAN ( Mexico) said, despite ongoing efforts, thousands of children continued to be recruited as soldiers, making clear that current prevention tools were not enough. Attacks on schools and hospitals called for innovative responses from the international community. A robust strategy was needed, including in the areas of justice and security, to address issues ranging from prevention to reintegration. Applauding the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign and the renewed commitment of Member States, she said efforts must be redoubled, and she called on the Council to protect children in peacekeeping and political missions and on troop-contributing countries to train their personnel accordingly.
KYAW TIN ( Myanmar) stressed that, since his country embarked on a peaceful democratic transition three years ago, the Government was making every possible effort to improve its human rights protection, including the signing of an action plan with the United Nations on 27 June 2012 to end the recruitment and use of underage children in the military services. Since then, all complaints of violations had been checked and a total of 272 minor children had been discharged for reintegration, and offenders, whether civilian or military, had been punished. He welcomed the Council’s constructive approach, but deemed the current definition of “persistent perpetrators” as inaccurate and misleading. If a party, although listed for more than five years, was making good progress in implementing its action plan with a strong commitment, it should not be classified as a “persistent perpetrator”.
MARGUS KOLGA ( Estonia) said education was the most efficient and effective tool to prevent children's suffering, as norms, habits and mindsets could only be changed through education. Schools should be for children; under no circumstances should they be used for military purposes. Education meant empowerment; if a child had decent opportunities, he was less vulnerable to armed conflict. Ending impunity for grave violations against children in armed conflict was crucial, and the international community should help strengthen national judicial capacities to ensure accountability, including by helping to develop legislation criminalizing violations against children. The International Criminal Court had a vital role when national courts lacked the capacity or the political will to investigate and prosecute grave crimes against children. The Council should increase pressure on persistent perpetrators by embedding such violations in the mandates of all sanctions committees and by improving information exchange among the Council, the committees and the International Criminal Court. Also important was to finalize action plans with non-State actors and to consistently deploy child protection advisers to peacekeeping operations, peacebuilding and special political missions.
GUILLERMO RISHCHYNSKI (Canada) said that the international community had made a lot of progress in the protection of children in conflict-related situations, but much remained to be done, as evident in Syria, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Canada called on the Security Council to hold persistent perpetrators accountable and encouraged dialogue between the United Nations and non-State actors to advance child protection in armed conflict. Both formal and informal child protection systems were important, including civic registration and vital statistics that would establish age verification procedures for recruitment. Informal systems also played a role, with the active participation of families, communities and children themselves in the creation of protective environments. Experience had shown that the protection of children in conflict situations was complex and required the application of diverse and specialized medical, psychological and social skills, and knowledge.
PALITHA KOHONA ( Sri Lanka) recalled that during his country's "dark and brutal" conflict, thousands of children had been recruited as child soldiers. When the conflict ended, security forces had taken 594 combatants into custody, placed them in rehabilitation centres and provided them with access to education, health care and psychosocial support. "We have always placed the welfare and protection of children at the heart of our policy agenda," he said, citing its zero tolerance for child recruitment. Its approach had had a positive effect on the national reconciliation process, with former child soldiers able to rebuild their lives, owing, in part to the Government’s adoption of the principle of restorative justice. Its efforts included the "Catch-up Education Programme", which enabled adults who had been recruited as children to continue their formal education. Progress made through such initiatives had led to Sri Lanka's de-listing from the Secretary-General's "list of shame".
ANTONIO DE AGUILAR PATRIOTA ( Brazil) said the appalling situation of children in Syria had been rightly described as "unspeakable and unacceptable". He also registered alarm that schools and hospitals had been seriously affected by the conflict, adding that to deprive children from education and health access was to deprive them of paramount tools to build a peaceful society. The emotional impact of the conflict on young Syrians had disturbing consequences. For its part, Brazil had contributed to humanitarian efforts, including for Syrian children. In order to end crimes against children in conflict situations, perpetrators must be brought to justice, he said, adding that accountability had been greatly enhanced by the International Criminal Court. With that, he urged the Council to pay more attention to prevention, stressing that improved living conditions were vital to avoid child recruitment by armed groups.
ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI ( Spain), associating himself with the European Union, said that there had been more than 500 attacks on schools in the past year. The use of schools for military ends was clearly documented and was of deep concern to his delegation. Child protection issues must be integrated into all United Nations actions related to peace and international security and be mainstreamed into the mandates of all its missions. Also critical was training in child protection matters. Prevention was also crucial and it was the obligation of States to establish suitable legal frameworks for the protection of children. The Council must make use of the instruments at its disposal, including the use of sanctions or referral to the International Criminal Court.
MARY FLORES ( Honduras) said the use of minors in conflicts violated ethical standards and international principles. It was imperative for States to strengthen their support to the protection of children in armed conflict. While the Special Representative had done much to put an end to the practice, more must be done, particularly holding perpetrators accountable. Central America had experienced the scourge of armed conflict, she said, noting that nations with limited resources and many needs often saw exploitation and abuses against children, including through human trafficking. All young people should be protected, she said, adding that, while Honduras was making Herculean efforts against organized crime, the violence was dragging in hundreds of girls and boys, including through drug addiction and gang recruitment.
MICHEL SPINELLIS (Greece), speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, expressed grave concern for children in all armed conflicts, including in Syria, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He deplored the use of schools as detention and torture centres, saying it was essential to shift the focus to action plan adoption and implementation as a practical way forward. Strengthening national accountability mechanisms was also vital. He encouraged the Council to pressure perpetrators, notably by imposing lawful consequences on them. States were obliged to investigate and prosecute those responsible, he said, reiterating the need in that regard to ensure universal registration, including late birth registration. The implementation of primary prevention strategies was imperative and should include ways to ensure an age verification process.
Next, speaking in his national capacity and associating himself with the European Union, Mr. SPINELLIS said it was essential to implement the relevant Council resolutions as the number of children negatively affected by conflict and post-conflict situations was climbing. In Syria, about 1,000 schools had been used for detention and torture in 2013. Member States must safeguard children and teachers from attacks and protect the right to education. They should also pursue concrete action plans and aim to support national institutions and mechanisms that protected civilians in armed conflict. Paraphrasing remarks by Ishmael Beah, a former child soldier in Sierra Leone, he said children had the resilience to outlive their sufferings, if given a chance. "Let us work together to give these children a chance for a hope and a future," the speaker concluded.
GONZALO KONCKE PIZZORNO ( Uruguay) called on the Council to address children in armed conflict situations. Many of those children were subjected to rape, and attacks on schools and their use for military purposes risked children's right to education. The Council's intervention was vital to ending illegal child recruitment and use in armed conflict by 2016. Today's resolution was important, as it reiterated deep concern at the lack of progress in armed conflict situations and called on conflict parties to respect the 1949 Geneva Convention. The International Criminal Court had defined as war crimes sexual violence against children and their recruitment and use in armed conflict under age 15. He reaffirmed the fight against impunity for perpetrators, urging the Council to report such abuse to the Court. In addition, he said disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes should have the necessary human and financial resources.
Y. HALIT ÇEVİK ( Turkey) said there were examples of children affected by armed conflict across his country’s border with Syria, citing the 12 February Independent Commission of Inquiry report. More than 4 million Syrian children needed assistance, and latest figures indicated that at least 5,000 of 22,000 schools had been partially or totally damaged; a further 1,000 had been used to shelter internally displaced persons. The international community’s strong political will and unity was the most important tool with which to protect children, and he urged mainstreaming the relevant principles in peacekeeping mandates. Regional and subregional groups could contribute in various ways, from reporting to information-sharing and analysis. He urged the Council to continue to apply pressure on persistent perpetrators, including through sanctions, adding that justice and security sector reform also deserved support.
KAREL J.G. VAN OOSTEROM ( Netherlands) said it was essential to strengthen conflict prevention and use of child soldiers, and the focus on common international norms in today’s Council resolution was important in that regard. Concrete action included the establishment of domestic legal frameworks, stronger governance and the rule of law, as well as age verification in recruitment mechanisms and the raising of public awareness. He welcomed the recent report by the Global Coalition to Protect Education and the launch of the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign. He called on warring parties to fully implement the action plan in order to strengthening children’s protection. The Netherlands was especially alarmed by widespread and deliberate attacks against schools, teachers and students as war tool and the increased use of school construction for military purposes. He strongly opposed such practices, and in line with Council resolution 1998 (2011), urged everyone to take legislative and military policy steps both nationally and internationally to end the military use of schools and to protect children’s rights to safety and education. Perpetrators of children’s human rights violations must be brought to justice, and if a State was unable or unwilling to do so, the International Criminal Court should play its part.
