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Security Council Seeks to Strengthen Protections for Children in Armed Conflict, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2427 (2018)

Secretary-General's Special Representative Paints Harrowing Picture of Horrific Violence against Refugees, Other Displaced People

The Security Council, acting unanimously at the outset of a far-ranging open debate today, adopted a resolution aimed at further crystalizing the protection of children in armed conflicts, including by combating their recruitment by non-State armed groups and treating formerly recruited children primarily as victims.

By the terms of resolution 2427 (2018), the 15 member Council committed to taking concrete action in response to serious abuses and violations of human rights � including those of children � which could constitute early indications of descent into conflict. Expressing particular concern over the regional and cross border nature of such violations and the high number of children killed or maimed by indiscriminate attacks against civilians, aerial bombardments, excessive use of force, explosive devices and the use of children as human shields, it urged all conflict parties to uphold their obligations under international law.

The Council strongly condemned attacks against schools and hospitals, which impede children's access to education and health care, as well as violations involving the recruitment and use of children, rape, sexual violence and abductions, among other crimes. Stressing the importance of the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict � which includes securing concrete child protection commitments from warring parties � it further called upon her to compile a comprehensive set of best practices for the protection of children in conflict situations.

By other terms of the text, the Council stressed the need to pay particular attention to the treatment of children associated or allegedly associated with non-State armed groups, emphasizing that such children, or those accused of committing crimes during conflicts, should be treated primarily as victims. Urging Member States to consider non-judicial measures as an alternative to the prosecution and detention of children, it welcomed the launch of a process to compile practical guidance on the integration of child protection issues in peace processes, and reaffirmed its intention to continue monitoring and reporting on parties that commit grave violations affecting children in situations of armed conflict, in a list annexed to the Secretary-General's annual report on the issue.

Many of the more than 90 speakers throughout the debate welcomed the resolution's focus on concrete guidance and its links to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' conflict prevention agenda. Citing his recent report on children in armed conflict (document S/2018/465), covering 2017, delegates voiced grave concern over the 21,000 documented violations against children � a large increase compared with 2016. Some spotlighted trends outlined in the report, including substantial increases in child casualties in Iraq and Myanmar; high overall child casualties in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen; attacks on schools and hospitals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's KasaA� region; the continued abduction of children by Al Shabaab in Somalia; and the forced commission of suicide attacks by children recruited by Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Briefing the Council, Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), warned that, as conflicts increase in number and ferocity, thousands of children are slipping through safety nets around the world. Calling for the increased political will and resources needed to protect them, she recounted her 2017 visit to Yemen, where there are not enough respirators or medicine to go around, and where mothers hold their frail, acutely malnourished children. The international community must demand zero tolerance for all violations against children, which fuel grievances that inflame and perpetuate conflicts across generations, she stressed. When faced with the escalating consequences of conflict to a generation of children who have never known peace, we have a duty to act.

Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict, emphasized that rehabilitation and reintegration � not retribution � must be the centrepiece of all efforts to engage with children formerly recruited by or associated with armed groups. Stressing the importance of child protection plans adopted with various Governments and armed groups � including, recently, in the Central African Republic, Mali, Nigeria and Sudan � she also described the role of a similar plan in Colombia's evolving peace process, declaring: We must build on these advances to move to an era of prevention.

Jenny LondoAo, a consultant at Grupo de Jovenes Consultores � Colombia, said she was speaking on behalf of the many boys and girls recruited by armed groups around the world. Recalling that she ended up in the ranks of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia�People's Army (FARC-EP) at just 13, she said preventing violations against children must be a top international priority. Protecting children should be an integral part of any peace process, she stressed, emphasizing that recruited children � themselves victims of crimes � should never be treated as criminals. Noting that recruited children around the globe often end up in detention centres, she described Colombia's Victim's Law and its potential as a best practice model to share with other countries.

CAte d'Ivoire's representative, hailing Colombia's successful implementation of child protection plans, also welcomed the recent signing of similar agreements with armed groups across Africa. Following the start of CAte d'Ivoire's civil war in 2002, the country was annexed to the Secretary-General's report on children in armed conflict, but later pioneered the signing of child protection plans, becoming the first country to be delisted from the Secretary-General's report, he said. Those efforts made possible the release of thousands of children, as well as their social reintegration, he said, describing specific national strategies to combat stigma against former child combatants.

Throughout the debate, several speakers spotlighted other situations of concern for children around the world. Ukraine's representative, citing the Russian Federation's illegal occupation of parts of its neighbours' territories, recounted reports that children as young as 15 are recruited into armed groups and take part in combat operations as fully fledged members of militant Russian and Russian Federation-supported groups. Noting that some 200,000 children living along the contact line face daily shelling, booby traps and landmines, he said the Russian Federation could easily help resolve conflicts by abandoning its aggressive policies, withdrawing its troops from neighbouring States and ceasing to flood the region with heavy weapons.

The representative of Bangladesh said children constitute 58 per cent of the more than 700,000 Rohingya who entered his country from Myanmar's Rakhine State since August 2017. Pointing to reports that non-State actors in Rakhine are involved in violence against children, he said Bangladesh is in a race against time to provide hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children the protection and assistance they need. Without a solution, their vulnerabilities will exact a price on the region's peace and security, he warned, urging the Council to hold Myanmar responsible for the protection of those children, starting with their right to return home.

Guatemala's delegate emphasized that the protection of children is more fundamental than ever to achieve peace, tolerance, coexistence and the prevention of future conflicts. Calling upon States, the United Nations system and all citizens to ensure that children can enjoy their childhood without risks, exclusion or violence of any kind, he spotlighted inhuman policies which separated children from their families, causing trauma and violating their human rights. Such practices � which constituted crimes against humanity � must end, he stressed.

Describing her country's path forward after the tragedy of genocide, Rwanda's delegate said the annual National Children Summit offers a platform for children to express their views and make recommendations about what is needed to build the nation. Children's rights must be respected and protected, regardless of context, she insisted.

Also speaking were Heads of Government and other senior representatives from Sweden, Netherlands, United States, France, Ethiopia, Peru, Kuwait, Poland, Russian Federation, Bolivia, Equatorial Guinea, Kazakhstan, China, United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Ireland, Germany, Chile, Colombia, Estonia, Spain, Slovenia, Pakistan, Italy, Argentina (on behalf of countries endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration), Canada (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children in Armed Conflict), Japan, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, Austria, Norway (on behalf of the Nordic States), Turkey, South Africa, Viet Nam (on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Algeria, Myanmar, Israel, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Liechtenstein, Malta, Slovakia, Thailand, Costa Rica, Jordan, Sudan, Malaysia, Switzerland, Australia, Andorra, Portugal, San Marino, Ecuador, Iran, Belgium, Panama, Romania, Montenegro, United Arab Emirates, Maldives, Georgia, United Republic of Tanzania, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Djibouti, Venezuela, Philippines, Kenya, Qatar, Yemen, Armenia, Morocco, Greece, Egypt, Dominican Republic, Liberia, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Haiti, India and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as the European Union delegation. The Permanent Observers for the State of Palestine and the Holy See also participated.

The meeting began at 10:13 a.m. and ended at 7:30 p.m.

Action on Draft Resolution

The Council unanimously adopted resolution 2427 (2018).

Briefings

VIRGINIA GAMBA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children in Armed Conflict, said that, over the last 13 months she had witnessed the dedicated efforts of child protection actors on the ground around the world. That work notwithstanding, however, she was profoundly shocked by the appalling number of grave violations perpetrated against children in the last year. The United Nations documented over 21,000 violations � a significant increase compared to the previous year � with each one leading to unspeakable suffering for children, families and entire communities. Most of those despicable acts were perpetrated by armed groups, although Government forces and unknown armed actors also contribute, she said. Citing the sharp rise in the number of abductions coinciding with increased levels of child recruitment, she said that, in Somalia, Al-Shabaab abducted more than 1,600 children by threatening communities or targeting schools as places of recruitment. Surges in violence also resulted in elevated numbers of children killed or injured, including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq and Myanmar, while Boko Haram in Nigeria and neighbouring countries continues to attack both military and civilian targets by using children to perpetrate suicide attacks.

Noting that schools and hospitals continue to be targeted or damaged as a result of indiscriminate attacks in densely populated civilian areas, she said tens of thousands of children lack access to health care and education as a result. Children allegedly associated with armed groups continue to be detained in harsh conditions, often without charges, for extended periods. While those responsible for grave violations must be held to account, we also must not forget that children that have been recruited should be treated primarily as victims, she emphasized. Rehabilitation and reintegration � not retribution � must be the centrepiece of all efforts to engage with those girls and boys. Calling for urgent action on those fronts in order to live up to the international community's legal and moral responsibilities, she described the impact of child protection action plans adopted in the Central African Republic, Mali, Nigeria, Sudan and throughout the peace process in Colombia. The Government of Iraq is developing a similar plan, she said, while also welcoming specific initiatives by Member States such as the endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration by 15 countries in the past year. We must build on these advances to move to an era of prevention, she stressed.

Following the Council's adoption of a 2017 presidential statement on the issue, she continued the Office of the Special Representative began a consultative process with partners to compile good practices and develop practical guidance on the integration of child protection issues into peace processes. The tools to be developed in that process will aim at enhancing the international community's ability to mainstream children's issues and give early protection guarantees, which could help to build confidence between negotiating parties. Expressing both hope and encouragement for the process being undertaken by the Government of Sudan to develop a broad national strategy to prevent violations against children � building on the gains of its action plan � she said replicating that initiative is a promising strategy around the world. Moving towards an era of prevention also requires adequate resources, she said, underlining that actors on the ground must be provided with the predicable, sustainable and flexible funding needed to react immediately to children's needs.

HENRIETTA FORE, Executive Director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), said that one in every four children lives in a country affected by conflict or disaster. Many of them are malnourished and sick, at risk of being maimed or killed, vulnerable to gender-based violence and losing hope not only in their own futures, but in those of their countries. She said UNICEF is sparing no effort to support these children, including those in Iraq, South Sudan, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, among other countries. Our work must continue, she emphasized, recalling: Last year saw 21,000 verified violations against children � a dramatic increase from the year before. In the short term, children's lives are in immediate danger, not only from violence, but due to the collapse of basic services.

