Highest-Ever Number of Violations against Children Verified in 2022, Briefer Tells Security Council, as Speakers Champion Reintegration, Education Programmes
Briefing the Security Council today, the senior official tasked with advocating for children in armed conflict noted that 2022 held the highest number of grave violations ever verified by the United Nations, with Government armed and security forces the main perpetrators of the killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access.
Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, told the 15-nation organ that the Secretary-General’s report on this topic (document A/77/895-S/2023/363) covers 27,800 violations against 18,890 children in 2022 — 8,630 killings or mutilations, 7,622 instances of recruitment and 3,985 abductions. Further, instead of receiving protection, child victims are punished for their circumstances. In 2022, 2,496 children were deprived of liberty for their actual or alleged association with parties to conflict.
Also noting positive achievements, she spotlighted the situation in Yemen, where the United Nations signed an action plan with the Houthis to end and prevent violence. In Iraq, the Government signed an action plan to prevent the recruitment of children by the Popular Mobilization Forces and repatriated 1,448 Iraqi children from north-east Syria. The United Nations is also engaging with parties to the conflicts in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ukraine and the Russian Federation, she reported.
Omar Abdi, Deputy Executive Director at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), pointed out that the highest numbers of grave violations against children were verified in protracted conflicts, including those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel, State of Palestine and Somalia. In Sudan, 1 million children have now been displaced by the fighting, and hundreds of children have been killed or injured. “Due to recent escalations, we expect verified violations in at least some of these situations to increase over the coming months,” he warned.
Also briefing the Council was Ms. Violeta, child civil society representative, who said that more than 3 million children and adolescents were victims to the conflict in Colombia due to recruitment, forced disappearance, kidnapping, displacement, murder and sexual violence. Despite the signing of a peace agreement, the conflict is still affecting communities in that country. “Peace doesn’t just happen when certain groups sign a piece of paper,” she said, stressing that a country that does not allow its youth and children to work towards building peace is “condemned to a future at war”.
In the ensuing all-day debate, more than 70 speakers voiced alarm over the scale of grave violations outlined in the Secretary-General’s report. The representative of the United Kingdom — Council President for July, speaking in her national capacity — stressed that these are “not just statistics”; rather, they tell “the stories of real children and their families and communities”. Albania’s delegate, expressing the view of many, stated: “A crime against a child is an affront to all of us, to humanity”. Speakers also discussed the report’s listing of a permanent Council member.
On that, numerous delegates — including those of France, Austria and Guatemala — spotlighted the devastating consequences for children resulting from the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. The representative of the United States said Moscow’s forces have committed crimes against humanity against children and deported hundreds of thousands of civilians — including forcibly separated children. Adding to that, Poland’s delegate highlighted that his country has become a “safe haven” for 1.6 million Ukrainians, 90 per cent of whom are women and children.
Several delegates, such as those of New Zealand, Luxembourg and the Republic of Korea, expressed grave concern over the situations in Syria, Yemen, Mali, Myanmar and Afghanistan, welcoming the inclusion of Haiti and Niger as situations of concern. The representative of the Dominican Republic, for his part, underlined that being a child in Haiti today is more dangerous than ever in a country plagued by extreme levels of violence and the compounding problems of hunger and malnutrition, poverty and a resurgence of cholera.
Turning to the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the speaker for Kuwait condemned violations by Israel against defenceless Palestinian children. He described the inability to address the Palestinian question and to hold Israel accountable as the Council’s “biggest failure”. Israel’s representative, countering, said that his country is exploited by its enemies who use hospitals to launch rockets, schools to cover terror tunnels and turn mosques into armed caches — as seen two days ago in Jenin. The Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, also spotlighting strikes on the Jenin refugee camp, stated that Israel’s violations against Palestinian children will continue so long as it is not listed for them.
Many speakers outlined solutions, as well, with Switzerland’s delegate citing long-term reintegration programmes as a powerful antidote to the risk of future child recruitment. Similarly, Gabon’s delegate called for systematic implementation of such programmes for children who have been separated from armed groups. He also highlighted the use of improvised explosive devices in battlefields — especially in Africa, where many children are used as fighters, mine testers and human shields. Against this backdrop, delegates, such as those from Japan, Ecuador and Slovenia, called for the implementation of mine-clearance programmes to prevent the death and maiming of children by such devices.
Ghana’s representative, meanwhile, stated that United Nations and regional peacekeeping missions should incorporate child-protection obligations into mission planning, policies, decisions and activities, and must include child-protection focal points in field operations. In that regard, he welcomed the African Union’s efforts to mainstream child protection in its institutional responses. Similarly, the representative of Mexico urged such mainstreaming in all peace and special political missions — especially in cases of transition or withdrawal such as that involving the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
More broadly, the speaker for Brazil emphasized that humanitarian action alone will not end children’s suffering — the best way to protect children is to promote dialogue, instead of isolation; to finance ceasefires, instead of wars; and to engage in the peaceful settlement of disputes, instead of coercive unilateral sanctions.
Adding to that, Sri Lanka’s representative pointed out that embracing the right to education becomes the beacon of hope for war-torn children, empowering them to heal, learn and reclaim their future. The representative of the United Arab Emirates echoed that, urging the Council “to see education as its most-potent weapon to counter the threat of armed conflict against and by children”.
Urging Member States to change their mindset to an approach based on complementarity, she cited Sierra Leonean writer Ismael Beah: “My squad is my family, my gun is my provider and protector, and my rule is to kill or be killed.” In that regard, she emphasized: “That is not a childhood that any of us would wish on anyone.”
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m., suspended at 12:58 p.m., resumed at 3:02 p.m. and ended at 6:56 p.m.Briefings
VIRGINIA GAMBA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, presenting the Secretary-General’s report (document A/77/895-S/2023/363), noted that, in 2017 — when she took office — the Secretary-General’s report covered 20 situations across 4 geographical regions and documented 21,000 violations. The current mandate spans across five geographical regions and covers 26 situations, including the unfolding security situations in Haiti and Niger, as well as the related situations in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Ukraine which were added in 2022 and in the report for the first time. In 2022, there were 27,800 verified violations against 18,890 children, including 8,630 children killed or maimed, 7,622 children recruited and used, and 3,985 children abducted. Rape and sexual violence against children, including gang-rape, forced marriage and sexual slavery — although unreported — has also been verified, while children were also killed or injured in air strikes. Some cases were so severe that they resulted in the death of the victims.
There were verified attacks in 1,163 schools and 647 hospitals — half of which were perpetrated by Government forces — representing a 112 per cent increase compared to 2022, she continued, also spotlighting a 60 per cent increase of the use of schools and hospitals for military purposes by armed forces and groups. More so, in 2022, 3,931 incidents of the denial of humanitarian access to children were verified — where humanitarian workers were killed, assaulted or abducted and the humanitarian supplies were looted — while bureaucratic impediments and restrictions on movement further complicated the humanitarian aid delivery. “Behind each verified violation is the life of a child, with its own individual story,” she emphasized, reporting that 18,890 children were affected last year and yet their stories have not been told. She recalled, among other incidences, the case of three girls gang raped in South Sudan; the boys killed in a school in Afghanistan, and the 14-year-old girls in Myanmar abducted and burnt alive. “Despite the need to protect our children better, there are simply too many areas we do not have access to,” she said, noting that boys are taught that being a victim undermines their masculinity and societies shame girls for the harm done to them.
In some cases, child victims, instead of receiving protection, are punished for their circumstances, she pointed out, recalling that, in 2022, 2,496 children were deprived of liberty for their actual or alleged association with parties to conflict. However, the main perpetrators of the killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access in 2022 were the armed and security forces of Governments. Spotlighting some positive achievements, she reported that, in Yemen, the United Nations signed an action plan with the Houthis to end and prevent violence. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mai-Mai Machine signed unilateral commitments to protect children, and in Iraq, the Government signed an action plan to prevent the recruitment of children by the Popular Mobilization Forces and repatriated 1,448 Iraqi children from north-east Syria. The United Nations is also engaging with parties to the conflicts in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
In other situations, progress was achieved through the adoption of handover protocols and the development of child protection policies, she said, adding that 12,460 children formerly associated with armed forces were released and provided with reintegration support. Going forward, she called for the definition of a child as “everyone under the age of 18” and urged those present to boost financing of protection and reintegration programmes, including demining action and mine education initiatives. Underlining the importance of supporting the monitoring and reporting mechanism in budgetary decisions, she said that UNICEF country offices’ resources, dedicated to the mechanism, need to be preserved and sustained. “We need to put children at the centre of our efforts and hear their voices,” she emphasized, while pointing to the new, child-focused public-awareness campaign that aims to include children’s participation.
