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Statement by H.E. Mr. Sven Jürgenson, Permanent Representative of Estonia, on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict, 31 October 2017

31.10.2017

J’ai l’honneur de m’exprimer au nom de la Lettonie, de la Lituanie et de mon pays, l’Estonie. Nous nous associons pleinement à la déclaration faite par l’Union européenne.
 
Nous aimérions remercier tout d’abord la France d’avoir convoqué aujourd’hui ce débat ouvert, ainsi que le Secrétaire Général et les représentants du Secrétaire Général et de la société civile pour leurs présentations. L’attention toute particulière portée aux groupes armés non étatiques est tout à fait pertinente à la lumière du dernier rapport du Secrétaire général – en 2016, ils ont commis pratiquement trois fois plus de violations que les forces gouvernementales. Cela présente un nouvel ensemble de défis auxquels font face les États Membres.

Nous aimerions également exprimer notre reconnaissance à la Représentante spéciale pour les enfants et les conflits armés, Virginia Gamba, et à l’UNICEF pour leur travail incontesté sur le terrain.

Il est rassurant de lire dans le rapport du Secrétaire général qu’il y a eu des évolutions positives concernant les engagements avec les parties aux conflits. Nous saluons les réussites obtenues via la campagne « Enfants, pas soldats ».

Sadly, however, compared to previous year, in some countries, for example in Syria and Somalia, the recruitment and use of children has more than doubled. Also, the numbers of casualties have reached all-time highs in Afghanistan and DRC. 

We share Secretary-General’s concern over the impact that increasing disrespect for international law has on children. The Member States must uphold their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law. Moreover, it is important to redouble the pressure on non-State armed groups who recruit and use children in their ever expanding activities across the borders.

In this regard, we clearly see impunity as one of the main enablers of the recurrence of these grave violations against children. It is only by consistent prosecution that we can deter the commission of these crimes. Therefore, we believe that Security Council should influence State and non-State actors in conflict zones to comply with international law, including by better use of sanctions instrument as well as referring matters to the International Criminal Court in situations where States are unable or unwilling to bring perpetrators to justice domestically.

At the same time, we must keep in mind that children drawn into war should be primarily seen as victims, and not as criminals. Every effort should be made for their reintegration into normal life, especially for former girl soldiers and repeated rape victims who are often shunned and rejected by their own families and communities.

Furthermore, strengthening child protection systems is one of the most cost-effective measures to build resilience and promote sustainable development. Strong child protection systems can mitigate the impacts of conflicts and crises on boys and girls. Allowing children to be children can become the strongest and most cost-effective measure to rehabilitate and reintegrate children with traumatic experiences.

Finally, we all know that education is one of the key elements for prevention. Therefore, it is important to guarantee education for children also in the times of crises. During emergencies, children in schools can be cared for, accounted for and protected from abduction, recruitment and sexual and economic exploitation. Education also helps to avoid recruitment or re-recruitment and paths way to better integration into society.

I thank you.

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