She recalled her 2017 visit to Yemen where there are not enough respirators or medicine to go around, and where mothers hold their frail, acutely malnourished children. The immediate costs of conflict come with long-term consequences, she warned, emphasizing: If we fail to prevent violations against children today, we fail to prevent violence against children tomorrow. As the international community calls for the end to conflict, it must also call for zero tolerance of all violations against children, which fuel grievances that inflame and perpetuate conflicts across generations. She cited such violations as attacking hospitals and schools, the deliberate targeting of children, the detention of children for associating with armed groups and the incarceration of children alongside adults, in the absence of legal representation, due process or contact with family members.

Emphasizing that progress is possible, she pointed out that, just today, the Nigerian army released 183 children detained for alleged association with Boko Haram. Stigma remained the single biggest barrier to the reintegration of such children into society, she said, calling for investment in local solutions that address community fears and concerns, while giving those children the chance at a normal life. Child protection and upholding children's rights is a fundamental part of any peace process, she said, drawing attention to Mali, where children are becoming agents of peace in their communities. In 2017, UNICEF trained 310 children as peace ambassadors who will go door to door in vulnerable communities to promote dialogue, peacebuilding and the importance of keeping children in school.

Yet, as conflicts increase in number and ferocity, thousands of children are slipping through safety nets around the world, she noted, calling for heightened political will to increase resources to reach children and young people with the support they need and build the human capital that every society needs to shape a resilient and sustainable future. Political will is also needed to end violations against children, for adherence by all parties to conflict to international humanitarian law and principles, and most of all, to end conflicts. When faced with the escalating consequences of conflict to a generation of children who have never known peace, we have a duty to act, she stressed.

JENNY LONDOA�O, Grupo de Jovenes Consultores � Colombia, said she was speaking on behalf of the many boys and girls recruited by armed groups around the world. Recalling that she ended up in the ranks of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia�People's Army (FARC-EP) at just 13, she said that preventing violations against children must be a top international priority. Protecting children should be an integral part of any peace process, she added, also emphasizing the importance of ensuring socioeconomic growth for everyday people. As long as there is no change for the better in the economic standing of families, social integration of child recruits will remain challenging, she said.

Many children run into problems when they return to their home communities, she continued, stressing that young people must be able to speak up and address their own unique needs. Respecting the career aspirations of young people is also important, she said, noting that conflict affected girls differently and their unique needs and challenges must be addressed. Families must also be included in reintegration processes. We are deeply concerned that schools have been targeted, she said, urging Governments to sign the Safe Schools Declaration. Governments must live up to their commitments in recognizing children as victims, she added.

Children should never be treated as criminals, she continued, pointing out that child recruits are the victims of a crime. We often end up in detention centres, she said, noting the potential of Colombia's Victims' Law to share best practices with other countries. On the issue of compensation, she underscored the need for States to abide by all instruments to help young people. We want to be change-makers of society, she said. Recalling what she went through at 13, she noted that many children upon whom armed groups prey live in rural areas where State authority remains weak. She added that she is pregnant and now sees it as a responsibility to change the world not just for her own child but for all children.

Statements

STEFAN LOFVEN, Prime Minister of Sweden and Council President for July, spoke in his national capacity, emphasizing that not enough is being done to protect the world's children. Some 350 million are affected by armed conflict today, he said, adding that they risk being killed or maimed or becoming victims of sexual violence. They risk having no other school than that which war teaches them: loss, fear, hatred and revenge, he said. While more work is needed, global concerted efforts are having an impact, with some 130,000 children released from armed groups in the last two years and another 12,000 receiving United Nations reintegration assistance. With today's unanimous adoption, he said, the Organization not only strengthened the children in armed conflict agenda, but also set out a framework for the reintegration of children associated with armed forces or armed groups.

Successful reintegration is in the best interest of the child, but also in the best interest of societies, he stressed, adding that it makes children part of the solution � not part of the problem. The resolution recognizes that access for all girls and boys to education and health care � including mental health � in conflict is essential, and distinguishes for the first time between the needs and vulnerabilities of girls and boys. In addition, the resolution links the children in armed conflict agenda to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development's 17 Sustainable Development Goals, underlines that children should be treated as victims, calls for accountability for all violations and abuses against children, and addresses the need to consider the views of children, as well as their proposals for solutions. In that vein, he said consultations leading to today's resolution led to recommendations including the need to provide safety and security, put food on the table, ensure education, provide care for the sick and injured, and above all else, end war.

EVELYNA C. WEVER-CROES, Prime Minister of Aruba, representing the Netherlands, associated herself with the European Union, urging the international community to do everything in its power to prevent violations against children and hold perpetrators accountable. That includes respecting commitments to such binding instruments as the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Emphasizing the need to firmly resist all efforts to weaken the International Criminal Court, she said the Security Council must focus on prevention measures in all phases and cycles of conflict. Stressing the importance of listening carefully to real-life testimonies, she said the progress observed in Colombia provides a strong example of how mainstreaming child protection and prioritizing children's issues in peace processes can contribute to lasting peace. Timely, accurate and objective information is essential in enabling the Council to act in an apt and swift manner, she said, adding that it is therefore essential to have reliable actors on the ground to report and verify violations.

NIKKI R. HALEY (United States) noted that an entire generation of children have grown up since the Council first established the children in armed conflict mandate more than two decades ago, adding that another generation has grown up knowing nothing but conflict. Those young people will become the leaders of tomorrow in their respective countries, she said. Describing her 2017 visit with families impacted by conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo � where armed groups recruit and sexually exploit children � she said mothers there are overwhelmed and heartbroken. What they want most is not food or possessions, but for their children to be able to go to school and avoid being swept up in conflict, she said. Without education, we might be dealing with them as adults on the battlefield, she warned. She said her country provides training, reintegration, education and psychosocial and other support services to more than 50 million children and young people around the world, and works with UNICEF on the crucial Education Cannot Wait campaign. Living through violence and conflict should not determine a child's future, she emphasized.

FRANCOIS DELATTRE (France) said the tools adopted by the Council since taking up the children in armed conflict mandate are more critical than ever, especially in light of the recent uptick in conflicts and violations committed against civilians. The Special Representative's mandate to engage in dialogue with parties to conflict and establish child protection plans is of paramount importance, he said, adding that such plans must be fully fleshed out and their success measured against the yardstick of ending all violations against children. Calling upon States that have not yet done so to ratify the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and to endorse the Paris Principles and Commitments, the Safe Schools Declaration and the Vancouver Principles � all of which form a universal block of obligations � he said the resolution adopted today aims to better equip the Council with responses to crimes committed against children. In that regard, he outlined the importance of tackling cross-border violations, protecting schools from attacks, establishing early warning systems, focusing on reintegration as soon as children are liberated from armed groups � taking into account the special needs of girls � treating children as victims and fighting impunity.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) underscored the strategic advantage of regional organizations in addressing the impact of armed conflict on children. It is vital for the United Nations, particularly the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, to further strengthen their coordination with such regional actors, including the African Union. Peace processes and ceasefire agreements must ensure the protection of children. The deployment of child protection advisers in peace operations is critical. He noted with concern the increased incidents of grave violations against children. The Council has a responsibility to urge parties to conflict to comply with international law. It is also essential to ensure that children formerly associated with armed groups are not deprived of their liberty and are primarily treated as victims. It is therefore vital to invest in their rehabilitation and reintegration.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) underscored the importance of working in close coordination with UNICEF and other relevant organizations. Noting that Peru recently signed the Safe Schools Declaration, he said the reintegration and rehabilitation of children was particularly important because it helped to give them back their hope for a better future. Peacekeeping operations mandated by the Council must prioritize the protection of children and train their peacekeepers to do so, he emphasized.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) said the best way to respond effectively to violations against children is to prevent conflict and create sustainable peace. The protection of children in armed conflict should be an integral part of all peace processes, he said, calling up on all Member States to sign and ratify relevant international conventions to ensure the protection of children in armed conflict. While highlighting the suffering of Palestinian children under the occupation and that of Rohingya children in Myanmar, he reiterated the central role of national Governments in protecting children and underscored the importance of reliable and independent sources in providing insight into situations on the ground. Expressing our anger is not enough, he said.

PAWEL RADOMSKI (Poland), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union delegation, said constructive and close engagement with national Governments is essential to ending and preventing violations against children. The international community must eradicate the root causes of child engagement in armed conflict, examine how best to reintegrate children into society, and deal with the psychological impacts of that engagement. Education is critical as it helps protect children from abduction, he added, noting that Poland supports the Safe Schools Declaration.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), citing rampant abuses by armed non-State groups in the Middle East and North Africa, especially Syria, he said jihadists have no misgivings even about using children in their staging of false chemical attacks aimed at sparking reactions from the international community. Condemning the collaboration of such pseudo-humanitarian non-governmental organizations as the white helmets with such armed groups, he also expressed concern over the fate of Palestinian children in the context of expanding illegal Israeli settlements and cuts in the funding of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Meanwhile, it is inacceptable to teach children hatred, false histories and distorted facts, he said. Nor should children face discrimination due to their ethnic origin or be deprived of education in their mother tongue. While the primary responsibility to protect children lies with States, Governments require support from the international community. He emphasized that sanctions imposed in the midst of conflict situations � such as those levied on Syria � were a form of collective punishment against civilians, including children, and any attempts to politicize the contents of related United Nations reports was unacceptable.

VERA�NICA CORDOVA SORIA (Bolivia) condemned the onslaught on schools � especially in the Occupied Palestinian Territory � as well as the detention of children in Israeli prisons and their trials in military courts. Noting that the international community has still not effectively addressed the root causes of conflicts or recent emerging challenges � including policies of regime change, competition for resources and the repercussions of massive inequalities in the global distribution of wealth � she called for a comprehensive approach to those issues, underlining the importance of preventive diplomacy, mediation and good offices, as well as full respect for the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the related Optional Protocols, as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Special Representative should compile compendiums of best practices on child protection, in accordance with today's resolution, she said, while welcoming the African Union's recent appointment of a Chief Adviser on Child Protection. The international community must also guarantee sufficient human and budgetary resources for child protection efforts, she added, emphasizing that all actions by the international community must be closely coordinated with host countries.

ILAHIRI ALCIDE DJEDJE (CAte d'Ivoire) recalled that, following its civil conflict, his country was listed in the Annex to the Secretary-General's report on Children in Armed Conflict; however, it later became a pioneer by signing several United Nations action plans, including with non-State armed groups. That made possible the release of thousands of children, as well as their social reintegration, he said, describing specific national strategies aimed at combating stigma against former child combatants. In light of that progress, CAte d'Ivoire was delisted in 2007 � the first such delisting in history, he said, while hailing the recent signing of action plans in Mali, Nigeria and the Central African Republic, and their successful implementation in Colombia.