OMAR ABDI, Deputy Executive Director at the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said that this year’s report includes the highest number — over 27,000 — of grave violations ever verified by the United Nations. Particularly concerning was the plight of children in situations recently added to the report, including Haiti and Niger this year, and Ethiopia, Mozambique and Ukraine in 2022. The highest numbers of grave violations against children were verified in long-standing protracted conflicts, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel and the State of Palestine, and Somalia. Children in these contexts have faced unrelenting violations for years, and in some cases like the children in the State of Palestine, for decades. “Due to recent escalations, we expect verified violations in at least some of these situations to increase over the coming months,” he warned, also expressing concern about the impact of the ongoing conflict in Sudan’s 21 million children with more than 1 million children displaced by the fighting and the United Nations receiving credible reports, under verification, that hundreds of children have been killed and injured.
Some countries have engaged proactive measures, he continued. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo the implementation of the 2012 action plan led to a significant reduction in the number of children recruited and used by the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC). This led to the delisting of FARDC for that violation. He also spotlighted the United Nations monitoring and reporting mechanism, which serves as the evidence base for the report. “We stand behind the veracity of this data and call on Member States to do the same,” he said, pointing out that the data helps UNICEF target prevention actions and responses to tragic incidents like the one that killed 27 children and injured 53 others last month in southern Somalia after an ordnance exploded at a playing field. However, while UNICEF reached more than 9 million children globally with explosive ordnance risk education in 2022, more is needed to combat widespread weapon contamination.
Understanding where recruitment and use of children is happening allows UNICEF to engage with those parties, he continued, noting that, in 2022, UNICEF and partners provided more than 12,460 children with reintegration or protection support. Several parties have committed to steps for protecting children because of United Nations engagement, including handover protocols, adopted in Burkina Faso and Nigeria last year. At last month's Oslo Conference on Protecting Children in Armed Conflict, South Sudan committed to endorsing the Paris Commitments and Principles and the Vancouver Principles and incorporating them into national legislation, Somalia committed to ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on involvement of children in armed conflict and Norway committed 1 billion Norwegian kroner to programmes addressing child rights violations in situations of armed conflict. But, these commitments — whether action plans, prevention measures, handover protocols, endorsement of key instruments or adoption of legislation — must be implemented.
“With over 27,000 violations verified this year, up from 24,000 last year, existing commitments are clearly not enough,” he said, also expressing disappointment by the lack of progress by the Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict towards adopting conclusions from the Secretary-General’s country reports. Further, non-State armed groups were responsible for over 50 per cent of grave violations last year, he said, urging States to enable and support the United Nations engagement with armed groups, including those that may be designated as terrorists. As the number of countries on the children and armed conflict agenda grows, so, too, does the number of children in need. UNICEF co-leads this work in all 26-plus countries that are part of the agenda and is investing limited core resources into monitoring and reporting to ensure that the needs of affected children are met. He called on Member States to scale up support to the United Nations efforts. “Children are suffering and dying because of cruelty and indifference to their plight — because some political leaders and parties to conflict are simply failing to observe the principle of humanity in times of conflict,” he said, urging all States and entities to put children first.
Ms. VIOLETA, child civil society representative, said that the armed conflict in Colombia has left millions of victims across the country, with the inhabitants of rural areas being most affected. Being a boy, girl or adolescent and living in the Colombian countryside, belonging to indigenous or Afro-Colombian communities, being a refugee and migrant or belonging to the LGBITQ+ community is not easy. To add to that, there is the constant fear of stepping on a mine or being tangled up in a clash. “Armed groups may suddenly arrive in your school and recruit some of your colleagues,” she added, noting that, with passing weeks, there are more empty seats in the classroom due to recruitment, death or displacement. Armed groups or gangs undoubtedly limit the life and development of adolescents and young people. As well, in the countryside, the scarcity of resources, lack of opportunities, school dropout and violent dynamics translate into a great refusal to conform among young people.
Although it is impossible to make an exact calculation or record of the total number of victims to the conflict in Colombia, she reported that, according to documented figures from the Truth Commission, until 2019 more than 3 million children and adolescents were victims to the conflict due to recruitment, forced disappearance, kidnapping, displacement, murder or sexual violence. In the first quarter of the year, there have been at least 4,583 child or adolescent victims. Among these were 18 events related to forced recruitment, leaving 36 victims; 17 events related to forced displacement, leaving 1,283 victims; 15 attacks on schools and hospitals, leaving 1,126 victims. Many of these violations could be prevented in the future if children, adolescents and youth have the opportunity to participate in peace processes.
Outlining recommendations, she stressed the need to condemn and prevent recruitment. It is also essential to free children and youth — including indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, refugees and migrants — from the ranks of armed groups to prevent their continued use for war. She called on States to accelerate and finance the route for the restoration of the rights of children detached from these groups and to recognize their role as agents of change. She underlined the need to strongly condemn sexual violence committed against children and youth and take immediate measures boost physical and mental health services and legal support.
It is essential to make the pertinent changes to guarantee access, quality and permanence of education, especially in rural areas, as well, she continued. To this end, she suggested forming a commission that is committed to defending human rights, supports peace negotiations and guarantees the participation of children and youth in peace processes. Warning against the normalization of violence, conflict and its aftermath, she underscored that, despite the signing of a peace agreement, the conflict is still affecting communities in the country. “Peace doesn’t just happen when certain groups sign a piece of paper,” she pointed out, adding that everyone must work towards that goal. A country that does not allow its youth and children to work towards building peace is “a country that is condemned to a future at war,” she stated.
VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta) expressed concern over the deteriorating situations faced by children in countries including Myanmar, South Sudan, Burkina Faso and Ukraine, calling for the continued, objective and transparent listing of perpetrators in the Secretary-General’s annual report. Underscoring the importance of maintaining sufficient capacity and robust mandates for peacekeeping operations and special political missions — including during their drawdown and withdrawal — she urged the Special Representative to deepen analysis of how gender norms have shaped children’s exposure to violations in different contexts. The drivers of conflict are complex due to new armed actors and crises, and Member States should mitigate the impact of armed conflict on children, conclude and implement action plans, monitor and report violations, and facilitate humanitarian access by engaging with all parties, including armed groups. Also noting her role as Chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, she urged continued support for the Group’s mandate.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) spotlighted the devastating consequences for children resulting from the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. The inscription of the former country in the list of infamy confirms the gravity of the crimes committed by the Kremlin in Ukraine, he said, urging Moscow to respect international law and to end atrocities. It is imperative to leverage all available tools to ensure child protection, and he urged all States to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child, its optional protocols and the Rome Statute. With UNICEF, France is campaigning for the universalization of the Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups and the Safe Schools Declaration. He added that the Council must continue to support the work of the monitoring and communication mechanism, and that the organ’s Working Group must be able to swiftly adopt conclusions that are implemented on the ground.
ZHANG JUN (China) voiced alarm over grave violations against children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory; in Haiti, where 500,000 children live at the mercy of gangs; in the Sahel, where hundreds of thousands of children are forced to pick up rifles instead of pens; and in Afghanistan, where foreign military operations caused harm. The Convention on the Rights of the Child has yet to achieve universal coverage, as one country has yet to ratify it. Emphasizing that “lasting peace is the ultimate protection”, he called on the international community to use dialogue and mediation and avoid the imposition of external solutions. Noting that 1.1 billion children urgently require humanitarian assistance, he called for aid that goes beyond crisis response to eradicating hunger and poverty and providing universal basic education. It is regrettable, he added, that, although the Occupied Palestinian Territory saw the second-highest number of grave violations among all situations in the report, no perpetrators were listed.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) called on the Secretary-General to facilitate more systematic reporting to the Council regarding early warning indicators of potential violations against children. United Nations and regional peacekeeping missions should incorporate child-protection obligations into mission planning, policies, decisions and activities, and must include child-protection focal points in field operations. In that regard, he welcomed the African Union’s efforts to mainstream child protection in its institutional responses. He went on to stress the need for enhanced cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations, as well as with Member States, through the development and implementation of joint strategies and coordination mechanisms to prevent cross-border recruitments and use, as well as trafficking. Regional organizations should also deepen their collaboration with civil society in early warning and early response, he said, spotlighting the “Peace and Security CSO Platform” developed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as an example to follow.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) voiced the alarm over the rising cases of abduction, sexual violence — especially against girls — and deliberate attacks on schools and hospitals. Forced displacement remains a growing challenge with an ever-growing number of children fleeing in search of protection. In Myanmar, the spread of violent conflict in new areas and the increase of armed actors has caused a dramatic increase of the number of grave violations against children. Growing intercommunal violence in South Sudan and Sudan have exacerbated sexual violence against children, abductions and attacks on schools and hospitals. The Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine has added new levels of violence and misery on children. Child protection practitioners, civil society organizations and humanitarian personnel in the field must be protected. As well, all parties must facilitate safe and unimpeded humanitarian access, as well as access by children to services, assistance, and protection, including integration and rehabilitation. “A crime against a child is an affront to all of us, to humanity,” he said.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) said the ultimate guarantee of children’s security is peace. Humanitarian action alone will not end children’s suffering — only peace can avoid grave violations such as child recruitment, abduction and attacks on schools and hospitals. The best way to protect children is to promote dialogue, instead of isolation; to finance ceasefires, instead of wars; and to engage in the peaceful settlement of disputes, instead of coercive unilateral sanctions. The best way to protect children from the inevitable suffering caused by war is to prevent it in the first place and to favour immediate cessation of hostilities and the opening of negotiations when peace is broken. The Council should continue improving humanitarian carve-outs in sanctions regimes and should include child rights experts in the monitoring mechanisms of Sanctions Committees. Child-protection provisions should be included in all relevant mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations and special political missions, he added.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland), spotlighting the 27,000 grave violations of children's rights verified in 2022, noted that, although half of the total number of violations were committed by armed groups, it was worrying that Government forces were responsible for most killings, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denials of humanitarian access. The Security Council’s tools to end and prevent grave violations will remain effective only if they are used in an independent, credible and impartial manner. The criteria for listing parties in the annexes to the annual report, or for removing them, must be transparent and objective. The listing of the Myanmar armed forces for additional grave violations, as well as that of the Russian Federation armed forces and affiliated armed groups in the military aggression against Ukraine, is crucial. Also noting that the verified attacks on schools and hospitals have more than doubled in one year, she said: “This is simply unacceptable.” She underscored that successful reintegration of children associated with armed groups or forces is fundamental, citing long-term reintegration programmes as a powerful antidote to the risk of future recruitment.
