United Nations, Security Council, Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict, Statement on behalf of the Nordic countries by H.E. Mr. Jarmo Viinanen, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Finland to the United Nations in New York, 19 September 2012
The mechanisms created by the Council have focused attention and resulted in concrete action: thousands of children used in hostilities have been released and response to victims has improved.
Attention to the protected status of schools and hospitals has increased: we are pleased that the Secretary-General’s annual report for the first time listed armed forces and groups for attacking schools and hospitals.
We know the mechanisms work: up to date 19 Action Plans have been signed. They commit States and non-state actors to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers and other grave violations against children. In the last 18 months alone, parties in Afghanistan, Chad, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia and Myanmar have entered into Action Plans.
Also, over time, a total of nine parties have verifiably complied with their obligations, ended violations against children, and consequently been delisted. Parties in Nepal and Sri Lanka were the latest ones. This very well demonstrates that the mechanisms are useful also in situations which are not on the Council’s agenda, but where grave violations against children occur.
We commend the efforts of the Security Council and of all the parties who have taken these significant steps. We call on all parties listed in the Report who haven’t committed to Action Plans yet to do so.
Despite progress, it is alarming that serious violations against children continue to occur every day, while the perpetrators go unpunished. We are particularly worried for the significant increase in the list of persistent perpetrators, parties that have been listed in the Secretary-General’s report for more than five years.
We encourage the Council to make full use of the toolkit on children and armed conflict to increase pressure on the persistent perpetrators.
We thank the Secretary-General for the recommendations in his excellent annual report. We join him in calling for increased political engagement and use of targeted measures against persistent perpetrators.
Already now, in including grave violations against children in the designation criteria of four of its sanctions committees, the Council has given a powerful message that grave violations are not acceptable and cannot go unpunished.
Judicial mechanisms are another way to increase pressure and ensure accountability for the violations. Also, they help preserve the credibility of the Council’s determination.
The primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute the most serious international crimes lies with the states themselves. There are persuasive arguments for enhancing national capacities to try the alleged perpetrators.
In cases where national trials are not possible, the International Criminal Court is indispensable in ensuring justice and accountability. In March 2012 the ICC found Thomas Lubanga guilty of the war crime of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 and using them to participate actively in hostilities. In August, the Court gave its first ever decision on reparations for victims in the same case.
We very much welcome these decisions of the ICC and their contribution to fighting impunity for the most serious international crimes.
We encourage the Council to continue to demand increased accountability through national and international mechanisms.
I thank you, Mr. President.