Statement by Ambassador Flynn at Arria on Children without Parental Care in Conflict Settings
News03 December 2021
Thank you Chair, for convening us on this important topic, and thank you to the briefers for their valuable insights.
Chair, it is the duty of this Council not only to address conflict, but to recognize that conflict does not affect us all equally. Graça Machel’s foundational report 25 years ago has been instrumental to our understanding of the disproportionate impact of conflict on children. It also paved the way for the UN’s lifesaving work on the Children and Armed Conflict agenda.
As we have heard today, children in conflict zones suffer unbearable trauma, including violence, human rights and IHL violations, poverty, hunger and exploitation. They can also face the life-changing pain of losing loved ones to conflict, or separation from family due to displacement, recruitment and use, detention or violence.
No child should ever have to experience war, let alone without the support of parents or caregivers who can shield them from its harshest effects. We strongly support the vital work of UNICEF, ICRC and Save the Children in seeking to trace and reunite children with their families.
To address the plight of children without parental care, including unaccompanied children and separated children, this Council, Member States and UN entities must follow the guiding principle of the best interests of the child. Upholding and advancing their human rights should always be our primary consideration.
An important aspect of this when it comes to parental care is to recognize in our policy-making the diverse forms families can take.
And, crucially, a rights based approach helps ensure that we avoid securitizing the issue of children without parental care: it reminds us that children are always victims in conflict.
The international community is remarkably united on the question of child rights: we see this in the almost universal ratification of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, the unanimous support for the General Assembly resolution on the Rights of the Child, and the Council’s consensus approach to Children and Armed Conflict.
We agree that the Council must do more to build on these and other efforts for children living in conflict zones without parental care.
Chair, ensuring the protection of all children living through war is critical to building sustainable and lasting peace for current and future generations. This is why the work of the Children and Armed Conflict agenda, including the Council’s Working Group, is so vital.
It goes beyond children’s physical safety.
It includes ensuring all children can access comprehensive and non-discriminatory services that are gender-responsive and age-sensitive.
It means ensuring that children can enjoy their childhood without fear.
And it means giving all children the opportunity to pursue their goals.
The Council’s recent adoption of Resolution 2601 on the protection of education in conflict is one such milestone in the pursuit of sustainable peace. This is why Ireland has long prioritized the safeguarding of education for children in emergency settings.
To leave no one behind, we must ensure that all children in conflict zones, particularly the most vulnerable who are without parental care, receive the protections and can access the services they need. That includes ensuring that UN peacekeeping operations have the mandates, the resources and the capacity to save children’s lives and secure their welfare. Now is the time to double down on such efforts.