HEIKO THOMS (Germany) believed that groups that recruited and used children in armed conflict, whether State or non-State actors, violated the most basic principles of international law, violating the promise that each generation made to the next, namely, that the world should be left as a more secure and prosperous place for subsequent generations. That promise was broken every time a child was raped, maimed or killed in armed conflict. Germany was horrified by reports of the recruitment and use of children, targeted attacks on schools and hospitals, and other grave violations against children in Syria and the Central African Republic. The country advocated strongly for the continued and comprehensive inclusion of child protection advisers in peacekeeping operations, peacebuilding and special political missions. The international community must seek innovative solutions on how to compel armed non-State actors to stop the recruitment and use of children, including by formulating action plans towards that goal.
YUSRA KHAN ( Indonesia) said that all segments of the international community must contribute to strengthening the global normative framework for the protection of children in armed conflicts, both within and outside the United Nations system. It must be underscored that child soldiers or lax measures to safeguard children and their rights would not be tolerated. Close engagement and involvement by Governments and local authorities would strengthen protection efforts. While the United Nations was uniquely placed to advance child protection in conflicts, it should seek greater partnerships with a wide array of regional organizations and civil society groups to improve outcomes. Additionally, child protection advisers must be adequately resourced and supported and work closely with national authorities to sensitize them and improve capacities.
FRANTIŠEK RUŽIČKA (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said that, although increased attention was focused on child protection issues in the context of United Nations mission mandates, that was only the first step. Despite the commendable actions of Luxembourg as Chair of the Council's Working Group, more efforts by Member States were needed to sustain current momentum, credibility and relevance. Protecting peace and preventing war were among the Organization’s most important missions; in the face of failure, every effort must be made to protect the most vulnerable. Slovakia was gravely concerned by child soldier recruitment, and urged that efforts be accelerated to rescue those children, as well as to address poverty and education. All States should ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. He condemned the use of schools for military purposes, as that made them targets for attack. All States had the duty and responsibility to protect the most vulnerable.
ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI ( Qatar) urged the Council to address the challenges associated with the grave violations against children. While emphasizing her country's commitment, she said the issues should not be restricted to thematic debates. The Palestinian children were suffering from Israel, with more than 50 children dying, more than 600 injured in one year and 194 in detention, and some 321 schools in the Occupied Palestinian Territory had been attacked. Turning to the Syrian crisis, she said that Government had committed massive violations against children. As a result of the crisis, polio had reappeared, a whole generation had suffered, and more than 3,000 schools had been destroyed. The occupation of schools was also a violation of children's rights, she said, commending efforts to elaborate guidelines on reclaiming those buildings. United Nations peacekeeping operations must include child protection in their mandates, and perpetrators of violence against children should be held accountable.
JIM MCLAY ( New Zealand) said the Council’s political will must be strengthened by reinforcing the children-in-armed-conflict architecture, not least by adopting new initiatives to promote accountability. The Secretary-General's report on children and armed conflict in Syria showed the deplorable cost exacted by that awful crisis and was a reminder of the consequences of inaction. Today's resolution was a much-needed step to address the situation of children in Syria. He commended the Council for recognizing the need for practical solutions, but said greater innovation was required. The number of persistent perpetrators was of particular concern, he said, adding that the Secretary-General's report should detail the number of years perpetrators had been on the list. The Council should better support the Special Representative and others to enhance their ability to engage with non-State actors. He lamented that children were still forced to see things no child should see and do things no child should ever do. With that, he reiterated New Zealand's commitment to protect them from the scourge of war.
