UN SECURITY COUNCIL ARRIA-FORMULA MEETING ON: ADDRESSING THE ABDUCTION AND DEPORTATION OF CHILDREN DURING ARMED CONFLICT: CONCRETE STEPS FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AND PREVENTION
28 April 2023
Statement delivered by H.E. The Hon Mitch Fifield, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Australian Mission to the United Nations
Australia places the highest priority on the protection of children in armed conflict. We align ourselves with the statement delivered by Canada on behalf of a Group of Countries.
It is important that the UN Security Council and UN Member States address the unlawful deportation or transfer of children during armed conflict.
This includes taking concrete steps to prevent and respond to this war crime and to ensure those responsible are held to account.
Children are disproportionally affected by armed conflict. During armed conflict, and especially after abduction, children are often recruited and used by armed groups.
Killed or maimed.
They experience rape and other grave sexual violence. And they suffer the consequences of reduced access to health and education services.
The impacts are devastating. The impacts are long-lasting.
The abduction and deportation of children – the most vulnerable people in our society – is abhorrent.
This unlawful and pervasive violation occurs in many regions of the world, but it is Russia’s illegal and immoral war in Ukraine that is responsible for significant increases in cases throughout 2022 and thus far in 2023.
Australia unequivocally condemns Russia’s forced deportation of Ukrainian children, as well as other grave violations against children committed by Russian forces in Ukraine.
In March, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine reported that over 16, 221 children have been deported from Ukraine to Russia.
We are deeply concerned with the Commission’s finding that this involved the deliberate separation of children from their parents and imposing Russian citizenship and fostering of Ukrainian children with Russian families.
A child’s separation from their family and culture goes on to cause physical and psychological harm that can be felt for generations. It also affects parents and communities, and can influence the prospects for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.
The International Criminal Court’s decision to issue warrants for President Putin and the Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights, is an important step towards justice for Ukraine and its people, and for accountability for the crime of child abduction and deportation.
The Court has found that there are reasonable grounds to believe President Putin and the Commissioner are individually criminally responsible for unlawfully deporting and transferring children from illegally occupied areas of Ukraine to Russia.
Russia’s attempts to present its actions in Ukraine as in line with international law, children’s rights, and the UN’s Children and Armed Conflict agenda are farcical. They are deeply offensive.
This forum must be respected as a place to pursue peace and security, not perpetuate disinformation.
We again call on Russia to withdraw its forces and end its illegal and immoral war on Ukraine – and for all parties to armed conflict to respect human rights and international humanitarian law and immediately cease the abduction and deportation of children.