UN Security Council High-Level Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

Statement by the Deputy Permanent Representative of Estonia to the UN, Ms Kristel Lõuk

Mr. President,

We thank Brazil for convening this high-level meeting and the briefers for their presentations. We also thank Special Representative Gamba and her office, UNICEF, as well as all child protection actors for their tireless work.

Estonia aligns with the statement of the European Union.

Mr. President,

The Children and Armed Conflict mandate, including its monitoring and reporting mechanism, is a unique and essential part of the Security Council’s work to ensure peace and security – and it needs to be utilised accordingly. The significant and devastating impact of conflicts on children is clear. The number of verified grave violations last year reached nearly 24 000. These violations destroy lives and communities, and fuel conflict with an impact on international peace and security for years to come.

The reasoning for the relevance of the CAAC mandate is clear – and the action by the Council, the UN system and national actors has to follow.

  • This includes promoting compliance with international law and ensuring accountability for violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including through international mechanisms, such as the ICC, and the exercise of universal jurisdiction.
  • It includes the incorporation and use of CAAC-related criteria in the sanctions regimes.
  • It includes political, financial and operational resources for UN child protection activities.
  • It includes focusing attention on the violations against children in every single SC discussion of a country situation on its agenda with the urgency these deserve. This was also Estonia’s objective during its Council membership.

We welcome the steps to develop further the analysis of the gender dimensions of children and armed conflict. The rise in the proportion of grave violations against girls, including sexual violence and abduction, is alarming and requires the Council’s attention. We condemn the restrictions on and attacks against girls’ education, including in Afghanistan – we cannot turn back the clock on the rights of girls anywhere.

Mr. President,

The Secretary-General has designated Ukraine as a situation of concern with immediate effect. This follows the long trail of blood left by the Russian Federation in Ukraine – the cruel and targeted attacks against civilians, including children. The pattern of killing and maiming of children, sexual violence, denial of humanitarian access, deportations and illegal adoptions, and deliberate attacks on schools and hospitals by the Russian Federation are grave violations against children.

We call on the Secretary-General to ensure the monitoring and reporting of the violations against children in Ukraine without delay along with the necessary child protection capacity in Ukraine and to engage closely with Ukraine through his Special Representative.

We call for accountability for the violations against children in Ukraine, just as we have continued to call for accountability in Syria, Iraq, Mali, Afghanistan and in other situations reflected in the Secretary-General’s report. On its part, Estonia will continue to support, including financially, the Office of the SRSG as well as UNICEF in their daily crucial work in protecting children around the world.

Thank you.