German Statement delivered by Ambasador Antje Leendertse in the UN Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict, 19 July 2022
(Check against delivery)
Germany is deeply concerned by the shocking number of almost 24,000 grave violations committed against children in 2021, as stated in the Secretary-General’s annual report. This number of documented cases is all the more worrisome as we know that many more violations go unreported. We remain very concerned about the situations in Syria, Afghanistan, Mali and the broader Sahel region, Myanmar, Yemen and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We also welcome the decision to include Ukraine, Ethiopia, Mozambique and the Central Sahel region as new situations of concern.
A timely, complete and evidence-based listing of perpetrators in all these situations of concern will further advance efforts towards accountability and compliance with international humanitarian, human rights and child protection norms. Accountability must rank high on the agenda to protect children. Among other things, we call on the UN and all Member States to increase efforts to protect children impacted by Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine, including through specialized services, monitoring and reporting mechanisms.
Germany would like to highlight four crucial points for future action:
First, we are appalled by the increasing number of abductions and of cases of sexual violence against children. More than 20 per cent in comparison to 2020! Girls in particular remain at a higher risk of being abducted and are experiencing unacceptable levels of sexual and gender-based violence. Germany will continue to push for sufficient level of gender-sensitive financing for child protection capacities in UN peace operations. We are also deeply concerned by the increase of reports about abductions of Ukrainian children by and to Russia. We call on UN agencies to scrutinize these reports with a view to including the results in next year’s report on CAAC.
Second, the annual report shows that stateless, refugee and internally displaced children are at a higher risk of facing one or multiple grave violations. According to the UNHCR more than 36.5 million children have been forcibly displaced. We urge continuous engagement with all relevant UN agencies. As both the UNHCR’s and UNICEF’s second largest contributor, Germany will continue its close cooperation with UNHCR and UNICEF.
Third, reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces needs to be prioritized. It is crucial to ensure that children are not deprived of their freedom solely because of their association with armed groups. For several years now, Germany has been supporting the work of the NGO Watchlist on children in detention, as well as contributed to projects advancing the reintegration and education of former child soldiers. We call on all actors to adhere to handover protocols that give guidance for the swift transfer of children from security forces to civilian child protection actors, including mental health and psychosocial support. Providing access to safe and inclusive education, including in emergency contexts, with a particular focus on girls, refugee and internally displaced children, and children with disabilities, must remain a priority for Reintegration.
Lastly, we encourage the Security Council to regularly include the perspectives of children and youth representatives in its briefings. We also advocate a stronger focus of the Peacebuilding Commission and the Peacebuilding Fund on CAAC related Topics.
Promoting children’s rights is a key pillar of Germany’s human rights policy. We encourage all those who have not yet done so to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration as well as the Paris Principles and the 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.
In closing, let me assure you, Mr President, Germany will remain committed to advancing the CAAC agenda in all its aspects.