Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
5834th Meeting (AM & PM)
SECURITY COUNCIL STRESSES NEED FOR BROAD CONFLICT PREVENTION STRATEGY TO ENHANCE
CHILDREN’S PROTECTION LONG-TERM, END IMPUNITY FOR ABUSES AGAINST THEM
Secretary-General’s Special Representative Says, Despite Progress,
Situation of Children Affected by Armed Conflict ‘Grave and Entirely Unacceptable’
In a presidential statement that wrapped up a day-long meeting today, the Security Council once again addressed continuing recruitment and use of children in armed conflict and other grave offences against children, including killing and maiming of children, sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian access and attacks against schools and hospitals, stressing the need to adopt a broad strategy of conflict prevention, which would address the root causes of armed conflict, in order to enhance the protection of children on a long-term basis.
The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2008/6 reads as follows:
“The Security Council takes note with appreciation of the seventh report of the Secretary-General (document S/2007/757) on children and armed conflict, and the positive developments, as well as outstanding challenges, in the implementation of its resolution 1612 (2005) reflected therein.
“The Security Council, reiterating its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, reaffirms its commitment to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on children, its determination to ensure respect for and the implementation of its resolution 1612 (2005), and all of its previous resolutions on children and armed conflict, as well as respect for other international norms and standards for the protection of children affected by armed conflicts.
“The Security Council stresses, in this regard, the need to adopt 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, including by promoting sustainable development, poverty eradication, national reconciliation, good governance, democracy, the rule of law and respect for and protection of human rights.
“The Security Council reiterates the primary responsibility of national Governments in providing effective protection and relief to all children affected by armed conflicts, and encourages further cooperation and coordination between Member States, the United Nations system and the international community, in a spirit of partnership.
“The Security Council reiterates the importance of the full, safe and unhindered access of humanitarian personnel and goods, and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to all children affected by armed conflict, and stresses the importance for all, within the framework of humanitarian assistance, of upholding and respecting the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence.
“The Security Council calls for the full implementation of the monitoring and reporting mechanism on children and armed conflict, as called for in paragraph 3 of Security Council resolution 1612 (2005) in all situations of armed conflict listed in the annexes to of the Secretary-General’s report S/2007/757.
“In this regard, the Security Council reiterates that the mechanism should continue to collect and provide timely, objective, accurate and reliable information on violations and abuses committed against children affected by armed conflict and to operate with the participation of and in cooperation with national Governments and relevant United Nations and civil society actors, including at the country level.
“The Security Council commends the work carried out by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, including her field activities in situations of armed conflicts.
“The Security Council also commends the work carried out by UNICEF and the child protection advisers of peacekeeping operations and political missions in cooperation with other relevant United Nations entities.
“The Security Council welcomes the sustained activity of its working group on children and armed conflict, as outlined inter alia in the latest report by its Chair (document S/2007/428), and invites it to continue adopting conclusions and proposing effective recommendations for consideration and, where appropriate, implementation by the Council including through mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions.
“The Security Council will continue to consider including or enhancing the presence of child protection advisers in the mandates of all relevant United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions.
“The Security Council strongly emphasizes the need to end impunity for violations and abuses perpetrated against children in armed conflict, and in this regard, welcomes the fact that several individuals who are alleged to have committed such crimes have been brought to justice by national, international and “mixed” criminal courts and tribunals.
“The Security Council acknowledges that the implementation of its resolution 1612 (2005) has already generated progress, resulting in the release and reintegration of children in their families and communities, and in a more systematic dialogue between the United Nations country task forces and parties to the armed conflict on the implementation of time-bound action plans.
“Nonetheless, the Security Council strongly condemns the continuing recruitment and use of children in armed conflict in violation of applicable international law, killing and maiming of children, rape and other sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian access to children and attacks against schools and hospitals by parties to armed conflict.
“The Security Council is concerned with the widespread and systematic use of rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, in particular girls, in situations of armed conflict, and calls on all parties to armed conflicts to take special measures to protect girls and boys from sexual and gender-based violence, particularly rape, in situations of armed conflict.
