New York, 16 June 2010
Statement by H.E. Mr. Ivan Barbalić, Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to the United Nations
at the UN Security Council Debate
on Children and armed conflict
At the outset, we would like to thank you, Mr. President, and Her Excellency Ms. Patricia Espinosa Cantellano for convening this debate, thus showing that Mexico attaches special interest to the issue of children in armed conflict.
As a country with critical experience, Bosnia and Herzegovina feels particularly strongly about this topic, and we consider that giving high priority to protection of children in armed conflict is of vital importance. I would like to reiterate Bosnia and Herzegovina’s appreciation for Mexico’s tireless efforts and for chairing the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.
Allow me also to express our appreciation to Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Atul Khare, and the Deputy Director of UNICEF, Ms. Hilde Frafjord Johnson, for their briefings. We are grateful to Manju Gurung for sharing her story with us today. We really feel and respect her courage, and I believe we all heard very important messages that we have to consider in future.
Bosnia and Herzegovina highly appreciates and supports the work of Ms. Coomaraswamy, whose outreach activities and field visits contributed significantly to improving the situation of children in armed conflict. The pragmatic and cooperative approach, with a humanitarian emphasis aimed at ensuring broad and effective protection for children exposed to and affected by conflict in situations of concern, is of key importance. We also align ourselves with the statement to be delivered by the representative of the European Union later today.
Bosnia and Herzegovina takes positive note of the Secretary-General’s report (S/2010/181) and the recommendations contained therein. Significant progress has been made with regard to the signing of action plans to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers and to secure their release from armed forces and groups.
We are encouraged by the fact that some parties to armed conflict have made progress in releasing child soldiers.
Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned that the practice of recruiting and using children has continued in the past year. While stressing the primary role of national Governments in providing protection and relief to all children affected by armed conflicts, we urge all parties to conflicts to fully comply with international humanitarian law and human rights law with regard to protecting the civilian population. All countries and groups must place the protection of children in situations of armed conflict above politics.
Furthermore, we urge the parties to conflict listed in the annexes in the Secretary-General’s report to engage in constructive dialogue in order to prepare and implement the time-bound action plans to stop recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children and killing and maiming of children.
This process should be conducted through efficient coordination among different actors in the field, including the host Government, United Nations entities, donors and non-governmental organizations.
We would encourage donors to ensure sufficient, timely and adequate funding for the implementation of action plans. In this context, education packages and access with regard to basic needs such as nutrition, health and water, as well as psychological support for reintegration of child soldiers into their families and communities, should be ensured and all barriers to access removed.
Recognizing the important role of education, we are deeply concerned about the growing number of attacks against schools, educational facilities, teachers and pupils. In times of conflict all steps should be taken to safeguard the right to education. All parties to conflict should keep schools as protected areas and zones of peace for boys and girls.
Bosnia and Herzegovina considers that targeted, gradual and more vigorous measures against those groups and individuals who persistently commit grave violations against children should be undertaken. In order to end impunity for violations against children, Member States must uphold existing international standards and operationalize their obligations through accelerated national legislative reform and systematic implementation and monitoring. Perpetrators should be brought to justice in compliance with international justice mechanisms, criminal courts and tribunals.
The Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups advocate a comprehensive approach to reintegrating children into their communities. Including children in peacebuilding activities is one of the key elements of each peacebuilding strategy. Special attention should be given to refugee and displaced children, children with disabilities and those who have been subjected to sexual violence. We believe that their participation in disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes is critical. It is of utmost importance to continue including specific provisions for the protection of children in the mandates of all relevant United Nations peacekeeping, peacebuilding and political missions; Child Protection Advisers should be deployed in those missions.
Many positive developments with regard to monitoring and reporting have been seen since the adoption of resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005).
However, much more remains to be done. We are of the view that the monitoring and reporting system should be strengthened and its capacities developed for effective and timely response to all violations and abuses committed against children, in particular with regard to collecting reliable and verifiable information on acts of rape and acts of sexual violence. It is crucial that country task forces on monitoring and reporting follow up developments and the implementation of recommendations of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.
Cooperation and exchange of information between the Security Council Working Group on Children in Armed Conflict, the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict and relevant sanctions committees should be improved. Sanctions committees should consider inviting the Office of the Special Representative, as was the case in May with regard to the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to brief them more regularly on specific recommendations in the Secretary-General’s reports.
We believe that such cooperation can add value to the efforts of the Working Group and, at the same time, contribute significantly towards more efficient use of the Working Group’s recommendations.
Finally, Bosnia and Herzegovina fully supports the adoption by the Security Council of an action oriented presidential statement, convinced that more positive examples will follow.