Leila Zerrougui at the 71st UN General Assembly: Highlights

The high-level week of the 71st session of the General Assembly is in full swing at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, is taking part in a series of high-level meetings and events to discuss the global situation of children affected by conflict, and how to better address their plight.

Here are the day-by-day highlights:

Thursday, 22 September

On the fourth day of this year’s General Debate at the General Assembly, Special Representative Leila Zerrougui met high-level officials from Malta, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Mexico and others to discuss joint efforts to protect children in countries affected by conflict around the globe. Strengthening the collaboration between all those involved in the protection of children, including Member States, is of major importance in the international fight against the use of child soldiers and other grave violations against children in times of war.

Special Representative Zerrougui also met with H.E. Diosita Andot, Undersecretary, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process of the Philippines, to discuss efforts to end the recruitment and use of children by armed groups in the Philippines.

Philippines - Diosita Andot

PHILIPPINES: Diosita Andot, Under-Secretary, Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process

In addition to other meetings and events, the Special Representative met other senior UN colleagues in New York for the week to discuss regional developments and share best practices.

Wednesday, 21 September

Halfway through the High-Level week of the 71st General Assembly, the Special Representative Zerrougui began her day at the Security Council Briefing on the situation in the Middle East, which focused on Syria.

Later, Ms. Zerrougui met UN colleagues from Iraq and UNHCR to discuss the situation of children and shared concerns on their respective agendas.

Ms. Zerrougui headed to the Ford Foundation to join a discussion panel at the launch event of Alliance 8.7, a Global Alliance to coordinate efforts to succeed in the implementation of SDG 8.7:

“Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms” SDG 8.7


Leila Zerrougui speaks at an event organized to launch the Alliance 8.7. Copyrights: Office of the SRSG-CAAC

At the event, the Special Representative recalled that joint efforts by all actors involved in the protection of children have led to the release of 115,000 child soldiers in the past 15 years and called on renewed collaboration to fulfill the promise of the SDGs.

Among other meetings and events, the Special Representative had the chance to discuss the situation of children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo with Ms. Jeanine Mabunda, Personal Representative of the President of DRC in Charge of the Fight Against Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment.

Tuesday, 20 September

On Tuesday morning, Special Representative Leila Zerrougui attended the opening of the General Debate at the General Assembly Hall. This year’s debate is held under the theme “The Sustainable Development Goals: a universal push to transform our world”, and marks the first anniversary of the Adoption of the 2030 Agenda, which promises to address the plight of children affected by armed conflict.

Again on Tuesday, Ms. Zerrougui had High-Level bilateral meetings with Member States to discuss the 20th anniversary of the mandate, the campaign Children, Not Soldiers, as well as current challenges and successes to address the plight of children affected by armed conflict. The Special Representative met with officials from the United Kingdom, Spain, Norway and Angola.

She also met with Maria Angela Holguin Cellar, Colombia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs to discuss the implementation of the historic agreement to separate and provide reintegration services to all children in the ranks of the FARC-EP. The final peace agreement will be signed on 26 September and the first groups of child soldiers from the FARC-EP were separated on 10 September.

Colombia - Maria Angela Holguin Cellar

COLOMBIA: Maria Angela Holguin Cellar, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Later on Tuesday, the Special Representative sat down with the Vice-President of Angola, Manuel Domingos Vicente, and thanked him for his country’s support.

High-level week at the General Assembly is also the occasion to meet UN colleagues from around the world to discuss ongoing work and challenges to protect children affected by armed conflict. Today, Ms. Zerrougui met with colleagues from UNICEF as well as the UN Resident Coordinator in Yemen.

Later that day, the Special Representative exchanged with several world leaders and ambassadors at receptions organized by Member States.

Monday, 19 September

Again this year, the General Debate of the UN General Assembly brings world leaders together in New York. For the first time, the General Assembly organized a high-level summit on large movements of refugees and migrants. Special Representative Zerrougui and other colleagues from her office attended the Summit as this crisis affects millions of children, forced to leave their homes because of conflict.
Early in the afternoon, Leila Zerrougui attended the Ministerial Side Event “Bringing Da’esh to Justice”.
The Special Representative also had several bilateral meetings on Monday, notably with leaders and high-level officials from Luxembourg, and Belgium, as well as future members of the Security Council Italy and Bolivia. She thanked them for their support and discussed current challenges and successes, including upcoming celebrations for the 20th anniversary of the creation of the mandate.

At 6:30 pm, the Special Representative joined the launch of a photography exhibition entitled “Far from Home: Children in Refuge”, hosted by the Permanent Representative of France and Save the Children.

Sunday, 18 September

As the countries’ delegations begin to arrive in New York City, Leila Zerrougui met with Stéphane Dion, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. During the bilateral meeting, Ms. Zerrougui thanked Canada for its continued support: Canada is, in fact, long time sustainer of the SRSG’s mandate, besides being Chair of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict. Also this year, the Minister Dion reaffirmed his country’s commitment to improve the protection of children affected by war.


CANADA: Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs

Later on, the Special Representative first attended a UNICEF High-Level Event on children in refugee and migrant crisis, and later she delivered a speech at the World Child Panel “I’ve Moved, My Rights Haven’t”, highlighting the root causes of displacement of children.

Follow this page for daily updates on Leila Zerrougui’s activities during the high-level week of the 71st General Assembly.