I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
Children, least of all, bear responsibility for armed conflicts. Yet when conflicts arise, they suffer the most. We therefore commend the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict for her valuable work. Through her tireless efforts, she lends a voice to children that otherwise would not be heard.
The Nordic countries reiterate their unequivocal endorsement of the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's report concerning child rights and the role of child protection in future peacekeeping missions. Each of the six categories of grave violations set out in Security Council Resolution 1612 must be addressed with equal resolve. We must act to put an end to all assaults on the human dignity of children.
Women and girls constitute the largest and most vulnerable groups of victims in armed conflicts. Therefore both these groups deserve our constant attention. In line with the recommendations of the report of the Secretary General and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, we ask that sexual and gender based violence be included on the list of violations that trigger listing in the annexes of the Secretary General’s report.
We recognize the absolute importance of Security Council Resolution 1612 and the mechanisms set up in its wake. We welcome the reports of the Special Representative announcing the release of hundreds of children from armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad. We also welcome the reports of progress made in Liberia and Sierra Leone. However, we remain deeply concerned at the high levels of violations against children in the Sudan, including their recruitment by armed forces and groups, rape and sexual violence, especially in Darfur.
Although promising progress has been made in some areas, there often remains a gap between words and deeds, between U.N. resolutions and actions by affected Member States. The Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism presents the Security Council with reliable information on grave violations of child rights. With this knowledge comes responsibility. The Security Council should therefore seriously consider effective targeted measures against those who commit grave violations against children.
We call on the working group to explore the full range of measures to hold persistent perpetrators responsible whether they fall short of their own action plan objectives or choose to ignore the mechanism altogether.
In order to end impunity for perpetrators against children, increased efforts are needed. We welcome the progress made by the International Criminal Court in persecuting individuals suspected of grave violations of the rights of the child. Nevertheless, effective national courts are also needed. Governments should benefit from the competence and the capacity of the UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism. We encourage the Security Council to refer violations against children in armed conflict to the ICC for investigation and prosecution when national governments continuously fail to address such crimes.
The body of international humanitarian and human rights instruments leaves us with strong moral, political, and legal obligations that must lead to action – to provide a protective environment for the development of children, – enriching their childhoods, expanding their opportunities and inspiring hope in our common future. The recently concluded Convention on Cluster munitions to be opened for signature in December this year, and the ongoing negotiations within the framework of the Convention on Conventional Weapons, will hopefully serve as effective tools towards this end.
The Nordic countries encourage the Security Council to ensure that it pays equal attention to all children affected by armed conflict. Procedural arguments concerning whether the specific situation is on its agenda or not, should not undermine the Security Council’s ability to discuss the plight of all children affected by armed conflict and if necessary to act accordingly.
Thank you, Mr President.