PEDRO COMISSÁRIO AFONSO (Mozambique) said that children in armed conflict zones are affected by health problems, poor school performance and mental disturbances. “The entire Mozambican society is conscious of the primary duty and responsibility of the State and of the society itself to defend and protect our children,” he added. Regional and international instruments are important to this endeavour, namely the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Vancouver Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration. However, peace is the ultimate guarantee of children’s security. In that regard, it is critical to increase training programmes for State and civil society actors in matters related to children’s human rights. He also said that the United Nations must avoid extending any semblance of legitimacy to terrorist groups’ treatment of children.
SHINO MITSUKO (Japan) said that behind every child victim of armed conflict, children’s futures and dreams are being taken away. Every one of the 27,180 grave violations recorded in 2022 is “unacceptable”, she declared, pointing to the deplorable aspect of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. The international community should take preventive measures to ensure children’s safety. Her country has been supporting United Nations programmes on mine clearance and mine risk education to reduce the risks for children. Noting that access to education is a fundamental human right and a powerful tool to prevent and mitigate conflict, she said Tokyo financially supported a United Nations programme to provide emergency digital education and school meals to children who fled from Myanmar. Children are confronted with greater human security challenges, combined with armed conflict, climate change and food insecurity. The international community must remove these impediments hindering children’s ability to pave their future, she stressed.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States), noting that the international community has not done nearly enough to protect children from the impact of conflict, suggested that the children and armed conflict agenda should be integrated in the Council’s work. Many children have been subjected to sexual violence and denied humanitarian aid, he said, noting that girls have unique recovery needs after conflict. Armed conflict also takes a devastating toll on children with disabilities. Pointing out that armed groups remain the main perpetrators of abuses against children in Colombia, he encouraged that country’s Government to prioritize peace talks with armed groups and to implement protective measures. Further, he called on the Taliban to reverse its restrictions on education for women and girls. Pursuing its “war of choice”, Moscow’s forces have committed crimes against humanity against children and deported hundreds of thousands of civilians — including forcibly separated children — he stressed, adding: “Children are not merely caught in the crossfire, they are often deliberately victimized.”
ANDRÉS EFREN MONTALVO SOSA (Ecuador) stressed that grave violations against children — which leave a lifelong impact on their mental and physical health — cannot be passed over in silence. Taking note of the report’s documented increase in such violations in 2022, he highlighted the importance of this agenda item in the Council, as well as the work of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. He called for a strengthening of national frameworks, with the help of the United Nations system, in line with international law and architecture for the protection of childhood. Further, he called for the implementation of mine-clearance programmes to prevent the death and maiming of children by improvised explosive devices, and voiced support for the Secretary-General’s call for the rehabilitation of recruited children as victims — not as former combatants. He also said that the international community must guarantee funding in line with resolution 1612 (2005) and support and strengthen institutional accountability and justice.
MICHAEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), noting how 2022 was particularly horrific for children in various conflict zones throughout the world, recounted the reports of 24,300 violations of children’s right, including 2,985 murders, 5,655 mutilations and 7,622 instances of recruitment. “These figures need to be heard to assess the gravity of the situation,” he stressed, voicing concern over the persistence and increase in gender-based violence, forced marriages and other sexual violence which impacts the physical and mental health of children. This is compounded by child labour, trafficking and targeting schools that strip children of their right to education and health care. Turning to the use of improvised explosive devices in battlefields, he said that, in Africa, many children are used as fighters, mine testers and human shields. He called for a systematic implementation of reintegration programmes for children who have been separated from armed groups. Other tangible measures include national legislation for the protection of children, ensuring that perpetrators of atrocities are held to account.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), noting that the majority of child casualties were perpetrated by Government forces, said that Member States should aim to reach the point, where the Special Representative’s mandate is no longer needed. The Council must double down on conflict prevention and resolution, she stressed, noting that the organ’s tools must be tailored to reflect the reality. Recalling that children are violated through their indoctrination, she said that countering indoctrination and recruitment must be a cornerstone of the Council’s work. “The Security Council must see education as its most potent weapon to counter the threat of armed conflict against and by children,” she stressed, calling for equal access to quality education that promotes peace and tolerance, including by the re-establishment of educational facilities. Urging Member States to change their mindset to an approach based on complementarity, she cited [Sierra Leone writer] Ismael Beah: “My squad is my family, my gun is my provider and protector, and my rule is to kill or be killed.” In that regard, she emphasized: “That is not a childhood that any of us would wish on anyone.”
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) expressed concern about the plight of children in concerned countries, and particularly, in the areas in Syria not under the control of its Government. Turning to the situation in Ukraine, he said the question of the protection of children was selected for a dirty information campaign unleashed by Western media companies to slander the Russian Federation. “And now we are appalled at the fact that the United Nations Secretary-General has also contributed to this campaign,” he added. Since 2014, the Russian Federation has been insisting for the United Nations to duly assess the crimes perpetrated by the Kyiv regime against civilians in the Donbas. “Since February 2022, the territories of DPR [Donetsk People's Republic] and LPR [Luhansk People's Republic] were subject to shelling by the Ukrainian forces more than 19,000 times,” he said. More than 5,000 civilians died, including more than 200 children. Underscoring incidents of child torture, he said that the United Nations did not include Ukrainian armed forces in its report.
Organizations have no desire to receive objection information from the ground, he continued. “The question here is why,” he asked, adding that “the deaths of children in these parts of Russia does not fit into the picture painted by Western media outlets of Ukraine as a beacon of democracy, which means that all such facts are being conveniently swept under the rug.” It is difficult to counter blatant pressure from the West. The Secretary-General was unable to summon such courage. There is a need to conceal the crimes perpetrated by Kyiv, where these countries themselves are implicated. Destruction of schools and the maiming of children is occurring with the weapons delivered to Ukraine by Western countries. It is concerning that the Russian Federation’s request to receive clarifying information on the report were not addressed. Neither the United States nor its allies are on the list “as if there was no litany of crimes in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria”.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom), Council President for July, spoke in her national capacity to describe the scale of grave violations outlined in the Secretary-General’s report as “shocking”. These are “not just statistics”, she stressed, but “the stories of real children and their families and communities.” For the first time, a permanent Council member — the Russian Federation — is listed for over 1,200 grave violations against children. The only solution to ending the suffering of Ukrainian children is to end Moscow’s illegal invasion, she underscored, expressing support for Ukraine’s efforts to bring its children home after Moscow’s forced deportations. For its part, the United Kingdom supports programmes delivering psychosocial support and safe spaces, addressing the drivers of recruitment, and further, is a major donor to Education Cannot Wait, which helps over 8.8 million children achieve their right to an education. “Children do not start wars, but they continue to be the most vulnerable to their effects,” she warned, adding: “We must do better.”
Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), taking the floor a second time, said his counterpart from the United States accused Russian Federation forces of executing children. It is indecent to talk about it in this Chamber. He said he also heard accusations against the Russian Federation from the United Kingdom, asking that country’s representative to at least be accurate regarding the numbers she cited.