PAUL SEGER (Switzerland) expressed support for the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign and called for more effort to end the recruitment and use of children by non-State actors, who comprised 46 of the 50 perpetrators on the Secretary-General’s list. He welcomed efforts by the Special Representative to engage with such actors, but said their commitment was still very limited. He supported the “Improving Accountability for Children in Situations of Armed Conflict” project under way by the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination and the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict. The Geneva Call, he noted, had access to armed non-State actors and engaged them to sign deeds of commitment to ban child recruitment. He condemned the widespread targeting and use of schools for military purposes and thus welcomed the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack. Switzerland would financially support the mainstreaming of the protection, rights and well-being of children into United Nations peacekeeping mandates. Governments whose armed forces were listed by the Secretary-General should not be allowed to participate in those operations until they fully implemented action plans to end violations against children. He encouraged universalization of the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict.
MASOOD KHAN ( Pakistan) said that the United Nations Charter sought to save generations from the scourges of war, yet tens of thousands of children were exploited and forced into combat. Progress had been made to reduce their number, with thousands demobilized and reintegrated into society, but the task was incomplete. Efforts should include communicating with the families of affected children, establishing birth registration systems and helping to bring the perpetrators to justice. Education was a most effective tool, he said, lamenting attacks on schools by terrorists and armed groups. The international community should support Governments in their efforts to deal with those groups and bolster education. Peacekeepers must be trained and the necessary resources provided to enable missions to fulfil their mandates, he said, noting that Pakistan was the largest troop-contributing country. The African Union's success in Somalia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Chad and Sierra Leone should be replicated. He called for an end to unmanned drone strikes, as they harmed children.
RICHARD NDUHUURA ( Uganda) said children were the future of the world and it was, thus, incumbent on all parties to armed conflict to respect their rights. Welcoming the Council's attention to the issue and the United Nations ongoing efforts, he said much remained to be done to rise to the challenges of protecting children during conflict and focusing on education. Those responsible for abuses must be held accountable, he said. Children caught up in armed conflict were forced to be messengers, sex slaves and play other exploitative roles. In addressing their needs, reintegration was essential, as was constant improvement of child protection strategies. Peacekeeping operations should include a child protection component, while all warring parties should strive to meet their obligations to safeguard children’s rights.
VLADIMIR DROBNJAK ( Croatia) supported efforts to prevent and combat sexual violence in armed conflict and ensure accountability for crimes. Croatia was a global champion of the United Kingdom's initiative on preventing such violence and had endorsed the historic declaration on world efforts to eradicate that war crime. It looked forward to the elaboration of the International Protocol on the Investigation and Documentation of Sexual Violence in Conflict. Of grave concern was the use of schools for military purposes, and children’s right to education was an essential part of Croatia's international assistance and development cooperation for countries in and emerging from conflict. In 2013, Croatia had funded construction of a library in Afghanistan used by 5,000 children and a high school with 600 children, and it had provided medical treatment to several Palestinian children suffering from respiratory diseases. As a post-conflict country, Croatia fully supported the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign, as well as a deepening of dialogue between the Council and the International Criminal Court. It was essential to list violations against children as clear designation criteria for sanctions and to make concerted effort to punish those responsible. He firmly supported the inclusion of child protection advisers in peacekeeping missions, as well as organizing predeployment targeted training for peacekeeper.
MILOŠ NIKOLIĆ ( Montenegro) said that while the Council had advanced the children-in-armed-conflict agenda, more action was needed. In that context, he strongly supported the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign, saying that thousands of boys and girls were still being recruited into national armed forces, sometimes for sexual purposes. He expected the campaign to assist in the full implementation of action plans to end child recruitment, as well as in the release and reintegration of children into civilian life. It was essential that the Working Group use the tools at its disposal to respond to all types grave violations, including by non-State actors. He shared the concern about the increasing use of schools for military purposes, and called on all armed conflict parties to halt actions that impeded children's education. As for peacekeeping and political missions, he advocated for a strong child protection component in their mandates, which would require personnel to receive predeployment training.
MIRSADA ČOLAKOVIĆ ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) fully supported today's action-oriented resolution, recalling that 10 million children had been traumatized by war. Child recruitment and use in armed conflict was a grave human rights violation. Governments bore the primary responsibility for protection in that regard, while all parties to a conflict must comply with both international humanitarian law and international human rights law in protecting civilians. The majority of children left out of secondary school became part of a forgotten generation, which was the historical basis for future peace and security challenges. All steps should be taken to safeguard the right to education. Targeted and more vigorous measures against those committing such grave violations were required and perpetrators should be brought to justice through criminal courts and tribunals. Additionally, information exchange between the Working Group, the Special Representative and relevant sanctions committees should be improved.
