New York

25 March 2015

The Secretary-General's Remarks at Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict [Scroll down for English version]

Monsieur le Président du Conseil de sécurité,
Mesdames et messieurs les représentants,

Je remercie le Représentant permanent de la France d’avoir organisé ce débat important, qui tombe à point nommé.

Dans les zones de guerre du monde entier, les enfants sont de plus en plus menacés.

Pour les enfants, l’année dernière semble avoir été une des pires jamais enregistrées dans les régions touchées par des conflits.

On estime que 230 millions d’enfants vivent dans des pays et des régions où des combats entre groupes armés font rage. Près de 15 millions d’entre eux ont été directement touchés par la violence.

Les auteurs de violations à l’encontre d’enfants en temps de conflit armé ont des profils de plus en plus diversifiés et sont d’une sauvagerie croissante.

Il nous appartient de braquer les projecteurs sur ce problème, de l’examiner – et d’agir.

Je tiens à saluer la présence parmi nous aujourd’hui de M. Junior Nzita Nsuami, un ancien enfant soldat de la République démocratique du Congo.

L’exemple de Junior nous montre qu’avec une assistance suffisante, avec des possibilités d’éducation et avec un appui continu, on peut surmonter la violence d’une enfance passée à mener une guerre d’adultes.

Junior consacre désormais sa vie à aider les enfants défavorisés à Kinshasa, et son objectif est de bâtir un avenir meilleur pour eux, et pour son pays.

Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Globally, in conflict situations, the main perpetrators of grave violations against children are armed groups.

These groups constitute the vast majority of parties listed in the annexes of my annual report on children and armed conflict.

Since I last addressed the Council on this issue one year ago, hundreds of thousands more children have been confronted with the emergence or intensification of conflict, and have endured new and grave threats posed by armed groups.

Sadly, this includes some of the worst human rights violations a child can experience – including death, injury, imprisonment and torture, sexual abuse, forced recruitment and abduction.

There is rarely anyone to hear their protests or advocate for their rights.

The rise of violent extremism in conflict areas is particularly disturbing.

The tactics of groups such as Da’esh and Boko Haram make little distinction between civilians and combatants. 

These groups not only constitute a threat to international peace and security, but often target girls and boys.

No cause can justify such acts.

Children have the right to be protected in their schools, in their homes, in their communities.

Increasingly, children are snatched from a normal life of school and family, abducted by armed groups and thrown into a life of violence and horror. 

From north-eastern Nigeria, to Iraq, from South Sudan to Syria, we have witnessed a wave of such abductions used to terrorize and humiliate entire communities.

How can we forget the images of the girls from Chibok, stolen from their school dormitory and still missing?

Our agencies on the ground tell us that they are verifying more and more cases of child abductions.

This is why I urge Member States to work with us to strengthen our prevention and response mechanisms.

Mr. President,

We agree that we cannot tolerate a world in which children are killed and maimed, where they are abducted, subject to sexual violence, forced to become soldiers, and where schools and hospitals are attacked.

That is why we engage not just with Governments but also armed groups to stop grave violations against children.

My Special Representative has worked with many such groups, and will work with more, to ensure we are doing our utmost to protect children in these most difficult environments.

The resolutions adopted by the Council over the past 16 years have built a solid framework and given us tools to better engage with Governments and non-state actors not only to end, but also to prevent, these violations.

We have seen concrete outcomes of our efforts that have translated into thousands of children now going to school instead of battle, and playing in fields instead of fighting on them.

By protecting children, we contribute to building durable peace and to helping countries reach their full potential.

But we must act collectively, and expeditiously.

I call on the international community to continue supporting this work and this mandate, and to always ensure that the children’s best interests are at the heart of any response we undertake.

Mr. President,
Distinguished members of the Council,

Allow me to end on a positive note.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend my Special Representative and UNICEF for their campaign “Children Not Soldiers”, which they launched a year ago to end the recruitment and use of children by Government forces by 2016.

The progress they have accomplished to date is encouraging.

With the support of the United Nations, Chad completed all the requirements to make its army child-free.

Six of the seven countries involved in the campaign are now engaged with the UN to end and prevent the recruitment of children in their security forces, and some of them are making commendable progress.

This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, but we still have a long road ahead of us to transform these commitments into a reality for thousands of children.

I count on all of you, distinguished members of the Council, Members of the international community, and all stakeholders, to assist these efforts wherever possible.

