UN Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict: Statement by Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations, on behalf of the Nordic Countries, New York, 12 July 2011
I have the honour to address the Council on behalf of the Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
At the outset, we would like to commend Germany for its Chairmanship of the Security Council Working Group on Children Affected by Armed Conflict, and the concrete results that German leadership has brought with it.
Let me also express our appreciation to the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Coomaraswamy, and her co-workers for their tireless efforts to improve the situation and promote the rights of children.
We are particularly pleased with the Chair’s effective approach in turning country situation reports into timely Security Council recommendations. This is crucial for the recommendations to have a real impact.
Good examples in this regard are country conclusions regarding Afghanistan (S/AC.51/2011/3) and Chad (S/AC.51/2011/4) approved in March and in April. As positive follow-up both countries have during the last few months committed themselves to action programs to end the use of child soldiers.
All in all this shows that the monitoring and reporting mechanism can be a powerful tool for ensuring that all rights of all children are respected. We should use it, and related resolutions to provide the widest possible protection to children affected by armed conflicts.
In this regard the increased attacks against hospital and school establishments and their personnel that the report of the Secretary General refers to are of extreme concern to us. It is our view that both institutions should be equally respected as humanitarian space also during conflict.
This is a fundamental prerequisite for fulfilling the right of all girls and boys to education as well as a basic requirement in order to improve education in emergencies, in promoting child friendly schools and promoting schools and hospitals as zones of peace and as vehicles for psycho-social support and recovery for children in unstable situations.
Finally, Mr. President,
Access to healthcare and education especially for children are a fundamental building block of lasting peace and sustainable development. Attacks on schools and hospitals in armed conflict, the denial of or restrictions on safe access to these facilities by armed groups, their use as shields, for military purposes or as recruitment grounds, and other relevant disruptions to educational and medical facilities should trigger listing in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report on Children and Armed Conflict.
Relevant sanctions committees are increasingly engaged in the children and armed conflict agenda. We commend the efforts of the Special Representative in this regard. We urge the Council to continue to find ways of holding perpetrators to account through existing sanctions regimes as well as explore new ways of ensuring accountability for violations committed in conflicts that are not covered by dedicated sanctions committees.
In order to acquire the necessary information needed on attacks and threats the Security Council should ensure that all relevant United Nations peacekeeping operations, Special Political Missions and peace-building missions include specific provisions on monitoring and reporting of such violations by child protection advisers.
I thank you, Mr. President.