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Consiglio di Sicurezza – Dibattito Aperto su “Bambini e Conflitti Armati”

Discorso pronunciato dall’Ambasciatore Sebastiano Cardi, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite, al Dibattito Aperto in Consiglio di Sicurezza su “Bambini e Conflitti Armati” —

Mr. President,
Mr. Secretary-General,
Ms. Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict,

I wish to thank the French Presidency for convening today’s open debate. In this regard I wish to commend the briefers and Mubin for his courage and for the testimony he has given us today.

Mr. President,

The nature of armed conflicts has evolved in recent years. We have witnessed a significant involvement of non-State armed actors and a radicalization of conflicts. The consequences have not changed: children are still among those who suffer the most. They are recruited as soldiers, abducted, exploited. They are victims of neglect, trafficking, sexual violence and harmful practices like forced marriage. They are denied the right to education.

Substantive progress has been achieved since the Graca Machel report, thanks also to the work carried out by the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, which has led to the significant signing of 29 Action Plans, 18 of them with non-State armed groups. This result is all the more significant considering the difficulties of engaging with them. We also welcome the different approach applied this year to the list annexed to the report of the Secretary-General. We hope this will encourage more parties to armed conflicts to put in place measures to improve the protection of children, including by signing and implementing Action Plans.

First, we need to continue fostering the widest adhesion by States to the international instruments and promote their effective implementation and enforcement, including the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts. We encourage Countries to do even more and make political commitments to better protect children affected by armed conflict. Endorsing initiatives like the Paris Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration – which Italy totally supports – would make a significant change in the lives of many children.

Secondly, Italy strongly supports the inclusion of children-protection related provisions in the mandates of the UN peace operations. We did this year when we renewed MINUSMA’s mandate. It is important that peacekeeping and political missions have the necessary means to monitor, report and respond to grave violations. To this end, we must ensure that Child Protection Advisers positions are duly staffed and budgeted.

Third, we consider extremely important to offer peacekeeping personnel specific training on child protection. Targeted pre-deployment training of UN personnel on children in armed conflicts should be fully scaled up and become a standard practice for the UN, in coordination with regional organizations. In Italy modules on respect for human rights, international humanitarian law, and the protection of civilians are included in all the courses that CoESPU, the Centre of Excellence for Stability Police Units, offers each year to peacekeepers.

Fourth, ending abuses by persistent perpetrators does not end impunity altogether. States need to adopt, develop and implement the legal and administrative measures needed to ensure that the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and non–state armed groups is criminalized and perpetrators are brought to justice, in compliance with the provisions of the relevant international instruments. During our term on the Security Council, we have looked at human rights violations in the field, particularly those related to children, to articulate the Council’s response. For instance, in January 2017, the Security Council included a separate listing criterion regarding the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict when it renewed the sanctions regime concerning the Central African Republic. Also the International Criminal Court has an essential role to play in holding persistent perpetrators accountable for their crimes. We welcome the Court’s sentencing of Congo’s militia leader, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, for war crimes, including the conscription of children. We also commend the adoption of a Policy on Children by the ICC in November 2016.

Finally, preventing and responding to the scourge of children affected by armed conflicts, in all its aspects, are not just a matter for concern and action by the Security Council. It requires joint efforts by all stakeholders: Governments, human rights and humanitarian actors, military and security forces, and regional, national, international and non-governmental organizations.

Mr. President,

Let me conclude by stressing the need to consider the views of children, as well as of the families and communities to which they return, when defining and implementing any strategy, at the local or global level. Indeed, in serving the best interests of children, we serve the best interests of all humanity.

I thank you.