Statement by Ambassador Hjálmar W. Hannesson
Permanent Representative of Iceland to the United Nations
Agenda item 60: Promotion and protection of the rights of children
16 October 2008
Let me start by expressing our gratitude for the reports submitted under this agenda item. They contain valuable information and form a good basis for our discussion.
Resolution 62/141 requested the Secretary-General to appoint for a period of three years a Special Representative on violence against children. According to document A/63/203 we have to note with regret that the appointment is still pending. We encourage implementation of resolution 62/141.
More than five years have passed since the Special Session of the General Assembly on Children at where we committed to creating “A World fit for Children”. We welcome the follow-up report we have before us today in document A/63/308. The report sends a strong message. It notes that failure to achieve the goals of the Special Session of the General Assembly on children will significantly undermine efforts towards realizing aspirations of the Millennium Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and beyond. Iceland fully endorses the call for a greater sense of urgency by Governments and the international community to achieve the goals of the Special Session. We must intensify our efforts.
The children of the world are the future and it is our responsibility to protect them on all fronts. While we have made significant progress, there is still much to be done.
Unfortunately – today – violence against children continues to persist in all parts of the world. Recent studies by UN experts exposed the horrendous scale and impact of violence against children, and brought the necessary attention to this serious issue at a global level. The international community has made many commitments to protect children’s rights and combat violence directed towards children. Concrete and coordinated action is needed by Member States of the United Nations.
Iceland urges the prohibition of all forms of violence against children, including all corporal punishment. No form of violence against children can be justified and we must prevent, eliminate and respond to all violence against children. We acknowledge that violence against children has a gender dimension. Girls are by far the most vulnerable, particularly as victims of sexual violence.
Impunity continues to be a major problem. We must increase our efforts in order to combat impunity for violations that are committed against children. Perpetrators must be brought to justice. Important instruments in this battle are effective national courts.
We fully support the notion that the most effective way of protecting children’s rights is to prevent conflict and promote peace, security and stability. We are of the opinion that an effective Arms Trade Treaty would enhance the protection of children in situations of armed conflict.
Iceland commends the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict for her valuable work and tireless efforts. We furthermore welcome her 11th report to the General Assembly contained in document A/63/227 on progress and challenges. The report indicates, that even as important progress has been made in some areas, much more needs to be done to deliver more effective protection for children in situations of armed conflict.
It is necessary to recognize that the range of violations and abuses committed against children in armed conflict goes beyond the six categories of grave violations set out in Security Council resolution 1612 and must be addressed with equal resolve. We need to ensure that equal attention is paid to all children affected by armed conflict.
We all know that women and girls constitute the largest and most vulnerable groups of victims in armed conflicts. Iceland welcomes the adoption of Security Council resolution 1820 (2008) regarding sexual and other forms of violence committed against civilians in armed conflict, in particular women and children. Iceland will continue to be an advocate for the implementation of key provisions relating to children and armed conflict of this important instrument.
Iceland recommends the strengthening of human rights monitoring capacity within peacekeeping operations and country missions. It is equally important to increase child rights expertise in peace operations. With this in mind in particular, we encourage the Office of the Special Representative to further strengthen the partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Iceland is firmly committed to the full and effective implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and its two optional protocols. We urge all Member States of the UN that have not done so to ratify those important instruments without further delay and ensure their full implementation. We highly value the work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child which has made significant contribution to advancing children’s rights around the world. Lastly, Iceland urges full implementation of Security Council resolutions relating to children in armed conflict.
Thank you Mr. Chairman