CAAC : France welcomes the official launch of the practical guidance [fr]
Statement by Mr Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council - 12 February 2020
At the outset, I thank the King of the Belgians for his participation in the Security Council today, as well as the Belgian presidency for taking the initiative to convene this meeting, which further demonstrates its commitment to the protection of children in armed conflict. I commend in particular Belgium’s work as Chair of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, as we commemorate the fifteenth anniversary of its founding resolution (resolution 1612 (2005)).
Since 1999, the Security Council has called on all parties to conflicts to include the issue of child protection in their peace negotiations. In 2007, the Paris Commitments and Paris Principles called for the inclusion of child-specific provisions in peace and ceasefire agreements. Despite the significant progress that has been made in that area, the current situations in Syria, Yemen, Myanmar, the Sahel, Afghanistan and elsewhere are a daily reminder that much remains to be done.
Today we welcome the official launch of the practical guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict, which we have just endorsed. We thank the Secretary-General, his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and all those who contributed to the development of the practical guidance. It serves as a genuine toolbox that is flexible and adaptable. Negotiators and mediators will now have a compass to guide them in integrating child protection into their work.
The guidance also illustrates what France believes successful mediation should look like, namely, combining short-term diplomacy to pacify tense situations with long-term stabilization, which is essential for sustainable peace. Child protection makes it possible to provide for a long-term approach. We must take care to ensure that the guidance does not become a dead letter. All actors must take ownership of and unequivocally support its content — it is not just child protection specialists that are concerned here. This is a major challenge the guidance must tackle: its principles are well known, but not yet sufficiently disseminated or systematized. The issue of children in conflict needs to be mainstreamed, as we say in good French. In that connection, I would like to make the following three proposals
First, Special Representatives of the Secretary-General should be systematically made aware of the principles of the guidance before taking office.
Secondly, they could present their actions and priorities in this area to the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict in order to ensure that child protection is taken into account throughout their mandates.
Thirdly, and finally, the issue of children in armed conflict could be a fully-fledged axis of cooperation between the Security Council and the African Union in the coming years.
In that regard, we cannot allow the measures put in place by the Security Council to be paralysed in any way. The Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on grave violations against children in armed conflict is more crucial than ever, and I call upon all those concerned to give it full effect. The Working Group in particular should be able to adopt its conclusions on Yemen, the Central African Republic and Afghanistan, which were negotiated several months ago. We also renew our call for the universal ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, as well as the endorsement of the Paris Principles and Paris Commitments.
France’s commitment to protecting children in armed conflict situations is well known. It is a priority that we defend at the United Nations but also on the ground, together with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, UNICEF and a highly committed civil society, represented by Ms. Becker. I commend their indispensable work and wish to assure them of our continued support and efforts in this area.