Thank you for convening this Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict. Let me take this opportunity to commend your Country’s chairmanship of the Security Council’s Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.
I join the other speakers in welcoming the launch of the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers” by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ms. Leila Zerrougui. I wish also to thank the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Herve’ Ladsous, and UNICEF’s Executive Director, Mr. Anthony Lake, for their commitment to defending and promoting the rights of children victims of armed conflicts.
Italy endorses the statement delivered by the European Union.
As a constant advocate of greater Security Council action to address the scourge of children in armed conflicts, Italy welcomes the progress in recent years to strengthen the protection framework. The draft resolution presented by Luxembourg, which Italy has co-sponsored, confirms this trend. Yet there is still much to be done. We thus call on Security Council members to remain committed to advancing this critical agenda.
Italy concurs with the Secretary-General’s assessments in his reports on deliberate increasing of attacks against schools, teachers, and students. We are also concerned about the widespread use of schools for military purposes, including as torture sites.
By rendering schools legitimate targets of attack, children and teachers are put at risk and students’ right to an education is denied.
In too many parts of the world violations against children are carried out in a climate of impunity.
Impunity undermines the credibility of the protection system created by the Security Council. The Council must step up its political engagement in this field. Cooperation with national and international courts is also crucial. In this regard, Italy recalls that in case of serious crimes of international concern States Parties of the Rome Statute should consider referring to the International Criminal Court, when national judicial systems are unwilling or unable to deal with these situations.
The engagement of the entire UN system is critical to ensuring the implementation of the architecture created since resolution 1621. This is why we commend the work of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, in cooperation with the Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, UNICEF, and NGOs, to develop a comprehensive and systematic training program on child protection and child rights for all peacekeeping personnel – an initiative Italy has supported since its inception.
I conclude by repeating the call for firm and united action by the international immunity and by the Security Council. We have a solid protection framework to implement. Any boy or girl that we save from the scourge of war represents hope for a better future. Let us never forget this when we discuss the situation of children affected by armed conflicts.