ANATOLIO NDONG MBA (Equatorial Guinea) underscored the need to continue developing a criminal legal framework to protect children in Africa and around the world. Violations against children must never go unpunished, he said, emphasizing that those found guilty must stand trial and pay their debt to society for their crimes. The trafficking of children and their subsequent reintegration into society must be a part of any peace process. We must not overlook international law and the impact it can have on boys and girls, he said, urging all relevant actors to redouble efforts to shield children from recruitment, abuse and violence. Member States must pool their efforts to protect children and involve them in peace processes, he said. Children and adolescents must become agents of change and help to foster peaceful societies.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), noting the unanimous adoption of today's resolution, said: We must use this unity to safeguard children � our most precious resource � through collective and comprehensive measures. Kazakhstan advocated full compliance with international law and the strengthening of accountability for violations against children, he said, calling for prioritizing measures for prevention, and for building confidence and capacity. There was need to increase support for reintegration and rehabilitation programmes for children formerly associated with armed groups, he added.

MA ZHAOXU (China) said the continued eruption of armed conflict has rendered children extremely vulnerable. Ruthless wars and terrorist attacks have devastated their lives, and they need effective and concrete protection. It is incumbent on the international community to give them what they deserve, he said, emphasizing that children must be taught from an early age to embrace peace and reject violence. The international community must help mobilize families and communities to resist extremist ideologies, he emphasized, urging the Security Council to promote the use of political means � mediation and dialogue � to help prevent conflicts in the first place. This is the fundamental way to save children from the scourge of conflict, he added. The primary responsibility to protect children lies with Governments, he said, urging UNICEF, as well as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Bank, to work within their respective mandates to help protect children.

KAREN PIERCE (United Kingdom) said that, while there is no single answer on how to best protect children in armed conflict, one particular action can have an overwhelmingly positive effect. It is important to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal on education, she said, noting that conflict restricts access to education, particularly for girls. Disarmament processes should be age- and gender-sensitive, and girls must receive the education required to participate in governance and peace processes. Recalling that a staggeringly small 1.4 per cent of humanitarian assistance was invested in education in 2016, she said her country allocated funds for providing education and trauma care for children affected by conflict. We need to ensure that schools themselves are protected, she said, expressing support for the Safe Schools Declaration. She also associated herself with the statement to be delivered by Argentina on behalf of all those who have endorsed the Declaration. Our goal to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, she said, adding: We need to start with our children.

JEAN ASSELBORN, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, noted that some 10,000 children were liberated from armed groups in 2017 and many more laid down their arms. However, that was only the beginning of the process of breaking the cycle of violence on the ground. Echoing calls for the adequate funding of child protection efforts, he said the right to education is fundamental to building lasting peace in communities around the world. Yet, schools continue to be deliberately targeted, looted or used for military purposes, depriving children of their rights and undermining the security and stability of communities. All States must take concrete measures to prevent such actions, he said, declaring: Too many parties remain beyond the reach of international justice. He added that, alongside national jurisdictions, the International Criminal Court has a critical role to play in holding perpetrators accountable.

KATHERINE ZAPPONE, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs of Ireland, noted that child protection efforts continue to fall short. Security cannot be defined merely as the condition of peace, but as recognition that a just and equal society � in which States protect people from violence and persecution � is required in order to flourish. Inequality in all its forms is a driver of conflict, she stressed, warning, in particular, against the impact of gender based violence, sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Ireland prioritizes child protection both domestically and in its humanitarian action, including by supporting community-level partners that establish safe learning spaces, she said. It endorsed the Vancouver Principles in 2017 and supported the youth, peace and security agenda. Ireland introduced a youth delegate programme in 2015, she recalled, urging the Council to become a vehicle for developing and promoting sustainable security that allows all people to flourish.

SERGIY KYSLTSYA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, associated himself with the European Union, saying no one could have predicted 20 years ago that a permanent member of the Security Council member would launch a full-scale armed intervention against neighbouring States, illegally occupy parts of their territory and resort to the shelling of densely populated areas. Citing reports of children as young as 15 recruited into armed groups and taking part in combat operations as fully fledged members of militant Russian and Russian Federation-supported groups, he said that some 200,000 children live in the 15-kilometre zone along the contact line, facing daily shelling, booby traps and landmines. Recalling that the same conflict claimed the lives of 80 children onboard Malaysian Airlines flight M7 � brought down by a Russian anti-aircraft military brigade missile in 2014 � he said that country can easily help to resolve conflicts by ending its purposeful undermining of the international legal system, abandoning its aggressive policies, withdrawing its troops from occupied parts of neighbouring States and ceasing to flood the region with heavy weapons. He also called upon the Special Representative to correct the omission of references to Ukrainian children.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, said the Secretary-General's annual report and its Annex of listings remain key tools for implementing the children and armed conflict agenda. Noting that the latest report reveals that the vast majority of violations are committed by non-State actors, he called on all parties to engage sincerely with the United Nations. Regional organizations are critical to addressing the cross-border nature of threats against children, he said, echoing calls for a stronger focus on prevention. Germany supports efforts to focus on vulnerable social groups, including former child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone, he said. Children have a right to education, and need a voice in mediation and peace processes, he added, vowing to further strengthen the link between child protection and conflict prevention during Germany's upcoming term on the Council.

MILENKO ESTEBAN SKOKNIC TAPIA (Chile), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict and the Group of States Endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, said now is the time to halt the beginning of any future conflict. He emphasized that his delegation attaches great importance to the presence of child protection advisers in peacekeeping operations and supports the registration of births to prevent the recruitment of children into armed groups. Chile also supports the prosecution of those who commit heinous crimes against children, he added, stressing the need for predictable and sustained funding for the reintegration of such children.

MARA�A EMMA MEJA�A VA�LEZ (Colombia) said it is crucial to understand that the protection and care of children in armed conflict is fundamental and the cornerstone of any peace process. The situation of children in Colombia has been particularly difficult in recent decades, she said, noting that, of the 8 million victims of the conflict there, children and adolescents made up almost 39 per cent � a dreadful, horrifying figure. Between 2013 and 2018, some 410,934 minors were victims of the conflict and they are now on the road to compensation, she said, adding that her country continues to work for the protection and well-being of indigenous peoples, those of African descent and those living in hard-to-reach areas. Colombia will continue to strive to ensure that all children affected by conflict have a better future.

SVEN JARGENSON (Estonia), speaking also on behalf of Latvia and Lithuania while associating himself with the European Union, said the international community must do more to bridge the gap between protecting children and preventing conflict. Civil society can play a vital role, and children's involvement in peacekeeping, peacebuilding and transitional justice processes must not be overlooked. Children are both fragile and incredibly resilient, he added, stressing the importance of offering all conflict-affected children long term support for reintegration into society. We need to build community and family support capacity and skills development opportunities, without which those children will not be able to regain their lives, he added, emphasizing that they must be treated as victims first, rather than as perpetrators. Conflict resolution and sustainable peacebuilding must involve the vital element of accountability, which entails combating impunity for violations perpetrated against children.

JORGE MORAGAS SA�NCHEZ (Spain) said that if the Council seeks to secure a credible list of those responsible for grave violations against children, we need to maintain and strengthen child protection advisers. Protection should not be neglected in the post-conflict phase, and implementing an action plan should entail structures that will prevent future violations, including the empowerment of children and young people. He suggested that donors introduce the lens of reintegration into their contributions, highlighting the impacts on children of the denial of humanitarian access and the destruction of civilian infrastructure, including medical and educational facilities.

DARJA BAVDAZ KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union, the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict and the Safe Schools Declaration, said that provisions on protecting children should continue to be included in all United Nations peacekeeping operations, as well as political and peacebuilding missions through the deployment of child protection advisers. Underscoring Slovenia's commitment to alleviating the burden of children affected by armed conflict, she said that, in 2018, the Government supports projects for Syrian refugees in Jordan, and for the last 15 years, it has supported the Our Rights project to promote a culture of peace, non-discrimination and tolerance anchored in respect for human rights in 26 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. Monitoring and reporting is also crucial to ensure perpetrators are held accountable.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said that children under foreign occupation are subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention and torture, and in Kashmir, the High Commissioner for Human Rights found multiple cases of children under 18 years of age being arbitrarily detained and tortured under the so-called Public Security Act. Such children can be protected by preventing the outbreak of conflict, ending foreign occupation and sustaining peace, which must be the Council's top priority. Pakistan established the National Commission on the Rights of Children in 2017, she said, adding that the Special Representative's mandate should not become a tool for achieving political objectives.

ANDREA BIAGINI (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, and the Joint Statement on the Safe Schools Declaration, said country visits by the Special Representative and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict helped the Sudanese Armed Forces to end violations against children and be subsequently delisted from the Secretary General's report. Expressing hope that approach would encourage more parties to conflict to better protect children, notably through action plans, he encouraged States to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as endorse the Paris Principles, the Vancouver Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration. States should implement legal and administrative measures to criminalize violations against children and ensure perpetrators are brought to justice, while the Council should include in its sanctions regimes listing criteria for such violations. Once released from armed groups, children must be reintegrated into society and helped to overcome the blame wrongfully attached to them.

ALEJANDRO VERDIER (Argentina), speaking on behalf of States that have endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, said that education is not only a human right, but an essential protection mechanism for children in conflict. Education helps children reach their full potential and helps to build strong and resilient communities, he said. Some 76 States have endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration, he said. Expressing concern over the growing grave violations outlined in the latest report, he echoed its recommendation that all States endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, noting that the military use of schools has dropped significantly among endorsing States. The Declaration makes a difference on the ground, he stressed, calling upon all Member States to recognize it as a tool for protecting children. Speaking in his national capacity, he said Argentina endorsed the Vancouver principles and co-sponsored today's resolution. He called for greater international pressure against State and non-State actors to end violations against children in conflict situations.

MICHAEL GRANT (Canada), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, emphasized: It is our collective responsibility to do better, calling upon Member States to strengthen their resolve to better protect children in armed conflict. He stressed the importance of integrating the protection, rights and well-being of children into peace processes, and that children affected by armed conflict must not be defined by their victimhood alone. To fully realize the Sustainable Development Goals, no child could be left behind, including those affected by conflict, he said, highlighting the importance of developing regional, subregional and national prevention plans and strategies.

