Remarks to the press: Ambassador Wittig on Children and Armed Conflict - CAAC
(near-verbatim transcript of remarks by Security Council President Ambassador Wittig, following a meeting of the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict)
Wittig: ”Good afternoon, It’s a pleasure for me to be here with the new SRSG Laila Zerrougui. I will make a few remarks and then she takes over.
This morning the Security Council adopted a resolution on the protection of children in armed conflict that sent out important messages and contains some major elements:
First it safeguards the integrity of the current mechanisms of the United Nations on the protection of children in armed conflicts.
Secondly it emphasizes the need for further measures regarding the persistent perpetrators of violations of children's rights.
And thirdly it tasks the Secretary-General to continue submitting the annual reports – very important documents – on the situation of children in armed conflict.
You may have noted that we had a very, very good echo for this open debate: Over 50 speakers are inscribed in the list, 30 countries co-sponsored that draft resolution. We take this as a great sign of the interest and the commitment of lot of member states for this important cause.
As you might know, the protection agenda for children in armed conflict is one of the priorities of Germany's Presidency this month. In light of the ongoing, shocking and dramatic suffering of children in many armed conflicts in this world, we are convinced that we – the international community and the Security Council specifically – have to do everything to increase our efforts to stop and prevent those heinous crimes that are committed against children.
We are therefore really satisfied and gratified by the huge support we received this morning in this debate and the widespread participation of member states. We take it as a sign of commitment of the international community to advance the protection agenda.
I cannot hide that safeguarding the integrity of the current mechanisms of the United Nations – the mandate of the SRSG and the working group of the Security Council as well as the reporting mechanism of the Secretary-General – to safeguard those mechanisms came with a price: we would certainly have preferred to achieve unanimity in the Council. But it was not meant to be. It was impossible to meet the demands made by some Council members without compromising the very substance of the protection mandate and mechanisms that are existing and have so far been widely accepted, engaging in a rollback of this mandate would have been irresponsible.
These mechanisms have proven successful in the past. I don’t want to be complacent about this, but many members this morning enumerated that there are 20 action plans now, agreed with governments or rebell groups and the SRSG. We have ten of thousands child soldiers that werde released and I think that is also a result of the tireless efforts of members of the United Nations, of the SRSG and not least, the Security Council.
This is an encouraging progress, and yet we should not give up in our efforts. There are serious challenges that remain. New parties had to be listed in Secretary-General’s report, for recruiting children, for killing and maiming, and most recently, for intentional attacks on schools and hospitals. You might remember that last year in July, when Germany held the Presidency of the Council, we managed to adopt a resolution that envisages attacks on schools and hospitals as an additional trigger for the naming and shaming mechanism.
There's still a lot to be done. As I said in the Council, we need to put a stronger focus on the alarming number of persistent perpetrators. We need to think about ways to increase meaningful pressure on those individuals, perhaps even considering targeted sanctions measures.
From our point of view it must be clear that those who flagrantly and persistently violate international law and Security Council resolutions must be held accountable. We owe this not only to the credibility of this Council. First and foremost we owe it to the children, the most vulnerable group in our societies.
With those words I hand over to the SRSG. I might add that, unanimously, the Council warmly welcomed the new SRSG and wished her success for her work. I for my country expressed full support by Germany for her efforts in her difficult yet so important assignment.”