UNITED NATIONS SECURITY COUNCIL
Wednesday 19 September 2012
Children and armed conflict
Statement by H.E. Ms Philippa King
Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative
of Australia to the United Nations
Thank you for Germany’s leadership of this vital subject, and thank you to the Secretary-General for his latest report. Regrettably, it makes for sobering reading, detailing the depth and extent of the deplorable violations of children’s rights occurring around the world. Australia welcomes the continuing attention paid to this issue by the Secretary-General and the UN system, and we welcome the Secretary-General continuing to providing annual reports on such an elemental human concern.
Australia would like to thank Radhika Coomarasawamy for her steadfast work, and congratulate Leila Zerrougui on her appointment as the new Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict. Australia is strongly supportive of her mandate and we encourage the Security Council to receive regular briefings from her, including on emerging situations of concern. We also commend the ongoing work of UNICEF, DPKO and other partners in the field.
The UN’s active efforts have raised awareness of this issue, and built understanding, capacity and accountability. We welcome the Security Council’s expanded set of triggers for listing perpetrators, and the introduction of designation criteria for grave violations against children in four sanctions committees. We urge other committees to adopt similar measures.
We also welcome the mainstreaming of children’s protection into country-specific action taken by the Security Council. The Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, to which Australia continues to contribute, is an invaluable tool in adding to our understanding of country situations. Action plans are helping to end violations against children, and we welcome the signing of new action plans in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Chad, Myanmar, Somalia and South Sudan. In Chad, we note the significant decrease in the number of reported cases of child recruitment, and applaud the Government for funding, with the UN, a joint protection of civilians strategy. We encourage other affected States to conclude Child Protection Action Plans, and to devote the necessary resources to their full implementation.
Ending impunity and creating a culture of accountability is also crucial to ensuring non-recurrence. The convictions of Thomas Lubanga and Charles Taylor are important symbols to the world that justice can be delivered.
While Australia recognises the significant progress that has been made, we remain deeply concerned that grave violations continue to occur, including in Syria, where the UN’s Commission of Inquiry has found evidence of targeting, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and sexual assault of children by both Government forces and Shabbiha members.
Regrettably, as Ambassador de la Sablieré noted in his 10 year report, little progress has been achieved with non-State actors. Australia calls on the Security Council to take appropriate, targeted action against persistent perpetrators.
Sustainable funding is essential to assist States to strengthen their child protection frameworks, build resilience and promote peace and security. Australia is providing support for both prevention and reintegration efforts. These have included training, education, and development opportunities for former child soldiers and children affected by armed conflict in Nepal, Liberia, Uganda and South Sudan, and support to Watchlist to build the capacity of NGO partners in monitoring, reporting and response activities.
In conclusion, the Council has taken significant steps in recent years to highlight the importance of protecting children in armed conflict. But we can actually never do enough to protect children. They are, after all, our future.