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Ministry Statements and Speeches 2012

Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

New Zealand statement delivered by HE Jim McLay, Permanent Representative, New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations, 19 September 2012

We thank Germany, as this month’s Council President, for ensuring consideration of this issue, and for its excellent work as Chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict – the second year in a row that it has demonstrated its leadership on this important topic.   

New Zealand was pleased to co-sponsor today’s resolution, which strengthens the Council’s Children and Armed Conflict agenda; and we applaud its passage; although we do regret the lack of unanimity.

We welcome the appointment of Leila Zerrougui as the new Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict; she brings outstanding credentials to her critically important tasks.

And we join Belgium, the UK and others in urging all states to support all aspects of her mandate, without let or hindrance, without qualification.

And we pay tribute to the courage, professionalism (and in light of very recent comments, I underline the word "professionalism"), leadership and vision of the former SRSG, Radhika Coomaraswamy, whose unwavering efforts demonstrated the importance of a continuing mandate for addressing abuses of children in armed conflict.

Mr President –

A very clear majority of UN Member States abhor the use and abuse of children in armed conflict; so we see today’s debate as an important opportunity for those countries to demonstrate their political will that this matter be aggressively addressed by the Council, as part of its role in maintaining peace and security. 

Children - innocent children, Mr President - must be protected, and must receive particular attention from this Council.  

Likewise, we welcome thematic resolutions on Children and Armed Conflict as an important signal that this Council will tackle the issue.

New Zealand is a member of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, and endorses all the comments made by Canada on behalf of the Group. 

I won’t repeat what was said, but will make brief comment on just four matters.

First, it's clear that, over the past year, specialised offices and reporting mechanisms continued to perform essential functions.  

Through that reporting, the Secretary General has recounted appalling situations that require the urgent attention of this United Nations and its Member States. 

His report does also identify some of the successes in the protecting children; and we commend those achievements.

So, we say, quite unequivocally that specialised reporting – with all its disclosures – must continue.

Secondly, we want to see greater mainstreaming of the Children and Armed Conflict agenda, with its issues being considered across all areas of this Council’s work, including all relevant mandates of UN peacekeeping, political and peacebuilding missions - and also by deploying child protection advisers in accordance with DPKO’s (Department of Peacekeeping Operations) Child Protection Policy. 

New Zealand regards the protection of children as fundamental to the maintenance of peace and security; which means it must be factored into all relevant decisions, right across this Council's agenda.

Thirdly, greater use of sanctions, or the threat thereof, should be a useful tool in meaningfully addressing the most serious abuses of children, particularly those committed by persistent perpetrators. 

In situations that are already subject to sanctions, political will is required to address the specific issue of child protection. 

And situations that are not currently subject to sanctions will require a degree of innovation to the Council’s working methods. 

We urge that political will and we urge that innovation.

We also call for greater use of child protection experts in sanctions committee groups of experts.

And we commend the Sanctions Committees on Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Sudan for including designation criteria on grave violations against children.

Finally, Mr President: Accountability is essential, particularly in respect of breaches that constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. 

We encourage greater support and assistance to national judicial mechanisms to prevent impunity for perpetrators of these grave crimes; and we particularly urge that priority be given to providing international assistance for capacity building in national judicial systems. 

Moreover, where national judicial mechanisms are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute, we see a clear role for international criminal tribunals and for the International Criminal Court. 

In this regard, we welcome the recent outcomes in the Taylor and Lubanga proceedings; both of which made significant advances in the fight against impunity for war crimes committed against children – as Belgium described, "landmark" decisions.

Above all, Mr President, we do recognise - and we do commend - the gains and successes made in the Children and Armed Conflict agenda; but, so long as thousands of children still remain subject to the horrors of armed conflict, we will not rest, and will do all we can to push forward this agenda, in all its aspects, and, hopefully, Mr President, with even more favourable outcomes.

We cannot hear that plea from (to use the biblical phrase) "the mouths of babes and sucklings" – so “We, the Peoples of the United Nations", must make that plea on their behalf.

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Page last updated: Wednesday, 09 January 2013 14:49 NZDT