We deeply appreciate SRSG Leila Zerroughi’s remarkable work, undertaken in pursuance of her mandate, to implement the international legal framework for the protection of children affected by armed conflict. With a firm, yet pragmatic, approach she is obtaining cooperation of states and regional organizations.
We welcome Deputy Prime Minister Jean Asselborn in the Council. Ambassador Sylvie Lucas and her team have done a splendid job in putting together a very comprehensive Presidential Statement. Luxembourg has conducted inclusive and skillful negotiations to bring all Council members on board.
Children are the most valuable resource we have. A society’s soul is reflected by the way it treats its children. The UN Charter’s adage “to save succeeding generations” wants us to invest in children's future, which is our future.
We know that millions of children are trapped in wars and conflicts. They are killed, maimed, raped, and subjected to sexual violence. They are recruited, abducted and detained; and are coerced into becoming part of armed conflicts.
Some progress has been made to slow down this scourge, especially in developing norms and standards. Thousands of children have been demobilized, rehabilitated, and re-integrated. Much more needs to be done to ensure compliance, fight impunity and protect children’s rights in the face of new risks because of the evolving nature of the conflict.
As Ms. Zerrougi has pointed out the absence of clear front lines and identifiable opponents and the tactics used by terrorist groups make children vulnerable in conflict situations. Children have been used as suicide bombers and human shields. Schools continue to be attacked, particularly affecting girls’ education.
Persistent perpetrators of violence against children must be brought to justice through national judicial systems and where applicable through the use of international justice mechanisms.
The Presidential Statement to be adopted today sends a strong message. The Council condemns all violations of applicable international law impinging on children’s rights. It demands that all parties to conflict immediately put an end to such practices and take special measures to protect children.
In his report, the Secretary General has referred to an increasing number of child casualties in the course of the use of armed drones. He has also called for adherence to the principles of precaution, distinction and proportionality; and for transparent and effective investigations when child casualties occur.
For its part, Pakistan believes that the use of armed drones violates sovereignty, causes civilian casualties, and puts communities at risk of reprisal attacks. Drone strikes radicalize disaffected communities and increase the number of terrorists. Urgent and intense negotiations are needed to address the issue of armed drones.
Pakistan fully supports the mandate of the Children and Armed Conflict including its reporting and monitoring procedures.
We want to strengthen the political consensus around this mandate to ensure better protection of the rights of children in situations of armed conflict. For that purpose, the legal parameters of the mandate must be respected. Focus should continue to remain on situations of armed conflict and those threatening international peace and security. We are encouraged by Ms. Zerrougui’s outreach to Member States to understand and address their concerns in this regard.
The PRST to be adopted today clearly recognizes the primary role of governments, to be supported and supplemented by the United Nations, for providing protection and relief to children affected by armed conflict.
Before concluding, we would make the following suggestions:
Finally, I thank Undersecretary General Harve Ladsous, Deputy Executive Director UNICEF, Ms. Yoka Brandt, and Associate Vice President Save the Children, Mr. Gregory Ramm, for their statements. By their contribution, they have enriched our discussion.
I thank you