IGNACE GATA MAVITA ( Democratic Republic of the Congo) said children in his country faced daily violations as a result of foreign and domestic armed groups. Over the past conflict-ravaged decade, children had suffered greatly, traumatized by, among other things, being recruited by armed groups. Change was palpable after dealing with the 23 March Movement armed group. However, in the drive to exploit natural resources, children were now being used to break coltan into gravel. Working with highly radioactive material caused respiratory illnesses and suffering. Children living in combat areas lack access to education, leaving them vulnerable to recruitment. Progress had been made since 2012, when his Government and the United Nations signed an action plan to end child recruitment and use in the national armed forces. Since then, several thousand children had benefitted. A new law against sexual violence had also addressed children’s exploitation. He called on all armed groups to lay down their arms and surrender to authorities.
ABDERRAZZAK LAASSEL ( Morocco) said, despite progress, the international community faced growing challenges regarding the use of children in armed conflict. Through previous resolutions, the Council had established a reporting mechanism on the use of child soldiers and had bolstered initiatives to protect children and other vulnerable groups. Yet, those and other mechanisms could not guarantee protection without national policies that aimed to end this scourge. The Council should adopt a holistic approach to issues of children and armed conflict. National strategies depended on increased Government capacities. National training programmes and jobs offering young people better prospects for the future were among some forward-looking initiatives. Morocco commended the effort to end the recruitment of children in Government armed forces by 2016. The practice was a crime and it must be stopped, he concluded.
LIBRAN N. CABACTULAN ( Philippines) outlined national measures to ensure the robustness of the children's protection framework. The reports before the Council should follow from accurate data, and thus, it was important that gaps in the reporting process be addressed and old data discarded. Positive developments in the Philippines should be recognized in the broader context of sustainable growth, and the peace and development agenda. He requested information about a reference in the statement by the Working Group, saying that the provinces affected by the typhoon were not in the area of operation for the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The fourth and final annex to the framework agreement on the Bangsamoro had recently been signed, paving the way for lasting peace in the southern Philippines. The situation in his country did not merit inclusion on the list. His Government remained focused on protecting and promoting children's rights, and it would be a failure of the United Nations if the list continued to expand.
IDRIS ISMAIL FARAGALLA HASSAN( Sudan) said protection of children was a priority of his Government, noting its ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols, as well as International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions No. 138 and No. 182. Sudan prevented the recruitment of children under age 18 in the police. Child units had been set up in the military forces and the Ministry of the Interior, while the Child Care Council also had been created. Further, Sudan maintained contacts with the Special Representative and UNICEF with a view to addressing all related concerns. A national task force had been set up to address children's emergencies, which coordinated with UNICEF and the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID). He called for deleting Sudan from the Secretary-General's annual report on children and armed conflict, and urged the Council to address the reasons children were recruited into armed forces.
CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE ( Botswana) strongly supported all efforts to prevent violations against children, including through the work of the Special Representative. He expressed deep concern that children continued to be recruited, killed or maimed, sexually abused and deprived of their childhood, calling on States to cooperate with the International Criminal Court in hunting down those committing such atrocities. States had the primary responsibility to protect their people from genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and crimes against humanity. "This includes the protection of children from the risk of war," he said, stressing the need for political will to address the plight of children in armed conflict. A focus on national ownership, engagement with Governments and armed groups and monitoring of commitments were vital. Global efforts to end child recruitment should complement efforts to implement Council-related resolutions.
TIGRAN SAMVELIAN ( Armenia) said recent armed conflicts had increased the number of children vulnerable to rights violations. A growing trend had also seen more schools targeted and used for military purposes. Children in armed conflict faced violations of their rights and abuse, he said, urging that perpetrators be held accountable. Particular attention should be paid to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. As long as armed conflicts were a reality, the world had a duty to protect the rights of the children, the most vulnerable of populations. In conclusion, he commended the efforts of the Special Representative and staff.