JORGE SKINNER-KLEA� ARENALES (Guatemala) said that the protection of children is more fundamental than ever to peace, tolerance and coexistence, and for preventing future conflicts. There is a need to care for and help children in order to ensure the survival of societies, he said, emphasizing in that context, the importance of legal protection instruments. Guatemala called upon States, the United Nations system, specialized bodies and all citizens to ensure that together, the international community assumes responsibility for ensuring that children can enjoy their childhood without risks, exclusion or violence of any kind. Calling drew attention to the separation of children from their families, he described such practices as inhuman policies that emotionally traumatize children, constituting a grave violation of children's rights. He went on to call for the complete cessation of such crimes against humanity.

KORO BESSHO (Japan) strongly condemned the perpetrators of the greatly increased number of violations against children over the previous year, and called for accountability to end impunity. Japan was the first donor to the Fund to End Violence Against Children, launched by the Secretary-General in 2016, he recalled, noting that his country is supporting 12 projects in Nigeria and Uganda, while calling on others to join the global partnership to end violence against children. The international community should believe in the strength of children and empower them as partners in peace processes, he added.

ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) emphasized that the annex to the Secretary-General's report must remain independent and impartial, without interference by States. On the issue of accountability, he said those launching missiles are responsible, as are those providing such weapons and the logistical support for such acts.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil), associating himself with group of States endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, voiced concern over the detention of children on national security grounds, describing that such practices are counterproductive since they envisage children allegedly with armed groups as security threats rather than as victims. He advocated strong support for preventive diplomacy, saying that, based on Brazil's experience, rehabilitation and reintegration programmes are important, the former requiring the rebuilding of a sense of identity.

JOA�O VALE DE ALMEIDA, European Union delegation, said that the lists annexed of the annual report are an essential tool in ensuring accountability. Efforts by the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) recently prompted a non-State armed group to sign an action plan to protect children, he recalled, adding that the child protection team of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) helped to separate thousands of children from non-State armed groups. Advocating long-term, sustainably funded reintegration programmes that recognize that children are recruited by groups operating across borders, he called for identifying ways to better prevent grave violations, including when committed across borders, and better understanding of the methods used to target children. Encouraging States that have not yet done so to endorse the Paris Principles and Commitments, he expressed deep concern over the high rate of sexual violence against children in conflict, noting that the European Union has allocated nearly Euros 22 million to prevent such abuse around the world.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico), describing his country as a leader in the global alliance to end violence against children, said it is meeting the needs of 39.2 million children and young people through various initiatives at the regional and international levels. Such initiatives tackle corporal punishment, sexual exploitation and abuse, bullying, forced disappearance and other violations of the human rights of children. He called upon the Council to mainstream child protection throughout its various peace and security agendas as an essential component of prevention and development. It should also consider child protection when constructing peacekeeping mandates and guarantee that its sanctions committees take child protection into consideration as an essential component of their mandates.

PHILIPP CHARWATH (Austria) said action plans with parties to conflict are the main framework of engagement for the United Nations to address immediate protection concerns and act as a lever to prevent future violations. We have to further promote the work with both State and non-State actors to follow-up on their implementation as well as to conclude new action plans, he said, citing Austria's project in Sudan that trains parties to the Darfur conflict on the rights of the child. He expressed serious concern that children allegedly associated with non-State armed groups are perceived as a security threat, rather than victims, stressing the need for alternatives to detention and prosecution, as well as continued efforts to monitor and report on such developments. He encouraged all States to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, noting that Austria has endorsed the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers as a way to prioritize child protection within United Nations peacekeeping.

MAY-ELIN STENER (Norway), speaking also on behalf of Finland, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden, emphasized that children must be treated and protected as children regardless of legal or social context. The Nordic countries are particularly concerned over the continuing silence and stigma related to sexual violence, exploitation and abuse, she said, noting that this leads to under reporting and lack of support for victims. It is important to strengthen the links between child protection, the rights of the child and the prevention of conflict. Stressing the importance of endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, she said Colombia is a good example of how child protection and children's rights can be integrated into peace processes. Children involved in armed conflict need not only comprehensive support and care, but also justice.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer for the Holy See, said that for children already trapped in armed conflict, it is never too late to save and rehabilitate them. There is a grave responsibility to act in the face of attacks against children, he added, underlining the need to prioritize the effective reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces or armed groups. There is also a need to guarantee the right of such children to education. Protecting children today prevents conflicts tomorrow, he said, emphasizing the need to give them back their futures and realize their deepest aspirations.

FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOGLU (Turkey) said children in Syria face violence imposed upon them by the regime and by terrorist groups alike, while the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) terrorist group has forcibly recruited minor Yazidis under the pretext of fighting Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh) and transfer them to battlegrounds far from their homes, punishing those who do not yield. Turkey will continue to fight terrorist organizations in accordance with international humanitarian law and under national counter-terrorism legislation, he emphasized.

JERRY MATTHEWS MATJILA (South Africa) said the increase in grave violations against children demonstrates that the Council's efforts to respond to such abuse have not been completely successful. Greater attention and resources should be allocated to today's agenda so that today's children do not become tomorrow's rebel leaders, he emphasized. There is an urgent need to address the gap in financing for efforts to help children reintegrate into society, he said, expressing support for the multi-year funding mechanism to support alternatives to military life. He advocated strengthening mechanisms for protecting children in armed conflict, notably through greater engagement with armed groups, stressing that perpetrators of all such violations must be held accountable.

PHAM ANH THI KIM (Viet Nam), speaking on behalf of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), expressed deep concern over the alarming increase in grave violations against children, resulting in thousands of children killed, maimed, abducted, sexually abused or recruited into conflict. More coordinated and responsive strategies are urgently needed, she stressed, adding that ASEAN supports the integration and inclusion of child protection into peace processes. Emphasizing the importance of constructive engagement among relevant partners, including Member States, non-State armed groups, United Nations agencies and communities, she said that ASEAN encouraged countries that have not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child to do so as a demonstration of their unwavering commitment to child protection issues.

SABRI BOUKADOUM (Algeria) said that all children in armed conflict are by definition victims. Algeria recognized the extreme importance of the work of the Office of the Special Representative and strongly supported her mandate. It is shocking that there continue to be a constant increase in violations against children, she said, calling attention to the approximately 21,000 violations in the past year. Barbaric attacks committed by terrorist groups, including the kidnapping and sale of young girls to terrorist fighters, bring to light the need for greater coordinated efforts, particularly to address the threats posed to young girls. Long standing peace is not possible unless young people are given the means, skills and education to rebuild societies and institutions torn apart by armed conflict.

HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar), associating himself with ASEAN, said that, since the 2012 signing of the joint action plan, more than 877 former underaged soldiers have been released and reintegrated into communities. The Government has worked to prevent child recruitment and abuse by armed forces, notably through a public awareness campaign, and ratification of international legal instruments. A total of 67 military officers and 191 others have been prosecuted for violating recruitment procedures, and for allegations outlined in the Secretary-General's report, legal action would be taken where there is evidence. He expressed regret that the report does not reflect the political will of the Government and armed forces, noting that Myanmar had invited the Special Representative to conduct training for security personnel on the six grave violations.

NELLY SHILOH (Israel) said 2.8 million children in Syria have been displaced, while, in Yemen, more than 500 children have been killed by air strikes and ground assault. Palestinian children have been exploited by their leadership. In Gaza, Hamas, the internationally recognized terrorist organization, has used children for terrorism. The portrayal of reality in the Secretary-General's report is misleading as it relied on information provided by DCI-Palestine, which is linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a terrorist organization. No such group could be a source of information of a credible United Nations working group. She advocated for empowering youth to become actors for peace and providing those affected by conflict with education and health care, including psychosocial support.

INA HAGNININGTYAS KRISNAMURTHI (Indonesia), associating him/herself with ASEAN, said that no country should spare any effort in promoting the rights of children and ensuring their development. Children will remain vulnerable to exploitation unless the root causes of conflict are addressed. Investing in development and meeting social and economic needs are essential for bringing stability and progress to societies. More importantly, there is an urgent need to maximize efforts to prevent the recruitment, radicalization and widespread dissemination of terrorist ideology among children and young people. Full protection and respect for the best interests of children should be paramount in counter-terrorism efforts and in peace and ceasefire agreements. He called on Member States to universality ratify relevant international treaties, adding that his country remains committed to ending violence against civilians in armed conflict, particularly women and children.

CHO TAE-YUL (Republic of Korea) said prevention is the paradigm-shifting approach that closes the gap between commitment and reality. Stressing that children must be not be exposed to violent extremism, he said the Republic of Korea, working with the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate and companies including Google, launched last year a knowledge-sharing platform to enhance the capabilities of small technology companies to counter terrorist attempts to abuse digital space. Accountability for all violations against children must be ensured through both national and international justice systems, including the International Criminal Court. Children should be seen as enablers for peacebuilding, he said, stressing the importance of partnerships with regional and subregional organizations, international financial institutions and civil society to close funding gaps and end cross-border violations.

JORN OLIVER EIERMANN (Liechtenstein) said that implementation of the Safe School Declaration and resolution 2286 (2016) will go a long way towards improving the situation of children in armed conflict, while evidence-based and impartial listing is another tool to pressure State and non-State actors to ensure better protection. Noting that Myanmar's State and border forces are listed for the first time following systematic violence against Rohingya in Rakhine State, he expressed deep concern over the killing, maiming, rape and sexual violence committed against children, saying he is deeply appalled by the Special Representative's account of sexual and gender-based violence, even against babies, during her visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh. He also voiced concern over the reported forced disappearances of women and minors in the Bangladesh camps, encouraging more effective monitoring, documenting, investigating and reporting of all such violations.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said children constituted 58 per cent of more than 700,000 Rohingya who have entered his country from Myanmar's Rakhine State since August 2017, noting that 36,373 are orphans and 60 babies are being born in the camps each day. It is perhaps an illusion to assume that violence against the Rohingya and their children has subsided, he said, citing reports that non State actors in Rakhine are involved in violence against children. Bangladesh is in a race against time to provide hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children with the protection and assistance they need, he said, warning that without a solution, their vulnerabilities will exact a price on the region's peace and security. There is no way the Council and the international community should allow Myanmar to avoid its responsibility for ensuring protection for those children, starting with their right to return home, he said, urging the Special Representative to make the necessary recommendations.

