In All-Day Debate, Speakers Stress 2014 Worst Year of Child Abuse, Call for Increased Preventive, Corrective Action
Decrying a marked increase in grave violations committed against children in conflict zones, the Security Council today added abduction to the list of such crimes to be closely monitored, during an open debate on the issue that heard from some 80 speakers.
The Council requested the Secretary-General, in his annual report on the issue, to list parties “that engage in patterns of abduction of children in situations of armed conflict” along with those who recruit, kill, maim and sexually abuse children and target schools and hospitals, through the unanimous adoption of resolution 2225 (2015) in a meeting chaired by the Foreign Minister of Malaysia, which holds the June presidency, and opened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
This year’s report (document S/2015/409) called 2014 among the worst in children’s vulnerability to violence and listed 58 groups responsible for violations in 23 conflict situations. No new parties were listed, but additional violations were attributed to the anti-Balaka in the Central African Republic, the Allied Democratic Forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Boko Haram in Nigeria.
According to the concept note provided by the Malaysian presidency (S/2015/402), despite normative progress and the release of some children by armed groups, 2014 was seen as the worst year for children affected by armed conflict, looking at the conflicts mentioned above as well as those in in South Sudan and Gaza. Mass abduction of children, particularly by Boko Haram and ISIL, was frequently a prelude to sexual slavery and other crimes and a cause of displacement, it said.
In today’s resolution, the Council urged the immediate, safe and unconditional release of all abducted children and called upon those parties listed in the Secretary-General’s report to adopt without delay concrete time-bound action plans to halt all violations. In regard to children formerly associated with armed groups, it encouraged Member States to consider alternatives to prosecution and detention, with a focus on rehabilitation and integration.
The resolution urged an end to impunity for crimes against children in armed conflict, and stresses the importance of child protection provisions in peace negotiations, peace agreements, mandates of United Nations missions, where appropriate, and other related areas. It encouraged Member States to take concrete measures to deter use of by armed forces and armed groups, rendering them targets of attack.
Through the text, the Council invited the Working Group on the issue to make full use of tools at its disposal to protect children, including increased engagement with concerned Member States.
“Around the world, many thousands of children have experienced acts that no child should suffer,” Mr. Ban said in his opening statement. Abduction was evolving into a tactic used by a range of non-State armed groups to terrorize particular ethnic or religious groups. He noted progress, however, in protecting children from recruitment into armed groups through the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign and other efforts to change attitudes.
Mr. Ban warned against politicization of the issue of protecting children, which he called “a moral imperative and legal obligation”. His annual report was an important tool to put under scrutiny those who engage in military action that resulted in numerous grave violations. “Let us keep the rights of children at the centre of our efforts to build a future of dignity for all,” he said.
Briefing the Council this morning, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui said that the sharp increases in the number of children killed, injured and abused in conflict in 2014 should not just shock the international community; it should galvanize collective global action. The response to abductions should be scaled up with its increase and include early warning mechanisms.
Also briefing, Yoka Brandt, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), likewise urged concerted action to protect children from the range of crimes that threatened them, and Eunice Apio, Director of Facilitation for Peace and Development, relating her experiences in Northern Uganda, called for a greater focus on reintegration of abducted children that had been released as well as psychological help for families and communities to which they return.
Following those presentations, speakers welcomed the adoption of today’s resolution and seconded the deep concern over the growing suffering of children in situations of armed conflict, urging stepped-up collective action to protect them as well as to provide rehabilitative services to those who had suffered. Ending impunity for crimes against children, applying sanctions against perpetrators and engaging non-State actors to end violations were discussed.
Most speakers also concurred with the inclusion of abduction as a trigger for listing in the Secretary-General’s report. Recounting the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls over one year ago by Boko Haram, Nigeria’s representative welcomed the international attention the crime of abduction was now receiving.
Some speakers, including the Observer for the State of Palestine and the representative of Algeria, on behalf of the Arab Group, expressed severe disappointment that the Secretary-General’s report did not list Israeli armed forces as violators of children’s rights given the hundreds of children killed and injured in Gaza during last year’s conflict as well as damage to schools.
Israel’s representative said his country had tried to end the fighting and warn civilians away from the missile launching sites and other facilities it attacked, which Hamas had placed in populated areas. He regretted what he called politicization of the report that led to more attention to Gaza than Syria, scarce mention of Hamas and dismissal of the factor of intention.
Also speaking today at the ministerial or diplomatic level were the representatives of Malaysia, Spain, France, Chile, New Zealand, China, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Chad, Jordan, Lithuania, Venezuela, United States, Angola, Italy, Guatemala, Ukraine, Brazil, Colombia, India, Sweden, Iran, Liechtenstein, Japan, Mexico, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Thailand, Syria, Poland, Estonia, Belgium, Germany, Morocco, Canada, Austria, Slovenia, Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Argentina, Greece, Croatia, Viet Nam, Iraq, Indonesia, Uruguay, Panama, Slovakia, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Qatar, Sudan, Georgia, Pakistan, Kuwait (on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), Cambodia, Turkey, Egypt, Zimbabwe (on behalf of the Southern African Development Community), Montenegro, Myanmar, Botswana, Azerbaijan, Kenya, Portugal and Australia, as well as the Holy See, European Union and the League of Arab States.
The meeting opened at 10:05 a.m. and adjourned at 7:35 p.m.
Statement by Secretary-General
BAN KI-MOON, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said, “My report outlines the enormous challenges we face in upholding the fundamental rights of tens of millions of children.” He pointed to grave violations in the Central African Republic, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan and Syria, as well as deep alarm over the situation in Gaza, where he urged Israel to take immediate steps, including reviewing policies and practices, to prevent the killing and maiming of children and respect the special protections afforded to schools and hospitals.
“Around the world, many thousands of children have experienced acts that no child should suffer,” he stated. Abduction, used by the Lord’s Resistance Army for many years, was now evolving into a tactic used by a range of non-State armed groups to terrorize particular ethnic or religious groups. There had been progress, he said, in protecting children from recruitment into armed groups through the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign and other efforts to change attitudes. He called the release of 1,757 children from the Cobra Faction in South Sudan a bright spot in the otherwise bleak picture in that country.
He said much work was needed, however, to end grave violations against children both in their countries of origin and in countries they fled to, where they required urgent and sustained interventions. He warned against politicization of the issue of protecting children, which he called “a moral imperative and legal obligation”. His annual report was an important tool to put under scrutiny those who engaged in military action that resulted in numerous grave violations. “I urge Member States and, in particular, all the parties to conflict identified in this report to work with my Special Representative to prevent future grave violations against children,” including through ending impunity. He affirmed his commitment to ensure that the United Nations itself did better in preventing abuse of children. “Let us keep the rights of children at the centre of our efforts to build a future of dignity for all,” he concluded.
LEILA ZERROUGUI, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said the intensification of several conflicts in 2015 had imposed terrible short- and long-term consequences for many children caught up in the violence. An estimated 230 million children now lived in countries and areas affected by conflict and more than 5 million refugee children had been forced to flee from countries where the monitoring and reporting mechanism was in place. Appalling impacts on the welfare of children were felt, especially in Afghanistan, Iraq, South Sudan, State of Palestine, Syria and Yemen. The Secretary-General’s annual report documented sharp increases in the numbers of children killed in 2014 and an equally shocking number of injured. That should not just shock the international community; it should galvanize collective global action.
Responses to the threat posed by extreme violence had also raised child protection concerns — by both militia groups and in some cases Government forces, she said. The response to abductions needed to be scaled up to address their increasing frequency in conflicts, including through early warning mechanisms. While expanding the tools available, integration programmes must be tailored for those who underwent the traumatizing experience of abduction and associated violations. Engagement with non-State armed groups was another vital area of focus. She had been working to engage a wide range of groups in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s reports to secure commitments to stop violations and protect children. Member States needed to help facilitate contact with those groups and allow independent access to facilitate discussions. It was in the interest of all involved that those groups be brought into a process that would expedite the end of violations against children and prevent future ones.
While progress was being made with several countries involved in the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign, the crises in South Sudan and Yemen had severely hampered efforts in those countries, she said. Sexual abuse and exploitation of children by peacekeepers or foreign troops was particularly egregious and underscored the collective international responsibility to prevent such behaviour and hold perpetrators accountable. The issue of deprivation of liberty was another concern with security forces detaining children for actual or alleged association with armed groups, she said, expressing concern that children were being treated primarily as security threats rather than as victims. The rise in the number and the gravity of recent crises had tested both the international community’s resolve and its ability to respond. The world should redouble its efforts and address new challenges with new tools. The fight against impunity remained a key aspect in efforts to not only react to but also prevent grave violations against children.
YOKA BRANDT, Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that abductions, used to instil fear and terror in populations, were often only the first in a series of grave violations, including sexual assault and rape, indoctrination, recruitment as child soldiers, and murder. Each offence blighted that child and violated international law. “It both shames us for not doing more to prevent atrocities and urges us to act,” she said. Left unaddressed, each offence could contribute to the recurring cycles of violence and conflict that shattered lives and communities and perpetuated conflicts into future generations. Combined efforts had led to the release earlier this year of more than 1,700 children from non-State armed groups in South Sudan, she said, adding that the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign had been central to that shared progress. It had galvanized the commitment of eight Governments to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in national security forces by the end of 2016.
