- The Permanent Mission
- Greece in the U.N.
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Catherine Boura, Permanent Representative of Greece to the United Nations at the Security Council's Open Debate on "Children and Armed Conflict"
I would like to congratulate the Malaysian Presidency for the initiative to convene this open debate on Children and Armed Conflict. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-moon and the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms Leila Zerrougui, for their interest and commitment as well as for the very thorough presentation on the issue.
Greece aligns itself with the statement of the European Union. In my national capacity I would like to add the following:
Greece attaches great importance to the international monitoring and reporting mechanism for mass and grave violations against children in armed conflict. In the past years, we witnessed increasing challenges in this field. Indeed, in protracted conflicts, humanitarian crises, forced displacement and violent extremism, children are directly affected and, in many instances, have become targeted victims. The latest Report submitted by the UN Secretary General is crucial in laying out these challenges. We attach major importance to the impartiality of the report and fully support the call of the Secretary General on all parties to work closely with the Special Representative.
However, much more needs to be done to further strengthen international efforts aimed at the protection of children in armed conflicts. It is imperative to ensure that children are able to grow up in a safe environment, free from exploitation, and any form of abuse and violence.
Having ratified the relevant international normative framework for the protection of children, Greece strongly encourages all states to sign, ratify and fully implement the Convention of the Rights of the Child, as well as its First Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts. In Greece, since 2011 the recruitment of children in armed conflicts constitutes a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and is punished as such by the national judicial system.
Greece was among the first endorsing states of the Safe Schools Declaration of 29 May 2015, in Oslo, that calls upon parties to an armed conflict to avoid using educational buildings for military purposes or making them targets of attacks. We believe that the Safe Schools Declaration provides a concrete way for countries to commit to protecting children’s education, even during armed conflict.
The competent Greek authorities are currently elaborating an Action Plan on the Rights of the Child, which sets as a priority the protection of children in refugee crises. My country, deeply affected by the unprecedented refugee flows, spares no effort to provide any assistance and protect the rights of children fleeing from armed conflicts. It is our utmost priority to save thousands of lives of children in search and rescue operations at sea and receive them in a humane way. Only in 2015, more than 150.000, including thousands of children, were rescued by the Hellenic Coastguard in about 2.500 operations at sea.
In concluding, I would like to reiterate that Greece remains committed to effectively ensuring the respect and protection of the fundamental rights of children as a crucial guarantee for the future of our societies. In this regard, my country fully subscribes to the call to intensify international and regional efforts to strengthen cooperation in putting an end to the grave violations against children in situations of armed conflict around the world.