CARMELO INGUANEZ (Malta), associating himself with the European Union, said that it is completely unacceptable that children in certain parts of the world must deal with abductions, rape, sexual violence and killings as if they are a part of daily life. Expressing concern over the alarming scale and severity of the impact on children in war zones and their increasing exposure to violence, he warned: Violence breeds violence. Deploring the bombing of hospitals and schools and impediments blocking the life-saving efforts of humanitarian aid workers, he underlined the need for all parties to respect international humanitarian law at all times, while urging the international community to ensure that children do not grow up in an environment where military life or a war economy are the only opportunities on offer.

RICHARD GALBAVY (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, stressed the crucial importance of child protection advisers in mainstreaming the protection of children and in monitoring, reporting and prevention efforts during peace operations. Child protection efforts must receive adequate funding and remain at the heart of United Nations peacekeeping and peacebuilding, he said, while emphasizing that failing to incorporate the security sector in addressing the recruitment and use of children can lead to renewed conflict and the use of child soldiers.

VITAVAS SRIVIHOK (Thailand) said efforts to address grave violations against children must be a vital component of the prevention agenda. On recruitment, he said civil society, the media, academia and Governments must work together, tackling the evolving tactics used to recruit children, including through online and social media platforms. The peacekeeping community must also ensure that building capacity on child protection becomes a key component of training for peacekeepers. Thailand welcomed the release of more than 10,000 children from armed groups in 2017, he said, stressing that their reintegration is vital.

VERA�NICA GARCA�A GUTIA�RREZ (Costa Rica), associating herself with the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict and with States endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, said it is deplorable that millions of children continue to suffer as a result of armed conflict and asymmetrical attacks by armed groups. States must strengthen their national capacities to keep children out of armed conflict and away from violent extremism and recruitment by non-State armed groups. Prevention and early warning are the most effective way to meet those obligations, she said, adding that they must also ensure that child protection is at the heart of any prevention strategy. The use of children as soldiers is unacceptable, she added, stressing that countries must pursue policies that ensure schools are safe, welcoming places.

MUAZ MOHAMAD A. K. AL-OTOOM (Jordan) said called attention to the needs of children living in conflict zones, including the Gaza Strip, Syria, Myanmar and Yemen. Education is the best way to protect the future of displaced children seeking asylum, he said, explaining that is why his country continues to provide Syrian refugee children with the best possible levels of education and other services.

OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan) said that his country's joint action plan with the United Nations to end the recruitment of children paved the way to its delisting. In November 2017, Sudan received a delegation headed by the Chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, which observed the country's advances in implementing the action plan, he explained. He said that Sudan and the Special Representative will launch a regional campaign with African regional organizations at the end of 2018, on the Special Representative's initiative. Sudan has also created local mechanisms to report any cases of recruiting child soldiers, he said, citing also the efforts of the National Council for Children, the police and the specialized tribunals.

MUHAMMAD SHAHRUL IKRAM YAAKOB (Malaysia), associating himself with ASEAN, encouraged the Special Representative to develop guidance on the collection of data on the denial of humanitarian access, which can help to standardize and support the work of United Nations country task forces on monitoring and reporting. Security forces and peacekeeping missions must respond proactively when children are at risk of abduction and other grave violations, he said. Emphasizing that reintegration is a responsibility shared among all stakeholders, he called upon Member States, United Nations entities and others to integrate child protection provisions into community-based reintegration programmes. Countries involved in armed conflict must improve their capacity to investigate and prosecute those involved in violating children's rights during conflict, with no leniency or amnesty afforded for such crimes, he said, adding that such actions should be taken under the auspices of national or international justice mechanisms.

TOBIA PRIVITELLI (Switzerland) said that protecting the most vulnerable helps to preserve future national capital, with long-term implications for governance and peacebuilding. The reintegration and rehabilitation of children formerly associated with armed forces non-State armed group is essential to preventing relapse into conflict, he said, advocating the provision of education, psychosocial support and livelihood measures to foster long-term integration. The impartial monitoring and reporting mechanism established through resolution 1612 (2005) and the credible listing of perpetrators are also powerful accountability tools, he/she noted, requesting that the Secretary-General provide updates on the measures taken and progress made by listed parties.

GILLIAN BIRD (Australia) said that it is critical that peacekeeping missions and United Nations country teams contain child protection specialists, adding that the overall trend of increasingly grave violations against children should alarm the entire international community. Obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian assistance are having an inordinate and unacceptable impact on children, she said, emphasizing the importance of taking the needs of young girls into account when designing strategies for the reintegration of former child soldiers.

ELISENDA VIVES BALMAA�A (Andorra) emphasized the essential role of education in preventing conflict, she said, underscoring the need for special attention to the training and other educational in relation to the reintegration of boys and girls.

FRANCISCO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal) said that, despite the strong normative framework and a mechanism to monitor, report and respond to grave violations against children, huge challenges remain. Prevention, reintegration and cooperation, at both the national and international levels, are critical, and should include the demobilization and return of internally displaced and refugee children, he said. Emphasizing that the international community must ensure that adequate resources are devoted to child rehabilitation programmes and educational training in post-conflict situations, he said attacks targeting schools and hospitals, and their use for military purposes cannot continue with impunity.

DAMIANO BELEFFI (San Marino), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, called on all parties to fully comply with international humanitarian law and human rights law, and emphasized that it is crucial that the international community renew its engagement with the children and armed conflict agenda. Protecting children affected by armed conflict helps prevent conflict and sustain peace, he said, stressing that placing children at the heart of peace processes is vital. Long-term alternatives to military life and support through educational and vocational programmes are essential for breaking cycles of violence, consolidating peace and preventing the recurrence of conflicts.

HELENA DEL CARMEN YA�NEZ LOZA (Ecuador) said children are victims of State and non-State actors, and there was no across-the-board response to protect them. The 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals linked to gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls can only be achieved when all States are able to protect children, she said, stressing that States have the primary responsibility to do so. Calling for the universal ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, she also underscored the need for adequate funding that addresses the needs of girls. Ecuador fully supports the protection of students, teachers and schools, as well as continuing education during conflict. Ecuador's Constitution prohibits any forced recruitment to its armed forces, which remains voluntary.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said that, if the world cannot protect children today, it will fail to prevent conflicts tomorrow, warning of a vicious cycle of violence. He underscored the plight of children, particularly in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and in Yemen. In 2017, a large number of Palestinian children were killed, injured, arrested and detained by Israeli forces. Such acts are carried out with total impunity. Failing to bring perpetrators to justice will only embolden Israel to kill more children. In Yemen, some 2,000 children have been killed and nearly all children are facing dire circumstances. Saudi and Emirati forces, who only believe in a military solution, are responsible for the continuation of the conflict. Meanwhile, the killing of Yemeni children continues unabated.

MARC PECSTEEN DE BUYTSWERVE (Belgium), associating himself with the European Union, the Group of Friends of Children in Armed Conflict and countries endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, emphasized that prevention is the only lasting solution to the crisis of children in armed conflict. The issue must therefore be part of any global conflict prevention strategy and children should be actively involved in the development of such plans. Noting that children's psychosocial well-being remains frequently overlooked despite the depth of their psychological wounds, he also called for particular attention to the special needs of girls in conflict. Belgium, which will take up a non-permanent seat on the Council in 2019, plans to make children in armed conflict � as well as the deprivation of humanitarian assistance to civilians and other emerging tactics of war � an important part of the agenda for its two-year term.

MELITA�N ALEJANDRO ARROCHA RUA�Z (Panama), associating himself with countries endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, expressed concern about shameful reports of child murder, sexual violence, forced marriage, abduction and trafficking, among other crimes. That distressing panorama also involves children seeking asylum around the world and being detained against their will. The threats to global peace and security increase, more and more, the natural vulnerability of children, he said, calling for urgent and collective efforts to protect them. All States must ensure that no violations of human rights are permitted, he stressed, recalling that Panama has deployed humanitarian actors to Syrian refugee camps in Jordan. Children must also be empowered to become agents of peace themselves, he said, adding that Panama would host the commemoration of the World Day of Youth � to be led by Pope Francis � in January 2019.

ION JINGA (Romania), associating himself with the European Union and the Group of Endorsing States of the Safe Schools Declaration, said it is appalling that, in 2017, the United Nations verified over 21,000 grave violations of children's rights. Children associated with armed forces or armed groups are witnessing and committing violence, and exploited, injured or killed as a result. Tackling the root causes of conflict and ensuring children's access to education are paramount if the international community is to employ a successful approach. It is essential to keep in mind the interests of the child, especially when it comes to former child soldiers needing protection and support to reintegrate into society. He also urged all parties to implement and endorse various international instruments focused at protecting children in armed conflict.

MILICA PEJANOVIC A�URISIC (Montenegro), associating herself with the European Union, urged the international community to focus more on preventing violations against children affected by conflict in order to avoid losing entire generations. The implementation of United Nations action plans is vital for improving children's protection and all parties listed in the annex of the Secretary General's report should put these measures in place. Noting that Montenegro ratified the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration and the Vancouver Principles, she underscored the need to prioritize the reintegration of children formerly associated with armed groups through education and engagement.

RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said the children of Palestine have been suffering for decades, and will be deprived of vital support due to the defunding of UNRWA. The intentional targeting by Israeli occupying forces of peaceful protestors in the Gaza Strip is only the most recent example of a blatant disregard of international humanitarian law. The absence of Israel from the list of parties that commit grave violations affecting children in situations of armed conflict deeply affects the credibility of the list. He urged the international community to uphold its responsibilities and enforce international law to bring Israel's violations and occupation to an end. He called on the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to publicly denounce the crimes committed against Palestinian children. Such an expression would have been important during the violent repression by Israel of peaceful protests in the Gaza Strip where 19 children have been killed so far, he said.

LANA NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) said that children are entitled to special protection, adding: This is something we can all agree on. She noted the large youth population � 60 per cent � in the Middle East, expressing concern that violations against children in the region remain unacceptably high. She expressed concern for violations against children in Syria, Iraq, Myanmar and Yemen. Israel's violations against children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory would only continue to undermine Israel's security. On Yemen, she expressed deep appreciation for the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and welcomed the reintegration of Yemeni children, recruited by Houthi militia, back into society. She said that the Houthis continue to use children as human shields and schools as military bases. The involvement of women and young people in peace processes is vital to protecting children.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said that children carrying automatic rifles that are taller than they are, or little girls and boys rescued from the rubbles of buildings shattered by missiles are images that endure and haunt. Open debates like this will only be meaningful if Member States are sincere in their efforts to implement the resolution adopted today. Members of the Security Council can start by reducing the flow of weapons from their countries to conflict zones. In almost every instance, it is the supply of weapons, both legal and illegal, that exacerbates conflicts, he added. The Council must also take a holistic approach in promoting peace. He underscored the importance of long-term development strategies that specifically address the needs and vulnerabilities of children in armed conflict. No child should ever be trapped in conflict or war. We must devise our strategies to realize the aspirations of children, he said.

KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia), associating himself with the European Union, said that asymmetric attacks by non-State actors had a particularly severe impact on children over the last year. More work and engagement are needed on the part of Governments, he said, noting that Georgia spared no efforts to protect children in the occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia. However, thousands of children there remain deprived of education in their native tongue and are detained by occupation officials if Georgian-language books are discovered in their backpacks at checkpoints. Georgia recently presented A Step to a Better Future, a new plan to help improve the situation of children in the occupied regions, he recalled.

MODEST JONATHAN MERO (United Republic of Tanzania) said his country currently has more than 2,000 troops deployed to various United Nations peacekeeping missions, including those in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Lebanon, Central African Republic and South Sudan. Calling for comprehensive solutions that will prevent children from being caught up in armed conflict, he said efforts are needed to address root causes, in particular. Also required are prevention-oriented training programmes throughout security sector reform processes and the hiring of more women security sector actors. [Women officers] can offer important ideas on communities and cultures and provide the possibility of new preventive approaches, he said, adding that increasing aid to conflict-effected countries can help to rebuild infrastructure and health systems.

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD-BANDE (Nigeria) condemned all mass abductions of children, including those carried out by Boko Haram and ISIL/Da'esh, in the strongest terms. Calling for their immediate and unconditional release, he demanded that parties to armed conflict also immediately cease all unlawful attacks and threats against schools, students and teachers. In 2015, Nigeria was among the first States to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, and it has taken steps to care of victims of Boko Haram terrorism. Noting that regional and subregional organizations also play an important role in addressing the plight of children affected by armed conflict, he said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) demonstrated a strong commitment to promoting the well-being of children through its 2000 Accra Declaration on War Affected Children.

ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia) said the Palestinian people � those in Gaza in particular � continued to face the worst kinds of occupation and violence. That was seen just weeks ago when civilians were attacked at the Gaza border with Israel, he said, expressing regret that the Secretary-General's latest report employed unilateral, unreliable information and omitted critical data on violations of the rights of children by some parties. Saudi Arabia remains firmly committed to the liberation of Yemen and exercises maximum self-restraint in that regard, he said, noting that schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure are protected and children found carrying arms are returned to their families. Meanwhile, the Houthi militias supported by Iran recruit children, force them into war and use them as human shields, all in flagrant violation of international law, he said, calling upon the Council to strongly condemn such activities and the parties that support them, who also export their sectarian agendas and dark ideologies around the region.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq) said he wished to clarify some points contained in the Secretary-General's report, including that his country's air force command was not informed of any strikes against civilians during the reporting period. With regard to the accountability of children accused of association with ISIL/Da'esh, he said Iraq deals with that issue in accordance with international law, adding that special courts have been formed to deal with minors. As for the liberation of cities occupied by terrorist organizations, he said that requires some military presence in certain civilian facilities. Iraq has been cooperating closely with the Office of the Special Representative to address violations against children and reintegrate them into society, he said, recalling that a United Nations working group recently visited the country Iraq to monitor the protection of the rights of children in conflict. Accuracy must be sought when reporting such information, he said, emphasizing that inaccurate information was a significant burden for a country fighting some of the most ferocious terrorist groups in the world.

SAADA DAHER HASSAN (Djibouti) said her country is a signatory to various international instruments aimed at protecting children, while expressing concern that some 48 countries had not yet established an age limit for recruitment into the armed forces. Noting that her country enjoys stability and peace in a region often peppered with conflict, she stressed Djibouti's achievements, mainly in the area of health care, which is provided to all citizens. She also expressed concern over the destabilizing activities aimed at Djibouti through the arming of about 100 young people, and called upon Eritrea to comply with international standards and obligations.

SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela) said it is deplorable that, every year, the Secretary-General's reports continue to demonstrate gaps in the international community's ability to protect children. Condemning all violations of international law impacting children in armed conflict, he urged all parties to uphold their obligations, cautioning the Council itself to avoid double standards in its actions. In that regard, he said it is shameful to see countries fall silent about the many crimes and violations committed against Palestinian children.

TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines) recalled that, in May 2017, militants affiliated with ISIL/Da'esh took the southern city of Marawi. After five months of fighting, Government forces took it back, but not without huge casualties � children recruited by the militants were hurt and the city was destroyed. Emphasizing that the Philippines armed forces bear primary duty of ensuring children's safety in armed conflict, he said that rescued children, including those apprehended for alleged association with rebel groups, are handed over to the local social welfare office. Both the armed forces and the Commission for the Welfare of Children work with UNICEF but receive scant credit, while enemies of the State are eulogized for their unfulfilled intentions to end their recruitment of child soldiers, he noted.

LAZARUS OMBAI AMAYO (Kenya) emphasized the need to address the triggers of conflict, including poverty, calling for implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change, as well as national action plans. Child protection and inclusion should be part of any conflict management policy, reinforced by national plans to prevent violations against children, in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law. He called for psychological and educational reintegration in order to break cycles of violence, stressing, in that context, Kenya's engagement with the East Africa Community, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region.

ABDULRAHMAN YAAQOB Y.A. AL-HAMADI (Qatar), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Children in Armed Conflict, noted that his country will participate, in conjunction with the United Nations, Finland and Colombia, in the first summit on the participation of youth in peace processes, to be held in December. Citing Qatar's partnership with UNICEF to provide quality education to 10 million children deprived of education in some 50 countries around the world, he said the country was among the first to join the Safe Schools Declaration, and drew attention to the link between creating opportunities for youth and preventing conflict. Another recent partnership between the Qatari Foundation and the United Nations seeks to create more job opportunities and combat the lure of extremism.

MARWAN ALI NOMAN AL-DOBHANY (Yemen), associating himself with the countries endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, said child protection is a priority for his country in the context of its ongoing struggle against Houthi coup masters. The militias have recruited more than 23,000 children into their ranks, bombed and destroyed schools and deprived Yemen's children of their rights to health care and education. The Government, meanwhile, is fully committed to protecting the rights of children and took legal action to prevent the recruitment of any person under the age of 18. It signed agreements with UNICEF and the Office of the Special Representative, including the registration of all births and deaths to ensure that children do not fall into the hands of armed groups. Describing Yemen's efforts to rehabilitate and reintegrate former child fighters, he expressed regret that falsified and politically motivated reports that the Saudi Arabia-led coalition committed violations against children found their way into the report. He invited the Special Representative to visit Yemen to clear up such misunderstandings and said that such a visit will lead to the removal of the Yemeni Government and the Saudi coalition from the report's annex.

MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) said his country's commitment to promoting the safety of children in armed conflict is reflected in its endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration, Paris Principles and Paris Commitments. Armenia is a signatory to the Optional Protocol and urged others to join that important instrument. He strongly condemned violations of international humanitarian law, emphasizing that Azerbaijan's aggression against the people of Nagorno Karabakh entailed the deliberate and indiscriminate targeting of civilians, including schools and hospitals. No less disturbing are certain practices that deliberately expose children to hate propaganda thereby fuelling ethnic hatred and inciting violence.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said kidnapped children are thrown into a life of horror, separated from their loved ones, and used as sexual slaves, fighters and transporters. Some of them are drugged before they carry out atrocities, he added, stressing that international efforts to protect children will benefit from a multidimensional approach that ensures accountability, combats impunity, raises awareness and shares information, all vital measures. Children, particularly those who live in refugee camps or are internally displaced, must be guaranteed access to education, he said, stressing that crimes against children should be considered crimes against humanity.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece), associating herself with the European Union, said her country is drafting an action plan which will focus on the protection of unaccompanied children. Greece considers the protection of the rights of conflict-affected children, who seek asylum within its national territory, whether unaccompanied or not, as a matter of utmost priority. The Ministry of Education has been implementing an emergency action plan for the education of all refugee and migrant children, irrespective of their status, she said, adding that, in the field of public health, the National Action Plan on Gender Equality sets, as a strategic goal, the promotion of physical and mental health of all members of special population groups, including refugee girls.

MOHAMED FATHI AHMED EDREES (Egypt) said the Special Representative of the Secretary General should ensure that the annual report is more than a tool to point fingers, but instead serves as a real warning to the international community and a call to action. The primary responsibility for protecting children in armed conflict lay with States, he stressed, adding that conflicts will never be prevented without first addressing their root causes. Double standards should be avoided, he said, noting that the report does not list the perpetrators of crimes against Palestinian children in its annex. Appealing to donors to support rehabilitation and reintegration programmes for children formerly associated with armed groups, he said Egypt has put in place a new national strategy for children, including child refugees on Egyptian territory. Meanwhile, the country also remains engaged in regional peace studies and peacebuilding efforts, he said, also supporting calls for all United Nations peace operations to include specialized child protection advisers among their staff.

VALENTINE RUGWABIZA (Rwanda) recalling that so many children have suffered during the genocide, said we must hold all groups that are in conflict accountable when violating the rights of children. Breaking the cycle of violence and tackling the causes of conflict must be a collective goal. Stressing that collaboration of global, regional and subregional organizations is very important and that access to education and health care are an absolute priority for all children, she said children's rights must be respected and protected, regardless of context. She pressed the Council to consider consultations with child protection experts to ensure adequate capacity in peace operation mandates. Rwanda's annual National Children Summit offers children a platform to express their views and make recommendations about what is needed to build the nation.

LUZ DEL CARMEN ANDASJAR (Dominican Republic), noting that children are stigmatized for being recruited in armed groups, stressed that it is vital to ensure justice and protection for children and realize their full human rights. Schools, students and teachers continue to be deliberately targeted. A child's education is always the first casualty in armed conflict and war. In 2014, the Dominican Republic signed the Optional Protocol to the children's rights Convention, she added, calling for the instrument's universal ratification. She further called for an end to impunity for perpetrators of violence against children. The active and effective participation of children and young people in peace processes must be guaranteed. There is still a long to travel to end all the abuse and horror children are subjected to, she said, adding that her country would focus on that as a Security Council member from 2019 to 2020.