ÁLVARO DE MENDONÇA E MOURA (Portugal) said his country welcomed the Security Council's commitment to address violations committed against children in armed conflict, but felt that huge challenges remained, including addressing the trend of using schools for military purposes. Educational facilities were being used as bases, barracks, weapons caches and torture chambers by regular armed forces and non-State groups alike, putting communities at risk and denying children their right to education. The International Criminal Court played a fundamental role as a deterrent, and further dialogue between it and the Council was important. Member States and the Security Council shared a common duty for taking collective action to overcome the scourge of violations against children and to protect them.
ELCHIN HUSEYNLI ( Azerbaijan) said his country was deeply concerned by the negative impact of armed conflict on children and condemned all violations of international laws committed against them. Azerbaijan's principled position with regard to the protection of civilians had stemmed from its own experience, as it continued to suffer from one of the highest number of refugees and displaced persons in the world, many of whom were children. While important steps had been taken to achieve accountability for grave violations of children's rights, serious challenges remained, including the lack of attention at international and regional levels to international humanitarian and human rights law violations. More resolute and targeted measures were required to protect children and end impunity. Particular consideration also should be given to internally displaced children to ensure their right of return. Resolution 2143 (2014) demonstrated the Council's continued determination to address the problem in a comprehensive manner.
Taking the floor a second time, the representative of Syria responded to comments by her counterpart from Qatar, saying that religious instigation had sent jihadists into neighbouring countries. Several countries had withdrawn their ambassadors to Qatar. The sheiks in Qatar had incited religious-based murder and the murder of children in Syria from a distance. Those claiming to defend human rights should set an example. The justice system in that country flouted human rights, meddling in Qatar's executive branch through large companies and the royal family. International terrorism committed by those parties included attacks in Syria. Al-Jazeera had closed in a number of capitals around the world and everyone was aware of its coverage. Syria reserved right to resort to the judicial system vis-à-vis those crimes.
The full text of resolution 2143 (2014) 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, 1882 (2009) of 4 August 2009, 1998 (2011) of 12 July 2011 and 2068 (2012) of 19 September 2012, and the statements of its President on 24 July 2006 (S/PRST/2006/33), 28 November 2006 (S/PRST/2006/48), 12 February 2008 (S/PRST/2008/6), 17 July 2008 (S/PRST/2008/28), 29 April 2009 (S/PRST/2009/9), 16 June 2010 (S/PRST/2010/10) and 17 June 2013 (S/PRST/2013/8), which contribute to a comprehensive framework for addressing the protection of children affected by armed conflict,
“Acknowledging that its resolutions 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009), 1998 (2011) and 2068 (2012) and the statements of its President on children and armed conflict have generated progress in preventing and responding to violations and abuses committed against children, in particular in the demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration of thousands of children, the signing of action plans between parties to armed conflict and the United Nations and the delisting of parties to conflict from the Annexes to the Secretary-General’s annual report,
“Remaining however 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,
“Recalling that all parties to armed conflict must 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,
“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,
“Expressing deep concern about the military use of schools by armed forces and non-State armed groups in contravention of applicable international law, including those involving their use as military barracks, weapons storage facilities, command centres, detention and interrogation sites and firing and observation positions,
“Expressing further concern regarding the high number of children that are being killed and maimed in conflict and post-conflict situations by landmines, explosive remnants of war, improvised explosive devices and other unexploded ordnance,
“Convinced that the protection of children in armed conflict should be an important aspect of any comprehensive strategy to resolve conflict and build peace,
“Recalling the responsibility of all Member States to comply with their respective obligations to end impunity and to investigate and prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other egregious crimes perpetrated against children; and noting that the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes of international concern committed against children has been strengthened through the work on and prosecution of these crimes by the International Criminal Court, ad hoc and mixed tribunals and specialized chambers in national tribunals,
“Acknowledging the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty and noting that in line with the provisions in article 7 (4) of the Treaty exporting States Parties shall take into account the risk of covered conventional arms or items being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of violence against children,
“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,
“Stressing the primary role of Governments in providing protection and relief to all children affected by armed conflict, recognizing the importance of strengthening national capacities in this regard and reiterating that all action 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,
“Recognizing further that capacity-building for the protection of children affected by armed conflict is a process that must begin from the earliest days of international engagement,
“Emphasizing the vital role of the United Nations, in consultations with international partners, to support national authorities in consolidating peace and in developing strategies for peacebuilding priorities, as well as to ensure that these strategies strengthen coherence between political, security, human rights, development and rule of law activities,