ENRIQUE JAVIER OCHOA MARTÍNEZ (Mexico) stressed the importance of supporting the Special Representative’s mandate, as it involves dialogue with all parties to an armed conflict — from Government authorities to the leaders of armed groups, including those under sanctions. Her efforts should not be undermined by unrelated considerations, he stated, pointing out that the bleak outlook described in the Secretary-General’s report represents the international community’s failure to protect children. Turning to Latin America and the Caribbean, he recognized the inclusion of Haiti in the Secretary-General’s report as a worrisome situation. The number of cases of recruitment, killings, maiming, sexual violence, attacks on schools, kidnappings and denial of humanitarian access confirms the serious situation in Port-au-Prince and its surroundings. Against that backdrop, he urged mainstreaming child protection in all peace missions and special political missions — particularly in cases of transition or withdrawal, such as that involving the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).
KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland), associating himself with the statements to be delivered by the European Union and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, said that ensuring children’s protection has been ingrained in Poland’s political agenda — including during its membership in the Security Council and the Human Rights Council. Joining the Economic and Social Council in 2024, Warsaw will continue to champion children’s rights, he stressed, also recalling his country’s tenure as Vice-President of UNICEF’s Executive Bureau in 2023. Following the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine, Poland has become a “safe haven” for 1.6 million Ukrainians, 90 per cent of whom are women and children. Since March 2022, Poland has hosted UNICEF’s Emergency Response Office in Warsaw, while also providing education, health care and family benefits to relocated children. Turning to the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrants for crimes against children, he reiterated Poland’s support for the Court’s mandate.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine), associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, called for additional resources for child protection, including for protection specialists. Turning to the devastating impact of the Russian aggression on children in Ukraine, he stressed that the verified numbers do not reflect the true scale of such violations, noting that the conflict has displaced two thirds of the country’s 7.5 million children, while unabated bombardment and shelling as of 3 July has killed 494 children and injured another 1,036. Further, 13 cases of sexual violence against children have been recorded by Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General. He voiced regret that the report did not adequately address the issue of mass abduction of Ukrainian children, noting that his Government believes that several hundred thousand children were forcibly and unlawfully taken by the Russian Federation. Ukraine has identified 19,492 such children, he said, noting that, to date, only 380 have been reunited with their families.
However, even these “terrible numbers of grave violations against children are not definitive due to the lack of access to the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine”, he said. Recalling that Ukraine has been “a victim of Russian aggression” since 2014, he reiterated his country’s consistent request that the situation in Ukraine be included in the Children and Armed Conflict report in the Council since then. He welcomed the Secretary-General’s decision last July to monitor the situation in his country, following which it has appointed its Focal Point on Children and Armed Conflict, as well as established an interministerial committee to ensure regular communication with the team. Further, he welcomed the visit of Special Representative Gamba to Ukraine in May, noting that a joint prevention plan with the United Nations, agreed during the visit, has been drafted and will soon be signed. “The intervention by Putin’s envoy, wanted by the [International Criminal Court], has always been a humbug and hypocrisy,” he added.
ARLENE BETH TICKNER (Colombia) said that her Government’s “Total Peace” project guarantees the protection of children in armed conflict. Since the current Administration took office in August 2022, military bombardments of illegal armed groups’ camps — where minors are allegedly present — have been suspended indefinitely. Seeking to de-escalate the armed conflict and reduce the humanitarian crisis affecting Afro-descendant and Indigenous children, the Government’s initiative to establish dialogue with armed groups has included a commitment not to recruit minors, not to perpetrate acts of gender-based sexual violence and not to use anti-personnel mines. In addition, Colombia has adhered to the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas and the Safe Schools Declaration. Prevention and reintegration of demobilized minors into civilian life is a central pillar of the Government’s strategy, she added.
ANA PAULA BAPTISTA GRADE ZACARIAS (Portugal), aligning with the statements to be delivered by the European Union and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, called on all States to implement the first Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Council resolution 2601 (2021), Safe Schools Declaration, Vancouver Principles and the Paris Principles. Spotlighting a resolution tabled by Portugal in the Human Rights Council on 4 July regarding the right to education, she condemned the military use of educational facilities. On the report, she expressed concern over the 12 per cent increase in grave violations against children, the 112 per cent increase in attacks on schools and hospitals and the 21 per cent increase in the recruitment and use of children. Nonetheless, she welcomed proactive steps taken in Mozambique — despite violations against children in Cabo Delgado — including the creation of an interministerial commission on human rights and international humanitarian law, along with a child protection focal point in the armed forces.
HARI PRABOWO (Indonesia), noting that national Governments hold primary responsibility to protect all children, called for more robust international cooperation to support national capacities on child protection in armed conflicts. While community engagement plays a significant role to create an enabling environment, communities must be empowered to lead in child-protection efforts. In this context, it is essential to ensure a stronger capacity of United Nations peacekeeping missions. As well, regional cooperation and network can effectively support national and local actions to protect children in armed conflict. He highlighted that, in 2019, Indonesia initiated the first Regional Conference on Humanitarian Assistance. In 2021, the Conference expanded to involve more than 100 humanitarian actors from 21 countries.
CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) expressed deep concern for the violence committed against children in Myanmar, where grave violations increased by 142 per cent, as well as in Afghanistan, Sudan, Mali and the State of Palestine, to name just a few situations. Noting the section of the report documenting violations committed against children in the course of the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine, he said Russian armed forces and its proxies have shown little regard for the protection of civilians and in particular the rights of children. As a result, the International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants against President Vladimir V. Putin and the country’s Children’s Rights Commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, for the deportation and transfer of children from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. Further, he stressed the need to uphold the security, privacy and confidentiality of survivors and witnesses, as well as ethical considerations in documenting and verifying information of child survivors of sexual violence.
SANGJIN KIM (Republic of Korea), associating himself with the statement to be made by the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, expressed concern by the increasing number of attacks on schools, which constitute blatant infringements on children’s right to education. “Children must not be deprived of their access to education, even in conflict affected settings,” he said. He reiterated his full support for the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. This year, the Secretary-General added Haiti and Niger to the list of situations of concern. The situation of children in these regions, as in all countries mentioned in the report, must receive the necessary attention from the Council. He also expressed support for United Nations peacekeeping operations and special political missions in facilitating a protective environment for all children in armed conflict.
MARITZA CHAN VALVERDE (Costa Rica) urged the Council to meet its responsibility to protect children in armed conflicts and other fragile contexts and to cooperate with the Secretary-General in implementing rigorous and objective processes for listing State and non-State perpetrators in his report. Highlighting the importance of an intersectional approach to ensure appropriate and child-friendly responses to end and prevent grave violations, she said children’s voices and experiences must be at the centre and their full participation must be ensured in the design of responses. The success of the mandate of children in armed conflicts rests on the effectiveness of the tools available to the Council, particularly the Working Group responsible for issuing recommendations for child protection. Reaffirming her country’s full commitment to the mandate, she called on all States, particularly the Council members, to redouble their efforts to ensure the effective functioning of these mechanisms.
OLIVIER MAES (Luxembourg), aligning himself with the statement to be made by the European Union and the Group of Friends on Children and Armed Conflict, noted that, while 18,890 children were reportedly victims of grave violations in 2022, the actual figure is certainly much higher. Ukraine poses a stark example of such violations, with children there are directly affected by air strikes and missile attacks by the Russian Federation, leading to loss of lives, injury and indelible trauma. He also voiced concern over the deterioration of the situation of children in South Sudan and Myanmar, and the lack of access to humanitarian aid in Syria, Yemen and the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The reported 112 per cent increase in attacks on schools and hospitals is also alarming, he said, calling on States to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration. Luxembourg is committed to this agenda item, as demonstrated by its financial and political support to the mandate of Special Representative Gamba, he said, also underlining the need to strengthen accountability mechanisms.
EVANGELOS SEKERIS (Greece), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said that child protection should be mainstreamed across the conflict circle, from early warning to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. Moreover, the support provided by the global community should be timely, gender- and age-sensitive, survivor-centred and inclusive, while also focusing on girls and children with disabilities. Greece places particular emphasis on the protection of children in armed conflict, he emphasized, adding that it has ratified the relevant Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child and has endorsed the Paris Principles, the Safe School Declaration and the Vancouver Principles. Noting that the country has implemented its national plan on the protection of children from sexual exploitation and abuse and a national strategy on protection of unaccompanied minors, he said that promoting the agenda on children and armed conflict will be Greece’s main priority as a Security Council candidate for 2025-2026.
JOCHEN HANS-JOACHIM ALMOSLECHNER (Austria), associating himself with the statements delivered by the European Union and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, said that, as the number of armed conflicts continues to surge around the world, the number of children suffering and disproportionately bearing the brunt of war is increasing. The report’s finding that Government forces are now the main perpetrators of the killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian assistance is particularly disheartening. “We all know that the dark figures, which remain unreported, are much higher,” he said. As a result of the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression on Ukraine, the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has documented massive human rights violations against children in Ukraine, including killings, maiming, torture, rape, abductions and forced displacement. He called on the Russian Federation, as well as all other Government authorities and parties to conflict listed by the Secretary General’s report, to grant full access to the United Nations to verify such violations.
