Mr President, I am speaking today on behalf of Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and my own country, Norway.
Let me first thank the briefers, SRSG Gamba and ED Fore, as well as Yenny Londoño for her encouraging story. I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his report, which shows a large increase in verified violations against children. This trend can and must be reversed. First and foremost, parties to conflict must respect international humanitarian law and human rights.
I would also like to thank the Swedish Presidency of the Council for organising today's debate and for their work on the resolution that the Council has just adopted. The resolution provides a comprehensive framework for mainstreaming child protection, children’s rights, and empowerment across the conflict cycle to prevent conflict and sustain peace. The Nordic Countries are proud to co-sponsor this important resolution.
Protecting children and upholding their rights in situations of armed conflict is closely linked to the broader prevention agenda. It is crucial to resolve conflicts and sustain peace.
Not only do violations against children during armed conflict have immediate negative impacts on individuals and their communities; they also undermine longer-term prospects of reconciliation, reintegration and reconstruction.
Children must be treated and protected as children – legally and socially – regardless of context.
Mr President, The Nordic countries are particularly concerned about the continued silence and stigma related to sexual violence, exploitation and abuse. This leads to under-reporting and a lack of support for victims. We are encouraged by the Secretary-General’s strong stance in this respect, including zero tolerance for violations committed by military personnel or civilians in the service of the UN.
It is important to strengthen the links between child protection, the rights of the child and conflict prevention. We believe one of the issues that should be given priority in this regard is education, especially girls’ education. In addition, more needs to be done to provide and protect education in emergencies and protracted crises.
The Secretary-General’s report calls for effective implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration. With Djibouti’s recent endorsement, 76 states have now endorsed this declaration. The main purpose is to prevent military use of schools and reduce the number of attacks on education in armed conflicts. We encourage all states to endorse and implement the Safe Schools Declaration.
Mr President, Let me reiterate our strong support of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. Ms Gamba is playing an essential role at the global, regional and national levels by advocating for children’s protection and rights and providing practical guidance on how this agenda can be brought forward.
Colombia is a good example for how child protection and children’s rights, including reintegration, can be integrated into a peace processes. We welcome the launch of a process to compile practical guidance for mediators and peace negotiators as a way to operationalise the resolution adopted today.
Children involved in armed conflict need not only comprehensive support and care, but also justice. Securing accountability for conflict-related crimes involving children is of utmost importance. In this context, we would like to recognize the important work of Justice Rapid Response.
Parties to conflict and the international community can and must do more, both to protect the increasing number of children and young people affected by armed conflict, and to ensure that they are included in peacebuilding and development processes. This is for the benefit of their communities and beyond. There is also a clear link between the Children and Armed Conflict agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030 as the resolution adopted today makes clear.
The Nordic countries urge all UN member states to ensure that children in armed conflict get the attention and protection they are entitled to.