However, the world must think about what happened after children were released, she said. How could they resume normal life burdened, inevitably by physical wounds and psychological scars? Those children were victims and must be treated as such. After their release, the best option was to transfer them quickly to child protection services. Trained professionals could support them as they recovered and were reintegrated, as well as address the needs of girls and children with special needs. As the world celebrated progress in some areas, it must also remain vigilant, because where conflict had re-emerged or escalated, the risks of backsliding were real. In South Sudan and Yemen, the use of children had increased during recent outbreaks of conflict. Urgently and collectively, the international community must consider how best to prevent abduction. While the most effective way was to step up efforts to end conflict, it was important to pursue accountability not only as a means of addressing past wrongs but also of deterring future ones.
Children were at risk of new forms of violence via social media, she said. Aggressive forms of recruitment for extreme violence, such as participating in executions and suicide bombings, were real and reached well beyond conflict zones. More initiatives like the Safe Schools Declaration were needed, she said, adding that community-based reintegration programmes were important not only to help children recover and reintegrate but also in terms of learning new skills to build for the future.
EUNICE APIO, Executive Director of Facilitation for Peace and Development, spoke on the challenges faced by individuals, their families and communities affected by the abductions and other activities of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda. Of the more than 65,000 civilians abducted between 1986 and 2008, at least 53 per cent were children as young as nine, who became forced labourers, soldiers and sexual slaves vulnerable to impregnation and sexually transmitted diseases. Many were killed and maimed during the course of the war and many were still unaccounted for.
“Those who returned were a shadow of themselves, broken in body in spirit, just like the families and communities they left behind,” she said. Unfortunately, most disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) actions were fragmented, uncoordinated, experimental and incomplete. Most children moved directly from the LRA to squalid displaced persons camps, with not all receiving basic counselling at reception centres. Mental illnesses, alcohol and substance abuse and suicide had greatly increased in the region.
Actors in current war zones, she said, should learn from that experience and ensure families received adequate psychological support alongside returning children. She related the stories of traumatized family members who were expected to support the reintegration of abducted children in Northern Uganda. Due attention must also be paid to land ownership issues when societies were torn apart by abductions, as well as to the welfare of young women released from armed groups with their own children, who found it extremely difficult to re-integrate due to stigma and discrimination.
Children born in the LRA were now increasingly filling positions in the group’s hierarchy, showing how such suffering can perpetuate itself, she said. Innovative ways to appeal to such children to leave the group should be considered by the Council. In general, children conceived after sexual violence fell through the cracks in the protection framework, she noted. They often had no idea how to dissociate from the armed groups. She said that she was part of a network of scholars studying the particular problems of children born out of violence. In closing, she urged Governments to integrate reintegration of ex-combatants, including abducted children and the progeny of abduction, into long-term national development priorities.
Council President ANIFAH AMAN, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, speaking in his national capacity, said that children who were abducted could be subjected to myriad further violations. They were harmed multiple times over. The use of abduction by violent extremist groups as a terror tactic against local communities and minorities was an acute concern not easily addressed through available tools or mechanisms. The unanimous adoption of today’s resolution underscored a unified stance in denouncing the abduction of children. Given the long-term consequences experienced by child victims, it was vital that mechanisms and programmes were in place to facilitate their reintegration and rehabilitation.
Affirming the importance of the Council’s various tools for accountability and compliance, including the listing mechanism in the annual report, he stressed that facts should guide actions. He was dismayed that the credibility and integrity of that mechanism was questioned this year. During last year’s 50-day war in Gaza, more than 500 Palestinian children were killed and more than 1,000 children suffered injuries causing permanent disabilities as a result of Israeli attacks. “When we start applying different standards to perpetrators and when we discriminate against those who deserve justice and accountability, we are in fact perpetuating grave violations, not only of children’s rights, but humanity in general.” As a non-permanent Council member and Chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, Malaysia would strive to ensure that children affected by armed conflict were given the attention they deserved.
IGNACIO YBANEZ, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Spain, welcoming the resolution’s adoption, said that the rise in reprehensive abuses against children, including abduction and related crimes, demanded the full attention of the Council and the international community. He stressed the importance of international law in protecting children, particularly regarding schools and attacks on densely populated areas. In addition, peacekeeping missions should have mandates and training regimes appropriate to protecting children; zero tolerance to abuse must be maintained and reintegration and training programmes for children released from abduction must be scaled up. Impunity must be ended, but alternatives should be found to punishing children forced into soldiering. Supporting the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign, he said that the international community could not remain passive in the face of children’s suffering, and his country could be counted on to support all initiatives in that regard.
FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said that the United Nations child protection mechanisms, which his country was integral in setting up, must be bolstered. The listing mechanism was particularly important, and it must remain objective and be strengthened. In addition, States must facilitate access to engagement with non-State armed groups. In that context, terrorist groups presented the most complex problem. Education was critical to keeping children from joining such groups, and in that context, the prohibition on military use of schools was also crucial. France took seriously accusations of sexual abuse of children by troops in the Central African Republic, and he pledged serious action to prevent impunity in that case, stating that the implementation of the zero tolerance policy was a political priority for his country.
CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile) said that today’s resolution covered many of his country’s concerns in relation to protection of children in armed conflict. In addition, he urged rehabilitation of children tied to armed groups in conformity with international law, with imprisonment a last resort. Child abductors must be forced to release them and end the practice, and sanctions should be among the tools used to accomplish that. Child Protection Advisers and other measures to allow peacekeeping missions to protect children should be used where appropriate. He urged all parties to conflict to ensure that no schools were utilized for military purposes. He pledged his country’s continued efforts to end conflicts and abuses of children during them.
U JOY OGWU (Nigeria) said that protection of children was undoubtedly a moral duty and the obligation of all States. Recalling the mass abduction over one year ago of hundreds of schoolgirls by Boko Haram, she welcomed the attention that the issue of abduction was now getting internationally. The Children’s Charter of the African Union was a good base for protection of children, but intensified action was needed. She described the Safe Schools initiative of her country in that context. Affirming the importance of the listing mechanism for violators of children’s rights, she said that the adoption of today’s resolution was a renewal of the collective will to protect children. She pledged her country’s ongoing commitment.
GERARD JACOBUS VAN BOHEMEN (New Zealand) said that, even with the good work of the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign, major problems persisted, especially with rehabilitation and reintegration, particularly among girls following sexual violence and among children with disabilities. “We have to face the reality that for many, including members of this Organization, targeting schools and hospitals is considered acceptable despite the fact that such action is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law,” he said, urging all countries to put in place safeguards — such as those outlined in the Safe Schools Declaration — to protect schools and hospitals from military use in armed conflict. Adding abductions as a trigger violation for listing in the Secretary-General’s report demonstrated the Council’s commitment to call out the perpetrators of those crimes before the international community; that could have an important deterrent effect and would help to ensure that the right information was being documented. Noting that, in his report, the Secretary-General had deplored the way some parties made the case that the targeting of children in conflict had threatened the integrity of the Council’s listing mechanism, he shared the Secretary-General’s concern at efforts to interfere in the independent discharge of his Office and the implicit presumption that some forces were exempt from criticism.
LIU JIEYI (China) said children, the hope of the world, were most vulnerable to the worst violations and abuses. The phenomenon of child abduction in armed conflicts was getting acute, he said, urging parties to bear their primary responsibility of protecting them. Preventing conflict was a far better way to address the issue than remedial measures. Governments concerned were responsible for the protection of children during armed conflict, and the international community should provide assistance and support based on respect for national sovereignty. A comprehensive strategy to ensure the reintegration of released children was needed, he said, expressing support for the inclusion of abductions as a trigger for inclusion in the annex of the Secretary-General’s report.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) said children often ended up as perpetrators of violence, but only as victims of groups that fanned hateful propaganda and were too cowardly to mount attacks on their own. Extremist and terrorist groups abducted children to use them as weapons of war, he said, adding that fighting impunity required a long-term approach beyond listing, including referral to the International Criminal Court. The case of Syria underscored the need for urgent action. Concrete and time-bound action plans worked, as evidenced by the delisting of Chad, which should encourage others. How a society treated its young, elderly and vulnerable was a test of its humanity, more so during times of instability. The resolution adopted today was one of many steps needed to address the issue.
VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said violence against children carried out by extremist and terrorist groups was a new and alarming trend which required collective introspection. Instability across large swathes of territories provided a breeding ground for extremist groups, while the Internet offered new avenues for recruitment through the propagation of hateful ideologies. The tragic situation of children in Yemen and Syria underscored the need for reaching political solutions there. In parts of Ukraine, children continued to bear the brunt of actions by Government forces, and the Russian Federation continued to provide relief and rehabilitation services. Countries working to improve the situation of children had the right to expect assistance from the international community. He expressed hope that the new resolution would help strengthen reporting mechanisms as well as the Council working group through cooperation of interested Governments.
BANTE MANGARAL (Chad) said the resolution adopted today was a major step forward in the context of the increase in armed conflicts and their impact on children. Violations against children should also be triggers for sanctions in an effort to bolster national efforts to stem and prevent abductions. The United Nations should facilitate efforts to build contacts between States and armed groups. Member States should step up efforts to end impunity and all parties to conflicts must protect the sanctity of schools, hospitals and other civilian institutions. Limiting the transfer of small arms and light weapons would go a long way towards preventing conflict, he said, stressing the importance of a comprehensive strategy based on addressing the root causes of conflicts. Chad was working to address the issue through cooperation with regional and subregional organizations. For listing to be an effective tool, it should be implemented without discrimination.
