Statement by Ambassador Wittig at the side-event Children and Armed Conflict

Jun 30, 2011

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(as delivered)

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

a warm welcome to all of you.

Thank you all for being here with us today, especially to the Secretary-General and Her Royal Highness.

It is good to see that so many of you share our interest in the situation of children in armed conflict.

And indeed, today's situation of children in circumstances of war and conflict is still appaling and urges our common committment: children are the first victims of violence, they are the most vulnerable. Often enough, they are abused, instrumentalized and deprived of their basic needs, let alone of their proper childhood.

A lot has been said and written about the situation of children in armed conflict – and I know that a lot of expertise and knowledge is gathered here today. I will therefore not try to preempt today's discussion or even to compete with your expertise.

Please allow me, however, to emphasize on the reason for today's meeting. Like many of you, the German government shares the view that no child should be deprived of its elementary right to health and well being. This foremost applies to children in armed conflict: they are the most vulnerable part of any society, but – especially in war-torn societies – also the greatest beacon of hope. No country, no society can envisage a stable and prosperous future without caring for their children and providing them with education and protection.

We took careful note of the last annual report of the General Secretary on Children and Armed Conflict. It clearly showed that attacks against schools and hospitals are a growing trend in armed conflict. This is a great concern to us.

Germany is therefore about to submit a resolution aimed at including attacks on schools and hospitals as a listing criteria for perpetrators in the annexes of the Secretary General's annual report on Children and Armed Conflict. We intend to adopt the resolution during a Security Council open debate on 12 July chaired by the German Foreign Minister.

I am looking forward to today's discussion and to learn more about your views. We hope that today's meeting will unite us in a common endavour to act against perpetrators of attacks against schools and education.

Please allow me, on behalf of The Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms Coomaraswamy and myself, to welcomeespecially HE Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. I am grateful that he will deliver welcoming remarks to us.

Ladies and gentlemen,

it is my special pleasure and honor welcoming Her Royal Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser, Consort of the Emir of the State of Qatar. Her Royal Highness has been actively engaged for the cause of education for many years. She plays a major role in spearheading national and international development projects, not least because of the founding of the Qatar Foundation. Her merits as the UNESCO Special Envoy on basic and higher education make her a very important spokesperson today and I am delighted to welcome her as today's keynote speaker.

I would also like to express my appreciation and warm welcome to today’s other panelists:

  • Ms Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO

  • HE Ambassador Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France

  • Mr Martin Mogwanja, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF

  • MrRobert Young, ICRC, Deputy Head of Delegation

I now have the honor to ask the SG to offer some welcoming remarks. You sir, have the floor

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