UNITED NATIONS, New York – Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara A. Otunnu told yesterday to the General Assembly’s Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) that there is a need to strengthen monitoring and reporting mechanisms on violations of children’s rights in situations of armed conflict.
He said it was crucial that the UN provide key decision and policy-makers with reliable information on violations of the rights of war-affected children to ensure that pressure is exerted on the perpetrators of violations and that corrective action is taken.
Mr. Otunnu reiterated his call for a campaign of an “Era of Application” to bring pressure on parties to armed conflict to elicit compliance with child protection commitments and obligations. “The campaign for this era must focus on advocacy and dissemination, development of local civil society networks for advocacy and protection, mainstreaming of the issue into the programmes of key institutions, and monitoring and reporting leading to action”, Mr. Otunnu said.
“The international community must redirect its energies from the normative task of the elaboration of standards to the political project of ensuring their application on the ground, Mr Otunnu said. “We have spent enough time to talk the talk”, Mr. Otunnu said. “It is now time for us to walk the walk, and achieve real changes on the ground”.
In his annual report to the General Assembly, Mr. Otunnu said that children’s rights are continuously violated with impunity in situations of armed conflict, including this years conflicts in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Indonesian province of Aceh, Iraq, Liberia, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Northern Uganda.
Mr. Otunnu also acknowledged thatconsiderable progress had been achieved in obtaining a framework of international norms, standards, and commitments protecting the rights and well being of children. He highlighted recent steps taken in the field of children’s rights, notably the deployment of Child Protection Advisers in peacekeeping operations, the new practice of naming and listing involved countries before the Security Council. He also mentioned the commitments he had received from parties to armed conflict, in particular non-state actors.
Mr. Otunnu said that some of the most egregious violations against children were the killing, maiming, abduction, and rape as well as grave sexual violence against them and the illicit exploitation of natural resources. Ambassador Otunnu also deplored the denial of humanitarian access to civilians, particularly, children and urged the international community to redirect its energies from the normative task of the elaboration of standards to ensuring their application on the ground.
In the following debate, the Third Committee raised a variety of concerns related to the situation of children in armed conflict on the ground.
The Special Representative serves as international advocate for children affected by armed conflict by promoting standards and measures for their protection in times of war as well as their healing and social reintegration in the aftermath of conflict.