- The Permanent Mission
- Greece in the U.N.
Children and armed conflict-Open debate Security Council-Statement by HE Ambassador M. Spinellis
At the outset, I would like to express my appreciation to Luxembourg for taking the initiative to convene this important meeting and for the comprehensive and thought-provoking concept note. We would also like to express our appreciation to today’s briefers for their stimulating presentations. We highly commend the work of Leila Zerrougui, as well as the contributions of Mr Ladsous, Lake and Sawaneh.
Greece welcomes the holding of this debate to tackle this critical matter and we also welcome the adoption of the resolution which enables us to keep the momentum on proceeding with a successful way forward. Greece aligns itself with the statement delivered earlier by the EU.
It has already been established that the impact of armed conflict on children is a grave and urgent matter, and it is therefore essential to shift our focus on the implementation of Security Council resolutions adopted so far, as a practical way forward. Greece welcomes the Secretary-General’s latest report and we too express our concern pertaining to the escalating numbers of children that are negatively affected by conflict and post-conflict situations. This is in addition to the military use of, and attacks on, schools as a tool of war. Schools, which formerly represented a place of safety, are now being transformed into places of trepidation and terror. Lamentably, the culture of violence is replacing a culture of learning, thus reinforcing ideologies of an unsafe world.
In Syria, for example, approximately 1000 schools have been used as detention and torture centers in 2013. It is vital for Member States to protect children and teachers from attacks and to protect children’s rights to education by taking steps to end the military use of schools and to hold perpetrators accountable. A strong commitment to the responsibility of dealing effectively with persistent perpetrators of violations against children in armed conflict is encouraged to all States in order to combat impunity. The importance of national protection and accountability mechanisms is thus essential. Engagement with non-state armed groups for the purposes of ending violations and concluding action plans is also necessary.
It is important for Member States to pursue concrete, time-bound action plans and to commit to action plan implementation through national level strategies. It is thus crucial to call upon donors to support national efforts to strengthen capacities for child protection. This includes training and capacity of child protection workers and advisers, peacebuilders and peacekeepers; and working together with communities in preventive efforts.
We must also aim to support national institutions and mechanisms which protect civilians in armed conflict. Furthermore, monitoring and reporting of violations should be upheld and considered as noteworthy tools to mitigate the ongoing effects of impunity. This should be accompanied by political dialogue, demarches, multilateral cooperation and mainstreaming children in armed conflict in order to advocate for the protection of children.
In the words of a former child soldier in Sierra Leone, Ishmael Beah (A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier), “...children have the resilience to outlive their sufferings, if given a chance.” Let us work together to give these children a chance for a hope and a future.