MAHMOUD DAIFALLAH MAHMOUD HMOUD (Jordan) said the unprecedented increase in the crimes committed against children in the context of conflicts in the Middle East and Africa required greater efforts in tackling armed groups, including by deploying early-warning mechanisms. While protection of children was primarily a national responsibility, the transnational nature of the challenge required sustained international cooperation over the long term. The media was as dangerous as any other weapon when used by armed groups pursuing hateful ideologies and methods, he said, calling for international cooperation to prevent the use of the Internet as a recruitment tool. Similar cooperation was required in reintegration, information sharing and ending impunity. He expressed surprise that the Secretary-General’s report failed to include in the annex violations committed by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians, and stressed the need to maintain the integrity of the listing system.
RAIMONDA MURMOKAITĖ (Lithuania) said children recruited as soldiers and forced to witness the death of their parents and siblings had been denied the most basic human rights. While the incorporation of child protection provisions into peacekeeping mandates and sanctions designation criteria were positive developments, countless children across the Middle East, Africa and Europe continued to suffer. They accounted for some 161,000 of people registered as internally displaced by conflict in eastern Ukraine, while in Syria, 7.5 million were in need of aid. With armed groups abducting children, who were then forced to commit rape and torture, it was “hard to find the right words” to describe the trauma. Children must be treated as victims and she welcomed Chad’s protocol with the United Nations regarding the handover of children associated with armed forces or groups to child protection actors. Preventing crimes against children must go hand in hand with tackling impunity. She encouraged sanctions committees to better cooperate with the Special Representative to ensure a more systematic use of child recruitment, killing and maiming, and school attacks as triggers for sanctions.
RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela), urging all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law, said that the growing abuses against children during armed conflict should further motivate the Council and the international community to end situations of violence and move parties towards political solutions. Recounting the damage done to children and schools in Gaza last year, he expressed dismay that the Israeli forces responsible were not listed in the annex of the Secretary-General’s report. It called into question the credibility and objectivity of the report and damaged the effort to hold accountable all those responsible for violations of children’s rights. Condemning all violations against children in conflict, he said his country would continue to lend its firm support to efforts to protect the most vulnerable groups in conflict zones as well as the rehabilitation to those who suffered.
DAVID PRESSMAN (United States) said he shared the outrage over the recently revealed atrocities against children in South Sudan, pledging that his country would work with others to respond to such barbarities. He stressed that the Secretary-General’s report should contribute to the common cause of protecting children through the use of uniform standards. He warned its politicization would destroy its credibility, with attempts to include Israel in the report appearing as an attempt to vilify rather than to protect children. Noting some progress in the release of child abductees, he stressed the importance of thorough reintegration of liberated children, as well as all women who had escaped sexual slavery. Describing the child-protection efforts of the United States armed forces and its work to minimize threats from military action, he affirmed the importance of zero-tolerance policies.
ISMAEL ABRAÃO GASPAR MARTINS (Angola), noting daunting challenges in the protection of children in situations of armed conflict, said that the prevention of conflict was still the best strategy, although it had proved elusive. He condemned the mass abduction of children by armed groups and urged the international community to hold perpetrators accountable and to secure the release and rehabilitation of the children concerned. Angola had extensive experience with the reintegration of former child soldiers. Today’s resolution would strengthen international measures against abduction, but more must be done to protect schools against military use and to prevent child recruitment. He urged those countries that had not done so to accede to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
PAOLO GENTILONI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy, said that the world’s common efforts to counter violent extremism should also be aimed at eradicating the “plague” of child abductions, recruitment, mental and physical abuse and the denial of their rights. While the resolution adopted today was a very relevant tool to address the increasing use of abductions, its concrete implementation would be even more relevant. As a non-permanent member of the Council in 2007-2008, Italy had strongly supported the inclusion of specific provisions on children’s protection in mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations, and targeted training of United Nations personnel in that regard was paramount to ensuring effective peacekeeping. Italy had recently joined the “Safe Schools Declaration”, which highlighted the need to concretely enforce the rules of international law for the protection of schools during armed conflict and to practically implement their provisions in the domestic legal system of each State. Accountability for crimes against children at the national and international levels was key to ensuring that perpetrators were brought to justice, he said, adding that no effort should be spared in supporting the international criminal justice system.
CARLOS RAUL MORALES, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, said that abuses against children were an affront to humankind and had devastating consequences for children, their families and their communities. The international community must ensure the rehabilitation and reintegration of such children, respecting their overriding status as victims. Regarding child soldiers, he urged Governments and the international community to ensure that disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes received the necessary funding. Accountability was crucial to preventing grave violations against children and should be at the core of national and international responses to the challenge. He called on States and non-State actors to refrain from attacks on schools and welcomed the adoption of the Safe Schools Declaration, adding that the protection of children should be incorporated into peacekeeping mandates and ceasefire agreements. Finally, he regretted “inconsistencies” in the latest report of the Secretary-General, namely due to the lack of inclusion of the abuses against children in Gaza and Israel. The Council’s tools, including sanctions regimes, should be improved and used consistently, and perpetrators should be referred to the International Criminal Court.
OLENA ZERKAL, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, regretted that her country had been suffering from violations against children for more than a year due to the ongoing Russian aggression. Despite the fact that the current report did not cover the situation in Ukraine, she pointed out that, as of 3 June, Ukraine reported over 1.3 million internally displaced persons, 17.2 per cent of them children. At least 68 children had been killed and 176 wounded, and seven children’s hospitals and three schools had been destroyed in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions as a result of shelling. Another example was the abduction of 61 orphans on 26 July 2014 from an orphanage in Lugansk. Despite rising concerns about abductions expressed in the Council in March 2015, Ukrainian authorities together with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission continued to report numerous accounts of child abductions by Russia-backed terrorists. In addition, illegal armed groups were reportedly recruiting child soldiers to fight against the Ukrainian army.
Against that tragic background, she once again urged the Russian Federation to stop providing illegal weapons, military equipment, financial resources and mercenaries to the illegal armed groups in eastern Ukraine. The United Nations and other international actors should get full access to the conflict zone in order to monitor the situation; that was the only way to prevent the further suffering of the children in the territories in Donbas currently under terrorist control.
ANTONIO DE AGUIAR PATRIOTA (Brazil) said that, while the Council framework on the protection of children affected by armed conflict had been decisively reinforced, much remained to be done in terms of implementation and accountability. Every year, thousands of vulnerable and innocent girls and boys still bore the brunt of wars fought by adults. He expressed particular concern at reports that certain parties that committed serious violations against girls and boys in the context of war may have been omitted from the annex of the Secretary-General’s report as a consequence of undue political pressure. It was of paramount importance that the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict be allowed to exercise its responsibilities with independence and objectivity, free from politicization and within the mandate established by the General Assembly and the Council. While the report examined in detail armed conflicts and situations of domestic law enforcement, they should not be amalgamated in any way, as they pertained to different domains, he stressed.
MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) said her country had been mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report due to its five-decade conflict. Three years ago, her Government had sought a negotiated end to the violence, enabling it to implement pioneering legislation, notably the law on victims and land restitution. There was also a joint agreement for anti-personnel mine cleaning. This week, the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) announced it would remove children under age 15 from its ranks. She was “perplexed” at how Colombia had been described in the report, as the terms used to portray the situation in 2014 could not be same as in 1999. Almost one year ago, she was at the United Nations for the presentation of a guidance note on reparations for victims, where Colombia had been recognized for its historic law on victims and unprecedented efforts. Its 47 per cent reduction in the number of internally displaced persons had not been mentioned in the report. The Inter-Sectoral Commission on the prevention of recruitment and use of children by armed groups had implemented urgent protection measures in more than 200 municipalities. Colombia had consolidated “respectful” relations with the United Nations, including by opening communications so as to no longer appear in the report, and would continue its work on the issue with rigor and objectivity.
ASOKE KUMAR MUKERJI (India) said that extreme violence against susceptible children, including shocking cases of abductions in 2014, called for greater political will and constructive dialogue among all relevant stakeholders to address the worsening situation. The impunity of non-State armed groups and newly emerging extremist organizations that violated children’s rights could only be overcome by resolute action by Governments on whose territory such entities operated, he said, urging the international community to aid such Governments. In that regard, sustained capacity-building of national institutions of governance should be a key focus area. Allocating more resources to peace operations and deploying the requisite number of Child Protection Advisors were also critical.
While “abductions” were condemnable, the Secretary-General’s report must be within the provisions of Article 99 of the Charter, he said. “Abduction” was not addressed expressly in international law and the issue of “detention” required careful consideration and understanding before making attempts to merely populate an already long listing. The list’s overriding objective should be to carry out listing and delisting in a transparent, judicious way under Member States’ close supervision. He was disappointed that despite the clearly spelled out mandate on children in armed conflict in operative paragraph 16 of Council resolution 1379 (2001), the Secretary-General’s report continued to include references to other situations of concern, which would only distract attention from issues that actually were within the Council’s mandate.
OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) said that children’s rights, particularly girls’, to quality education in war and disaster situations was a vital part of protecting children in conflict, as attending school could create a sense of normalcy and a vision for a better future. It was disturbing that there were attacks on educational facilities in at least 70 countries from 2009 to 2013. He was also concerned by a lack of accountability for violations of international law committed against children in armed conflict. Sweden would launch the “Children in Armed Conflict Accountability Framework” in Kinshasa in a few months. A stronger policy was needed for protecting children’s right in peacekeeping operations. Among those measures were inclusion of child-protection structures, such as focal points, in all missions and mandatory child-protection training prior to deployment. The Swedish Armed Forces would host a United Nations training course for trainers in a few months.
SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria), speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, said that today’s meeting was taking place days after a “heinous” terrorist attack in N’Djamena, Chad, which had killed and wounded children. “We cannot argue any difference of opinion when children, their well-being or future, are at stake,” he said. Regardless of situations, locations or political differences between States or even in situations of open conflicts, children should be protected as a moral and legal obligation. There were now criteria to define when a child was a victim and when violations were committed. “Children must remain off limits to adult quagmires,” he stressed, noting the increasing recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, including in acts of sexual violence, killings, attacks on schools and hospitals, and recurrent attacks or threats against protected personnel in violation of international legal standards.
He said the collective abduction of civilians, including children, was being seen more and more in armed conflict, and led to other abuses. The Arab Group denounced such abuses against children in Syria and Iraq, including those perpetrated by Da’esh. The Group called on the Council not to forget about the plight of Palestinian children, who suffered grave violations of their rights due to the ongoing Israeli occupation. The Gaza war last summer had had killed hundreds of children and disabled many others, he said.
RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine to the United Nations, said that his delegation came before the Council anguished by the Secretary-General’s decision to exclude Israel from the list of parties committing grave violations against children in his annual report on children and armed conflict. Israel, the occupying Power, was without a doubt a “flagrant violator” of child rights. It systematically committed crimes against Palestinian children, contravening its obligations under human rights and humanitarian law. Evidence verified by the United Nations and numerous human rights organizations affirmed that Israel continued to kill and maim children, attack schools and hospitals, and prevent humanitarian access. According to established criteria, such actions would trigger a listing among the grave violators identified in the report’s annex. And yet, Israel was not included in that list as pressures blatantly exerted to shield it from censure and measures of accountability. That glaring omission and failure to hold Israel accountable for its crimes came at a heavy cost to innocent children.
Israel’s brutality against Palestinian children increased in 2014, causing the third highest number of child fatalities in armed conflicts worldwide. As reported, at least 557 Palestinian children were killed, the majority in the Gaza Strip, during the Israeli military assaults of July-August 2014. The grim reality was that Israeli occupying forces killed an average of 10 children per day in Gaza, most of whom had not yet celebrated their twelfth birthday. “Children are killed on beaches as they played in broad daylight before the eyes of the world,” he said. Generations of Palestinian children had been traumatized by the depravity of the Israeli occupation, he said, citing a number of statistics regarding the loss of family members, detention, arrests and forced displacement. That shameful situation rendered the law, the obligation to protect civilians in armed conflict, and accountability mechanisms meaningless. Listing would have forced Israel and the United Nations to negotiate a time-bound, mandatory action plan to protect children, and would have provided the Council with tools to prevent and respond to future Israeli violations.
GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said 2014 was “especially horrific” for children in conflict zones. The trend of violent extremists infringing upon children’s rights should be of particular concern, as it meant that proven methods used by the international community to protect children could be ineffective. Disregard for civilians by Da’esh and Al-Qaida affiliates, especially in Syria and Iraq, was particularly shocking, while Boko Haram had ravaged parts of Nigeria by terrorizing children. At least 279 of the people killed in Yemen were children. He called for accountability for the war crimes and violations by Israel in its recent military aggression against Palestinians and destruction of infrastructure in Gaza. The Council should ensure an end to Israel’s impunity. Evidence indicated that gross human rights violations by Israel against Palestinian children had met the criteria for its listing as a grave violator and he regretted that Israel had not been listed in the annex of the report.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) expressed pleasure at the strong call for accountability among the Secretary-General’s recommendations, stressing that it was of utmost importance to demand full respect for international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. Troop-contributing countries should ensure speedy domestic investigations and prosecutions for violations committed by their nationals. Otherwise, the role of the United Nations and its crucial function in the area of peacekeeping would be compromised. The list of perpetrators in the annexes to the report could be a very powerful tool in influencing the behaviour of conflict parties. However, the process should be fair, consistent and transparent. The majority of parties listed were non-State actors, not a single one of which had been able to qualify for delisting so far, due to a lack of knowledge and assistance throughout the process, which was a missed opportunity to motivate other such groups. The international community was struggling for a response to the incredibly complex phenomenon of under-age foreign terrorist fighters. A comprehensive response was needed, covering prevention, psychosocial support and integration assistance to complement necessary legal measures.
YOSHIFUMI OKAMURA (Japan) urged the international community, especially the Council, to take any measures necessary to alleviate the cruel and inhumane actions committed by organizations like Boko Haram and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The new resolution’s addition of abductions as a trigger for inclusion of parties into the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual report should make a difference. It was essential, however, that the relevant parties implement the resolution through action plans and other mechanisms. The “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign had made commendable achievements, including the delisting of Chad and the release of 400 child soldiers in Myanmar. However, achieving the campaign’s ambitious goal of ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children by national security forces by 2016 would require further enhancements and commitments. The rehabilitation and reintegration of child victims deserved as much attention as the prevention of abduction and recruitment, he said.
THOMAS MAYR-HARTING, Head of the European Union Delegation, welcoming the adoption of the resolution, expressed hope that it would lead to the conclusion of action plans with listed parties that committed abductions. In several cases, extremist groups had abducted school children to punish them for attending school. More needed to be done to better protect schools from attack and to deter the military use thereof in accordance with international law. Many of the abductions were committed by non-State armed actors, which also formed the vast majority of listed parties. In order to prevent future violations, it was vital to hold those responsible accountable, as fighting impunity needed to be part and parcel of international action. While the primary responsibility lay with States, the International Criminal Court had an essential role to play in that regard. The Union was strengthening its capacity on child protection both at Headquarters and at the operational level, he stressed.
DAVID YITSHAK ROET (Israel) said the Secretary-General’s report contained 32 paragraphs on Israel — twice as much space as compared with that given to Syria, where a quarter of a million people had been killed, among them, according to The New York Times, 3,500 children this year; the report “inexplicably” put that number at 368. Rather than being balanced and focused on facts, the report’s discussion of Israel was politicized and “stained with interests”. Surely a report about the use of children in warfare would discuss Hamas, a terror group that ran military summer camps for school children. Yet, finding a mention was harder than finding a needle in a haystack. Hamas and other groups had launched 4,000 rockets and mortars in the 2014 conflict. While Israel had tried to save lives by warning Palestinians to leave combat areas, Hamas threatened their lives if they did. Hamas’ use of military schools contravened international law.
He said the report also omitted that Israel had not wanted war and “deeply regretted” the harm done to Palestinian civilians. Israel had taken all measures to de-escalate the conflict, while Hamas had rejected all such attempts. The Israeli Defense Forces had used leaflets, phone calls and text messages to warn civilians to evacuate rocket launch sites, and had aborted or suspended operations when it became clear that civilians would be harmed. The report’s drafting was marked by institutionalized bias against Israel, with the regional Working Group having conveniently forgotten to inform Israel of its drafting or seek Israel’s input. Israel’s attempts to provide official evidence were refused. The Special Representative had left no real opportunity for Israel’s reservations to be considered, making it clear that the Office’s engagement with Israel was a formality. He expressed concern that sensitive information, intended only for United Nations officials, had been leaked to the press, and concern over the report’s statement that the question of intent when determining responsibility would not be a crucial consideration, which contravened international law.
JORGE MONTAÑO (Mexico) said the report underscored the increase in extreme violence and its relationship with serious violations of children. “This fact alone must reaffirm our collective determination to keep this issue at the core of the international agenda,” he said. While welcoming progress, he expressed concern that the Secretary-General’s report highlighted an increase in child abductions. More than 2,750 children had been abducted in 12 conflict areas; of them, 1,730 had been abducted by ISIL. The abduction of children could constitute a crime against humanity and a war crime. The Geneva Conventions, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other instruments outlined the obligation for humane civilian treatment. The Council should bolster its response, including through existing mechanisms and especially by monitoring and including a list of violators in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s reports. He underscored the importance of penalizing crimes in national legislations and trying perpetrators in national tribunals, as well as efforts to protect schools, hospitals and playgrounds. He called for more psychological, medical and legal assistance for States to care for child victims.
SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg), aligning herself with the European Union, said that the resolution adopted today was a key contribution to strengthening the protection of children in armed conflict, which was of particular concern to her delegation. The Secretary-General’s report reflected “unprecedented” challenges facing children in armed conflicts around the world. She condemned in the strongest possible terms all violations against children, who were victims no matter their nationality. In Syria, almost 900 schools had been partially or entirely destroyed by the end of last year, with many of those attacks perpetrated by the Syrian regime itself. In the regions occupied by Da’esh, schools were turned into places of indoctrination or simply closed. Together with 36 other countries, Luxembourg had endorsed the Declaration for Safe Schools, and hoped that other countries would do the same. Welcoming progress made through the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign, she encouraged all actors concerned to redouble their efforts to ensure that the campaign would be successful. The scale of abuses committed by armed groups required a determined response by the international community. The addition of abductions as a trigger was a key contribution, she said, and should encourage the signing and implementation of new plans of action to cease violations against children. “There shall be no impunity for those that commit the worst atrocities against children,” she said, stressing that they must be held accountable for their crimes.
PETER VAN DER VLIET (Netherlands) said States were primarily responsible to protect their populations from atrocity crimes and special focus should be placed on protecting the most vulnerable groups, like children. Prevention was at the core of the principle of the responsibility to protect, he said, but when prevention failed, monitoring and reporting of abductions were crucial. There was a need to ensure accountability for violations of international humanitarian law in general and for violations that affected civilian populations and children in particular. While the International Criminal Court could play an important role, primary responsibility to hold perpetrators accountable lay with States. Therefore, national capacity needed to be strengthened where needed. Children remained vulnerable to abduction and recruitment as long as the root causes of conflicts were not addressed.
VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand) said that with non-State actors becoming more involved in child abuse during armed conflict, “the success or failure of child protection efforts today primarily depends on how the issue of non-State actors is addressed”. The United Nations’ child protection stakeholders, in line with their respective mandates, must work closely with the Governments concerned in cases involving those actors. Child abduction was another concern and Thailand was closely following the discussion in the Working Group on the Secretary-General report’s recommendation to expand tools for gathering information and report on the issue. Protecting children from violence must be a priority when considering peacekeeping mandates. He urged closer engagement between States and the Special Representative to ensure that the report was based on accurate and verifiable information. Thailand had consistently engaged with the Special Representative, a dialogue it considered necessary.
BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said that terrorist groups pounded Aleppo and other parts of Syria over the past two days, damaging residential areas and hospitals and victimizing civilians, including women and children. That information should be taken seriously by the leaders of the United Nations, and should not be omitted from a future report. The Secretary-General’s reports should take into account information received from all States, he said, noting that the Syrian Government had spared no effort in cooperating with the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and provided names of children victimized by the terrorists and the list of schools and hospitals attacked by them. The Government also provided detailed responses to allegations made against it. Children recruited by the terrorist groups, including those under the age of 10, had been trained to be killers and had committed massacres in Syria. But the report failed to include those pieces of information, merely ignoring facts. Syria was making every effort to fight terrorism and protect children, and it supported the addition of abduction as a trigger for listing in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report. States sponsoring terrorists, including Council members, should be held accountable.
BOGUSŁAW WINID (Poland) said that as the “main initiator” of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, his country did its utmost to ensure respect for children’s rights. His Government was helping Syrian children regain normal lives, and he thanked Jordan and Lebanon for supporting the evacuation of Syrian refugees to Poland. The international community should take all steps to eradicate the root causes of engaging children in armed conflict, and action plans should be devised to help children adjust to life after war. Poland had been among the first countries to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, which aimed to prevent the military use of schools. Expressing concern about child soldier recruitment in South Sudan, Syria and Mali, he urged countries to sign, ratify and implement the Convention’s Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
MINNA-LIINA LIND (Estonia), aligning with the European Union, welcomed the adoption of the resolution, which added abduction as a trigger. As a next step, the Council must ensure child protection provisions were incorporated into peace processes, negotiations and ceasefires in the most efficient way possible. More also must be done to help all concerned Governments in facilitating and supporting engagement of non-State armed groups with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and with UNICEF. She drew attention to the situation in Ukraine, where 1.7 million children were affected by the conflict and at least 68 had been killed as of the end of March, and asked the Special Representative to look into those grave violations. Impunity was one of the main reasons for the recurrence of such violations; only consistent prosecution would deter the commission of those crimes. The International Criminal Court played an important role in situations where States were unable or unwilling to bring perpetrators to justice domestically. The Council could increase pressure on perpetrators by including violations against children in the mandate of all sanctions committees and by including individuals sought by the Court on the sanctions list. The United Nations must not close its eyes to violations committed by its own staff and peacekeeping troops.
BÉNÉDICTE FRANKINET (Belgium) said unprecedented challenges in 2014 to protect children in countries in conflict situations, including from abductions, demonstrated that more needed to be done. The report showed that children also continued to be victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence; the impunity of the perpetrators was also of grave concern. Victims should have, among other things, effective access to justice. Pointing out that weapons such as barrel bombs violated international law and were being used indiscriminately in civilian areas, she said her country called on all parties to renounce their use and on all States that had yet to ratify relevant international instruments to do so.
THOMAS SCHIEB (Germany), associating with the European Union, said parties to conflicts that hurt children for the sake of strategic advantage were guilty of some of the worst crimes imaginable. It was the Council’s responsibility to firmly stand up against such practices wherever they occurred. The rise in the number of abductions was of great concern, as that represented a precursor for other grave violations. He called for more effective use of existing sanctions when it came to increasing accountability for grave violations against children. Sanctions committees must include designation criteria relating to children and armed conflict and encourage the Special Representative to share information with them. The Council must not shy away from using such information. Those trusted to protect children must never become perpetrators themselves, he said, calling on all troop contributors and the Secretariat to hold all abusers accountable.
OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said that 2014 was marked with an intensification of conflict and revealed children’s great vulnerability. Their abductions had been increasingly used as a war tactic, such as human shields and suicide attacks. Abduction rid children of normal life and was a precursor to other crimes, including sex slavery. It denied the elementary freedom of children. Illegal and arbitrary detention was prohibited by international law. Children must be protected, whether at home, school, or elsewhere. Detention was traumatic, making it difficult for victims to restart and rebuild their life. They needed support. An increase in child recruitment by groups like ISIL and Boko Haram required coordinated effort by the international community. But it was important that parties to conflict abide by international agreements. Efforts of the international community benefited from a multifaceted strategy entailing prevention, governance, and sustainable development, as well as incentive and punitive measures. Time had come to consider crimes against children in armed conflict as crimes against humanity.
GUILLERMO RISHCHYNSKI (Canada), welcoming today’s adoption of the resolution, said that he was deeply saddened by the many children, both Israeli and Palestinian, injured and killed during the 2014 Gaza conflict, for which Hamas was solely responsible. As the Secretary-General’s report noted, the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups from populated areas endangered civilian populations in both Israel and Gaza and led to deaths and injuries among children. The report, however, demonstrated an overt bias by singling out Israel for one-sided and disproportionate criticism. The fact that 32 paragraphs were devoted to Israel — far more than to any other Member State, including Syria, the Central African Republic and Sudan — spoke to the need to provide a more honest, impartial and balanced view of the situation on the ground than was found in the report. That slanted view undermined the integrity of such an important document.
ANDREAS RIECKEN (Austria) said signing action plans, especially with non-State armed actors, must be facilitated, with concerned Governments playing a support role in the process and allowing the United Nations access to the respective areas. In armed conflict situations, children still had a right to education, he said, supporting the Safe Schools Declaration and urging all parties to conflict to use its guidelines for protecting schools. Condemning the recruitment of children by armed forces, he said his delegation supported the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers and others affected by war. Commending the Secretariat’s efforts to raise awareness about the devastating humanitarian consequences of explosive weapons, he said Austria would host an expert meeting in that regard in September.
ANDREJ LOGAR (Slovenia) expressed concern at the increased prevalence of mass abductions in 2014, in particular by extremist groups. Abductions by ISIL/Da’esh in Syria and Iraq and Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighbouring States were just an example of the most striking cases. Issues around abduction had been discussed at the conference “Rights for Peace”, held in Slovenia earlier this year; his delegation therefore welcomed the Council’s decision to add abductions as a new trigger for listing parties to the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual report. Reiterating his concern regarding the increased number of attacks and military use of schools in 2014, he nevertheless took note with appreciation of the progress made during that year towards ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups. Progress had been made by the Council to include issues regarding children in armed conflict in country-specific resolutions and presidential statements, sanctions regimes and relevant peacekeeping and political missions’ mandates, as well as in the work of its Working Group. However, there was a gap in implementation of the Council’s decisions on the ground, he said.
OH JOON (Republic of Korea) said that since the adoption of resolution 1612 (2005), the international community had continued to raise awareness about the protection of children in conflict situations; however, those efforts had often been outpaced by blindness and savagery. Victimizing children was not only unacceptable in itself but also sowed the seeds of conflict for future generations. “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind,” he said, stressing that protecting children was both a moral imperative and a legal obligation. Accountability was the key to ending gross violations against children, with effective tools including monitoring and reporting, targeted sanctions and enhancing justice mechanisms. While it was encouraging that armed groups in the Central African Republic and South Sudan released child soldiers, extremist groups such as Boko Haram and ISIL were likely to remain “untouchable”. As such, a fundamental and determined approach should be taken, he said.
PAUL SEGER (Switzerland) expressed his delegation’s concern at the scale of violence perpetrated against children, whose abduction was becoming a war practice used in systematic campaigns of intimidation and reprisals against civilians. Noting that Switzerland had co-sponsored today’s resolution, he welcomed the Council’s decision to make the abduction of children a criterion for listing in the Secretary-General’s annual report on the subject. He welcomed the non-paper prepared by France in March, which had called upon Member States in their fight against terrorism and violent extremism to comply with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law and not to criminalize contact with non-State armed groups if that contact was solely for humanitarian reasons. He also strongly urged the international community to support organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Geneva Call, which had direct access to armed groups and which could make a difference through dialogue, awareness-raising and training. Finally, he called on States to consider children primarily as victims and to draw up measures that would not adversely affect them, including avoiding the detention of those suspected or found to be associated with armed groups or considered as violent extremists.
Mr. GONZALEZ SERAFINI (Argentina) supported the Council’s work to end violations of children’s rights, noting that his country was among the first to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. His country also sponsored today’s resolution. There was a need to increase pressure on both State and non-State actors violating the rights of children through such measures as targeted sanctions. Child protection must be integrated into peacekeeping and political missions, and related training should not be limited to those directly involved in child protection. Much remained to be done to combat impunity, he said, recalling that the Council had established International Tribunals and the International Criminal Court for that purpose. He warned against the use of schools for military purposes, urging Council members to support the Oslo Declaration on Safe Schools, which had been adopted by 39 countries so far. He highlighted tomorrow’s adoption of a resolution on the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.
