UN Chief Calls For Boosting Efforts To Protect Children In Armed Conflict
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for stronger efforts to protect children in armed conflict and stop the use of child soldiers
UNITED NATIONS, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 13th Feb, 2020 ) :United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for stronger efforts to protect children in armed conflict and stop the use of child soldiers.
Speaking at a high-level meeting of the UN Security Council, he emphasized the need to integrate child protection into peace processes.
Children have no role in conflict, the UN chief said, as he painted a damning picture of some 250 million youth living in countries affected by fighting, where worsening hostilities incite grave violations against them to soar.
And children in war zones are threatened by horrific abuses, he added, citing examples of sexual violation, abduction, being enlisted as child soldiers or exploited as messengers.
These violations cause lasting damage to the children themselves, and to their communities and societies to which they belong, continued the UN chief, pointing out that this can feed the grievances and frustrations that lead to extremism, creating a vicious circle of tension and violence.
Guterres also spoke of progress in raising awareness of violations, crediting, in part, the UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism established in 2005, which over time, has the power to change behaviours, prevent grave violations and protect children.
He spoke about the work of Virginia Gamba, his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, along with campaigns that have helped to bring about a global consensus that children should never be used in conflict, while also acknowledging that despite these efforts, the figures for grave violations against children in conflict continue to rise.
As the next step, putting children at the heart of protection, peacebuilding and prevention efforts, the UN chief announced the launch of new Practical Guidance for mediators that considers children needs and rights during all phases of conflict, from prevention efforts to mediation and recovery, through sustainable, inclusive development.
The Guidance provides the means to conduct a child rights-based analysis of conflict for mediators and negotiators.
By integrating specific measures to protect children into peace processes, we can achieve concrete results for children, and for peace, Guterres said.
While strongly encouraging all Member States, regional and sub-regional organizations, mediators and others involved in peace processes to make full use of the guidance, he recognized that it is not enough.
In conclusion, the Secretary-General recalled an exhibition staged by the UN Children Fund in 2019 when the North Lawn of the New York complex had 3,758 backpacks laid out to resemble a graveyard, each representing a child killed in conflict in 2018.
Standing in this cemetery of dreams was devastating, he recalled.
During Wednesday meeting, the Council issued a Presidential Statement, which, among other things, reiterated that protecting children in armed conflict should be an important aspect of any comprehensive strategy to resolve conflict and sustain peace.
It also stressed the importance of adopting a broad strategy of conflict prevention that comprehensively addresses the root causes of armed conflict to enhance the protection of children on a long-term basis.
Children must be at the heart of all our efforts to prevent and resolve violent conflict, Smaїl Chergui, African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, said via VTC, as he spelled out the need for concrete measures to avert and respond to all forms of abuse, neglect and exploitation.
During peace negotiations, the best interest of children must be the first priority he stated, adding that violations of child rights must not only be prevented but addressed before, during and after conflicts. Unaddressed violations of children's rights perpetuate a culture of impunity, injustice and lawlessness that may have given rise to the conflict in the first place and provides fertile ground for a relapse into violent conflict, he underscored.
For her part, Jo Becker, Director of Advocacy of Children Rights at Human Rights Watch, spoke on behalf of the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict � a global network of human rights and humanitarian organizations.
She flagged that although the Council has repeatedly called for the inclusion of child protection in peace processes, the sad reality is that peace agreements addressing child protection are rare, saying, they are the exception, not the norm.
Going back to 1999, the year the Council first took up children in armed conflict, she revealed that a Watchlist analysis of 444 documents, showed that fewer than 18 per cent included child protection provisions.
This simply isn't good enough, underlined Ms. Becker.
She highlighted that peace processes do more than end war, they establish a transitional framework; a political, social and economic agenda for peace; and priorities for post-conflict investment and resource allocation.
Addressing the needs of conflict-affected children in peace processes is not just a moral or legal imperative, it crucial to a durable peace, she emphasized to the council.