Today, the UN Security Council will discuss a very important topic: the situation for women and children in Ukraine.
As you may know, Norway chairs the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. I’m addressing you here in my national capacity.
The lives, and future, of every single child in Ukraine was forever changed the day Russia started its illegal war.
And for the past 7 weeks, the world has witnessed children being killed, injured, traumatised and forced to flee their homes.
Norway is appalled by the blatant lack of respect for international humanitarian law displayed by the Russian military forces. And we categorically condemn all attacks on children. These may be war crimes, and they must be investigated, and the perpetrators prosecuted.
Let me be clear: There must be no impunity for crimes against children.
In order to ensure accountability, we need to collect, analyse, and store evidence on all violations against children. Objective and verified information is also important, to counter the constant attempts to spread disinformation, propaganda and lies.
Norway, both as member of the Security Council and a major humanitarian donor to Ukraine, will continue to support efforts by the ICC, the UN Human Rights Office, UNICEF, and other relevant institutions.
Norway also calls for greater attention on securing education for Ukraine’s children - including the millions who have been forced to flee their homes.
According to the UN, 5.7 million children are affected by the nationwide closure of education facilities. That is 5.7 million children, who did not have a school to go to this morning.
Schools are important, not only for the sake of education - but for protecting children: from violence, sexual abuse, and even trafficking.
And; schools are important for children’s psychosocial wellbeing - for upholding something safe and consistent - a daily routine - when everything else in a child’s life has changed drastically because of war. That is why parents and children affected by crisis, consistently cite education as a top priority.
6 months ago, all members of the Security Council voted in favour of the resolution on the ‘Protection of Education in Conflict’. This resolution highlights the invaluable role education plays for peace and security; and it calls upon Member States to protect schools and education facilities from attacks. Yet, in Ukraine, more than 900 schools have been damaged or destroyed. As penholder of this resolution, Norway urges Russia to uphold the commitments it made only months ago.
Norway commends the UN, international - and certainly national - organisations in their heroic efforts to provide humanitarian protection and assistance to children in Ukraine.
We urge donors to provide funding to education - as part of the humanitarian response. And when the war is over - because it will be over - funding will also be needed to rebuild - not least to clean up explosive remnants from the illegal use of cluster munition. Children should not be risking their lives, just by walking to school.
Children are innocent. Always. Stop killing them. Stop destroying their future. Stop the war.