“Recognizing the crucial role of child protection advisers in mainstreaming child protection and leading monitoring, prevention and reporting efforts in relevant United Nations peacekeeping missions, political missions and peacebuilding offices in accordance with their mandate, including advice for and close cooperation and coordination between the missions, UNICEF and specialized NGOs for child demobilization and integration and prevention of recruitment,
“Underlining the importance of providing military, police and civilian peacekeepers with adequate predeployment and in-mission training on mission-specific child protection issues and on appropriate comprehensive prevention and protection responses,
“Recognizing the valuable contribution of relevant regional and subregional organizations and arrangements for the protection of children affected by armed conflict and commending in this regard the declaration signed on 17 September 2013 between the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the Peace and Security Department of the African Union Commission, in order to mainstream protection mechanisms in all peace and security activities of the African Union, in close partnership with UNICEF, as well as the EU Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict, including its Checklist for the integration of the protection of children affected by armed conflict into EU Common Security and Defence Policy operations and the development by NATO, in close collaboration with the DPKO and the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, of training courses and military guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict,
“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, including international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law, committed against children in situations of armed conflict and demands that all relevant parties immediately put an end to such practices and take special measures to protect children;
“2. Calls on 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 action plans, and the review and monitoring by the United Nations country-level task force of obligations and commitments relating to the protection of children affected by armed conflict;
“3. Reiterates the value of interministerial committees as a successful framework for partnership with concerned Governments to discuss and follow-up on child protection commitments and encourages these Governments with the support of the United Nations to utilize these committees to foster action plan implementation;
“4. Stresses the importance of regular and timely consideration of violations and abuses committed against children in armed conflict, including through incorporating, where appropriate, a children and armed conflict dimension in the terms of reference of Security Council field visits, and invites its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict to make full use of its toolkit (S/2006/724) in light of ongoing discussions on enhancing compliance, and in this regard, to continue considering the issue of persistent perpetrators and action plan implementation;
“5. Recalls the fact that the conscription or enlistment of children under the age of 15 or using them to participate actively in hostilities in both international and non-international armed conflict constitutes a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and notes that the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict requires State parties to set a minimum age of 18 for compulsory recruitment and participation in hostilities and to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment from that set out in article 38, paragraph 3, of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities;
“6. Welcomes in this context the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers” initiated by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF, in collaboration with other United Nations partners, with a view to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by Government armed forces in conflict by 2016;
“7. Urges in this regard concerned Governments to undertake all efforts in order to ensure that no children are in their ranks in conflict, in particular through the development and implementation of time-bound action plans; calls on Member States, all relevant United Nations entities, NGOs and the donor community to support in their various capacities the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers”, recognizing that its goal can only be attained through partnership and active involvement of all;
“8. Invites the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to inform the Security Council about the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers”, including about process and progress in delisting concerned parties;
“9. Further urges Member States, United Nations entities and other parties concerned to ensure that child protection provisions, including those relating to the release and reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces or armed groups, are integrated into all peace negotiations and peace agreements;
“10. Reiterates the Security Council’s readiness to adopt targeted and graduated measures against persistent perpetrators of violations and abuses committed against children, taking into account the relevant provisions of its resolutions 1539 (2004), 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009), 1998 (2011) and 2068 (2012) and 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 conflicts, when establishing, modifying or renewing the mandate of relevant sanctions regimes;
“11. Stresses the need to exclude genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other egregious crimes perpetrated against children from amnesty laws and other similar provisions and strongly encourages concerned States to establish a vetting mechanism to ensure that those responsible for such crimes are not included in the ranks of the army or other security forces;
“12. Emphasizes the responsibility of all States to put an end to impunity and to investigate and prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other egregious crimes perpetrated against children and highlights in this regard the contribution of the International Criminal Court, in accordance with the principle of complementarity to national criminal jurisdictions as set out in the Rome Statute;
