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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


Je tiens à remercier la présidence française d’avoir organisé le débat ouvert de ce jour.

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

The focus of this debate on non-state armed groups is particularly pertinent since the overwhelming majority – 51 of the 59 parties listed in the annex of the last Secretary-General´s report on Children and Armed Conflict – are non-state actors.

We have seen progress as to the national security forces: thousands of children have been released as a result of action plans mandated by the Security Council. We thank Ms Leila Zerrougui and UNICEF for their enormous work, most recently through the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers”.

We believe that the main measures to be taken, with non-state armed groups, are similar to the ones used when working with national security forces. Namely to focus on prevention, action plans and ending impunity for the crimes committed.

We all know that education is one of the key elements for prevention. Therefore it is important to guarantee education for children also in the times of crises. During emergencies, children in schools can be cared for, accounted for and protected from abduction, recruitment and sexual and economic exploitation. Schools should be for children and should never and under no condition be used for military purposes.

Let me express our appreciation to UNICEF for providing education to children in humanitarian crises. Estonia has recently supported UNICEF´s work in South Sudan, Central African Republic, Gaza, Syria and Somalia.

Mr President,

We urge all armed non-state actors listed in the annex of the last Secretary-General´s report on Children and Armed Conflict to adopt and implement  action plans committing themselves to end grave violations against children and call on the Secretary-General and the SRSG on Children and Armed Conflict to develop strategies for outreach to armed non-state actors. We urge also concerned governments to facilitate and support engagement of non-state armed groups with SRSG and UNICEF.

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 (ICC) in situations where States are unable or unwilling to bring perpetrators to justice domestically.

Furthermore, we also believe that the international community should assist in strengthening national judicial capacities to ensure accountability, including through the development of legislation criminalizing violations against children. Estonia allocates development cooperation resources to assist countries requesting help in the domestic implementation of Rome Statute crimes, and we encourage others to do the same. 

The Council itself has on numerous occasions acknowledged that the fight against impunity for atrocious crimes, including against children, has been strengthened through the work of the ICC.

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 improving the exchange of information between the Council, sanctions committees and the ICC to include individuals sought by the ICC on the sanctions lists.

Mr President,

Recruitment and use of children in armed forces and groups is a grave violation of international law. We categorically condemn the barbaric acts committed on a large scale by violent extremist. We are appalled by the mass abductions of children by non-state armed groups be it by Boko Haram in Nigeria or by ISIL in Syria and Iraq. We call for the immediate release of all abducted children without delay.

In this connection we call on the Security Council to introduce the abduction of children as an additional criterion in the annexes to the Secretary-General’s reports on children and armed conflict.

Thank you.


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