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16 June 2010 - Security Council - Children and armed conflict - Statement by Mr. Gérard Araud, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations

(UN translation)

I support the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union. I would like to thank the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico for taking the initiative to convene the Security Council to address the issue of children and armed conflict.

We welcome the Council’s sending of an unmistakable message to parties who continue to violate the rights of children in armed conflict.

If parties to a conflict refuse to take the path of dialogue and do not implement action plans in spite of the repeated appeals of the Security Council to do so, we should not hesitate when considering targeted and strong sanctions against them.

The mechanism set up in the draft presidential statement to be adopted today aims at greater integration of the protection of children in armed conflict into the work of the sanctions committees. In this respect, we invite Ms. Coomaraswamy to begin direct dialogue with the committee experts without delay.

In the absence of a sanctions committee or when it would take too long to establish one, the Security Council can act directly, when necessary, through a resolution adopted under Chapter VII. In that respect, the responsiveness of our Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict should be improved.

Beyond implementing sanctions, we agree with the analysis and recommendations developed by the Secretary-General in his report (S/2010/181) to put an end to the heinous acts referred to therein and to ensure that their perpetrators are brought to justice. In this respect, we welcome the actions of the International Criminal Court, among which the current war crimes trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is a prime example.

Since its creation five years ago, the Working Group has focused on the recruitment and use of child soldiers and has achieved results contributing to the release of tens of thousands of children. However, we remain in the implementation phase of resolution 1882 (2009), which added rape and other sexual violence, as well as killing and maiming contrary to international law, to the criteria for listing parties to conflict on the Secretary-General’s naming-and-shaming list.

In our view, this will require making more resources available to the Council’s monitoring and reporting mechanism and to the implementation of action plans. It will also require taking better into account the cross-border dimension of some conflicts, including but not exclusively in Africa. Finally, we believe that it would be desirable to give increased attention to attacks against educational facilities, which are increasing throughout the world, with a view to expanding the criteria for adding parties to conflict to the Secretary-General’s naming-and-shaming list. We would like to see specific recommendations on this issue in the next report of the Secretary-General.

The work of our Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict will be marked by some important developments in the coming months.

First, we will need to resolve the recurring question of its administrative support. Today, that job is wholly dependent on the goodwill of the Mexican Mission. We hope to see proposals from the Secretary-General on this issue in the coming weeks in order to relieve our Mexican friends of that duty.

Next, the Working Group will have to undertake a country visit. We would be pleased for such a mission to take place by the end of the year.

Finally, the action plans will have to be implemented in the field. To that end, France will co-organize with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, UNICEF and its partners in the Steering Committee the third Ministerial Follow-up Forum to the Paris Commitments and Paris Principles on 27 September. It will focus on the financial commitment of the international community to ensure, inter alia, that children who are victims of violations benefit from care and adequate reintegration programmes.

I wish to conclude by affirming that France supports without reservation the campaign launched by the Secretary-General aimed at the universal ratification within two years of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. We call on all States, as you have done, Madam Minister, that have not yet ratified this instrument to do so as soon as possible.

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