- The Permanent Mission
- Greece in the U.N.
Human Security Network-Children and armed conflict-Open debate Security Council-Statement by HE Ambassador M. Spinellis
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the members of the Human Security Network, namely, Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, Greece, Ireland, Jordan, Mali, Norway, Panama, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Thailand, and on behalf of the Republic of South Africa as an observer.
The Network is a cross-regional group of States, which promotes human security as a people-centered, comprehensive and prevention-oriented approach for achieving peace, development and human rights, and the protection of civilians in armed conflicts is a core matter for the Network.
Firstly, I would like to express my appreciation to Luxembourg for taking the initiative to convene this important meeting and for the comprehensive and stimulating concept note. We welcome the holding of this debate to tackle this critical matter and we also welcome the adoption of the resolution which enables us to proceed with a successful way forward.
The Human Security Network also welcomes the launching of the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers” initiated by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF, in collaboration with other UN partners, with a view to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by Government armed forces in conflict by 2016.
The Human Security Network remains concerned of the numbers of children that are negatively affected by conflict and post-conflict situations as stated in the speech of the SRSG.
Since Graça Machel’s seminal report on the Impact of Armed Conflict on Children recognized, millions of children continue to be caught amidst armed conflicts, not only as mere bystanders but as targets of multiple acts of violence such as attacks against schools, mutilations, sexual abuse as well as hunger, disease and exploitation as tools of war. These children are subjected to death and suffering, and are consequently transfigured into victims of terror and fear. Thus, we remain deeply concerned for children-s safety in all armed conflicts, including in Syria, Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo and many others. Further, we strongly deplore the use of schools as detention and torture centers.
This is a grave and urgent matter, and it is therefore essential to shift our focus to action plan adoption and implementation as a practical way forward. Action plans are vital strategic tools in order to end these horrendous violations against children in situations of conflict. It is thus important for concerned Member States to pursue concrete, time-bound action plans and to commit to action plan implementation through national level strategies. We acknowledge that respect should also be given to the time-frame of these action plans, and non-compliance should result in direct consequences for those concerned.
The importance of strengthening national accountability mechanisms is also essential. It is vital to ensure an adequate child protection mandate and to place importance on the monitoring and reporting of violations. We highlight the monitoring and reporting of violations which 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.
The Security Council is encouraged to place pressure on the perpetrators and to apply the necessary measures to address these violations. This includes imposing lawful consequences for perpetrators. A stronger collective commitment to the responsibility of dealing effectively with persistent perpetrators of violations against children in armed conflict is encouraged to all States.
It is the responsibility of all States to investigate and prosecute those responsible for violations against children. It is thus important to develop legislation which criminalizes violations against children, and also to develop the necessary prosecutorial and investigative capacities. In this regard, we reiterate the importance of ensuring universal registration, including late birth registration, in order to investigate and verify the age of recruits and ensure protection of under-18s from active military service. Further, Member States are encouraged to take the necessary steps to end violations, such as the military use of schools, and to hold perpetrators accountable for violations that have already been committed.
The Human Security Network highlights the importance of focusing on the prevention of future violations, and restoring and integrating those who have been affected by conflict through protection and relief. The Arms Trade Treaty is a step forward towards the protection of children in armed conflict as its provisions establish that exporting States shall take into account the risk of covered conventional arms or items being used to commit or facilitate serious acts of violence against children.
The implementation of concrete primary prevention strategies is imperative. This should include sustainable ways to ensure an age verification process in recruitment procedures, measures to ensure that children have birth certificates, and education programs informing communities on national and international laws pertaining to recruitment and the consequent reporting of unlawful recruitment practices. We underscore the importance of peacekeeping missions and the provision of key psychosocial services to children and their families affected by armed conflict. We must also aim to support national institutions and mechanisms which protect civilians in armed conflict.
The Human Security Network urges member states to keep children’s concerns high on the international agenda and remains committed and diligent in the implementation of the Security Council’s resolution 1261 and others relevant to this issue including, Security Council’s 1998 as well as the adopted today by the Security Council which contains important provisions to ensure and protect the right of education for children The members of the Human Security Network are dedicated and committed to responding to the aforementioned issues that have been raised.