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Remarks by Ms Minna-Liina Lind, Deputy Permanent Representative of Estonia at the Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

18.06.2015

Madam President,

I want to warmly thank today´s briefers and in particular SRSG Leila Zerrougui for her statement and her tireless efforts. We also thank the Malaysian Presidency for organizing this important debate.

Estonia aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union.

 

Madam President,

We would like to thank the Secretary-General for the report which provides a solid – although a deeply concerning – basis for today`s debate. It is extremely worrying that violence has risen to unprecedented levels in 2014 leading to dramatic increase of grave violations against children. Last year was full of challenges for the protection of tens of millions of children growing up in, among others, Central African Republic, Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria and most recently in the deteriorated security situation in Yemen.

 

We strongly support the initiative of Malaysia to introduce the abduction of children as an additional criterion in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s reports on children and armed conflict. The abduction of children is unfortunately indeed a prevalent feature of contemporary armed conflict, it is used as a tactic of war to terrorize, suppress and humiliate communities. According to the Secretary-General´s report in Iraq and Syria alone, more than one thousand girls and boys were abducted by ISIL in 2014. In this regard, we welcome the adoption of the resolution in the Council today adding abduction as a trigger. As next step, we need to ensure that child protection provisions are in the most efficient way incorporated into peace processes, negotiations and ceasefires.

Madam President,

A considerable number of violations against children are conducted by the non-state armed groups as was the focus of our last debate. We commend the work of the SRSG Zerrougui to address the challenging task of engaging with armed groups and the case by case approach to end recruitment and use of children. However, more needs to be done by all sides concerned.

I would also like to draw your attention to the situation in Ukraine as 1.7 million children are affected by the conflict. At least 68 children have been killed and 176 wounded in Eastern Ukraine as of end of March this year and the actual numbers are probably higher. We would ask the SRSG for Children and Armed conflict to look into these grave violations against children in Ukraine.

 

Madam President,

We clearly see impunity as one of the main reasons for the recurrence of these grave violations against children. It is only by consistent prosecution that we can deter the commission of these crimes. To achieve this, we reiterate the important role of the International Criminal Court in situations where States are unable or unwilling to bring perpetrators to justice domestically. To achieve its commitment to deal effectively with persistent perpetrators, the Council could increase pressure on them by including violations against children in the mandate of all sanctions committees and by including individuals sought by the ICC on the sanctions lists. In the context of today´s discussion we also welcome Court´s efforts in preparing a policy paper on protection of children.

 

However – while talking about accountability, we should not close our eyes when it comes to the UN system. All violations by UN staff and UN peacekeeping troops need to be addressed respectively.

 

Finally, let me mention Estonia´s contribution to the advancement of the children and armed conflict agenda. We have recently supported UNICEF´s work in South Sudan, Central African Republic, Gaza, Syria and Somalia. I am glad to announce that Estonia will support the office of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict this year with 30 000 euros.

 

Madam President,

Children deserve a safe and happy environment for their childhood. If this organization and by that I mean us – the members of this organization – can do something to ensure that, we should not hesitate to seize every opportunity to do so. I hope that today`s debate makes a tangible step forward in this regard.

 

Thank you!

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