Statement at the UNSC Briefing on Children and Armed Conflict
Statement19 July 2022
Thank you Mr. President, and I thank Brazil for hosting this important annual meeting.
I also thank SRSG Gamba and Executive Director Russell for their tireless advocacy for children globally. Mr. Kumi, thank you for your truly powerful testimony as well as for your very clear recommendations.
Once again, as we meet to discuss this important topic we confront shocking numbers of violations against children. But behind every figure, as we have heard this morning, there is a child who has had their life derailed or destroyed, their future undermined.
Children worldwide experience conflict in different ways, including girls, children with disabilities, LGBTQ+ children, and, as this debate has highlighted, refugee, stateless and internally displaced children.
The recruitment and use of children in armed conflict worldwide robs children of their childhoods and puts them at risk on the frontlines. The denial of humanitarian access blocks life-saving aid and services from reaching children.
We are dismayed by the high numbers of children killed and maimed globally last year, notably in Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan as well as during the escalation of violence in May 2021 in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
We urge relevant parties to cooperate with the Secretary-General and put in place action plans.
The extent to which children are impacted by violations of international humanitarian law, including those arising from the use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA), is appalling.
We call on all states to support the Political Declaration on Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas (EWIPA), which was recently concluded following a process led by Ireland in Geneva.
Stark increases in abductions and rape and other forms of sexual and gender-based violence have horrific impacts on children and differentiated consequences for girls and boys.
We urge all parties to release abducted children and end further violations of their rights. Survivors of sexual and gender-based violence must receive comprehensive health and psychosocial supports.
Attacks on schools and hospitals destroy another lifeline for children and we must work to implement Resolution 2601. Education is vital for children affected by conflict and is an indispensable right for all children. In this regard, we reiterate our call for the Taliban to allow girls in Afghanistan to return to school.
Amidst horrendous violations against children, we commend the decision of the Secretary-General to add Ethiopia, Mozambique and Ukraine to the list of situations of concern with immediate effect, and his call for more monitoring in the Central Sahel region.
These situations have shown just how quickly escalations of violence can destroy children’s livelihoods, and illustrated why rapid action is necessary. Since the onset of Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine, grave violations have destroyed the lives of many children. We call on Russia to end these senseless attacks and stop all violations against children.
As this is Ireland’s last Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict as an elected Council member for this term, I wanted to finish with a number of reflections:
First, as we know, there is much law to protect children, but there is a lack of implementation.
We call on parties to conflict to comply with international law, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and international refugee law. We call for accountability for violations.
Second, our fine words here must be accompanied by hard cash. Funding is required to keep pace with a growing number of violations and situations of concern to monitor crimes, protect children and ensure reintegration support. This includes supports to the SRSG, UNICEF, and UN Missions, including those in transition.
Third, holistic reintegration and peacebuilding are vital for healing and recovery. We must build on the successes achieved by UN Action Plans globally. We should mainstream CAAC across the Peacebuilding Commission and Peacebuilding Fund. Investing in the CAAC agenda is investing in children’s futures.
Fourth, all children are equal, and grave violations of the laws which protect them are equally unacceptable – no matter where they happen.
Ireland continues to call for objective, impartial and transparent listing of perpetrators in the annex of the annual report, including based on patterns and trends, in order to promote accountability.
In order to be effective, listing must be objective and accurately reflect the facts on the ground. Progress by parties to conflict must only be recognised if it is real and demonstrable. Parties must cooperate with the United Nations to develop action plans to end violations against children, or face consequences.
Fifth, we must advocate for children’s rights at every opportunity. We call on states to endorse the Paris Principles, the Vancouver Principles, and the Safe Schools Declaration, and to become parties to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed conflict.
Ireland has been immensely proud to serve on the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. Our children are our future. To protect and invest in them is to invest in our future peace and prosperity.