“The Security Council expresses its concern that civilians, particularly children, continue to account for the vast majority of victims of acts of violence committed by parties to armed conflicts, including killing and maiming as a result of deliberate targeting, indiscriminate and excessive use of force in violation of applicable international law. The Council condemns these acts and demands that those parties immediately put an end to such practices.
“The Security Council is gravely concerned by the persistent disregard of its resolutions on children and armed conflict by parties to armed conflict identified in the reports of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, including parties to whom precise, immediate and unequivocal requests have been addressed. Recalling the statement S/PRST/2006/48 made by its President on 28 November 2006, the Security Council reaffirms its intention to make use of all the tools provided in its resolution 1612 (2005).
“The Security Council reiterates its call on parties to armed conflict listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report S/2007/757 that have not already done so to prepare and implement, without further delay, concrete time-bound action plans to halt recruitment and use of children in violation of applicable international law, and to address all violations and abuses against children in close cooperation with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, as well as with UNICEF and the United Nations country taskforces on monitoring and reporting.
“The Security Council expresses concern over the casualties inflicted on children in armed conflict by the indiscriminate use of landmines and cluster munitions, and in this regard, calls upon all parties to armed conflicts to desist from such practice.
“In order to further strengthen the comprehensive framework of the protection of children in armed conflict, considering the changing nature of armed conflicts and the issues raised by the Secretary-General in his report, the Security Council expresses its readiness to review the relevant provisions of its resolutions on children and armed conflict, building on the provisions of resolution 1612 (2005), with a view to further increasing the efficiency of its actions.
“The Security Council recognizes that a stronger focus is required on the reintegration and rehabilitation of children associated with armed forces and armed groups, and in this regard invites all parties concerned, including Member States, regional organizations, the Secretariat and other relevant United Nations entities, including UNICEF, UNFPA, UNIFEM, WHO, UNDP, UNHCR, OHCHR, ILO and UNESCO, international financial institutions, including the World Bank, as well as civil society, to enhance their exchange of information about programmes and best practices, bearing in mind the relevant provisions of international law, Security Council resolutions on children and armed conflict, as well as the “Paris Principles to protect children from unlawful recruitment by armed forces or groups”, and ensure that adequate resources and funding are available to support national strategies or action plans in the area of child protection and welfare, and community-based programmes, with a view to ensure the long-term sustainability and success of their programmatic response to the release, rehabilitation and reintegration of all children associated with armed forces and armed groups.
“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to submit his next report by May 2009 on the implementation of its resolutions on children and armed conflict.”
The Council had before it the report of the Secretary-General on Children and armed conflict (document S/2007/757), which covers progress in the implementation of resolution 1612 (2005) on that topic, from October 2006 to August 2007, and includes information on compliance in ending grave violations, such as the recruitment and use of child soldiers, as well as cross-cutting issues that have arisen due to the changing nature of conflicts.
DAN GILLERMAN ( Israel) said that Israel was the only democracy in the world where nurseries were protected by guards. His country assigned great importance to the protection of children and was a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol on armed conflict. Last year, Israel had welcomed Special Representative Coomaraswamy for a visit, cooperating with her as she sought to better understand the impact of conflict on children in the region.
He said that children often became the object of terrorist interest –- for purposes of recruitment, incitement to violence, human shielding and even targeted attacks. The situation in his region provided a snapshot of some of the most daunting challenges faced in the protection of children. As an example of indoctrination — as dangerous as the acts of violence and terrorism themselves — he referred to a recent episode of the Hamas television show “Pioneers of Tomorrow”, which featured a malevolent rabbit that ate Jews. Other programmes were known to praise Jihad and violence. Palestinian terrorists used similar tactics to actively recruit children to carry out terrorist operations. And then there were cases of parents who strapped suicide belts on their own children.
Moreover, the use of civilian areas to carry out acts of terrorism was being seen with alarming frequency, he continued. For example, Hamas terrorists had recently fired mortars from the yard of a United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) elementary school in Beit Hanoun. That cynical abuse of the school and violation of a United Nations installation for terrorist purposes had been rightfully condemned by the Secretary-General, but the incident was absent from the Secretary-General’s report. Similarly, while the report provided statistical data on the number of Israeli children physically injured by Qassam rockets, it failed to reflect on the long-term damage, such as psychological conditions and stress disorders. The psychological effects were no less damaging than physical wounds. The rockets, sadly, imposed devastating physical suffering, as well. For example, over the past weekend, two brothers had been seriously wounded when a rocket slammed into their hometown of Sderot.