LEWIS GARSEEDAH BROWN II (Liberia) said too many of the world's children, by no fault of their own, are being left too far behind. The importance of conflict prevention for the protection of children is more relevant today than ever, he said, calling on the Council to work creatively, selflessly and aggressively to ensure the protection of children in armed conflicts. The links between child protection, the rights of the child and conflict prevention must be emphasized in national action plans aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Wherever poor conflict exists poor children and their families will remain at high risk of having their lives � and our future � ruined forever. Similarly, where State institutions have collapsed under the weight of ongoing conflict, the duty of protection must be extended. It is time we truly held each other accountable for ending conflicts, as well as preventing them, he stressed. Recalling Liberia's experience with child soldiers, he said international donor support is needed for their proper reintegration, without which a sizable part of a post-conflict country's future � its energetic youth � lay in waste.

MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) said Afghan children are among those whose lives are taken by terrorist and extremist groups that have come from abroad to prevent stability. Last year, 3,179 children were reportedly killed and maimed. The Government is firm in its commitment to safeguard and advance the rights of all children, notably by implementing the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Through the joint action plan, Afghanistan is working to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers and quickly reintegrate delinquent youth into society through vocational training programmes. It also is working with regional and international partners to achieve a successful outcome to its peace efforts, with the three-day ceasefire last month offering a glimmer of hope.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said Armenia's war against his country claimed the lives of tens of thousands of civilians � including children. Serious violations of their rights amounting to war crimes and acts of genocide were committed during the conflict. Despite a formal ceasefire, direct and deliberate attacks by Armenia's armed forces against civilians and civilian objects in Azerbaijan continue, with many schools damaged and closed near the front line. Among the victims were a two year old girl and her grandmother, killed in 2017, he said, urging the Council not to neglect the targeting of civilians in ongoing inter-State conflicts.

DENIS REGIS (Haiti) recalled that, in 2017, the Secretary-General denounced the unacceptable level of suffering endured by children around the world. This is one of the most alarming trends in armed conflict today, he said, noting that this latest report reflects the stripping away of decency. Indeed, the spiral of horror continued in 2017 and continues today with impunity, be it in Somalia, Syria or Myanmar. Everyone agrees there is urgency, he said, citing the current challenges faced by refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. Protect children must be more than a slogan, he said, stressing that it should instead become a spark to revive the Council's zeal and compel its members to rise above the obstacles that too often left them paralysed.

TANMAYA LAL (India) said more focus is needed on strengthening commitment to the socioeconomic reintegration of children released from armed groups. As one of the largest troop-contributing countries, India remains concerned over the lack of resources to implement peacekeeping mandates, he said, while emphasizing that the monitoring and reporting mechanism of the United Nations must be carried out in close cooperation with the host country concerned. It is also essential to take into account the capacity of the host country to fight impunity and ensure accountability. Noting that today's is an important thematic debate, he said one delegation attempted to misuse the forum by referring to situations that are extraneous to the discussion. In doing so they have referred to a so-called report about the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir, he said, describing that statement as a deliberate and self-serving attempt by Pakistan to obfuscate the reality of its own use of terror organizations to undermine State sovereignty.

CHARLOTTE OMOY MALENGA (Democratic Republic of the Congo) said the issue of child soldiers is a major concern for her country's Government, which has banned the recruitment and use of children within its armed forces and security services. Various laws are intended to protect vulnerable groups, including children, she said, adding that many children have been reunited with their families. The intensive reintegration programme was carried out with funding from the Government, with collaboration from Japan, she said.

CHAUDHARY JAWAD ALI CHATHA (Pakistan) took the floor a second time in response to the statement delivered by the Indian delegation, saying that country's fabrications do not lend it credibility but only satisfy the cause of self-delusion. The statement demonstrates India's farcical position on the issue of real human right violations committed by its officials against civilians in the illegally and brutally occupied territory of Jammu and Kashmir, he said. More than 100,000 Kashmiris, including children, were killed there and the deaths continue, he said, urging the Council to act as the conscience of the world. Pakistan supports the proposal to establish a commission of inquiry into crimes committed by the Indian occupation in Jammu and Kashmir, he added.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 2427 (2018) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Reaffirming its resolutions 1261 (1999) of 25 August 1999, 1314 (2000) of 11 August 2000, 1379 (2001) of 20 November 2001, 1460 (2003) of 30 January 2003, 1539 (2004) of 22 April 2004, 1612 (2005) of 26 July 2005, 1882 (2009) of 4 August 2009, 1998 (2011) of 12 July 2011, 2068 (2012) of 19 September 2012, 2143 (2014) of 7 March 2014, 2225 (2015) of 18 June 2015, and all relevant statements of its President, which contribute to a comprehensive framework for addressing the protection of children affected by armed conflict,

Reiterating its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security and, in this connection, its commitment to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on children, and the long-term consequences this has for durable peace, security and development,

Convinced that the protection of children affected by armed conflict should be an important aspect of any comprehensive strategy to resolve conflict and sustain peace and stresses also the importance of adopting a broad strategy of conflict prevention, which addresses the root causes of armed conflict in a comprehensive manner in order to enhance the protection of children on a long-term basis,

Reaffirming the importance of promoting the United Nations' ability to deliver on its founding determination to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war and putting emphasis on preventive diplomacy, mediation and good offices, peacekeeping, peacebuilding, and sustaining peace,

Underlining in this regard the importance of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and recognizing that a strong focus is needed on combatting poverty, deprivation and inequality to prevent and protect children from all violations and abuses in particular in the context of armed conflict and to promote the resilience of children, their families and their communities, and the importance of promoting education for all and peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development,

Recalling that all parties to armed conflict must comply strictly with the obligations applicable to them under international law for the protection of children in armed conflict, including those contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, as well as the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the Additional Protocols of 1977,

Stressing the primary role of Governments in providing protection and relief to all children affected by armed conflict, and recognizing the importance of strengthening national capacities in this regard,

Emphasizing the vital role of the United Nations, in consultations with international partners and key stakeholders including regional and subregional organizations, to support national authorities in developing strategies for sustaining peace, conflict prevention and peacebuilding as well as to ensure that these strategies strengthen coherence between political, security, human rights, development and rule of law activities, which remain the primary responsibility of Member States,

Recognizing the valuable contribution pertinent regional and subregional organizations and arrangements make for the protection of children affected by armed conflict,

Recognizing the important roles of both local and religious leaders and civil society networks in strengthening community-level protection, reintegration and combating stigmatization of children, in particular girls, affected by armed conflict, including children born as a result of sexual violence in conflict,

Stressing that the best interests of the child, as well as the specific needs and vulnerabilities of girls and boys should be duly considered when planning and carrying out actions concerning children in situations of armed conflict,

Stressing the importance of giving due consideration to child protection issues from the early stages of all peace processes, in particular the integration of child protection provisions, as well as of peace agreements that put strong emphasis on the best interest of the child, the treatment of children separated from armed groups as victims and focus on family and community-based reintegration,

Recalling the obligations of all parties to armed conflict applicable to them under international humanitarian law and human rights law, emphasizing that no child should be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily and calling on all Parties to conflict to cease unlawful or arbitrary detention as well as torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment imposed on children during their detention,

Recognizing the importance of providing sustainable, timely and appropriate reintegration and rehabilitation assistance to children affected by armed conflict, while ensuring that the specific needs of girls and boys, as well as children with disabilities are addressed, including access to health care, psychosocial support, and education programmes that contribute to the well-being of children and to sustainable peace and security,

Taking note of ongoing international and regional initiatives on children and armed conflict, including the international conference held in Paris in 2007 on protecting children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups and the follow-up conference held in Paris in 2017, and the commitments during the conferences,

Reaffirming that quality education provided in a safe environment in conflict areas is essential in halting and preventing recruitment and re recruitment of children contrary to the obligations of parties to conflict,

Recognizing, in this regard, the importance of countering, notably through education and awareness-raising, all recruitment methods utilized by non-State armed groups targeting children,

Reaffirming its call on all parties to armed conflict to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, and underlining the importance of safe and unimpeded access of humanitarian personnel to civilians in armed conflicts, and reaffirming the Security Council's role in promoting an environment that is conducive to the facilitation of humanitarian access to those in need,

1. Strongly condemns all violations of applicable international law involving the recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict as well as their re recruitment, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abductions, attacks against schools and hospitals as well as denial of humanitarian access by parties to armed conflict and all other violations of international law, including international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law, committed against children in situations of armed conflict and demands that all relevant parties immediately put an end to such practices and take special measures to protect children;

2. Reaffirms that the monitoring and reporting mechanism will continue to be implemented in situations listed in annex I and annex II ('the annexes') to the reports of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, in line with the principles set out in paragraph 2 of its resolution 1612 (2005), and that its establishment and implementation shall not prejudge or imply a decision by the Security Council as to whether or not to include a situation on its agenda;

3. Calls upon States and the United Nations to mainstream child protection into all relevant activities in conflict prevention, conflict and post conflict situations with the aim of sustaining peace and preventing conflict;

4. Reaffirms the important role the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict can play in contributing to conflict prevention;

5. Stresses the important role of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict in carrying out her mandate regarding the protection of children affected by armed conflict, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, and stresses in particular, within the context of her mandate, the importance of facilitating better collaboration among United Nations partners at the field level and between the United Nations and concerned Governments, and in supporting the United Nations country task forces to enhance dialogue with concerned United Nations agencies, Governments and parties to an armed conflict, including by securing concrete commitments and advocating for appropriate response mechanisms, in this regard requests the Special Representative to continue engaging proactively with United Nations agencies, Member States, regional and subregional organizations, and non-State armed groups and calls on the Special Representative, together with relevant child protection actors, to compile comprehensive best practices in order to implement them when appropriate;

6. Stresses the importance of regular and timely consideration of violations and abuses committed against children in armed conflict, in this regard welcomes the sustained activity of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and invites the Working Group to make full use of tools within its mandate to promote the protection of children affected by armed conflict, including through increasing engagement with concerned Member States, in light of ongoing discussions on enhancing compliance;

7. Acknowledges that serious abuses and violations of human rights or violations of international humanitarian law, including against children, can be an early indication of a descent into conflict or escalation of conflict, as well as a consequence thereof;

8. Expresses its commitment to consider and use the tools of the United Nations system to ensure that early warning of potential conflicts translates into early, concrete preventive action, including towards the goal of protecting children and with a view to building sustainable peace, by or in coordination with the most appropriate United Nations or regional actor, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

9. Stresses that the prevention of conflicts remains a primary responsibility of States and actions undertaken within the framework of conflict prevention by the United Nations should support and complement, as appropriate, the conflict prevention roles of national governments;

