Discorso pronunciato dall’Ambasciatore Maurizio Massari, Rappresentante Permanente dell’Italia presso le Nazioni Unite, al Consiglio di Sicurezza – Meeting in formato Arria su “Protection of Education in Conflict” —
I would like to thank very much Norway and Niger for organizing this meeting.
Italy aligns with the statements by the Chair of the Group of Friends of Children in Armed Conflicts and to be delivered by the representative of the European Union.
I would like to add a few remarks in a national capacity.
The protection of children in armed conflicts is an outstanding priority for Italy. I am pleased to see Special Representative Virginia Gamba and Executive Director Henrietta Fore among the briefers, and I would like to commend them for the staunch engagement.
Based on the latest report on children and armed conflicts armed confrontations, intercommunal conflicts, military operations, insecurity and the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic continued to have a heavy impact on children living in conflict or post-conflict areas. In particular, cases of abduction and sexual violence continued to worryingly increase – grave violations affected boys and girls heavily, though differently: whereas 85% of “children soldiers” were boys, 98% of sexual violence was perpetrated against girls.
Against this bleak backdrop, Italy believes it essential to continue to raise the attention of the International community on this topic in all the relevant international fora. We therefore welcome Niger’s initiative to bring this topic to the attention of the Security Council with resolution 2601.
This year we celebrate the sixth anniversary of the Safe Schools Declaration – a landmark document, which has become a reference point to strengthen the respect of international humanitarian law and the rights of the children. We strongly support this declaration and we urge all Countries to endorse and fully implement it. Attacks to students and teachers, as well as against schools, in situations of armed conflict, are prohibited under international law. We are also convinced that continued access to schools, especially during conflicts, is a powerful instrument to promote future peace and prevent further wars.
Peacekeepers can play a crucial role in protecting civil infrastructures such as schools and hospitals and the concerned civilian populations. Recent research shows that where peacekeeping operations are deployed, enrolment rates in schools have improved.
It is therefore essential to provide peacekeeping troops with targeted training on gender issues: Italy strongly believes in the benefits provided by the presence of women personnel within the Missions, as they have proven to be extremely successful in building trust with local populations, especially women, children and older persons.
In line with the Italian commitment to support education in crisis and conflict situations, in the margins of the ministerial segment of the United Nations General Assembly, we organized an event, hosted by the Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio, on safeguarding the progress achieved in Afghanistan in the last twenty years in relation to women’s rights, with a focus on the importance of guaranteeing women and girls continued access to education. We should spare no efforts in preventing these achievements that in the last twenty years are jeopardised.
Finally, let me stress that a multi-layered and multi-stakeholder approach is of the utmost importance to achieve concrete results for children living in areas affected by armed conflicts. This why Italy is strongly committed to further improve the constructive dialogue it has been building over years with civil society organizations and academia, including the Universities Network for Children in Armed Conflict, born in Italy one year ago and that in a very short time assumed a strong and clear international vocation and a recognized international standing.
I thank you.