Security Council: Statement by Ambassador Wittig on Children and Armed Conflict

Sep 19, 2012

(Security Council: Statement as delivered by Ambassador Wittig in an Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict)

I shall now make a statement in my national capacity.

At the outset I would like to very warmly welcome the new SRSG Ms Zerrougui. We wish her success and assure her of Germany’s full support. We also pay tribute to the dedicated work and committment of her predecessor, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy.

Let me also thank Mr Ladsous, Mr Lake and Mr Tolbert for their impressive statements today.

Germany aligns itself with the EU-statement to be delivered by the European Union later during this debate.

We heard it from our briefers: The number of children suffering in armed conflict is still shockingly high. This is a reminder for us: We have to increase our joint efforts to stop and prevent heinous crimes committed against children.

It has to be said: Since 2005 encouraging progress has been made. Twenty action plans have been signed by parties to conflict. Consequently, tens of thousands of child soldiers have been released. This is a remarkable achievement of which the United Nations and the Security Council can be proud of.

The recent convictions of Thomas Lubanga and Charles Taylor have made clear that accountability for the recruitment and abuse of children is advancing.

Yet we must not be complacent, there is still reason for concern: The listings  of new parties in the Secretary General’s Report are proof of the seriousness of the problem. New parties have been listed for recruitment and use of children and for killing and maiming of children. There have also been first listings for attacks on schools and hospitals.

What can we do better?

First, we should explore ways to improve the existing protection framework:

Child protection and child protection training should  be an integral part of all peacekeeping and special political missions. In this regard, we strongly commend the efforts of DPKO and DPA for developing a joint child protection policy.

Child protection issues, and in particular the release and reintegration of children, need to be systematically included in peace negotiations and agreements.

Second: We need to address the issue of accountability.

Perpetrators of crimes against children need to be held accountable. This goes especially for the alarming number of so called persistent perpetrators. The Security Council needs to look at new ways to address the issue. The report of former French Ambassador de la Sablière provides a good overview over possible options. Let me just mention two:

One option that we favor is that the Security Council should increase its political engagement, for example through sessions dedicated to this issue.

A second option we should pursue is that the Security Council makes more use of targeted measures against individual perpetrators through Sanction Committees, starting with the expansion of existing Sanction Committee mandates.

We should take those suggestions forward in our future discussions.

We are gratified that the Security Council today once again adopted a resolution that underlines the importance of the work of the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict, reiterates the Council`s readiness to adopt targeted and graduated measures against persistent perpetrators and authorizes annual reports of the Secretary General.

It goes without saying: We would have preferred a consensus decision on the resolution before us today. And we regret that some members chose not to support the resolution. We had one week of extensive discussion, and we, as pen-holder, made an extra effort to accommodate all delegation’s concerns. We walked the extra mile, but we could not do one thing: Compromise on the integrity of existing and so far accepted mechanisms of the United Nations. That would have been irresponsible! A few might have different opinions on the way forward, but I hope that the wish to strengthen the existing UN system to protect children in armed conflict unites us all.

In closing, I would like to reiterate our hope that the Security Council will keep up its good work on this extremely important issue. Our ambitions for this agenda must remain high.

We owe it to the children. We owe it to them as the most vulnerable group of our societies. We owe it to them to spare no effort in enhancing the protection of their rights in armed conflict.

I now resume my functions as President of the Security Council.

© GermanyUN

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