SAŠA JUREČKO (Slovenia), voicing concern over the increased number of situations in which grave violations against children are occurring — including those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Israel and the State of Palestine — underlined the need for all parties to conflict to uphold their international law obligations and for accountability to be ensured. To this end, she encouraged cooperation with the International Criminal Court and other international justice mechanisms, also underlining the importance of the Paris Principles, Vancouver Principles and the recently adopted Ljubljana–Hague Convention. Noting that explosive devices and their remnants represent some 26 per cent of the methods that kill and maim children, she called on States to enhance efforts to clear explosive remnants of war and to invest more in explosive-ordnance-risk education. Slovenia finances projects to protect children affected by armed conflict, which include the clearing of such remnants to protect children in Ukraine, Republic of Moldova, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, South Sudan and Afghanistan, she added.
NAME TO COME (Thailand) stressed the need for States’ strict compliance and commitment to implement international laws for child protection in armed conflict, including provisions contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol. A monitoring and reporting mechanism plays a crucial role in early detection of violations and paves the way for early engagement with warring parties to prevent violations. Effective data-collection and -sharing are also crucial. Data should be age- and sex-disaggregated because boys and girls experience conflicts differently. This will enable the scaling up of appropriate responsive measures required for effective prevention, response, recovery and sustainable reintegration. Providing children with access to mental health support, education and continued learning and training opportunities is also important to ensure sustainable reintegration and prevention of re-victimization.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), voicing concern over the increasing number of verified grave violations in the 2022 Secretary-General’s report, said it is “particularly disturbing” to witness the rising trend of violations carried out by State actors. In this context, Italy recalls the Paris Principles and Vancouver Principles and calls on all Member States to endorse and fully implement the Safe Schools Declaration. Turning to sexual violence in conflict, which is underreported, he underscored the need for collaboration between different United Nations mandates to end that scourge and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice. Reiterating Italy’s staunch support for the children and armed conflict mandate, he highlighted its support for the United Nations “Guidance Note on Abduction”. Italy echoes concerns expressed in the report on the children transferred to the Russian Federation from areas of Ukraine, and calls on parties to the conflict to give child protection actors access to these children to facilitate the reunification process.
IVAN ŠIMONOVIĆ (Croatia), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, expressed concern over the increase of attacks on schools and hospitals, noting that the lack of respect for international human rights and humanitarian law has become too common. Welcoming the progress in the new joint action plans in Yemen and Iraq, he outlined the role of UNICEF and civil society partners in high-risk settings. “We must do everything we can to protect children affected by conflicts, especially girls,” he stressed, while advocating for accountability for grave violations as key to achieving sustainable peace. Noting that the monitoring and reporting mechanism is a reliable and objective source of information, he said the annual report represents an important accountability tool and helps to prevent further violations against children. “It is also a warning shot to their perpetrators that listed violations may be prosecuted,” he emphasized.
BJÖRN OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, said that children should never be victims of conflict. However, he noted with dismay that the Russian Federation — through its full-scale invasion of Ukraine and its regular armed forces — is a part of these violations. Recognizing the work of the Special Representative, UNICEF, United Nations child-protection actors and civil society, he said they should be supported and resourced. In this context, he welcomed the signing of new joint action plans on prevention in Yemen with the Houthis and in Iraq. Underlining the importance of clear criteria and procedures in decisions to list and delist parties to armed conflict, he spotlighted new listings that include armed forces and their affiliates in Ukraine, Burkina Faso and Myanmar.
Pointing out that the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine has taken a devastating toll on children, he called on Moscow to withdraw its troops and military equipment. “For many Ukrainian children, the damage has already been done, but withdrawing would be the best way to end the ongoing violations,” he stressed, underscoring the importance of implementing joint action plans with which Moscow and Kyiv have agreed. He also echoed the Secretary-General’s recommendation to grant child-protection actors access to children transferred to the Russian Federation to facilitate family reunifications. Further, he said the bloc follows the developments in Niger and Haiti as situations of concern.
CARLA MARIA RODRÍGUEZ MANCIA (Guatemala) said it is important to highlight that peace is the ultimate guarantee for the security of children. In that regard, all parties should engage in good-faith peace negotiations, the aims of which should include the protection of children. Stressing the need to ensure the full protection of children, she underscored the importance of building societies where they can live free of violence. Continued abuses against children by armed groups is a grave violation of children’s human rights and demonstrates a clear contempt for human life. She expressed alarm that the report highlights the verified abduction of Ukrainian children by Russian Federation armed forces following Moscow’s illegal, unjustified and unprovoked aggression against Ukraine. She urged all Member States to uphold and protect the rights of children, also calling on those countries that have not yet done so to become signatories to the Safe Schools Declaration.
JOSÉ ALFONSO BLANCO (Dominican Republic) said the physical and psychological trauma resulting from violence, forced recruitment, sexual exploitation and forced displacement is “unimaginable”. He welcomed that the Council's Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict will carry out a field mission to Nigeria this month, its first visit to the field since 2019. However, he voiced concern that the Working Group has not yet been able to adopt conclusions on the situation of certain countries in more than two years. Turning to the situation in Haiti, he said an alarming number of 3 million children are in dire need of humanitarian support. The country is plagued by extreme levels of violence, compounding problems of hunger and malnutrition in an already impoverished nation battling a resurgence of cholera. Being a child in Haiti today is more dangerous and challenging than ever, he said, stressing that it is crucial that these vulnerable children receive the necessary protection. Therefore, it is very timely that this year's annual report incorporates Haiti as a situation of concern, he said.
MARIE-LOUISE KOCH WEGTER (Denmark), speaking also for Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, underscored the need to invest in preventive measures. One example is the Safe Schools Declaration that facilitates protection, prevention and reintegration, she said, adding that overall investments in education, mental health and psychosocial well-being are critical enablers of child protection. Humanitarian assistance must complement the self-protection strategies of local communities by supporting them in a flexible and adaptable manner. International organizations can play crucial roles in protecting children. The evacuation of 280 children from an orphanage in Khartoum by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) shows that it is possible to appeal to belligerent parties, and it speaks to the importance of direct engagement and the vital role played by such organizations. She also expressed support for the listing of parties to be done in a coherent and transparent way, holding the parties to the same criteria and procedures in order to protect all children equally. The fact that the Russian Federation's armed forces and affiliated armed groups have been listed gives testimony to the integrity of the mandate.
CARLOS DANIEL AMORÍN (Uruguay), voicing alarm over the increase in violations against children, said that, while non-State actors accounted for 50 per cent of such acts, the main perpetrators of the killing of children and the denial of humanitarian access are Government forces. Also alarming is the addition of three new situations, a 20 per cent increase in the recruitment and use of children and a 112 per cent increase in attacks on schools and hospitals. Nonetheless, he welcomed progress made in child protection, including the freeing of 12,000 children from armed forces, as well as progress in training and accountability in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Colombia, where, in August 2022, air strikes on camps of armed groups were suspended due to the presence of children. He called for more resources to be given to the Office of the Special Representative, including for child protection experts and monitoring mechanisms.
CORNEL FERUȚĂ (Romania), associating himself with the European Union, said that the inclusion in the report of the Russian Federation’s armed forces as responsible for committing grave violations against children is a step forward to ensuring accountability. With almost 500 days since the start of the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression in Ukraine, ending the climate of impunity is the way forward to prevent and respond to the grave violations against children in armed conflict. His Government pays special attention to family reunification as the precondition for a child to grow up and develop harmoniously, he said, adding that its national legislation ensures the protection of child refugees and the protection of children during armed conflict. “Children are our future and must always be protected,” he said. Part of their future is also the right to education, he added, urging Member States to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration.
GEOFF BLACK (Canada), speaking for the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, encouraged all parties to armed conflict to sign and implement action plans and other concrete and time-bound measures to enhance the protection of children. Noting that true justice, among other things, involves reparations, access to gender- and age-sensitive specialized services — including medical, mental health and psychosocial support — and sexual and reproductive health-care services, he encouraged Member States to accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and endorse and implement practical child protection instruments. There must be adequate resourcing for child protection specialists and activities, he stressed, urging States to provide support to the full implementation of child protection mandates by peace operations.
The architecture, established by the Council for children in armed conflicts, is being challenged to address violations against children, he pointed out, voicing concern about Government forces being the main perpetrators of the killings and maiming of children, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian aid. Reiterating the importance of the monitoring and reporting mechanism, including the listing mechanism, he also called for the information collected and verified by the monitoring mechanism to be reflected in the report in an accurate and timely manner.