The children of the world should be students, not soldiers.

They deserve to grow up in communities that offer them safety and the chance to reach their full potential.

These are fundament rights of all children – not aspirations.

Member States have the obligation to take all necessary measures to fulfill them.

Thank you.

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
--
REMARKS AT SECURITY COUNCIL
OPEN DEBATE ON CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT
New York, 25 March 2015

Mr. President of the Security Council,
Excellencies,

I thank the Permanent Representative of France for organizing this important and timely debate.

The world’s children are increasingly under threat in theatres of war.

Last year was considered one of the worst ever for children in areas affected by conflict.

An estimated 230 million children live in countries and areas where armed groups are fighting.

Up to 15 million children were directly affected by the violence.

The perpetrators of violations against children in armed conflict are increasingly diverse and brutal.

It is our responsibility to bring these issues into the spotlight for discussion – and action.

I would also like to acknowledge the presence with us today of Mr. Junior Nzita Nsuami, a former child soldier from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Junior will testify that, with appropriate assistance, a chance at education, and continued support, it is possible to overcome the violence of a childhood spent fighting an adult war.

Junior now dedicates his life to helping underprivileged children in Kinshasa, and his goal is to build a better future for them, and a better future for his country.

Globally, in conflict situations, the main perpetrators of grave violations against children are armed groups.

These groups constitute the vast majority of parties listed in the annexes of my annual report on children and armed conflict.

Since I last addressed the Council on this issue one year ago, hundreds of thousands more children have been confronted with the emergence or intensification of conflict, and have endured new and grave threats posed by armed groups.

Sadly, this includes some of the worst human rights violations a child can experience – including death, injury, imprisonment and torture, sexual abuse, forced recruitment and abduction.

There is rarely anyone to hear their protests or advocate for their rights.

The rise of violent extremism in conflict areas is particularly disturbing.

The tactics of groups such as Da’esh and Boko Haram make little distinction between civilians and combatants. 

These groups not only constitute a threat to international peace and security, but often target girls and boys.

No cause can justify such acts.

Children have the right to be protected in their schools, in their homes, in their communities.

Increasingly, children are snatched from a normal life of school and family, abducted by armed groups and thrown into a life of violence and horror. 

From north-eastern Nigeria, to Iraq, from South Sudan to Syria, we have witnessed a wave of such abductions used to terrorize and humiliate entire communities.

How can we forget the images of the girls from Chibok, stolen from their school dormitory and still missing?

Our agencies on the ground tell us that they are verifying more and more cases of child abductions.

This is why I urge Member States to work with us to strengthen our prevention and response mechanisms.

Mr. President,

We agree that we cannot tolerate a world in which children are killed and maimed, where they are abducted, subject to sexual violence, forced to become soldiers, and where schools and hospitals are attacked.

That is why we engage not just with Governments but also armed groups to stop grave violations against children.

My Special Representative has worked with many such groups, and will work with more, to ensure we are doing our utmost to protect children in these most difficult environments.

The resolutions adopted by the Council over the past 16 years have built a solid framework and given us tools to better engage with Governments and non-state actors not only to end, but also to prevent, these violations.

We have seen concrete outcomes of our efforts that have translated into thousands of children now going to school instead of battle, and playing in fields instead of fighting on them.

By protecting children, we contribute to building durable peace and to helping countries reach their full potential.

But we must act collectively, and expeditiously.

I call on the international community to continue supporting this work and this mandate, and to always ensure that the children’s best interests are at the heart of any response we undertake.

Mr. President,
Distinguished members of the Council,

Allow me to end on a positive note.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend my Special Representative and UNICEF for their campaign “Children Not Soldiers”, which they launched a year ago to end the recruitment and use of children by Government forces by 2016.

The progress they have accomplished to date is encouraging.

With the support of the United Nations, Chad completed all the requirements to make its army child-free.

Six of the seven countries involved in the campaign are now engaged with the UN to end and prevent the recruitment of children in their security forces, and some of them are making commendable progress.

This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, but we still have a long road ahead of us to transform these commitments into a reality for thousands of children.

I count on all of you, distinguished members of the Council, Members of the international community, and all stakeholders, to assist these efforts wherever possible.

The children of the world should be students, not soldiers.

They deserve to grow up in communities that offer them safety and the chance to reach their full potential.

These are fundament rights of all children – not aspirations.

Member States have the obligation to take all necessary measures to fulfill them.

Thank you.