Statement presented by Märt Volmer, Undersecretary for European Affairs
Thank you, Mr President,
Your Majesty, Excellencies,
We thank Belgium for organizing today`s meeting and all briefers for their excellent presentations. We also express our appreciation of the role of Belgium in strengthening the protection of children in armed conflict, including through its leadership of the Security Council Working Group.
The Security Council has repeatedly condemned the widespread violations and abuses committed against children in armed conflict. Over the last two decades this has been accompanied by the Council’s increasing systematic engagement with the protection of children in armed conflict, including a clear recognition that child protection needs to be integrated into all peace processes.
We strongly support this objective, but agree that gaps remain in its translation into action. In peace processes child protection issues continue to be addressed on an ad hoc basis with children’s rights, specific needs and concerns insufficiently addressed.
We therefore thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and all the contributors for the preparation of the Practical guidance to protect children in situations of armed conflict. We see the guidance as a valuable addition to the instruments at our disposal, providing a systematised compilation of practical and concrete guidelines, including examples of good practices. We welcome that the guidance is firmly based on international humanitarian and human rights law. We also emphasise that the integration of child protection into peace processes needs to be gender-sensitive and take into account the needs of girls and boys.
Given the wide array of parties involved in peace processes, we appreciate that the guidance can be adjusted and drawn upon by various actors, including the UN system, regional and local organisations as well as civil society.
It is now equally important to ensure that the guidance is widely disseminated and integrated into the ongoing and future peace processes. Estonia will contribute to this on its part.
As noted in the guidance, we need to ensure accountability for all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict. We call on all States to exercise their criminal jurisdiction over the perpetrators of these crimes and to make further efforts to strengthen national and international accountability mechanisms. We recall that under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court conscripting or enlisting children into armed forces as well as sexual violence constitute a war crime.
We reaffirm our continued support for the work of the Special Representative and her office, including the close cooperation between the SRSG and UNICEF. We also reiterate the need for the allocation of sufficient resources for the UN child protection activities and the importance of child protection advisors in political and peacekeeping missions.
If left unaddressed, the violations and abuses committed against children in conflict have lasting negative consequences for children, their families as well as entire communities, leading to a continued cycle of violence and injustice. We see the guidance as one of the tools to help break this cycle.