CAROLYN SCHWALGER (New Zealand), speaking also for Australia and Canada, noted a 112 per cent increase in the number of attacks on schools and hospitals in 2022, describing this as “unacceptable”. Strongly condemning all grave violations committed against children by any State or party, she called for Russian Federation armed forces, affiliated armed groups and their leadership to be held accountable for the grave violations they have committed against children during their ongoing war of aggression. The killing and maiming of more than 1,386 Ukrainian children in 2022 is devastating.
She also expressed grave concern over the situations in Syria, Yemen, Mali, Myanmar and Afghanistan, welcoming the inclusion of Haiti and Niger as situations of concern. Tackling impunity through prompt investigation and prosecution for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity is needed to strengthen the response to grave violations against children, she said, imploring States to cooperate with international justice mechanisms — particularly the International Criminal Court. The Council should ensure that child-protection tasks and capabilities are included in all relevant peacekeeping and special political mission mandates, and that these are adequately resourced and maintained during transitions or reconfigurations, she added.
JORGE VIDAL (Chile), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, emphasized that the international community must increase efforts to protect children in such situations and provide them with security, education and rehabilitation. “Protecting children and their rights is a moral imperative,” he said, calling for a preventive approach to conflict. In this sense, the best way to prevent the recruitment of boys and girls is to promote a culture of peace, as well as democratic, inclusive and resilient societies. He echoed the Secretary-General’s concern about the role played by Government entities in perpetrating violations, especially attacks on schools and hospitals. Cases of recruitment and use of children by armed groups cannot be accepted, he asserted, voicing deep concern over violations against the rights of children in armed conflicts across various countries.
PABLO EMILIO GUTIÉRREZ SEGÚ BERDULLAS (Spain), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, said the figures are alarming and unacceptable. On Ukraine, he said the Russian Federation’s aggression continues to be directed at schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure and continues to take the lives of children. It is incumbent on all Member States to apply international law with the greatest rigour and demand accountability from those who violate it. Further, he underscored that Spain is fully committed to implementing the Safe Schools Declaration. Women and girls are particularly exposed to sexual violence and conflict. This is why it is essential to support the preventive approach and the effective participation of women in decision-making. It is also extremely important that peacekeeping operations streamline and expand mandates for the protection of children.
FAHAD M. E. H. A. MOHAMMAD (Kuwait) said the grave violations outlined in the Secretary-General’s report “should shock our collective conscience”. As delegates speak of the need to comply with international humanitarian law and human rights law in this Council chamber, the complete opposite is happening on the ground. The United Nations verified more than 2,000 grave violations in 2022. Conflicts rob children of their rights to life and decent living and growth. The international community must not allow children to live in fear. They should be living in an environment that guarantees their safety. Turning to the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he condemned violations by Israel, the occupying Power, against defenceless Palestinian children. Israel, acting as if it is above the law, continues to commit horrific crimes, including in Jenin. The Council must provide international protection for these children. The inability to address the Palestinian question and to hold Israel accountable is the biggest failure of the United Nations and the Council.
JASSIM SAYAR A. J. AL-MAAWDA (Qatar), aligning himself with the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, voiced concern over the sad reality of the impact of conflicts on children described in the report, and expressed alarm about the uptick in grave violations against children, including through damage on schools and hospitals. Such violations must be addressed and efforts must be enhanced to protect all children at all stages of conflict. Underscoring the need to strengthen accountability mechanisms, he stressed that failing to guarantee the right to education undermines human rights and sustainable development. Noting his country’s support for quality education throughout the world, including through an emergency development and relief programme, he spotlighted its leading role in helping adopt General Assembly resolution 74/275, which declared 9 September the International Day for the Protection of Education from Attack. As well, he highlighted Qatar’s contribution of $2.5 million in support of the core operations of the Office of the Special Representative between 2022 and 2025.
DAMIANO BELEFFI (San Marino), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, condemned attacks on schools and hospitals, noting that health care and education are fundamental children’s rights that must be preserved. Reiterating support for the Safe Schools Declaration, he emphasized that education is a powerful tool for peace, and thus, should be supported. Calling on States to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, he reiterated that civilians and civilian infrastructure must be respected. With the use of explosive weapons in populated areas that has caused an increased number of deaths, San Marino has endorsed the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences Arising from the Use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas. Spotlighting the work of civil society in preventing the use of child soldiers, he said: “No child should ever live the horror of war. Children are the root of peace, and we should therefore invest in them.”
REIN TAMMSAAR (Estonia), speaking also for Latvia and Lithuania, spotlighted the increased number of actors listed for committing grave violations against children — the most-significant addition being the Russian Federation. It is beyond shameful that a Member State and Council member with primary responsibility to maintain international peace and security “who lectures us here about what is right and wrong has itself committed 878 verified appalling cases of grave violations against children in Ukraine”.
He stated that, according to the Secretary-General’s report, the armed forces of a permanent Council member use children as human shields and attack schools where they are studying. Further, Moscow’s military, mercenaries and security forces also tortured, abducted, raped and killed children daily during military aggression led by a criminal wanted by the International Criminal Court. The only thing that matters for Russian Federation leadership is to erase the sovereign State of Ukraine from the map, he underscored, pointing out that targeting children is the ugliest — but integral — part of this inhumane plan.
LACHEZARA STOEVA (Bulgaria), associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of the Responsibility to Protect, said her country — as a Co-Chair of the Group of Friends of Children and the Sustainable Development Goals — has issued two statements regarding the impact the Russian Federation’s war of aggression has on children. Encouraging Member States to adopt and implement hand-over protocols for children encountered or detained during military operations, she also called on States to refrain from the military use of schools and hospitals and to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration. In addition, she urged parties to conflict to refrain from using explosive weapons in populated areas and to endorse the political declaration on that topic. Reaffirming Bulgaria’s commitment to the protection and promotion of children’s rights in armed conflict, she said that education is central to preventing the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups.
CEREN HANDE ÖZGÜR (Türkiye) said that, since March 2022, her country has hosted more than 1,000 Ukrainian orphans and 500 caregivers. “We took necessary measures to meet their accommodation, care, health and education needs,” she reported. Turning to Iraq, she said that decades of war, authoritarian rule and sectarian violence has had adverse effects on children. By exploiting the security vacuum, terrorist organizations have mobilized all means to realize their inhumane agendas. As widely reported by members of the Yazidi community, the PKK [Kurdistan Workers' Party] and the YPG [People's Protection Units] terrorist organizations have kidnapped hundreds of Yazidi children from Syria and subjected them to ideological brainwashing for recruitment purposes since 2015. With regard to “incorrect references” in the report referencing Türkiye's counterterrorism operations in Syria and Iraq, she said these operations are conducted as part of Türkiye’s inherent right to self-defence and in full compliance with international law.
MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia), referring to the Secretary-General’s report, pointed out that underreporting is a major challenge that can lead to bias and inadequate responses, which enables the perpetration of further violations. In September 2022, Azerbaijan exposed several villages and towns deep inside Armenia to massive shelling by heavy artillery and unmanned aerial vehicles. Azerbaijan’s premediated criminal actions violated 25,000 children’s right to education. In Nagorno-Karabakh, civilians have been victims of an inhumane blockade by Azerbaijan since 12 December 2022. On 22 February, the International Court of Justice issued an order that Azerbaijan “shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin corridor in both directions”. To this date, Azerbaijan has failed to comply with that legally binding order. He therefore called on the Special Representative to use her important mandate to monitor the situation and to make efforts for humanitarian access to avoid further deterioration.
LEILA CASTILLON LORA-SANTOS (Philippines) said her country uses a whole-of-Government approach on children and armed conflict issues and in addressing grave violations committed against them. Noting the Secretary-General’s report pointing to a 38 per cent decrease in grave violations against children in the Philippines in 2022, she said her country is committed to implement the Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Law down to the grass-roots level. The Council for the Welfare of Children coordinates the enforcement and implementation of all laws on children, ensuring a child-friendly and child-sensitive society where every child enjoys their rights. It promptly intervenes in cases of children rescued from armed rebel groups and reintegrates them into their families and communities. In June 2021, the Government signed the Strategic Plan to Prevent and Respond to Grave Child Right Violations in Situations of Armed Conflict, she said, adding that more than 3,000 child protection actors were trained on child protection laws and policies.
BRETT JONATHAN MILLER (Israel) said the politicized agenda advanced in the report demonizes Israel instead of focusing on those truly responsible for the maiming and deaths of children. Citing widely circulated footage showing Israel aborting strikes on terrorists due to the proximity of children, he stressed: “The Israel Defense Forces is the most moral military in the world, and no one-sided United Nations report will prove otherwise.” Israel is exploited by its enemies who turn mosques into armed caches — as seen two days ago in Jenin — and use hospitals to launch rockets, and schools, including those run by United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), to cover terror tunnels, none of which was in the report. Palestinian leaders invest in inciting hatred, leading to Palestinian teens murdering Israelis so their families can benefit from so-called “pay for slay” programmes, he said, noting that the indoctrination of youth by Hamas was not included in the report; rather, it was mentioned once in a positive light, he said, calling that “truly incomprehensible”.
JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic), associating himself with the statements delivered by the European Union and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, said that, unfortunately, grave violations against children continue to occur and are largely perpetrated by state actors. This was also the case of the recent attack on a civilian restaurant facility in Kramatorsk in Ukraine, where children died and were injured because of shelling by the Russian Federation’s armed forces. “We strongly condemn these acts and demand accountability for their perpetrators,” he said. State actors are obliged to comply with the international humanitarian law and human rights law. He commended the report's explicit mention of the abductions of Ukrainian children to the Russian Federation, the true extent of which, however, is greater. The Czech Republic supports the International Criminal Court's jurisdiction into the situation. All those responsible for grave violations against children must be brought to justice.
MONWAR HOSSAIN (Bangladesh), stressing that violations against children are “a moral outrage and a stain on our collective conscience”, said that it is the responsibility of States to ensure that children do not pay the price for wars waged by adults. In this regard, States should ensure that their national laws are in line with international human rights, while also enacting legislation to criminalize violations against children and establishing robust judicial systems. Pointing to the importance of integrating child protection provisions and capacity in peacekeeping operations, he urged Member States to increase and timely allocate resources to this end. Innovation plays a crucial role in the evolving challenges faced by children in armed conflict, he stressed, calling on States to leverage technological advancement for data collection and analysis to anticipate risks. “We must tailor our responses to the specific needs of girls,” he emphasized, calling for gender-responsive programming.
RÓBERT CHATRNÚCH (Slovakia), aligning with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, said the latest report paints a “grim yet very real picture”. Its statistics — recording verified, grave violations of international law, including killing, maiming, recruitment and abduction of children — are appalling and unacceptable. Against this backdrop, he emphasized the obligation of all parties to conflict to respect international law. As well, he stressed the need for accountability for grave violations through national and international mechanisms, including the International Criminal Court. He reiterated his condemnation of Moscow’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine, noting the report’s listing of Russian Federation armed forces and affiliated armed groups in Ukraine. He also reiterated his concern over the meeting held between United Nations representatives and Maria Lvova-Belova, who is subject to an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for possible war crimes involving the unlawful deportation of children.
ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany), associating herself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, expressed concern over the prevalence of killing, maiming, recruiting and use of children. Condemning such violations, she encouraged Member States to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, Paris Principles and Vancouver Principles, including handover protocols that provide guidelines for the transfer of children from security forces to civilian child-protection agencies. Noting the increase in child abductions and sexual violence against children, she underscored the importance of addressing the gender aspect of these violations. She also called for adequate funding for gender-specific child-protection needs within peace operations and underlined the need to ensure victims’ access to sexual- and reproductive-health services. Further, she reported that Germany and the Netherlands have created the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine, which will be based at the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation.
NACIM GAOUAOUI (Algeria) reiterated the call to end the blatant disregard of international humanitarian and human rights law during armed conflict. Noting that his delegation will serve on the Security Council starting in 2024, he said that Algeria firmly believes in the need to save children from the repercussions of armed conflict. He therefore underlined the need to adopt a comprehensive strategy that will save all children from the horrors of such conflict, no matter the circumstances. “International efforts must not leave any child behind,” he said, emphasizing that change is possible if Member States unite their efforts to uphold justice, enforce the law and address the root causes of conflict. “We must always confront the violations perpetrated against children,” he stressed, adding: “And we must state clearly that there is no escape for those who perpetrate crimes that have been verified and documented.”
SOFIAN AKMAL BIN ABD KARIM (Malaysia) said that he was appalled by the increase in grave violations — and equally, by the use of live ammunition and explosives — against children. Violations included the killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and hospitals and denial of humanitarian access. It is the collective responsibility of the international community to ensure the protection of children in armed conflict, he said, urging States to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child along with relevant Optional Protocols. Further, he echoed the Secretary-General’s proposal for child-protection capacity to be included in United Nations peacekeeping operations and special political missions. The glaring absence of Israel in the annex of the Secretary-General’s report puzzles his delegation, he added, calling for the inclusion of that country in the list of perpetrators in the Secretary-General’s future reports.
NAME TO COME (Belgium), aligning with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, noted his country’s financial support for UNICEF’s monitoring mechanism, which provides a solid basis for the adoption of prevention plans for parties to conflict. Welcoming the listing of the Russian Federation armed forces and their affiliates in Ukraine, he voiced concern over both the uptick in attacks on schools and hospitals and the reported transfer of children to the Russian Federation. Turning to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, he voiced alarm over grave violations by non-State armed groups against children, encouraging the Government to continue implementing its action plans. On the dire situation of children in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, he called for the adoption and implementation of time-bound commitments to end and prevent violations by all parties. Further, he called for the inclusion of Niger as a situation of concern.
MAJDA MOUTCHOU (Morocco), spotlighting the grim reality faced by millions of children around the world, expressed concern over the scale, severity and recurrence of violence and abuse against children. Thousands of children globally fall victim to war — forced to take part in hostilities as fighters, used as human shields or exploited as sexual slaves. She stressed: “They cannot speak up for their rights. They are threatened.” Pointing out that non-State groups, including mercenaries and terrorist organizations, target children — who can be easily manipulated and brainwashed — for their criminal agendas, she noted that children that are forced or trapped into armed groups suffer abuses related to their rights to education and mental health. To this end, former child soldiers must be provided with counselling and reintegration services, she underscored, condemning in the strongest terms the recruitment and exploitation of children in such a manner.
RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer for the State of Palestine, said that the lives of Palestinian children seem not to matter. The violators of their rights are held to different standards than the universal criteria set forth in the Children and Armed Conflict mandate. According to the report, Palestinian children were killed and maimed by both Israeli air strikes and live ammunition. Hence, the decision not to list Israel as an offender is very offensive. Only days after the release of the report, Israel launched 10 air strikes on the Jenin refugee camp, wantonly and willing endangering human lives, including children. “What are you waiting for to implement your resolutions and offer international protection of the Palestinian people,” he asked. The United Nations reported that 2022 was the deadliest year for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since 2006, with Israel killing more than 40 Palestinian children. Since the start of 2023, more than 30 Palestinian children have been killed by Israel. As long as Israel is not listed for its violations against Palestinian children, its commitments will not be serious and its violations will continue.
MUNIR AKRAM (Pakistan) said that 1 in 6 of the world’s children lives in areas affected by conflict, while also suffering from foreign occupation. In this regard, he pointed to the Secretary-General report’s “anomaly”, where the two blatant situations of foreign occupation, perpetrated by Israel and India, were not listed. Highlighting the oppression of Jammu and Kashmir’s children, he said an entire generation has grown up in in a climate of unspeakable fear. It is estimated that 13,000 Kashmiri children and youth have been captured by India’s 900,000 occupation forces, while thousands of innocent Kashmiris, including women and children, have been killed in staged search operations to extract confessions or secure commitments not to participate in Kashmir’s struggle for self-determination. In 2022, Pakistan released a dossier of 3,432 cases of war crimes, perpetrated by India’s senior officers, he reported, urging the Special Representative to demand the release of 30,000 abducted youth.
ABDULLAH ALI FADHEL AL-SAADI (Yemen) said the protection of children in armed conflict is a priority for his country, which suffers from conflict. The Houthis militia has intensified campaigns against children, seeking to send 1.5 million children in so-called “summer camps” to the battlefield. The Houthis are indoctrinating children into the culture of death and hatred, but the international community has remained silent, he said, adding that the Houthis continue to open Jihad recruitment centres under the guise of summer camps. The group also attacks health facilities, resulting in the return of polio and measles, which had been eradicated. Palestinian children are also suffering from killing and maiming by Israel, including in Jenin. The international community must not remain silent on this, he stressed, calling for Israel to be added to the list of perpetrators of violations against children.
NARMIN AHANGARI (Azerbaijan), stressing the need for compliance with international humanitarian law, said that Armenia has committed multiple war crimes in its aggression against her country since the 1990s. These include the killing of 63 children in the town of Khojaly, and 700 secondary schools and more than 800 preschools impacted by Armenia’s aggression. Further, Armenia refuses to share information on the hundreds of thousands of landmines in Azerbaijan, which has harmed 10 children, as well as hundreds of civilians since November 2020. Responding to comments by Armenia’s delegate on the “blockade” of the Lachin-Khankandi road and the disruption of electricity and natural gas by Azerbaijan in its Garabagh Economic Region, she called them “false and provocative”. Her country has never impeded the road’s use for the supply of food, medicine and other humanitarian purposes or access by the International Committee of the Red Cross, she said.
