Iceland, as a member of the European Economic Area (the EEA), has aligned itself with the statement made earlier by the Netherlands on behalf of the European Union, but would in addition like to make a few points.
In the aftermath of Beslan as well as the many other conflicts in which children are directly impacted and even targeted, it is important to recall that the Universal Declaration on Human Rights recognises the special care and assistance necessary to childhood.
We welcome the report of the Secretary-General contained in document A/59/274 on the follow-up to the Special Session, which indicates that countries have boosted their actions to reflect the commitments from the Special Session in their national strategies. Given that only two years have passed since the Special Session, we must continue with the important work towards the goals laid out there.
One of the most direct assaults on human rights is violence, be it physical or emotional. Violence gives birth to and perpetuates violence. By effectively protecting children from violence, whether it be armed conflict or interpersonal violence, violence within the family or from offenders outside the family, we are taking important steps towards securing human rights in the future. Protection of children from violence must therefore be a continuous focus of all efforts to secure human rights.
With that in mind I am pleased to inform that Iceland has now incorporated an explicit duty of parents to safeguard children against violence, which entails a ban on parental corporal punishment of children. It is also our belief that improving the quality of care for children in all out-of-home placements is an important responsibility. These children are a vulnerable group and too often subject to violence and ill treatment.
Iceland is especially concerned about the severe impact armed conflict has on children in so many ways; whether it is the result of children’s direct involvement in hostilities or they are harmed by the widespread repercussions of armed conflict on their society in general. We welcome the Security Council’s resolution 1539, adopted on 22 April of this year, on children and armed conflict. We urge all states to reflect its provisions in their efforts to ensure the safety and security of children living in conflict areas, as well as observing the relevant commitments according to the Convention on the rights of children and its optional protocols.
Further to our statement from last year, where Iceland raised the issue of unaccompanied children, I am pleased to make known that Iceland has since taken active steps towards formulating a policy to address the plight of unaccompanied children and remains committed to bilateral and multilateral cooperation in this area.
Finally, Madame Chair, I’d like to mention that in March this year a UNICEF National Committee was established in Iceland for the purpose of raising funds for the international projects of UNICEF. The National Committee is off to a good start and in the last months has received considerable publicity in Iceland in connection with the recently launched UNICEF Global Parent Project. The Government of Iceland is very pleased over this initiative and actively supports it.
I thank you.