Nordic Statement on the rights of the child

Annual meeting: How can we meet children’s needs and rights in humanitarian situations? Practices and lessons from different views. Statement delivered on 5 March 2018.

As delivered by H.E. Jānis Kārkliņš, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Latvia to the United Nations Office in Geneva.

Mr President,

Distinguished panellists,

I have the honour to deliver the intervention on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and Latvia.

We would like to thank the panellists for sharing practices and lessons learned in meeting children’s needs and rights in humanitarian situations.

Regrettably, the number of children affected by humanitarian crises have reached catastrophic proportions. It is of critical importance to address the existing protection and assistance gaps to ensure that every child is protected and can enjoy their rights, without discrimination of any kind.

We agree with the High Commissioner’s recommendation that states should conduct child-focused planning and assess child protection risks when making provisions for emergency preparedness, humanitarian response and assistance.

It is recognized that humanitarian crises affect boys and girls in different ways. Boys and girls have different needs, vulnerabilities and capacities to respond to crises and they have different perception and priorities in terms of what humanitarian assistance and protection is needed.

Child and gender sensitive disaster preparedness, humanitarian response and assistance are fundamental to realizing the rights of every child. We would like to encourage States and all stakeholders to focus their efforts to address the various effects that living in humanitarian situations has on children, particularly girls; and to take into account their particular vulnerabilities and specific protection needs through child- and gender-sensitive humanitarian responses.

The Secretary-General’s report “The Girl child” highlights that girls living in humanitarian situations are at heightened risk of gender-based violence and exploitation, including sexual violence, sexual exploitation and child marriage. Therefore, we would like to call on states to pay particular attention to the integration of measures addressing increased vulnerabilities and capacities of girls to gender based violence and exploitation in humanitarian responses. Due attention must be given to ensure protection of their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Continued sexual exploitation and abuse by peacekeepers and NGO-personnel is an issue of great concern to us, and must be addressed.

Taking into account that girls living in humanitarian crisis situations, especially those in protracted crisis, are less likely than boys to get an education, it is crucial to respect, protect and fulfil the rights of all children to quality education and to devote efforts to promoting school enrolment among girls. Education can strengthen their resilience to disaster and protect them from human rights violations. Ensuring the continuation of education during humanitarian situations is key, as well as taking measures to protect pupils and schools from attacks and avoid military use of educational facilities in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Distinguished panellists, we would be grateful if you could elaborate on the best practices already in place to ensure gender sensitive humanitarian response.

I thank you!