New Zealand welcomes the opportunity to contribute today.
We thank the Secretary-General for his latest report; Radhika Coomaraswamy for the outstanding role she continues to play as Special-Representative (SRSG); and Mexico for its long and commendable history of promoting the issue of Children and Armed Conflict, including by convening today’s debate.
Mr President –
While we sit in the comfort of this Chamber, it’s coming up 9 pm in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 11 pm in Sudan and 3 am in Myanmar; and, as we speak, there and elsewhere, children are being handed guns and told to fight; or are suffering the vilest forms of sexual abuse and rape; or are being disfigured, maimed, even murdered.
Member States, the various organs of the United Nations, and this Security Council have a vital role to play to protect these children; and, on that, there has been some progress.
New Zealand welcomes, for example, the efforts of those countries that have been delisted from the annexes to the Secretary-General’s report, and those of others who have committed to action plans; and we welcome the fact that child protection enjoys a high profile on this Council’s agenda.
However, while there has been progress, much still remains to be done; but, in the interests of time, I will highlight just four recommendations New Zealand considers important -
We call on the Security Council, in line with international law and with its Presidential Statement of 29 June last year, to take a more active role to bring an end to these violations.
One step could be for monitoring and reporting mechanism (MRM) country task forces to improve the level of information in their reports on the motivations and extent of attacks on schools.
In his annual and country-specific reports, the Secretary-General could also detail effective strategies for prevention of such attacks, and strategies for improving response and accountability.
Another step would be more concrete inclusion of child protection (including the access, quality and political neutrality of education) in future Council outcomes on peacekeeping and peacebuilding; and, eventually, the MRM triggers could be expanded to include attacks on schools.
Those are just four steps that could be taken to protect children.
There are others, and the ongoing and systematic commitment of this Security Council, Member States and the UN and its organs is required to ensure overall action and compliance.
In addressing this matter, we should also keep in mind that one of the most effective ways of ensuring the well-being of children is to protect their parents - and that requires ongoing action by States to protect civilians in armed conflicts, especially women.
In that respect, New Zealand –
- all of which contributes to building a safe environment where parents and children see options for their futures, beyond the perpetuation of conflict.
Mr President –
I note that, because of insufficient age determination procedures, the Afghan National Police is listed in Annex I of the Secretary-General’s report.
New Zealand welcomes the fact that the ANP already has measures in place to verify the minimum age of recruits; and we encourage its ongoing commitment, as outlined in the SRSG’s Report, to additional measures to verify the age of recruits, just as the Afghan National Army has already done.
We hope that implementation of these measures will see the ANP being delisted; so we encourage UNAMA, UNICEF and the office of the SRSG to work closely with the ANP to implement these measures.
Mr President –
Those children - in the deserts, the jungles and the forests - who are, as we speak, being forced to fight, who are being raped, who are being maimed or murdered — are the children we must think of during this debate.
It is, Mr President, our collective duty to protect them.