10. Expresses concern at regional and cross-border nature of violations and abuses against children affected by armed conflict and requests Member States, United Nations peacekeeping, peacebuilding and political missions and United Nations country teams, and calls on regional and subregional bodies, within their respective mandates and in close cooperation with the Governments of the countries concerned, to establish appropriate strategies and coordination mechanisms for information exchange and cooperation on child protection concerns, in particular on cross-border issues, bearing in mind relevant conclusions by the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and paragraph 2(d) of its resolution 1612 (2005);

11. Encourages regional and subregional organizations and arrangements to continue mainstreaming child protection into their advocacy, policies, programmes and mission planning, as well as to train personnel and include child protection staff in their peacekeeping and field operations and establish, within their secretariats, child protection mechanisms, including through appointing child protection focal points, as well as develop and expand regional and subregional initiatives to prevent violations and abuses against children affected by armed conflict;

12. Expresses deep concern at the high number of children killed or maimed, including as a direct or indirect result of hostilities between parties to armed conflict and of incidents of indiscriminate attacks against civilian populations, including those involving aerial bombardment, excessive use of force, landmines, explosive remnants of war and improvised explosive devices and use of children as human shields, and urges all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of distinction, proportionality and the obligation to take all feasible precautions to avoid and in any event minimizing harm to civilians and civilian objects;

13. Calls upon all parties to armed conflict to allow and facilitate safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access to children, respect the exclusively humanitarian nature and impartiality of humanitarian aid and respect the work of all United Nations humanitarian agencies and their humanitarian partners, without distinction, and strongly condemns the unlawful denial of humanitarian access and depriving civilians, particularly children, of objects indispensable to their survival, including willfully impeding relief supplies;

14. Recalls the importance of ensuring that children continue to have access to basic services during the conflict and post-conflict periods, including, inter alia, education and health care, and urges Member States, United Nations bodies and civil society to take specifically into account girls' equal access to education;

15. Strongly condemns attacks as well as threats of attacks in contravention of applicable international law against schools and/or hospitals, and protected persons in relation to them and reiterates its deep concern at the closure of schools and hospitals in situations of armed conflict as a result of attacks and threats of attacks and urges all parties to armed conflict to refrain from actions that impede children's access to education and to health services;

16. Expresses deep concern at the military use of schools in contravention of applicable international law, recognizing that such use may render schools legitimate targets of attack, thus endangering children's and teachers' safety as well as children's education and in this regard:

(a) Urges all parties to armed conflict to respect the civilian character of schools in accordance with international humanitarian law;

(b) Encourages Member States to take concrete measures to deter the use of schools by armed forces and non-State armed groups in contravention of applicable international law;

(c) Urges Member States to ensure that attacks on schools in contravention of international humanitarian law are investigated and those responsible duly prosecuted;

(d) Calls upon United Nations country-level task forces to enhance the monitoring and reporting on the military use of schools;

17. Stresses the need to swiftly address, notably through education and awareness-raising, all recruitment methods utilized by non-state armed groups targeting children and encourages Member States to exchange good practices to this effect;

18. Remains gravely concerned by the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law committed by all non-state armed groups, including those who commit acts of terrorism, including abuses and violations, such as mass abductions and sexual and gender-based violence, particularly targeting girls, which can cause displacement and affect access to education and healthcare services, and emphasizing the importance of accountability for such abuses and violations;

19. Stresses the need to pay particular attention to the treatment of children associated or allegedly associated with all non-State armed groups, including those who commit acts of terrorism, in particular by establishing standard operating procedures for the rapid handover of these children to relevant civilian child protection actors;

20. Expresses grave concern at the use of detained children for information gathering purposes, and emphasizes that children who have been recruited in violation of applicable international law by armed forces and armed groups and are accused of having committed crimes during armed conflicts should be treated primarily as victims of violations of international law, and urges Member States to comply with applicable obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and encourages access for civilian child protection actors to children deprived of liberty for association with armed forces and armed groups;

21. Urges Member States to consider non judicial measures as alternatives to prosecution and detention that focus on the rehabilitation and reintegration for children formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups taking into account that deprivation of liberty of children should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, as well as to avoid wherever possible the use of pretrial detention for children, and calls on Member States to apply due process for all children detained for association with armed forces and armed groups;

22. Welcomes the launch of a process to compile practical guidance on the integration of child protection issues in peace processes and underlines the importance of engaging armed forces and armed groups on child protection concerns during peace processes and in the peacebuilding process and calls upon Member States, United Nations entities, the Peacebuilding Commission, and other parties concerned to integrate child protection provisions, including those relating to the release and reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces or armed groups, as well as provisions on the rights and well-being of children, into all peace negotiations, ceasefire and peace agreements, and in provisions for ceasefire monitoring, and taking into account children's views, where possible, in these processes;

23. Calls upon Member States, United Nations entities, including the Peacebuilding Commission and other parties concerned to ensure that the views of children are taken into account in programming activities throughout the conflict cycle, and to ensure that the protection, rights, well-being and empowerment of children affected by armed conflict are fully incorporated and prioritized in all post-conflict recovery and reconstruction planning, programmes and strategies as well as in efforts on peacebuilding and sustaining peace and encourage and facilitate consideration of the views of children in these processes;

24. Urges concerned Member States to mainstream child protection and ensure that the specific needs of girls and boys are fully taken into account at all stages of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration processes, including through the development of a gender- and age-sensitive disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process;

25. Urges concerned Member States, when undertaking security sector reforms, to mainstream child protection and ensure that the specific needs of girls and boys are fully taken into account, such as the inclusion of child protection in military training and standard operating procedures, including on the handover of children to relevant civilian child protection actors, the establishment of child protection units in national security forces, and the strengthening of effective age assessment mechanisms to prevent underage recruitment, while stressing in the latter regard the importance of ensuring universal birth registration, including late birth registration which should remain an exception;

26. Encourages Member States to focus on long-term and sustainable reintegration and rehabilitation opportunities for children affected by armed conflict that are gender- and age-sensitive, including access to health care, psychosocial support, and education programmes, as well as raising awareness and working with communities to avoid stigmatization of these children and facilitate their return, while taking into account the specific needs of girls and boys, to contribute to the well-being of children and to sustainable peace and security;

27. Stresses the importance of long-term and sustainable funding for mental health and psychosocial programming in humanitarian contexts and ensuring all affected children receive timely and sufficient support, and encouraging donors to integrate mental health and psychosocial services in all humanitarian responses;

28. Urges both local and religious leaders to publicly condemn and advocate ending and preventing violations and abuses against children, and to engage with governments, the United Nations and other relevant stakeholders to support reintegration of children affected by armed conflict in their communities, including by raising awareness to avoid stigmatization of these children;

29. Welcomes the steps taken by a number of Member States to make international commitments to protect children affected by armed conflict, including through the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and calls on Member States that have not yet done so to ratify this instrument;

30. Stressing the importance of accountability for all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict and calls on all States to continue to address impunity by efforts to strengthen national accountability mechanisms, including building investigative and prosecutorial capacities, ensuring that those responsible for violations and abuses against children are brought to justice and held accountable without undue delay, including through timely and systematic investigation and prosecution, the results of which are made public, and ensure that all victims have access to justice, as well as to the medical and support services that they need;

31. Emphasizes the responsibility of all States to put an end to impunity and to investigate and prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other egregious crimes perpetrated against children and highlights in this regard the contribution of the International Criminal Court, in matters that are within its jurisdiction, and in accordance with the principle of complementarity to national criminal jurisdictions as set out in the Rome Statute;

32. Reiterates the Security Council's readiness to adopt targeted and graduated measures against persistent perpetrators of violations and abuses committed against children, taking into account the relevant provisions of its resolutions 1539 (2004), 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009), 1998 (2011) and 2068 (2012), and to consider including provisions pertaining to parties to armed conflict that engage in activities in violation of applicable international law relating to the rights and protection of children in armed conflicts, when establishing, modifying or renewing the mandate of relevant sanctions regimes;

33. Recognizes the role of United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions in the protection of children, particularly the crucial role of child protection advisers in mainstreaming child protection and leading monitoring, prevention and reporting efforts in missions, and in this regard reiterates its decision to continue the inclusion of specific provisions for the protection of children in the mandates of all relevant United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions, encourages deployment of child protection advisers to such missions, and calls upon the Secretary-General to ensure that the need for and the number and roles of such advisers are systematically assessed during the preparation and renewal of each United Nations peacekeeping operation and political mission, and that they are speedily recruited, expeditiously deployed, and properly resourced where appointed, in a transparent manner, and encourages the United Nations Secretariat, including the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Department of Political Affairs, to take into account child protection when briefing the Council on country-specific situations;

34. Stresses the importance of mainstreaming the protection of children into the Secretary-General's efforts to mobilize all partners and stakeholders in support of more effective United Nations peacekeeping;

35. Calls for the continued implementation by United Nations peacekeeping operations of the Secretary-General's zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as to ensure full compliance of their personnel with the United Nations code of conduct, reiterates its request to the Secretary-General to continue to take all necessary measures in this regard and to keep the Security Council informed, and urges troop- and police-contributing countries to continue taking appropriate preventive action, such as mandatory predeployment child protection training including on sexual exploitation and abuse, and to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel;

36. Urges all United Nations entities, including peacekeeping missions, political missions, peacebuilding offices, United Nations offices, agencies, funds and programmes to give full attention to violations against children in the application of the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy on United Nations Support to non-United Nations Security Forces;

37. Urges all parties concerned, including Member States, United Nations entities, as well as financial institutions to support, as appropriate, bearing in mind national ownership, the development and strengthening of the capacities of national institutions and local civil society networks for advocacy, protection, reintegration and rehabilitation of children affected by armed conflict, particularly children released from armed forces and non-State armed groups, as well as national accountability mechanisms with timely, sustained and adequate resources and funding;

38. Reiterates its requests to the Secretary-General to continue to submit comprehensive annual reports to the Council on the implementation of its resolutions and Presidential statements on children and armed conflict and to ensure that in all his reports on country-specific situations the matter of children and armed conflict is included as a specific aspect of the report and expresses its intention to give its full attention to the information provided therein, including the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions and the recommendations of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, when dealing with those situations on its agenda;

39. Recognizes the link between abductions, recruitment, sexual violence and trafficking and that children in situations of armed conflict can be especially vulnerable to trafficking in persons in armed conflict and to these forms of exploitation, and encourages relevant parts of the UN system, and international and regional bodies, within their respective mandates to work to address this issue;

40. Decides to remain actively seized of this matter.

Source: United Nations