Friday, July 01, 2011

Conflict: Calls for stepped-up action against attackers of children in armed conflicts

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (right) and Amb. Peter Wittig of Germany at panel discussion on children and armed conflict

UN - Ban Ki-moon today reiterated his concern over the growing number of attacks on schools and hospitals and threats to children in armed conflicts around the world, stating that the United Nations is considering targeted measures against those who commit such crimes.

“Beyond naming and shaming, we have a further tool we can consider employing to safeguard schools and hospitals in conflict,” said Mr. Ban at a panel discussion organized by Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and Germany’s Ambassador to the UN, Peter Wittig, ahead of next month’s general debate on the issue in the Security Council.

“The threat of targeted measures against repeat violators – especially non-State actors – is credible and effective,” the Secretary-General said.

He said the protection of schools and hospitals is central to the UN’s work to protect children from those who seek to deny them education and health care.

“Let us resolve to keep up the pressure on all who violate the rights of children in conflict, whether it is in conscripting child soldiers or threatening schools and hospitals,” said Mr. Ban.

He welcomed in efforts to negotiate a Security Council resolution that will add attacks on schools and hospitals as a listing criteria in his annual reports on children and armed conflict.

The Secretary-General noted that initiatives by the UN, governments, civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on previous listed violations, such as the recruitment and use of children in conflict, have yielded positive results.

“These efforts – and the ‘action plan’ concept laid out in Security Council resolution 1539 and later resolutions – have led to the signing of 15 action plans covering nine conflict arenas,” he said. Under the resolution, parties named in the Secretary-General’s reports on children and armed conflict are obliged to prepare concrete time-bound action plans to halt recruitment and use of children.

Mr. Ban commended Chad for undertaking to separate all children associated with its security forces. Once Chad’s action plan is implemented, the country will be removed from the “list of shame.”

“I encourage the governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Myanmar and Sudan, as well as the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, to follow suit,” Mr. Ban added.

The panellists at today’s discussion included Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and Martin Mogwanja, the Deputy Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Consort of the Emir of Qatar and UNESCO’s Special Envoy on basic and higher education, gave the keynote speech.