We must redouble our efforts to protect children victim of conflicts [fr]
Children in armed conflicts
Statement by Mr. Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations
Security Council – 2 August 2019
I would like to commend the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland on his commitment to the rights of children. I also thank Ms. Mariatu Kamara; Mr. Majok Peter Awan; and the Executive Director of UNICEF, Ms. Henrietta Fore, for their statements.
This year we mark the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the sixtieth anniversary of the Declaration on the Rights of the Child and, in two days’ time, the tenth anniversary of resolution 1882 (2009), submitted at the initiative of France and adopted unanimously by the Council. This is an opportunity to take stock not only of the progress made, with more than 130,000 children freed in approximately 20 years, but also of the considerable challenges ahead. In 2018, there were 25,000 verified violations, including 12,000 killings and cases of maiming.
This is an inadmissible record, and that is why the Council must step up its action in order to better protect the more than 200 million children who are confronted daily with a situation of war.
We commend the role of Belgium as Chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. We must use all the tools available to us to protect children.
I/ First and foremost, we must make full use of the mechanisms created by the Council.
1/ Resolution 1882 (2009) in particular strengthened the monitoring and reporting mechanism, which must remain at the heart of our strategy.
I would like to commend the Special Representative on her recent visits to the Central African Republic and to Mali, which are vital in order to establish a dialogue with the authorities and with armed groups. Such visits are imperative.
We are encouraged by the signing of additional plans of action by the Central African Patriotic Movement and the Syrian Democratic Forces, which we hope will lead to positive results.
Child-protection advisers also play a key role. We owe them, for instance, the successes obtained by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic and the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It is vital that their functions and specific roles be maintained within peacekeeping operations.
I welcome also the adoption by the Working Group of the conclusions on Syria and on Burma, which now must be fully implemented.
Lastly, I would like to reiterate the importance of the annexes to the report of the Secretary-General (S/2019/509), which list the parties to armed conflict that commit violations against children. Their role as a deterrent and a motivating force needs no further demonstration. It must be made clear that no party will be struck from these annexes without first having demonstrated real progress.
2/ Resolution 1882 (2009) defines sexual violence as a criterion for the inscription of parties on the blacklist. However, we must acknowledge that 10 years later we have not put an end to such violence and must therefore redouble our efforts.
The cooperation between the two Special Representatives on Sexual Violence in Conflict and for Children and Armed Conflict is vital.
Their interaction with the sanctions committees and the exchange of information on individual cases must also be further bolstered.
II/ We must also step up our efforts to prevent violations and reintegrate children who are victims of conflict.
On 31 October 2017, the French Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, presided over an open debate in the Security Council (see S/PV.8082) and proposed measures based on prevention and the reintegration of children.
Bearing this in mind, we call once again on those States that have not yet done so to adopt the constitutional bloc to protect children in conflict by signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and by endorsing the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or groups; the Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups (Paris Principles); the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers; and the Safe Schools Declaration.
This legal corpus must be fully implemented, which involves punishing and trying those responsible for grave crimes against children through the use of national, joint or international legal mechanisms. This involves also ensuring access by children to education, health care and other essential services in safe schools and hospitals. This is a priority of President Macron, who decided that France would contribute €200 million to the Global Compact on education and set up innovative financing by focusing as a priority on the education and empowerment of girls.
France is furthermore fully committed to the reintegration of children, not only as co-Chair of the Group of Friends of Reintegration of Child Soldiers, but also and especially on the ground, including in the Central African Republic, where France is funding several projects related to the access to education.
We will continue to play an active role in shielding children from the suffering of war. We often say that children represent the future and coming generations and that they are the condition of a lasting peace, but protecting them is also a universal moral obligation, and we must redouble our efforts.