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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

Deputy Secretary-General: Statements

New York, 22 September 2014 - Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at Signing Ceremony of the Cooperation Agreement between the League of Arab States and the UN Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict

I am honoured to be with you today to mark this crucial step for the protection of children.  Young people and children of the Arab world have suffered far too much – especially lately.  We must stop the carnage that robs young people of the chance to live decent lives, go to school, play and be raised in peace and security.

The Arab world is a region with forty-five per cent of its population under the age of 18.  Committing to the protection and welfare of children in conflict is an important building block for the region’s future.

The crisis in Syria, the challenges in Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Sudan, as well as the recent upsurge of violence in Iraq and in Gaza have had a tragic and disproportionate impact on children.

We see sickening evidence that children are being attacked and, in some situations, recruited or used by parties to the conflict.  In many situations children are denied an education because their schools have been destroyed or taken over for military purposes. They are often abducted, tortured, and subjected to sexual abuse.  Far too often, children are killed or maimed by violence which they, of course, did absolutely nothing to incite.

The children of the Arab world are its greatest asset, its greatest wealth. They are curious, resilient and resourceful.  They have endless potential to restore and strengthen the region’s historically rich economic, political, cultural and social fabric. 

They, like children around the world, are tomorrow’s leaders.  It is the responsibility of today’s leaders to protect them and ensure that they grow up in an environment of peace and development, where the human rights of children are upheld and protected.  It is not a choice – it is an obligation.  

This agreement will solidify our common goal to bring about the promise of peace.

The United Nations deeply values our partnership with the League of Arab States and we are doing everything possible to strengthen our already strong bonds.

As we conclude this agreement today, I express my deep appreciation, on behalf of the United Nations, for the leadership shown by the League of Arab States and the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

I especially commend the engagement of my dear friend and colleague, Dr Nabil Elaraby.  His commitment has been crucial in advancing progress.  I am confident that he and the Special Representative will ensure that concrete measures are taken to address the challenges and seize the opportunities ahead.

We all look forward to the results of this important agreement for the sake of the wonderful children of the Arab world, for their security, their fundamental human rights and their well-being.  They deserve, like all children, a life of peace, development and human dignity.

Thank you.

Statements on 22 September 2014