Sumario: 16 June 2010, New York - Statement on behalf of the European Union by H.E. Pedro Serrano, Acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union, at the Security Council Debate on Children and Armed Conflict
Thank you for giving the floor to the European Union.
The Candidate Countries Turkey, Croatia* and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia*, the Countries of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidates Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia align themselves with this declaration.
I would like to join the other speakers in thanking you for convening this debate and being here with us today to chair it. Your personal commitment to this important issue matches the intense work of the Mission of Mexico here in New York under the leadership of Ambassador Heller as chair of the Security Council Working Group on children and armed conflict.
I also extend a warm welcome to Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General's Special Representative and tireless advocate for the rights and well-being of children facing armed conflict, whose work we value very highly.
[greetings to ASG Atul Khare of DPKO; Ms. Hilde Frafjord Johnson, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF; and (Ms.) Manju Gurung]
As you are aware, the EU places the fight against the adverse impact of conflicts on children high on its foreign policy, development and humanitarian agenda. The EU is a firm supporter of and partner for the UN in this context, both as regards policy development and implementing actions. I am happy to announce that the EU plans to review and further enhance its engagement, so that we can improve our response to current challenges and contributions to the UN's work.
Important progress has been made over the past year, and, like many others, we welcome Security Council resolution 1882 and the expansion of the triggers for listing to killing and maiming of children as well to rape and other sexual violence. We look forward to the further implementation of the resolution, in particular steps aimed at strengthening the UN's ability to gather and analyse information, and, in this context, to a close cooperation with the SRSG on sexual violence.
The EU is grateful for the Secretary-General's most recent report and its recommendations and welcomes the attention that is brought therein to persistent violators. We also commend the work of the Security Council working group and its country-specific conclusions and recommendations. The EU, through its programmes and projects, lends concrete support to their implementation.
Moreover, we welcome the first steps made recently towards increasing the exchange of information with Sanctions Committees. We would like to encourage more such interaction with the SRSG, Sanction Committees, their expert groups and the Working Group on children and armed conflict. The EU furthermore encourages the Security Council to include, where appropriate in the mandates of Sanctions Committees provisions pertaining to violations of applicable international law committed against children and Security Council resolutions on children and armed conflict.
In line with the EU's strong commitment to international law, we also firmly and actively support the SRSG's campaign for the universal ratification of the Optional Protocols to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. On the occasion of their 10th anniversary on the 25th of May, EU High Representative Catherine Ashton highlighted the utmost importance of these legally binding international instruments and called on partner countries to ratify the two Protocols, so that we can combine our efforts to protect all children worldwide and with no exception.
The EU public statements and its day-to-day action are based on the EU guidelines of 2003/2008 and the European Commission Communication "A Special Place for Children in EU External Action". They support and complement the work of the UN; they implement the relevant Security Council resolutions and are in line with the 2007 Paris Commitments and Principles.
The EU systematically brings up children's rights issues in political dialogue and when discussing country strategies with partner countries, and we cooperate with civil society on these matters. We particularly seek to help preventing the recruitment of children and ensuring their unconditional release and reintegration. For instance, the EU approach on DDR in 2006 included a specific focus on children affected by armed conflict. We also pay special attention to the situation of girls.
Furthermore, the EU uses its early warning mechanisms and conflict-sensitive approaches, flexible financial tools and procedures to provide quick responses to children in need. We have also increased the awareness of our staff, both at headquarters and country-level on CAAC issues. EU personnel is engaged in gathering and sharing information on situations or countries of concerns, and our priority countries for action are in coherence with those identified by the UN.
Like the SRSG, we support the mainstreaming of children's rights into crisis management. Within the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy we use a checklist to integrate the protection of children affected by armed conflict into the planning and conduct of EU crisis management missions. As an example, I'd like to refer to our SSR mission in the DRC which promotes school enrolment of children.
In line with the need for full and swift implementation of Security Council recommendations and Action Plans, the EU funds numerous programs to contribute to the protection and empowerment of children in armed conflict. Under one of these programs, "Investing in People", the EU has supported some 20 projects with a volume of over 9 million € since 2008. Most recently, in 2009, under another financial instrument, we selected further projects, including in Colombia, Somalia, DRC, Nepal, Philippines.
These projects, with a joint value of 11 million €, address prevention issues and respond to the needs of girls, foster the social inclusion of children affected by armed conflict, and attempt to make justice and other services accessible to victims. In this context, the EU would like to express grave concern about the increased number of attacks on education and encourages the Security Council to address this problem in its future deliberations.
The EU also believes in the importance of investigating, prosecuting and punishing all those who commit grave violations against children. We have repeated on numerous occasions that every effort must be made to end a culture of impunity, and would like to recall here that children are especially protected by the Rome Statute of the ICC. As you know, the EU strongly supports - politically, financially and technically - the effective functioning of the ICC and other international criminal tribunals.
As mentioned, the EU will review, during the second half of 2010, its implementation strategy for Children and Armed Conflict-related actions, as to align them even better with the current needs and international developments in this field. To this end, we look forward to working closely with the Office of SRSG Coomaraswamy and other relevant UN actors such as UNICEF.
Thank you very much Madame President.