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Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

Philippine Statement
By
H.E. Lauro L. Baja, Jr.
Ambassador and Permanent Representative
of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Philippines to the United Nations

during the
Security Council Open Debate

CHILDREN AND ARMED CONFLICT

Security Council Chamber, 23 February 2005

Mr. President,

We are greatly honored today by your presence and heartened by your government’s deep attachment to the situation of children in armed conflict. On the occasion of this open debate, the Philippines again joins the international community in searching for durable approaches and strategies to prevent and eliminate the exploitation and abuse of children.

Mr. President,

We are grateful to the Special Representative of the Secretary General and to the representatives of the UNICEF and ECOWAS for their important and informative statements. We appreciate the submission of the Secretary-General’s fifth report which provided us with information on the humanitarian conditions in conflict areas as they impact on the protection of children. We condemn these serious violations and stress our readiness to contribute to solutions that will appropriately and effectively address this problem. However, the report could have given a more comprehensive account of all conflict situations. Paragraph 76 of the report, which claimed that the lists submitted encompassed all violating parties, does not seem to be as inclusive and accurate as it should be. A thorough and non-selective coverage of conflict situations in future reporting is necessary in order not to leave behind unprotected children whose situation may never be addressed.

We endorse the Secretary-General’s proposal for a monitoring and reporting mechanism. As H.E. the Minister of France has stressed, it is important that information is reliable and accurate. We agree, in particular, with his idea of a strong local component in gathering information and monitoring developments on the ground. Local protection networks are at the forefront of conflict and are in closest contact with the affected children and communities. We need to strengthen these networks and give them the necessary support to develop their capacities for monitoring, reporting and humanitarian intervention. Investments in building local capacity are of great value because they help deliver long-term solutions for the protection and rehabilitation of children affected by conflict.

We are, however, concerned about the report’s suggestion to apply, in a general manner, the practice of initiating direct contact by UN actors with non-State actors, as part of the mechanism at the country level. This practice may be effective in some areas, but in other situations, it may be a precarious procedure to use. H.E. the Minister of Tanzania explained the dynamics of different conflict situations. There are countries, including the Philippines, which have established channels of communication between the government and non-State parties to conflict which constitute the vital peace process. This peace process involves many essential aspects, including a joint human rights monitoring component. Any engagement involving UN actors must fall within the context of this established peace process in order not to undermine or impair the existing delicate peace process.

The disclaimer that UN engagement with non-State actors would not confer any political or legal status to these groups does not meet the dynamics and differences of each conflict situation.


Mr. President,

The so-called “era of application” can be realistic if the regime of implementation is based on cooperation among governments, the UN system, international humanitarian agencies and local civil society actors. The “era of application” should address the root causes of child soldiering, and counter the incentives for recruitment of children by armed groups. This new regime also requires the strengthening of social structures such as the family, community and the school system to lessen the vulnerability of children to recruitment and to provide more sustainable rehabilitation for former combatants. Efforts to protect children in armed conflict should be carried out as part of the general strategy to rebuild peace and order and promote reconciliation in conflict areas.

We are appalled by incidents of sexual abuse and exploitation by UN peacekeeping personnel. These horrific acts negate the very purpose of peacekeeping and betray the very people they were supposed to protect. It is necessary to put in place accountability mechanisms for offenders. We seek the support of troop-contributing countries in setting up more stringent regulations, as well as enhancing education for peacekeepers. We also urge inclusion of child protection advisers in peacekeeping missions to provide the necessary in-field training.

We welcome the report’s elaboration on best practices in DDRR. These measures should be incorporated urgently into peacekeeping missions and peacebuilding efforts. We also appreciate the report’s recommendations on measures to control illicit cross border activities that negatively impact on children. The recommendations cut across many important dimensions and should be considered by the broad membership of the UN, in cooperation with relevant international bodies.

Mr. President,

Conflicts and wars place the lives and well being of civilians and many other innocent people at extreme risk. Children are particularly vulnerable and this problem demands urgent action through coordinated strategies. The Security Council can contribute towards this end when provided with accurate, comprehensive and inclusive monitoring of violations on the ground and through stewardship of the implementation of its past resolutions on this issue.

In conclusion, let me reiterate my delegation’s commitment to the protection of children.

I thank you.










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