Remarks by Ambassador Ferit Hoxha at the Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

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July 5, 2023

Mme President,

I congratulate you and your team on assuming the presidency of the Council and thank you for organizing this Open Debate. We are grateful to the UAE for presiding over our work during the month of June.

I also thank SRSG Gamba and the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF for their insights, as well as Violeta for her account.

Mme President,

Every year, we look forward with great interest to the findings of the annual report of the SG on CAAC. It is an important document but it remains a painful read.

The overall situation has not improved. There are more conflicts around the world, which have made a dramatic situation worse, particularly by killing, maiming, abusing and recruiting children.

We are alarmed by the rising cases of abduction, sexual violence, especially against girls, deliberate attacks on schools and hospitals. Forced displacement remains a growing challenge with an ever-growing number of children fleeing in search of protection.

In Myanmar, the spread of violent conflict in new areas and the increase of armed actors has caused a dramatic increase of the number of grave violations against children.

Growing intercommunal violence in South Sudan and Sudan have exacerbated sexual violence against children, abductions and attacks on schools and hospitals.

The surge of terrorist activities has aggravated the conditions of children in central Sahel, in particular in Burkina.

In Afghanistan, DRC, Somalia, Mali, Syria, and Yemen, children continue to be are in desperate need of protection and humanitarian aid.

The Russian aggression against Ukraine has added new levels of violence and misery on children.

The inclusion of Russian troops and affiliated armed groups to the list of shame has proven our deep concerns and repeated denunciations of atrocities, deliberate attacks on women and children, and the abductions committed by Russian troops and Wagner mercenaries. We are appalled to learn that 91 children have been used as human shields, while attacks on schools and hospitals continue unabated.

There is only one way for Russia to avoid continued scorn of the world for such despicable atrocities: stop violating fundamental principles of child protection in wartime; hold perpetrators to account, and withdraw all its troops from Ukraine by respecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Mme. President,

To have a chance for another and more hopeful discussion next year, with less spine-chilling stories, to reassure Violeta and every child anywhere that we are serious and committed, we need to take real action to change the realities of the children on the ground for the better.

This starts by serious work on prevention and conflict resolution. Dealing with the root causes is a long-term investment with a better guarantee to generate tangible benefits for all civilians including children.

We know that successful prevention cannot be achieved without accountability. Holding perpetrators of such violations accountable increases the costs of noncompliance with international law and helps deter future violations.

This is why we must support UN’s efforts to prevent and respond to grave violations, including efforts to monitor and report on grave violations and to provide assistance to affected children.

Child protection practitioners, civil society organizations and humanitarian personnel in the field must be protected. All parties must allow and facilitate safe, timely and unimpeded humanitarian access, as well as access by children to services, assistance, and protection, including integration and rehabilitation.

Mme President,

We deplore and condemn in the strongest terms all atrocities committed against children anywhere in the world.

A crime against a child is an affront to all of us, to humanity.

We must never contemplate the irreparable harm inflicted to children in conflict.

We call on all parties to conflict listed in the annexes of the report to proactively engage with the UN on the ground and the office of the SRSG to put in place measures to prevent violations against children affected by armed conflict.

Nothing should be spared in efforts to preventing conflicts, preserving peace and finding political solutions to war.

Peace is the ultimate guarantee of children’s security, conducive to an environment for normal upbringing, with education and care, that children need and deserve, and we owe it to them.

Thank you!

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