Estonia raises the impact of COVID-19 on children in armed conflict at the UN Security Council

Today 7 May, Estonia is organising an informal virtual meeting at the UN Security Council that focuses on the protection of children in armed conflict during the COVID-19 pandemic. The meeting is chaired by Estonian Ambassador to the UN Sven Jürgenson.

Ambassador Sven Jürgenson said the meeting aims at assessing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on violations against children and their monitoring in various conflicts worldwide. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges of those who have already been put in a vulnerable position by conflict. These include, above all, children. For Estonia, an elected member of the UN Security Council, the protection of children is of utmost importance,” Jürgenson added.

It is children who often experience the most brutal treatment in conflict. In addition to killings and mutilations, the conscription of child soldiers, sexual violence against children, kidnappings, attacks on schools and hospitals and restricting humanitarian access remain commonplace. “We must continue to deal with violations against children regardless of the pandemic. We must also remember that the protection of children in conflicts and human rights in general are closely linked to the work of the Security Council in ensuring peace and security,” the ambassador said, adding that during its presidency in June, Estonia is holding another meeting to address the general trends in this area.

Today’s meeting also launches the study prepared by the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba. “The UN’s capacity to monitor and verify grave violations has been impacted by the pandemic, as well as its capacity to engage with parties to conflict which is key in ending and preventing grave violations against children. Most importantly, what the study further demonstrates is the importance of strong and resilient United Nations child protection teams on the ground, for ensuring the protection of conflict-affected boys and girls in the face of additional challenges such as pandemics is more than ever essential. I thank the International Community for its support and encourage it to continue to prioritize the protection of boys and girls in armed conflict,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General said.

Keynote speakers are Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict; Khassim Diagne, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Protection and Operations (MONUSCO); Fiona Frazer, Chief of Human Rights Service (UNAMA); a representative of UNICEF, and Philippe Adapoe, Regional Director for West and Central Africa of Save the Children.

The meeting is co-organised by UN Security Council members France, Ireland, Kenya, Norway, Niger, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, United States, Tunisia, Vietnam, United Kingdom, and Belgium, Canada, Sweden and Germany in cooperation with the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict.

The meeting is available for watching on YouTube, UNWebTV and Facebook.

More information and the list of speakers can be found here