Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
on behalf of the Nordic Countries
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden
Open Debate in the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict
12 February 2008
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
We warmly welcome the report of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict pursuant to the Security Council Resolutions 1612, 1379, 1460 and 1539. Widespread and unacceptable patterns of violations against children are recorded. Armed forces and armed groups that recruit and exploit children in armed conflicts are named. Tangible results have also been achieved.
We fully endorse the recommendations contained in the Secretary-General's report concerning child rights and the role of child protection in future peacekeeping missions.
The Nordic countries support the Secretary General’s recommendation that the Security Council give equal weight to all six categories of grave violations set out in Resolution 1612. We are nevertheless mindful of the need to expand the efforts of the Working Group with due regard to existing resources and capabilities. In view of these constraints it has been suggested that violations perpetrated with an intent to harm children should be prioritised.
In this regard, one of the most disturbing chapters in the Secretary General’s report concerns sexual and gender based violence in armed conflict.Women and girls are the largest and most vulnerable group of victims. Sexual and gender based violence is not an inevitable consequence of war. It can and must be prevented. In line with the recommendations of the report of the Secretary General and the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, we support that gender based violence be included on the list of violations that trigger listing in the annexes of the Secretary General’s report.
Only rarely are those violating the right of children successfully prosecuted. We welcome the progress made by the International Criminal Court and the Special Court for Sierra Leone in bringing charges against individuals suspected of grave violations of the rights of the child. Increased efforts by national courts are nevertheless necessary towards ending impunity for those who commit crimes against children. It is in the interest of governments to co-operate closely with the UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism to bring to justice the perpetrators of these crimes for the sake of reconciliation, sustainable peace and development.
The Nordic countries, echoing the recommendation of the Secretary General, enourage the Security Council to refer violations against children in armed conflict to the ICC for investigation and prosecution when national governments persistently fail to prosecute such crimes.
We endorse the Secretary General’s comprehensive recommendation that encourages Member States to conclude a binding instrument that prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.
Furthermore, we encourage the Special Representative of the Secretary General to continue her reporting on this crucial issue.
The Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism greatly enhanced the Security Council’s ability to receive reliable and timely information. Its collaborative nature – embodied in the country level taskforces – also underlines the importance of dialogue between the parties to a conflict, the international community and civil society in furthering the interests of children affected by armed conflict. To enhance the relevance of this approach, the Nordic countries encourage the Security Council to continue to call upon parties in all relevant situations of armed conflict to submit concrete time-bound action plans detailing their efforts to end grave violations against children. We welcome last week’s decision by the Government of Colombia to take part in the mechanism.
Furthermore, the Security Council should not shy away from considering effective targeted measures against those who commit grave violations against children. We call on the working group to explore the full range of measures to bring persistent perpetrators to book whether they fall dramatically short of their own action plan objectives or choose to ignore the mechanism altogether.
The close interest paid to this Security Council open debate bears witness to a widely shared confidence in resolution 1612 and the mechanisms set up in its wake. The removal of parties to the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire from the Secretary General’s watch list is one example of the efficacy of 1612.
Further progress depends on our willingness to build on this and other successes. The Nordic countries encourage the Security Council to ensure that it pays equal attention to children affected by armed conflict whether specific situations are on its agenda or not.
Thank you, Mr President.