“13. Urges concerned Member States, when undertaking security sector reforms, to mainstream child protection, such as the establishment of child protection units in national security forces and of effective age assessment mechanisms to prevent underage recruitment, while stressing in this regard the importance of ensuring universal birth registration, including late birth registration;
“14. Urges further all parties concerned, including Member States, United Nations entities, as well as financial institutions to support, as appropriate, bearing in mind national ownership, the development and strengthening of the capacities of national institutions and local civil society networks for advocacy, protection and rehabilitation of children affected by armed conflict, as well as national accountability mechanisms, including building investigative and prosecutorial capacities and the adoption of legislation criminalizing violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict;
“15. Reiterates its request to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to pursue efforts to coalesce the donor community in order to address funding gaps, and encourages bilateral, regional and international partners to provide financial and capacity-building support in this regard, including for education during the conflict and post-conflict periods;
“16. Recalls the importance of ensuring that children continue to have access to basic services during the conflict and post-conflict periods, including, inter alia, education and health care;
“17. Reiterates its 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 urges all parties to armed conflict to refrain from actions that impede children’s access to education and to health services;
“18. Expresses deep concern at the military use of schools in contravention of applicable international law, recognizing that such use may render schools legitimate targets of attack, thus endangering children’s and teachers’ safety, as well as children’s education and in this regard:
(a) Urges all parties to armed conflict to respect the civilian character of schools in accordance with international humanitarian law;
(b) Encourages Member States to consider concrete measures to deter the use of schools by armed forces and armed non-State groups in contravention of applicable international law;
(c) Urges Member States to ensure that attacks on schools in contravention of international humanitarian law are investigated and those responsible duly prosecuted;
(d) Calls upon United Nations country-level task forces to enhance the monitoring and reporting on the military use of schools;
“19. Recalls the obligations of all parties to an armed conflict, in accordance with international humanitarian law, to ensure that the wounded and sick, including children, receive, to the fullest extent practicable and with the least possible delay, the medical care and attention required by their condition, and to respect and protect medical and health personnel, facilities, transports and activities in accordance with international humanitarian law;
“20. Recommends that Member States include child protection in military training and standard operating procedures, as well as in military guidance as appropriate; recommends further that United Nations entities and United Nations peacekeeping troop and police-contributing countries undertake targeted and operational trainings for the preparation of United Nations mission personnel including troop and police contingents on their contribution in preventing violations against children so as to give all mission personnel the ability to effectively recognize, report and respond to violations and abuses committed against children and to successfully support child protection activities for better implementation of their respective mandates;
“21. Urges all United Nations entities, including peacekeeping missions, political missions, peacebuilding offices, United Nations offices, agencies, funds and programmes to give full attention to violations against children in the application of the human rights due diligence policy on United Nations support to non-United Nations security forces;
“22. Urges also Member States, United Nations entities, including the Peacebuilding Commission and other parties concerned to ensure that post-conflict recovery and reconstruction planning, programmes and strategies give due priority to issues concerning children affected by armed conflict;
“23. Urges relevant United Nations entities to continue to take concrete steps to reduce the impact of mines, unexploded ordnance and cluster munition and explosive remnants of war on children by prioritizing mine clearance, risk education and risk reduction activities;
“24. Decides to continue the inclusion of specific provisions for the protection of children in the mandates of all relevant United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions, encourages deployment of child protection advisers to such missions, and calls upon the Secretary-General to ensure that the need for and the number and roles of such advisers are systematically assessed during the preparation and renewal of each United Nations peacekeeping operation and political mission and encourages DPKO and DPA to take into account child protection when briefing the Council on country-specific situations;
“25. Encourages pertinent regional and subregional organizations and arrangements to help address the widespread impact of armed conflict on children, invites them to continue the mainstreaming of child protection into their advocacy, policies, programmes and mission planning, the development and expansion of guidelines to protect children affected by armed conflict as well as the training of personnel and the inclusion of child protection staff in their peacekeeping and field operations, and reiterates its call for the establishment of child protection mechanisms within their secretariats, including through the appointment of child protection focal points;
“26. Reiterates its request to the Secretary-General to continue 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;
“27. Decides to remain actively seized of this matter.”
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