Security Council Open Debate: Children and Armed Conflict

Statement by Her Excellency Mrs. Evelyn Wever-Croes
Prime Minister of Aruba

New York, 9 July 2018

Mr. President,

The Kingdom of the Netherlands aligns itself with the statement to be made by the European Union as well as with the statement to be made by the Permanent Representative of Canada on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict.

I thank the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children And Armed Conflict as well as the Executive Director of UNICEF for their presentations. To Ms. Yenny Londoño I would like to say thank you for reminding us that today’s debate is not only about shocking numbers and trends. Indeed, behind the statistics are real-life individuals who can be empowered to make a change in real-life situations.

Mr. President, allow me to highlight three elements today:

  1. On the erosion of International Humanitarian Law and the imperative of accountability;
  2. On the vital importance of child protection to conflict prevention and sustaining peace; and
  3. On the importance of strong tools for an effective, credible and transparent Children And Armed Conflict mandate.

1. The erosion of International Humanitarian Law

At last year’s open debate on Children And Armed Conflict, the Kingdom of the Netherlands expressed concern at the increased lack of respect for international humanitarian law. And again today. The 30% increase in grave violations as identified under the Children and Armed Conflict mandate in the year 2017 is shocking.

Together we must do everything in our power to immediately turn the tide of eroding respect of international humanitarian law. That also includes commitments to binding instruments such as the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. And to non-legally binding commitments such as the Paris Principles, the Safe Schools Declaration and the Vancouver Principles.

The resolution we adopted today calls on all States to put an end to impunity for the most horrendous crimes perpetrated against children. Importantly, it highlights the contribution of the International Criminal Court in holding those responsible for the most serious crimes to account. A hardened pressure against the court is undeniable, though. Which makes it all the more important to stand firm and strongly resist all efforts to weaken the court, including by introducing ambiguities to language on its role. Protecting populations at risk of mass atrocities is a goal of both the ICC and the Security Council. As is the prevention of conflict. Which brings me to the second point.

2. Conflict prevention

Indeed, this Council must also focus on preventive measures in all phases of cycles of conflict.

In that regard, Mr. President,  I thank Sweden for facilitating a resolution that incorporates important gains. The Council now recognizes that the protection of children affected by armed conflict should be part of strategies to resolve conflict and sustain peace. It recognizes the importance of addressing root causes of conflict and violations of human rights as well as the importance of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. And it formulates an integrated approach to conflict prevention.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands remains convinced that even more must be done. It is crucial that this Council listens carefully to testimonies like Ms. Londoño’s. The progress observed in Colombia, provides a strong case of how mainstreaming child protection and prioritizing children’s issues in peace processes, can contribute to lasting peace.

3. Strong tools for an effective, credible and transparent CAAC mandate

This brings me to my third point on the importance of strong tools for an effective, credible and transparent mandate.

The mandate for Children and Armed Conflict is equipped with tools that have real and significant impact on the ground. This includes the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, the Annual Report by the Secretary General and its annexes that lists parties committing grave violations.

It is important to remember that this Council - in its resolution 1612 of 13 years ago - underlined the importance of timely, objective, accurate and reliable information for these tools to remain effective.

Timely information enables this Council to act in an apt and swift manner. A high frequency of conclusions in the Working Group on Children And Armed Conflict and the timely publication of the Annual Report of the Secretary General, are crucial in that regard;

Accurate information is only possible if there are enough actors on the ground to report and verify violations and if they are assured proper access;

Objective and reliable information, including transparency on listing criteria. This allows for meaningful dialogue and safeguards the credibility and impartiality of the Children And Armed Conflict mandate.

Conclusion

Mr. President,

The Children And Armed Conflict mandate is unique in its effectiveness, and makes a distinctive difference to children affected by conflict. This Council bears continuing responsibility to stop the unacceptable plight of these children. The Kingdom of the Netherlands, as a member of the Council and beyond, is a committed partner in this endeavor.

Thank you.

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