Italy thanks Albania, France and the United States for convening today’s Arria very important meeting on the appalling issue of abduction and deportation of children during armed conflict.
We join the statement of the European Union and the statement of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict and we would like to add the following remarks in our national capacity.
The unlawful deportation and transfer of civilian population, in particular children, constitutes a violation of human rights and amounts to a war crime under international law when the Occupying Power deports or transfers all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), State parties have the responsibility to prevent the abduction of children for any purpose or in any form and to take all appropriate measures in this regard, as Governments hold the primary responsibility to protect their citizens and to respect, protect and fulfil their rights.
On the contrary, the most recent reports of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflicts depict the brutal reality of a worrying, increasing trend in children abduction globally. Concern deepens even further when we acknowledge that, among the six grave violations identified and condemned by the Security Council since 1999, the abduction of children is one of the most difficult to document. In this spirit, Italy has supported the drafting by the Office of the SRSG of the Guidance Note on Abductions published last year and presented in the occasion of a joint side event at the eve of the July’s Annual Open Debate. The purpose of the Note is to facilitate the gathering of accurate, timely, objective and reliable information in the context of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM). Information and awareness are key to provide evidence and ensure accountability, and to prevent the further commission of such crimes. The Note also highlights that conflict increases children vulnerability to violence, as cases of abduction connected with the perpetration of forms of violence and abuse are documented.
Italy welcomes the increased collaboration between the SRSG CAAC and the SRSG on Violence against Children on situations of relevance to the respective mandates – including the situation of children on the move as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, following the illegal and unjustified Russian aggression, and elsewhere.
The harsh reality of conflict causes immense mental trauma on children exposed to the horrors of fighting and hostilities, as well as to social isolation, daily struggles and disruption of family ties. Adequate resources must be devoted to assist children in conflict, including the most vulnerable and children with disabilities, by fostering the involvement of family members, local associations, religious communities and others, in order to build a safe environment for every child, and uphold their right to education, safeguard continuity in learning and safe and inclusive spaces to do so.
The impact of the Russian war of aggression on children is horrifying. We strongly condemn the repeated attacks to schools and hospitals, and we recall the respect of the Vancouver and Paris Principles, as well as the Safe Schools Declaration. The practice of forcibly transferring and deporting Ukrainian children is a blatant violation of international law. We call on Russia to grant access to reliable information and to the territories under occupation, as well as to ensure that children be reunited to their families and communities, in line with the actual best interest of every child. We reiterate our support for the ICC and we urge all parties to ensure collaboration in the ongoing investigations and support the commitment of the international community to hold the perpetrators to account for their crimes.