SHANE RYAN (Ireland), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, said that, in 2022, millions of children in Ukraine had their lives upended by the Russian Federation’s war of aggression. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of teenage girls found themselves locked out of second-level education in Afghanistan, and 2.4 million children in Syria remained out of school and at risk of child labour and recruitment into armed conflict. In the Occupied Palestinian Territory, high numbers of children were killed or maimed by the use of live ammunition during Israel’s law enforcement operations in the occupied West Bank. From Haiti to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Yemen and the Sahel, the prevalence of violations against children underscores the need for decisive action. Against that backdrop, he urged all parties to armed conflict to develop plans to end violations against children.
SATTAR AHMADI (Iran) said that children who are refugees, internally displaced or stateless are more likely to endure severe violations, such as recruitment, sexual violence and trafficking. The Middle East region remains a tragic witness to the appalling violation of children, from Afghanistan and Yemen to the Occupied Palestinian Territory. In Afghanistan, the United Nations confirmed 1,797 grave violations against 970 children. In 2022, the Organization documented 3,133 grave violations, affecting 1,139 Palestinian children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. These atrocities constitute war crimes. He stressed the need to address the root causes of conflict such as poverty and limited access to education and employment. Illegal unilateral sanctions can exacerbate the plight of children in conflict-affected areas. Iran strongly rejects the reference made to its armed forces in the Secretary-General's report, he said, stressing that Iran’s anti-terrorist efforts are always conducted in accordance with international law.
PETER MOHAN MAITHRI PIERIS (Sri Lanka) said that the nature of warfare has tragically transformed schools, once safe havens for children, into deliberate targets. Deploring that innocent children face grave danger while traveling to and from educational institutions, he said that, this morning, such happenings were reported in Palestine. Moreover, schools and educational facilities have been requisitioned as military facilities and recruitment centres by combatant forces. Embracing the right to education becomes the beacon of hope for war-torn children, empowering them to heal, learn and reclaim their future. He concluded his remarks by quoting the words of Nelson Mandela: “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation and the children of great warriors in conflict become leaders.”
HEBA MOSTAFA (Egypt), voicing concern over the marked increase in the number of children affected by grave violations in 2022, called for enhanced international cooperation to strengthen the implementation of obligations under international law regarding their protection in armed conflict. She also voiced concern over the rise in the number of deaths of Palestinian children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in violation of international humanitarian law. Welcoming the report’s recommendation on including child protection provisions in all relevant mandates of United Nations peacekeeping operations, she outlined measures undertaken by her country to strengthen the protection of children in armed conflict. This includes training on international humanitarian law to military personnel on the protection of children in armed conflicts, with particular attention given to personnel designated to participate in peacekeeping operations, prepared in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
ELISENDA VIVES BALMAÑA (Andorra), associating herself with the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, said that in its 27 years of existence, the mandate on children and armed conflict has led to the release of 190,000 children. Welcoming the progress made in implementing 21 action plans and more than 40 commitments by respective parties, she expressed concern over 27,180 violations verified in 2022. “We need a sound, consistent and unified response to change the game,” she stressed, while welcoming the commitment and perseverance of the Special Representative in implementing the mandate. Recalling that 12,460 children received protection and reintegration support in 2022, after falling victim to armed forces and groups, she underscored the importance of strengthening reintegration efforts. In this context, Andorra will contribute to the financing of the report on climate change and children and armed conflict, she added.
JEANNE MRAD (Lebanon) said that the figures are probably much higher than those indicated in the Secretary-General’s report, since they do not encompass the unverified cases of violations against children. Recognizing that children continue to be disproportionally affected by armed conflict and violations, she said that, in recent days, the world has witnessed Israel's attacks on the Jenin refugee camp. She condemned these attacks and deplored all acts of violence against children. Turning to the “list of shame”, published in the report, she pointed out that not “every abuser and killer” is on the list. Noting that the Secretary-General addresses the situation of Palestinian children — documenting 3,133 violations against 1,139 children, she noted that Israel was omitted from the list. In this regard, she recalled the article Why Does the UN Chief Value Some Children More Than Others?, published by Human Rights Watch, emphasizing: “The business-as-usual approach cannot continue to be our guiding line. All children’s lives matter.”
XOLISA MFUNDISO MOBHONGO (South Africa) said the best course of action to protect children is to pursue peace and prevent situations of armed conflict. Yet until this ideal is achieved, it is pragmatic to ensure the most vulnerable are not exposed to the consequences of armed conflict. He underlined the critical importance of the United Nations as a facilitator towards protecting children in such situations. International legal instruments regarding children and armed conflict obliges State actors to ensure they are not complicit to such grave violations and should take every measure to guarantee against it. This includes implementing action plans in accordance with the Children in Armed Conflict mandate within the United Nations peace and security architecture. However, these instruments alone are not enough, he said, urging that further initiatives to protect children during and in armed conflict be sought. His country has and will continue to advocate for the inclusion of child protection provisions in peace processes and peace agreements, he said.
TESFAYE YILMA SABO (Ethiopia) said that the conflict in the northern part of the country has presented his Government with extraordinary security challenges. Despite that, Ethiopia has made concerted efforts to ensure unhindered humanitarian assistance with a special focus on children and other vulnerable groups. In November 2022, under the leadership of the African Union, Ethiopia signed a peace agreement that ushered in a series of measures including disarmament and demobilization of forces and intensified the provision of humanitarian aid. Ethiopia is also embarking on reconstruction and recovery programmes, giving priority to sectors that address the needs of children, including education and health. He said it is regrettable, however, that, despite Ethiopia’s engagement, the report is replete with factual errors. The report was not cross-checked with national researcher data. “It fails to address our serious concerns,” he stressed, adding that the protection of children is a shared objective that must be nurtured through constructive engagement.
ASHISH SHARMA (India), citing Mahatma Gandi, said: "If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children." Member States should adopt legal frameworks for protecting and promoting children’s rights, he noted, adding that the aim should not be to protect children from child-related crimes, but also to provide them with development opportunities and primary education. Also, States should provide protection to child victims during rehabilitation and reintegration processes, he added, while underscoring the importance of supporting Governments in capacity-building and strengthening their legal and operational tools for child protection. Pointing to the increase of children recruited and involved in terrorism-related activities, he called for a coordinated approach to address this. Recognizing the importance of sufficient resources for the implementation of child-protection programmes, he said the Council should incorporate adequate child-protection provisions in peacekeeping operations mandates.
Responding to the “politically motivated” remarks made by one delegation against India, he said: “Those, who are soaked in bigotry, will find it hard to understand the pluralistic society.” He dismissed and condemned those remarks, reiterating that Jammu and Kashmir’s territory is and always will be an integral part of India.
DAVID ABESADZE (Georgia), aligning himself with the statement delivered by the European Union, voiced alarm over the report’s findings. Georgia welcomes the international conference “Protecting Children in Armed Conflict: Our Common Future” held recently in Oslo, and strongly supports and fulfills all relevant international legal instruments, including initiatives such as the “Safe Schools Declaration”, he said. He voiced concern about the children affected by the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine, adding that that country is also violating the rights of conflict-affected children in the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions of Georgia, which it occupies, impeding their freedom of movement and education in their native Georgian language. He underscored the urgent need of access for human rights monitoring mechanisms to both occupied regions of Georgia. As well, he called on the international community to urge Moscow to start fulfilling its international obligations, starting with the 12 August 2008 Ceasefire Agreement, mediated by the European Union.
MARÍA DEL CARMEN SQUEFF (Argentina) called for an immediate end to serious violations against children. The international community should urge all countries to ratify and implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child and increase financial and technical support to help concerned countries improve their child protection capacity. The United Nations agenda on children and armed conflict has a set of robust tools and initiatives developed to protect children from grave violations, including dialogue with the parties to the conflict. In this regard, she reiterated her country’s firm support for the work of the Special Representative while also highlighting that of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism. Achieving peace is the best protection for children, she stressed, adding that the Council should continue to search for a political solution to ongoing conflicts and promote the protection of children during conflict prevention and resolution. The Council must also speak with one voice.
JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) stressed the need for all parties to conflicts to respect international law and international humanitarian law. “They must respect and implement relevant international resolutions on children's rights, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” he emphasized, also adding: “We must prevent any violation to the rights of the child and hold perpetrators accountable.” Bahrain acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991 and ratified it without any reservations in 1992. He stressed the need to include all Member States in efforts to promote the protection of children. “We will continue supporting all efforts to protect children and prevent their abuse in any form,” he pledged. Bahrain will continue to cooperate with the international community to ensure peace and security so that everyone including children can enjoy their inherent rights.
RABIA IJAZ (Pakistan), stressing that India cannot hide behind the false accusations, pointed out that the captured Indian spy and intelligence officer has confessed to that country’s support of terrorist activities. She also said that India has sponsored and perpetrated terrorism against all its neighbors.