“THE SITUATION OF CHILD SOLDIERS, PARTICULARLY IN AFRICA"

Statement by Ambassador Ronaldo Mota Sardenberg
 Permanent Representative of Brazil to the UN
 Security Council, New York, 23 February 2005

 

Mr. President,

 

I would like to thank you for the initiative of calling this debate on the situation of child soldiers.  The delegation of Brazil highly appreciates Your Excellency’s presiding over this meeting, as it demonstrates Benin’s commitment and as it contributes to endowing the matter before us with the required political relevance and urgency.

 

I wish as well to thank Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the preparation of his fifth report on Children and Armed Conflict (S/2005/72), which serves as the basis for our deliberations.

 

Mr. President,

 

The situation of children affected by armed conflict has grave consequences for the international peace and security agenda.  Violations committed against children by armed groups – not just recruitment, but other egregious violations as well – seriously compromise the prospects of war-torn countries.  In Africa, particularly, the situation of children affected by armed conflict is extremely serious and poses a serious challenge that should be met.

 

Mr. President,

 

Since the Graça Machel report in 1996, the need to take action has been receiving growing international recognition.  We appreciate the work done by the the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict, Mr. Olara Otunnu, and by his Office, in order to raise awareness of this issue and to help develop a body of norms for the treatment of children affected by armed conflict.

 

Given the prominence of the issue, the next step, as the Secretary-General indicates in his report, is to take effective measures in order to ensure “the era of application”. 

 

Positive developments are currently underway, such as the gradual integration of children affected by armed conflict issues in peacekeeping activities, for which the inclusion of Child Protection Advisers in peacekeeping operations has proved useful.  The development of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes that take into account the specific needs of children, as encouraged by the Secretary-General in his report, is also promising.

 

The response of the UN system to the situation of children affected by armed conflict will need, however, significant improvement in order to ensure that the “era of application” will become a reality.  Given the diversity of actors involved – UNICEF, OCHA, UNPKO, UNHCR, UNHCHR, UNDP, to name a few -, responsibilities must be assigned and sistematization is required. 

 

Having in mind the proposals contained in the SG’s report, Brazil supports enhancing the efficiency of the UN system for gathering, compiling and vetting information on violations, in partnership with national governments and civil society.  In addition, every care will be needed in order to ensure the application around the world of any measures to be adopted by the Council. 

 

It is essential to obtain precise and reliable information on the situation of children affected by armed conflict. 

 

We appreciate, as well, the recognition in the Secretary-General’s report of the many “destinations for action” which may make use of the information compiled, and exert their influence in order to hold violators accountable. 

 

The Security Council must continue to demonstrate its political will, but while remaining seized of this issue, the Council must also recognize the essential roles of - and collaborate closely with – other “destinations for action”, such as the General Assembly and ECOSOC, equipped as they are to respond to the social and economic dimensions of this complex issue.

 

The International Criminal Court – as indicated in the SG’s report – can also play a decisive role in deterring violations against children in the context of armed conflicts.  Provided with access to reliable information, the capacity of the ICC to fulfil its mandate to prosecute those responsible for war crimes against children would be greatly enhanced.

 

Mr. President,

 

Brazil is fully committed to the cause of promoting and protecting the rights of the child in general, and we are determined to furthering the agenda of protection for children affected by armed conflict in the Security Council. 

 

Indeed, life and security for children everywhere is a key goal for Brazil.

 

It is unacceptable that violations of the rights of children in the context of armed conflicts continue to undermine the future of nations. The Council should work towards finding long-lasting solutions to this grievous situation, and contributing towards ending the impunity of violators of the rights of children in conflict situations.

 

Thank you Mr. President.