GEORGIOS POULEAS (Greece) said his country had signed and ratified the major international human rights instruments concerning child protection, such as the Convention of the Rights of the Child and its two optional protocols — on the involvement of children in armed conflicts and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Under the terms of 2011 Greek law, the recruitment of children during armed conflict constituted a war crime and was punished as such under the national judicial system, by at least 10 years of imprisonment. In addition, the Greek authorities were currently devising an action plan on the rights of the child, which would have a dedicated chapter on children and armed conflict, and an awareness-raising campaign to be launched at schools. Greece was also among the 38 countries that recently joined the Oslo Safe Schools Declaration.
VLADIMIR DROBNJAK (Croatia) said his delegation was concerned about egregious violations to which children had been subjected in the reporting period, including those that had been detained under the suspicion of being associated with extremist groups. In those situations, children must be treated as victims, not perpetrators. Boko Haram and ISIL were putting children’s lives in danger and robbing them of their childhood, he said, condemning the atrocities committed, including the abduction of girls in Chibok. Perpetrators must be held accountable and it was of utmost importance that the Security Council refer cases of serious crimes to the International Criminal Court, giving due regard to children’s protection under the Rome Statute. Calling on countries to become a party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, he pledged Croatia’s full support in finally bridging the gap between commitments and the actual practice of ensuring that childhoods were free from fear and violence.
NGUYEN PHUONG NGA (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), said that the inclusion of abduction as an additional criterion for listing in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report could help strengthen mechanisms for monitoring violations against children. Prudence must be exercised to avoid unnecessarily complicating issues on the ground, especially in situations not on the Council agenda. Children’s alleged association with extremist groups should not be reason for deprivation of liberty. In 2015, ASEAN’s priority was to strengthen its regional mechanism to materialize the high-level commitment to make progress on the issue, with its Commission for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Women and Children developing a regional plan of action for the implementation of the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Children adopted by its 2014 summit.
MOHAMED ALI ALHAKIM (Iraq), aligning with the statement made on behalf of the League of Arab States, said that atrocities against children were part of the many terrible effects of terrorism against his country, which was a global problem. ISIL had committed all of the crimes mentioned plus trafficking of children. He subscribed to most of the content of the Secretary-General’s report, which he said described the surge in violence since the beginning of 2014, much of which he called crimes against humanity. ISIL’s utilization of schools had included using them to brainwash children to continue the hatred and violence and to carry out suicide attacks. Mass displacement had occurred as populations fled ISIL. He disagreed with certain sections of the report; he maintained that Iraq had protected children’s rights and outlawed recruiting them as soldiers, and it had invited Ms. Zerrougui to a conference on child protection. He called on the international community to help all sectors of his country fend off the barbaric attacks on its children and their future.
DESRA PERCAYA (Indonesia) said that it was critical to ensure that the emerging trend of child abduction in armed conflict was halted. All perpetrators, State or non-State actors, should be held accountable. Children associated with armed groups should be treated as victims, and, therefore, efforts should be focused on their effective rehabilitation and reintegration into society. He supported the idea to further expand the normative framework for the protection of children in armed conflict by adding abduction as criteria for listing parties, which violated international norms. He also recognized the importance of making pre-deployment child protection training mandatory for all troop-contributing countries of the United Nations peacekeeping operations. The Organization should invest more resources in conflict prevention, as that was the best way to protect children in armed conflict.
CRISTINA CARRIÓN (Uruguay) welcomed the Council’s focus on protecting the rights of children, including the adoption of today’s resolution. The issue was a priority for her country, which had participated in a number of international initiatives, including through its participation in peacekeeping missions. She called for better information on the situation of children, particularly on abduction. Groups that abducted and abused children should be countered strongly through international and regional cooperation and application of sanctions, and perpetrators of the abductions should be held accountable for crimes against humanity. Detention of children alleged to have belonged to armed groups was also of concern. It was vital to strengthen legal protections for all children.
LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama), expressing deep concern over the situation of children in conflict zones, welcomed efforts by UNICEF, the Working Group, Ms. Zerrougui’s office and others involved in strengthening protections. Stronger measures should be taken, however; accountability for perpetrators of violations against children, stronger mechanisms for protection and other tools must be utilized. Enumerating initiatives supported by her country, she appealed to Member States to join efforts to protect students, teachers and schools. She stressed the primary role of Member States in reversing the tragic trend of increased suffering of children in conflict.
FRANTIŠEK RUŽIČKA (Slovakia) said the issue of children and armed conflict was discussed often, reflecting unprecedented challenges to protecting them. Terrorism and violent extremism were also threatening children, who had become deliberate targets, had been used as “weapons” in suicide attacks and become prey in the net of the terrorist “narrative” on social media. Responses must be strong, targeted and comprehensive, with a continuous focus on children and teenagers. “We must approach them at a very early stage in a way they are familiar with, with a language they understand,” he said. “We must give them real visions of their future and defuse false dreams of terrorist propaganda that very often turn into nightmares.” To improve the situation, it was important to provide military, police and civilian peacekeepers with adequate training on mission-specific child protection. Other areas to focus on included the restoration of justice and security in post-conflict recovery and the establishment of child protection units in national security forces.
ALEXANDR KABENTAYEV (Kazakhstan) said the issue of children in armed conflict must be more integrated into the Council’s work, through placing a child protection mandate in all peacekeeping missions and dedicating an officer for that purpose. Troops, police and civilian personnel should receive pre-deployment training and all States should implement the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign. Further, child abduction should be added as a new trigger for inclusion in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s report, and all perpetrators should be brought to justice with stricter enforcement of the Rome Statute when countries were unwilling to protect children. Endorsing proposals by Watch List for Children and other defenders of children’s rights, he said every effort should be made to prevent attacks on educational institutions and to end the military use of schools.
LOURDES ORTIZ YPARRAGUIRRE (Philippines) said that his Government had concluded peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and signed the comprehensive agreement on the Bangsamoro after 40 years of bloody conflict and 16 years of a difficult peace process. The first phase of decommissioning MILF combatants and their firearms was implemented last Tuesday. “We have within our grasp lasting peace in southern Philippines with our children waking up each day and ending each day in a safe and peaceful environment, whether they be at home, at play or at school.” His Government remained confident that the Front would continue to cooperate in order to secure its delisting from groups perpetrating the use of children in armed conflict. The Secretary-General’s report had noted a decline in cases of child soldier recruitment in the Philippines from 20 in 2013 to 7 in 2014. The Government would work hard to bring the number to zero.
YOUSEF SULTAN LARAM (Qatar), aligning with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Arab Group, said that despite strenuous efforts, 2014 saw an intensification of mass abductions of children in armed conflict. Documentation of abuses would not be helpful without strong measures to enforce the law and end impunity. Qatar focused on high-quality education as a means of empowering children in conflict areas and was engaged internationally in initiatives in that regard. Efforts must continue to prevent attacks against schools and universities and discourage their use for military purposes. He expressed concern at the reports of violations against children in occupied Palestine and Syria, and stressed the need to reach a political solution to the conflicts there. The world had realized that building safe and stable societies must begin by providing children an all-around conducive environment. It was now time to translate that realization into action.
HASSAN HAMID HASSAN (Sudan) said the rights of children were an important priority of his Government, which had signed and ratified critical international conventions and agreements. National legislation prohibited recruitment of people under 18 years as well as child labour. The Government had set up units within the armed forces relating to the protection of children and was seriously investigating reports of abuses in cooperation with international organizations. A national children’s council had been established to coordinate policies and programmes related to that segment of the population. In light of those policies, Sudan called for the removal of the country from the annex of the Secretary-General’s report. Furthermore, the document contained erroneous information, including outright lies, on Sudan, which the Government totally rejected. A comprehensive approach was needed to properly address the issue, he stressed.
VAKHTANG MAKHAROBLISHVILI (Georgia), associating with the European Union, said Boko Haram’s abduction of girls in Chibok and kidnappings by Da’esh in Syria and Iraq were “glaring” examples of the gross violations against children. Georgia had spared no effort to ensure adequate living conditions for internally displaced children by extending social and educational assistance and implementing a national strategy. Yet, his Government had been denied the opportunity to address the needs of children in regions illegally occupied by the Russian military, about whom it was extremely concerned, considering the lack of international monitoring. They had been denied their right to education in their native language and their freedom of movement had been restricted by barbwire fences along the occupation line in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali. He called on the Russian Federation to respect international law, including the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the 2008 ceasefire.
NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan) expressed hope that the unanimous adoption of resolution 2225 (2015) today would help address the worrying pattern of abduction of children in situations of armed conflict. Peacekeeping missions, where mandated, could play an important role provided they received the necessary training and requisite resources. As one of the largest troop-contributing countries, Pakistan welcomed focused pre-deployment and in-mission training. It was also important that persistent perpetrators of violence against children were identified and brought to justice through national judicial systems. The year 2014 was a grim year for the hapless children of occupied Palestine, where the 50-day military invasion of Gaza left over 550 dead and 4,000 injured. Yet those child deaths and injuries were conveniently described as accidental by Israeli inquiry. Pakistan was concerned at the selective approach to listing adopted for this year’s report. That amounted to condoning the grave crimes committed against Palestinian children, an approach that would not only damage the credibility of the mandate, but also set a bad precedent for the future.
