German Statement at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict, 5 July 2023

05.07.2023 - Speech

Statement delivered by Ambassador Antje Leendertse.

Germany thanks the UK Presidency for convening this important debate. We align ourselves with the EU Statement, and with the Statement by the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict.

Germany is deeply concerned about the figures and trends presented in the Secretary General’s report. The ongoing prevalence of child killing and maiming, child soldier recruitment and utilization, and the obstruction of humanitarian aid by conflicting parties are profoundly distressing. The sharp rise in child abductions is deeply concerning, given their tendency to result in additional serious violations. The widespread assaults on schools and hospitals leave us horrified.

We strongly condemn all grave violations against children. We urge all UN Member States to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and to do everything in their power to protect children impacted by armed conflict.

We encourage all Member States who have not yet done so to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration, as well as the Paris and Vancouver Principles, and to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.

The prioritization of reintegrating children who were previously associated with armed forces is crucial. We urge all parties involved to adopt and implement handover protocols that provide clear guidelines for the prompt transfer of children from security forces to civilian child protection agencies. Ensuring access to safe and inclusive education must continue to be a top priority throughout the reintegration process.

In light of the alarming increase in child abductions and the distressing number of cases involving sexual violence against children, it is crucial that we also prioritize addressing the gendered aspects of these violations with even greater urgency. Germany remains steadfast in its commitment to advocate for adequate funding that takes into account the gender-specific needs in child protection efforts within UN peace operations. Supporting the victims must also include ensuring their access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services.

I want to conclude by emphasizing my deep concern regarding the dire situation faced by Ukrainian children. Due to Russia's illegal, unprovoked and unjustifiable war of aggression, a vast number of Ukrainian children is subjected to severe violations. We therefore commend the listing of Russia’s Armed Forces as a necessary step.

The perpetrators of grave violations worldwide must be held accountable and brought to justice. To this end, Germany and the Netherlands created the International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine (ICPA) that will be based at Eurojust, the EU’s criminal justice cooperation agency. Upholding the principles of justice and accountability is not only essential for the victims and their families but also crucial for preventing future violations. This applies to the situation in Ukraine as much as to all other conflict areas.

For Germany, promoting children’s rights is – and will continue to be – a key pillar of our human rights policy. Our commitment to advancing the agenda on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) in all its dimensions remains steadfast.

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