There was no monopoly on suffering, he said. All children — Palestinian and Israeli — suffered from, and were victims of, Palestinian terrorism. Terrorism, in all its varieties and forms, was unacceptable and could never be justified.
In conclusion, he expressed concern regarding the methodologies utilized in compiling the report, specifically in the sections where ambiguities might allow for misinterpretation. The tendency to rely on unsubstantiated reports, third-party testimonies, and hearsay harmed the document’s credibility and effectiveness. All efforts should be made to utilize credible testimonials and evidence. His delegation was engaged in active dialogue and cooperation with the Office of the Special Representative, and he hoped those concerns would be reflected in future reporting.
RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for Palestine to the United Nations, said that, for children in situations of armed conflict, including foreign occupation, all aspects of life were detrimentally impacted and the meaning of childhood was lost. “We know this to be true, and yet, regrettably, children continued to be the victims of appalling human rights violations and crimes,” he said. Ending impunity for violations against children was paramount. Targeted measures should be taken, including sanctions, against those who persistently committed grave violations against children in armed conflict.
He said that decades of human rights violations and hardship had indelibly marked Palestine’s children. They continued to be killed and wounded in Israeli military assaults and to be traumatized by the vicious cycle of violence, with nearly 1,000 children killed since September 2000. Children continued to be used as human shields by the occupying forces, and their schools remained targets of attacks. More than 400 Palestinian children, some as young as 12 years old, continued to be imprisoned by Israel, under inhumane conditions, subjected to ill-treatment, including torture and threats of sexual violence. Palestinian children also continued to suffer displacement, with such consequences as induced poverty, as a result of the occupying Power’s wanton destruction of homes and unlawful construction of the wall and settlements.
Palestinian children also continued to suffer gravely from the deliberate denial of humanitarian access by the occupying Power, he said. Israel’s obstruction of access for humanitarian supplies and personnel was violating children’s rights to food, health care, education and, in some cases, the right to life. Sixty-seven children had reportedly died due to blocked access to proper medical care. Medical research estimated that at least 70 per cent of children in Gaza were anaemic. Even a simple outbreak of influenza could cause severe illness and widespread death among children.
He said he sincerely hoped that current peace efforts would lead to a just and lasting settlement that would bring Palestinian children freedom, security and well-being in their independent State, living side-by-side with Israeli children in peace and security. He also reiterated that the rights and needs of children living in situations of armed conflict, including foreign occupation, could not be postponed or withheld. Collective efforts must be exerted to ensure their protection and their rights, as well as their necessary assistance and rehabilitation. Child protection advisers should be placed in, among other places, the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
MAGED ABDELAZIZ ( Egypt) said that the monitoring mechanism should be extended to situations related to children in occupied Palestine, as reflected in the report, as well as to the sufferings of Lebanese children from the extensive and unprecedented use by Israel of cluster bombs during the 2006 conflict in southern Lebanon. All violations should be treated on an equal footing, and no child should be left under those or any other conflicts without international protection. Egypt supported most of the Secretary-General’s recommendations especially that equal weight be given to all categories of grave violations.
He also supported the recommendations aiming at making adequate resources and funding available by donors to national Governments, the United Nations and partners to support the rehabilitation and reintegration of children in armed conflicts and address immediately the grave humanitarian, human rights and development consequences of cluster munitions. In the annexes, it was necessary to include a reference to the violations of Israel of its commitments as an occupying Power, particularly those related to guaranteeing peace and security of children in the Occupied Arab Territories, in Palestine, Lebanon and Syria.
Egypt appreciated extensive efforts by the Working Group, according to its current mandate, without expanding it to include the imposition of targeted measures on parties who committed grave violations against children in all situations of concern. Such an expansion of the mandate might affect the balance needed to deal with all aspects of situations of concern listed in the annexes, whether they were included on the Council agenda or not, without concentrating on a certain aspect at the expense of others. To accomplish all targeted goals, the office of the Special Representative should coordinate with the new office of the Special Representative for Violence against Children.
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For information media • not an official record