MANSOUR AYYAD SH A ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), said the decision to exclude Israel from the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report not only put the United Nations integrity at stake, but further emboldened Israel’s impunity to continue committing its flagrant and systematic violations of human rights. The Special Representative’s 2015 annual report was a credible instrument that identified and illustrated Israel’s innumerable violations, perpetrated mainly against Palestinian children. The OIC shared concerns over those violations and about the human rights indicators for Palestinian children, which had deteriorated sharply as a result of the latest Israeli military offensive in 2014. The Organization reiterated its call on the international community, particularly the Council, to uphold its responsibilities to avert the deteriorating situation in Palestine and ensure justice and protection for the rights of the vulnerable Palestinian children, as well as integrity of efforts to offer a political horizon forward so as to empower the Palestinian people and provide hope at a time of widespread desperation.
RY TUY (Cambodia), aligning with ASEAN, strongly condemned all forms of violence perpetrated against children and expressed deep concern about the increasing trend in the abduction of children by non-State armed groups. “The international community must give careful attention to this disturbing tactic of terror, used to dehumanize, humiliate and subjugate entire populations, particularly women and children,” he said. The primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security rested with the United Nations and the international community must assert the rule of law. Existing legal instruments for the protection of children in armed conflict must be strengthened; to that end, he welcomed the efforts by the Malaysian delegation to include abduction as an additional violation to trigger inclusion of a party in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report. In order to protect children from violence, slavery and the everyday horrors of war, the deep-rooted causes of conflict must be addressed. Preventing the use of children in armed conflicts could only be achieved through adequate social, political and economic conditions. In that connection, no sustainable development agenda could be successful without first securing a safe and prosperous future for the world’s children.
LEVENT ELER (Turkey), aligning with the statement made on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, expressed concern over the growing harm to children in situations of armed conflict. He added that in light of the violations committed against Palestinian children, due references should be included in the annex of the Secretary-General’s report. Joint and robust political will and concerted action was needed to protect children exposed to armed conflict, as well as greater support to United Nations efforts to provide essential assistance along with monitoring and reporting on the situation. When dealing with non-State groups to prevent recruitment of children, organizations should refrain from drawing up documents that included them, so as not to legitimize them. Instead, reinforcing the legal framework that countered recruitment should be the priority. Describing the degree of suffering of Syrian children due to the crisis in that country, he said Turkey had maintained an open door for Syrian refugees and was extending every possible kind of assistance to meet Syrian children’s needs, including the more than 550,000 of school age.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said that despite the “pivotal” role of the Secretary-General’s annual report, the listing of parties responsible for the recruitment and use of children, and creation of a Council working group, challenges remained in protecting children in armed conflict. The annexes to the Secretary-General’s report failed to reflect the facts outlined in it. According to the Secretary-General’s mandate, a party that committed any of the six violations against children should be listed in the annexes, with the aim of starting a dialogue to halt such abuse. Israel was believed to be involved in three of the six grave violations. Yet, it had not been listed. Egypt opposed preferential treatment for any party and called on the Secretariat to address that deficiency in future reports.
FREDERICK MUSIIWA MAKAMURE SHAVA (Zimbabwe), speaking on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said a significant number of children affected by conflict lived in Africa. As such, the African Union had ensured that child protection concerns were central to peace and security on the continent, having made cooperation among States and subregional organizations a priority. Most SADC member States had signed and ratified international child rights protection instruments and enacted legislation to give them effect. It was imperative to strengthen the partnership between the United Nations and regional groups, he said, citing joint action by the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in freeing child soldiers from extremist groups. Strongly condemning attacks on schools and hospitals, he urged using the full range of tools to exert pressure on States and non-State actors to prevent violations of children’s rights. The United Nations and regional groups should secure commitments from conflict parties to promote child protection during peace talks.
BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said abduction was often the “gateway” to greater abuses against children and more serious violations of international humanitarian law. The 2014 abduction of 276 girls by Boko Haram exemplified the horrors of that crime and the challenge of bringing non-State armed groups to justice. “This Council can still and must do more,” he said, advocating that child protection commitments be incorporated in peacebuilding efforts. The Council should consider expanding resolution 1612 (2005) to include abduction, request the Secretary-General to include in his report’s annexes parties that engaged in abductions, and ensure resources for children saved from armed groups. The prohibition to use schools, hospitals and other institutions for military purposes must be strictly implemented.
ŽELJKO PEROVIĆ (Montenegro), aligning himself with the European Union, said that today’s resolution was a step forward in advancing the children in armed conflict agenda. Noting that 2015 marked the first anniversary of the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign, he said Chad proved that “action plans can work”. He called on all parties, States and non-State actors that had not concluded action plans to follow Chad’s example and urged those that had signed them to honour their commitments in full. Member States should allow United Nations personnel access to the zones of armed non-State actors. He welcomed the addition of abductions as a new trigger for listing parties in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report. However, more needed to be done; the international Criminal Court and national judicial authorities had an important role to play in responding to violations as they occurred. The Council should, to the extent possible, use the option to refer situations to the Court, and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict should further consider modalities to increase pressure on persistent perpetrators of human rights violations and end impunity.
MYINT LWIN (Myanmar) said that in an insecure environment, children were most vulnerable to the serious consequences of armed conflict. There were various reasons in addition to abductions that forced innocent children towards armed groups, including poverty, lack of jobs and birth certificates, and corrupt recruiters. Myanmar fully supported the search for sustainable solutions, which depended on the political will of actors. Therefore, the Council must take a cooperative, not punitive, approach in the case of parties working with the United Nations. Some of the information in the Secretary-General’s report regarding Myanmar had been overtaken by recent developments. More children were discharged from military services and reunited with their families and forced recruitment had been criminalized. The Government had been making serious efforts to sign a nation-wide ceasefire agreement with ethnic armed groups to end conflicts lasting over six decades.
AHMED FATHALLA, Permanent Observer for the League of Arab States, said the League highly valued the Secretary-General’s report; however, it had wanted a clearer depiction of the plight of Palestinian children in the annex. He described Palestinian suffering due to the conflict in Gaza in 2014, as well as elsewhere under occupation. Children in armed conflict must be protected; for that purpose the League was constantly enhancing cooperation with the United Nations and had signed a plan of action with Ms. Zerrougui’s office. He supported the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign, describing efforts to ensure that Arab armies were free of child recruits. However, the Arab regions also had many non-State actors involved in conflicts and the Council must take action to ensure that their activities did not violate children’s rights.
MPHO MICHELLE MOGOBE (Botswana), aligning with the statement made on behalf of SADC, said that decisive action was needed by the Council to address the many crises that currently threatened children. Her country was deeply concerned about the gravity of violations against children, including abductions. The international community had a moral duty to ensure that urgent measures were taken to protect children against such crimes and guarantee the enjoyment of their full rights. In that effort, accountability for heinous acts was critical, including those committed by personnel of peacekeeping operations. Her country reaffirmed its commitment to all the relevant international conventions to which it was a party. In closing, she stated that, as some crisis-beset States had manifestly failed to protect their civilian populations, the onus to act lay squarely with the Council and the international community.
HUSNIYYA MAMMADOVA (Azerbaijan) said the vulnerability of children in wartime brought an element of urgency, dedication and strong commitment to worldwide protection efforts, which must be free of selectivity. During the Armenian aggression against her country, thousands of Azerbaijani children were deprived of their basic rights. Thousands were killed and maimed on the grounds of ethnic hatred as well as taken hostage and forcibly displaced from their homes. The continued denial by Armenia of the right of those children to return to their homes bore social consequences and implications for achieving lasting peace. While ensuring more effective protection for children, particular consideration should be given to internally displaced children in terms of ensuring their right to return and the implications of illegal policies in situations of foreign occupation. Peace efforts could not be conducted in a manner that contradicted the established norms of international law. It was therefore essential that such efforts and peace agreements never encourage the acceptance of situations achieved by the unlawful use of force or other serious violations of international law.
KOKI MULI GRIGNON (Kenya) said the recruitment of children as weapons of war underlaid larger and systemic issues, among them the breakdown of a country’s social fabric, and implied the long-term generational aspect of the conflict and the possibility of future mass atrocities. There was a need to address the root causes of conflict, including political, social and economic inequalities, and child protection should be part and parcel of any conflict management and prevention strategy. In that regard, Kenya appreciated the progress made through the monitoring and reporting mechanism and the Working Group. Urging the Council to address the critical issue of the unprecedented rise in the number of children being recruited, being abducted and even volunteering to take part in armed conflicts, he noted with dismay the challenges with regard to protecting children growing up in situations affected by conflict. The volatile situations in South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen presented a clear, persistent and continued threat to Kenya’s national security. Armed groups such as Al-Shabaab and Boko Haram would not be defeated or discouraged from abducting and recruiting children by engagement and diplomacy alone. He urged the Council to engage robustly with the African Union and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in seeking solutions to end conflicts.
ALVARO MENDONÇA E MOURA (Portugal) said that it was appalling that minimum human rights standards in times of war were systematically ignored and violated by both Government forces and non-State actors. “When children, the most vulnerable of the vulnerable, continue to be victims of armed violence, being killed, injured, abused, abducted and in some cases used as soldiers, this represents the collapse of the collective value system of the international community,” he said. The Council had the political and ethical responsibility of sending a clear message that abuse against children was unacceptable. Abduction, in particular, had become a warfare tactic of extremist non-State actors to terrorize and control communities and was a first sign of alert for further human rights abuses. Stressing the importance of action to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of child victims of conflict, he said any plans for post-conflict peacebuilding should make the needs of children a central focus. He expressed grave concern over widespread and deliberate attacks against schools, teachers and students as instruments of warfare. Portugal had introduced a resolution in the Human Rights Council on the realization of the right to education that was at the origin of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education; such resolutions were steps in the right direction.
GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said that barbarous groups Da’esh and Boko Haram had engaged in systematic child abduction. The consequences of abduction were dire and could amount to additional crimes: thousands of children snatched from their families had been forced to be soldiers, sold as sexual slaves, or exploited as human shields or as unwitting suicide bombers. His delegation therefore welcomed the Council’s decision today to include abductions as a trigger for the inclusion of parties into the annexes of the Secretary-General’s annual report. While encouraging the Council’s Working Group to engage directly with peacekeeping mission leadership to better understand contemporary challenges on the ground, he stressed the need for situation-specific training for all peacekeeping personnel to address the full range of grave violations against children, including abduction. Malaysia’s “Children and Armed Conflict Accountability Framework” could serve as a practical guide to introduce accountability measures at local, national and international levels.
Taking the floor to make a further statement, the representative of Israel said delegations that attacked her country during the debate seemed to have forgotten that terrorist groups had targeted civilian buildings such as schools and hospitals inside Israel, a fact the Secretary-General’s report also ignored. The delegations that attacked Israel knew full well that the Government discharged its responsibility to protect all people, regardless of ethnicity. Peace would not be achieved until Hamas and other armed groups abandoned violence.
Also making a further statement, the representative of the Russian Federation said the comments her country made earlier regarding attacks on children in Ukraine were substantiated by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Mission. Children who were seriously injured and removed for medical care could not be considered to have been abducted. The statement by Georgia’s representative did not reflect the fact that the Russian Federation’s policies in the region were aimed at normalizing relations with the new states there.
In his further statement, the representative of Ukraine rejected the Russian Federation’s accusations that children were deliberately being targeted inside his country. To promote peace and stability, the Russian Federation needed simply to remove its weapons from Ukrainian terrorists and end its aggression.
Making a further statement, the representative of Georgia said the new states the Russian Federation was talking about were in reality occupation regimes. Echoing the Ukrainian delegate, he urged the Russian Federation to remove its forces from the region in order to build peace and stability.
The full text of resolution 2225 (2015) reads as follows:
“The Security Council,
“Reaffirming its resolutions 1261 (1999) of 25 August 1999, 1314 (2000) of 11 August 2000, 1379 (2001) or 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, 2068 (2012) of 19 September 2012, 2143 (2014) of 7 March 2014, and all relevant statements of its President, which contribute to a comprehensive framework for addressing the protection of children affected by armed conflict,
“Reiterating its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and, in this connection, its commitment to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on children,
“Acknowledging that its resolutions, their implementation and the Statements of its President on children and armed conflict as well as the conclusions of the Security Council Working Group 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 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 12th August 1949 and the Additional Protocols of 1977,
“Convinced that the protection of children in armed conflict should be an important aspect of any comprehensive strategy to resolve conflict and build peace and stressing also the importance of adopting a broad strategy of conflict prevention, which addresses the root causes of armed conflict in a comprehensive manner in order to enhance the protection of children on a long-term basis,
“Stressing the primary role of Governments in providing protection and relief to all children affected by armed conflict and recognizing the importance of strengthening national capacities in this regard,
“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 also the important roles that local leaders and civil society networks can play in enhancing community-level protection and rehabilitation, including non-stigmatization, for children affected by armed conflict,
“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,
“Having considered the report of the Secretary-General of 8 June 2015 (S/2015/409) and stressing that the present resolution does not seek to make any legal determination as to whether situations which are referred to in the Secretary-General’s report are or are not armed conflicts within the context of the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols thereto, nor does it prejudge the legal status of the non-State parties involved in these situations,
“Expressing grave concern over the abduction of children in situations of armed conflict, the majority of which are perpetrated by non-State armed groups, recognizing that abductions occur in a variety of settings, including schools, further recognizing that abduction often precedes or follows other abuses and violations of applicable international law against children, including those involving recruitment and use, killing and maiming, as well as rape and other forms of sexual violence, which may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity, and calling on all Member States to hold perpetrators of abductions accountable,
“Gravely concerned by the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law committed by non-state armed groups, in particular violent extremist groups, including mass abductions, rape and other forms of sexual violence such as sexual slavery, particularly targeting girls, which can cause displacement and affect access to education and healthcare services, and emphasizing the importance of accountability for such abuses and violations,
“Noting that Article 35 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child calls for States Parties to take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form,
“Gravely concerned by the detrimental effects of the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons on children in armed conflict, in particular due to 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 on schools and hospitals in violation of international law,
“Stressing that the best interests of the child as well as the specific needs and vulnerabilities of children should be considered when planning and carrying out actions concerning children in situations of armed conflict,
“Recalling the obligations of all parties to armed conflict applicable to them under international humanitarian law and human rights law, emphasizing that no child should be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily and calling on all Parties to conflict to cease unlawful or arbitrary detention as well as torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment imposed on children during their detention,
“Recognizing the importance of providing timely and appropriate reintegration and rehabilitation assistance to children affected by armed conflict, while ensuring that the specific needs of girls as well as children with disabilities are addressed, including access to health care, psychosocial support, and education programmes that contribute to the well-being of children and to sustainable peace and security,
“Calling on all parties to conflict to respect the civilian character of schools as such in accordance with international humanitarian law,
“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 forms of sexual violence, abductions, attacks against schools and hospitals as well as 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. Reaffirms that the monitoring and reporting mechanism will continue to be implemented in situations listed in annex I and annex II (“the annexes”) to the reports of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, in line with the principles set out in paragraph 2 of its resolution 1612 (2005), and that its establishment and implementation shall not prejudge or imply a decision by the Security Council as to whether or not to include a situation on its agenda;
“3. Recalls paragraph 16 of its resolution 1379 (2001) and requests the Secretary-General also to include in the annexes to his reports on children and armed conflict those parties to armed conflict that engage, in contravention of applicable international law, in patterns of abduction of children in situations of armed conflict, bearing in mind all other violations and abuses against children, and notes that the present paragraph will apply to situations in accordance with the conditions set out in paragraph 16 of its resolution 1379 (2001);
“4. Calls upon those parties listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict that commit violations and abuses against children in contravention of applicable international law, including abductions of children in situations of armed conflict, to prepare and adopt without delay, concrete time-bound action plans to halt those violations and abuses in collaboration with the United Nations;
“5. Urges for the immediate, safe and unconditional release of abducted children by all Parties to conflict and encourages Member States, United Nations entities, and regional and sub-regional organizations to undertake relevant efforts to obtain the safe release of abducted children, including through establishing standard operating procedures on the handover of children to relevant civilian child protection actors, as well as to seek to ensure their family reunification, rehabilitation and reintegration;
“6. Encourages Member States to consider non-judicial measures as alternatives to prosecution and detention that focus on the rehabilitation and reintegration for children formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups taking into account that deprivation of liberty of children should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, as well as to avoid wherever possible the use of pretrial detention for children;
“7. Expresses deep concern that the military use of schools in contravention of applicable international law may render schools legitimate targets of attack, thus endangering the safety of children and in this regard encourages Member States to take concrete measures to deter such use of schools by armed forces and armed groups;
“8. Stresses the importance of regular and timely consideration of violations and abuses committed against children in armed conflict, in this regard welcomes the sustained activity of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and invites the Working Group to make full use of tools within its mandate to promote the protection of children affected by armed conflict, including through increasing engagement with concerned Member States, in light of ongoing discussions on enhancing compliance;
“9. Continues to urge Member States, United Nations entities, regional and sub-regional organizations 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, ceasefire and peace agreements, and in provisions for ceasefire monitoring;
“10. Welcomes the progress made under the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign towards ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children by Government armed forces in conflict by 2016, further urges concerned Governments to continue to undertake all efforts in order to ensure that no children are in their ranks in conflict, and calls on Member States, all relevant United Nations entities, NGOs and the donor community to support the campaign in their various capacities;
“11. Invites the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to update the Security Council on the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers” as well as on the progress made in the signing and implementation of action plans or commitments by non-State armed groups, including about the process and progress in delisting concerned parties;
“12. Urges 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 with timely, sustained and adequate resources and funding;
“13. Urges concerned Member States, when undertaking security sector reforms, to mainstream child protection, such as the inclusion of child protection in military training and standard operating procedures, including on the handover of children to relevant civilian child protection actors, the establishment of child protection units in national security forces, and the strengthening of effective age assessment mechanisms to prevent underage recruitment, while stressing in the latter regard the importance of ensuring universal birth registration, including late birth registration which should remain an exception;
“14. 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;
“15. Recognizes the role of United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions in the protection of children, particularly the crucial role of child protection advisers in mainstreaming child protection and leading monitoring, prevention and reporting efforts in missions, and in this regard reiterates its decision 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;
“16. Calls for the continued implementation by United Nations peacekeeping operations of the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to ensure full compliance of their personnel with the United Nations code of conduct, reiterates its request to the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary action in this regard and to keep the Security Council informed, and urges troop-contributing countries to continue taking appropriate preventive action, such as mandatory pre-deployment child protection training including on sexual exploitation and abuse, and to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel;
“17. Further 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;
“18. Reiterates its requests to the Secretary-General to continue to submit comprehensive annual reports to the Council on the implementation of its resolutions and Presidential statements on children and armed conflict and to ensure that in all his reports on country-specific situations the matter of children and armed conflict is included as specific aspect of the report;
“19. Decides to remain actively seized of this matter.”