Statement delivered by Italy at the Security Council VTC Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict. —
Italy aligns itself with the statement submitted by the European Union, as well as with the statement presented by Canada on behalf of the Group of Friends CAAC, and would like to add the following remarks in its national capacity.
We thank the Presidency of the Security Council for the organization of this debate at a challenging time for the protection of civilians in times of war, which exposes in particular the most vulnerable. Children continue to be disproportionately affected by gross violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law, as the latest Secretary-General’s Report on Children and Armed Conflict shows.
Covid-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the need to protect children living in emergency situations by strengthening international cooperation. Italy supports key global actors – such us UNICEF, UNFPA, WHO, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the Global Alliance for Vaccine and Immunization (GAVI) – whose action is crucial to ensure that no child is left behind. The Italian Development Cooperation is consistently working in numerous Countries across the globe to serve children’s needs and provide them with comprehensive, quality services. In order to reach long-lasting results for the protection of the rights of children, both during and after conflicts, Italy presented an “open pledge” on the occasion of the 33rd Conference of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent (Geneva, 9-12 December 2019).
We are willing to further intensify our efforts, in particular by fostering children’s access to education and health services and facilities, also guaranteeing that these facilities are protected and respected, in accordance with International Humanitarian Law. Italy actively promotes references to this key issue in all relevant international documents and contributes to the global response through multilateral programs and initiatives.
This year we celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the establishment of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) through landmark Resolution 1612 (2005). The Mechanism and its related advocacy efforts have contributed to the release of more than 155,000 children from parties to conflict and to the signature of 32 action plans. As Child Protection Advisers within peacekeeping missions play a key role in the framework of the MRM, the related positions need to be duly staffed and budgeted. Child protection is currently one of the main priorities of the UN peacekeeping architecture, and Italy strongly promotes its mainstreaming into the mandates of all UN peace operations.
We welcome the Practical Guidance for Mediators to Protect Children in Situations of Armed Conflict and the Manual for Child Protection Staff in UN Peace Operations, encouraging the broadest possible dissemination of these documents and their full use in peace and mediation processes.
2020 also marks the 20th anniversary of the First Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We encourage all States to sign and ratify the Protocol, with a view to achieving its universality.
Due to COVID-19, schools are left empty or abandoned, with an increasing risk of becoming military targets or premises, and a major exposition of girl children to violence, abuses, recruitment. In accordance with International Humanitarian Law, Italy considers fundamental to protect and respect educational facilities and personnel and condemns all armed attacks against them. We welcome the decision of the General Assembly to establish the 9th of September as the International Day to Protect Education from Attack, and we are working with determination to achieve a universal endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration, with a particular focus on a gender-based implementation of the Declaration. Italy endorsed the Vancouver Principles and is strongly convinced that children formerly recruited by armed groups should be treated primarily as victims, as stated by Resolution 2427, that Italy co-sponsored.
Italy supports the Mandate of the SRSG, and strongly appreciates her campaign “Act to protect children affected by armed conflict”, aimed at widening the reach of the previous “Children not Soldiers” campaign.
We will continue to engage and advocate for the respect, protection and promotion of the rights of children, as they represent the backbone of our present and future society.