We meet this year during circumstances which paint a bleak picture of children’s situation across regions.
COVID-19 poses a significant challenge to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Indicators on poverty, hunger, education and jobs are all moving in the wrong direction and children pay the highest price.
2 billion children are growing up experiencing the impacts of climate change. The implications cut across all spheres – environmental, socio-economic, and health. It also exacerbates other threats to children’s wellbeing, rights and protection.
The world is already facing the worst global hunger crisis this century, with an estimated 45 million people across 43 countries at risk of famine. This is having a disastrous impact on children, who are always the most vulnerable in a food crisis.
To uphold the promise to Leave No-one Behind, we must start with the most vulnerable.
Cross-border conflicts, intercommunal violence, coups and takeovers, as well as disregard for international humanitarian and human rights law, led to continued challenges for the protection of children living in conflict zones. In 2021, the United Nations verified nearly 24 000 grave violations of international law against children. -And this is only the top of the iceberg.
Chairing the Security Council Working group for Children and armed Conflict, it is a priority for Norway to ensure better protection of children and their rights in conflict zones.
Child protection must be mainstreamed into the work of the Security Council.And partnerships across the UN system should be reinforced. We must ensure that decisions made in New York translate into action at country level. It is vital that United Nations operations on the ground are adequately mandated, staffed, and funded to protect children and continue carrying out monitoring and reporting.
This year, we mark the 20th anniversary of the entering into force of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and the 15th anniversary of the Paris Principles. Just like the Vancouver Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration, they were developed because they were needed. Unfortunately, they still are. We urge all Member States to ratify and endorse these key instruments and ensure their full and swift implementation.
Last week, several UN entities and mandates, jointly call on Member States to respect and ensure the rights of all children around the world and to recognize and protect all persons under 18 years.
We share the concern about children being treated as adults. We know that this often happens in counterterrorism or national security responses.
We therefore reiterate that international human rights law must be upheld while countering terrorism and that there is no dichotomy between countering terrorism and upholding children’s rights. We echo the call of the Special Representative’s for long-term holistic reintegration programmes for children formerly associated with armed forces or armed groups.
Finally, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to the special mandates for children in the UN-family for their tireless work. Thank you also to civil society and UN-partners on the ground for their invaluable work; often in extremely challenging and dangerous circumstances.
Let me assure you that Norway will remain a dedicated partner.