Let me begin by thanking France for organizing today’s debate.
We warmly welcome and thank the United Nations Secretary-General Special Representative, Ms. Virginia Gamba, for her most important work on this essential mandate and her valuable contribution to the advancement of the Children and Armed Conflict agenda. We will continue to build upon a longstanding cooperation with the Special Representative and support a strong mandate based on a credible and effective monitoring and reporting mechanism.
Germany aligns itself with the statement delivered on behalf of the European Union and would like to make some additional remarks.
Firstly, this year marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of Paris Commitments and the Paris Principles on children associated with armed forces or armed groups. Over the last decade, significant progress has been achieved in establishing and improving the legal and normative framework for the protection of children in armed conflicts. At the same time, the alarming scale and severity of violations against children in recent years remind us that this agenda is still relevant. As documented in the Secretary-General’s Annual Report, boys and girls living in countries affected by armed conflict continue to be victims of widespread and unacceptable violations. Children are also suffering terribly from violent extremism. When countering violent extremism, it is important that all measures be carried out in full compliance with international law and protect children effectively. Violations of children’s rights remain a serious concern of the whole international community. The signing and effective implementation of action plans with armed forces and groups listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General´s annual report are an essential tool to achieve concrete progress.
Secondly, Germany is committed to keeping the protection of children in armed conflict on the international agenda, including the Security Council. Over the last two decades, important mechanisms and tools have been created. One of these tools, Security Council resolution 1998, which was adopted under our Security Council Presidency in July 2011, sets standards on the protection of schools and hospitals to ensure that schools become safe spaces for children to develop where they feel protected and sheltered. Setting standards is important but implementation is paramount: real progress needs to be measured on the ground. We therefore urge all parties to stop attacks on schools and hospitals and stop the military use of schools in accordance with the international law. We intend to make the Children and Armed Conflict agenda one of our priorities again if Germany is elected as a non-permanent member on the Security Council for 2019/20.
Thirdly, efforts to strengthen regional networks and relationships with civil society are vital for better protection and promotion of the rights of children in conflict. For example, the Group of Friends on Children and Armed Conflict in Afghanistan promotes these efforts, and Germany is proud to have assumed the chairmanship of this group last year.
Cooperation with regional actors was also a focus at the Berlin workshop on Children and Armed Conflict and Women, Peace and Security in April this year. In bringing together various actors, the workshop provided a useful platform to exchange lessons learned and good practices. We are delighted to announce that we plan a next workshop on this topic to take place in Berlin on February 12-13, 2018.
Mr. President, Despite the advances that have been made over the last few decades, much work remains to be done. The changing nature of conflicts, including violent extremism, terrorism threats, or inclusion of non-state armed groups, presents new challenges for the protection of children. This was also underlined by the SRSG. Germany will therefore further encourage the UN family as well as UN Member States to continue to uphold the protection of children in armed conflict as a high priority. Germany will continue to do so as well and remain a valuable partner in this endeavor.