NEW YORK, 15 November (Office of The Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict) — Olara Otunnu, the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, has proposed a 10-point agenda by which the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) could undertake to make the protection, rights and welfare of children affected by armed conflict a central policy concern.
Mr Otunnu also called on the OSCE to adopt a strong statement pledging its commitment to the protection of children affected by armed conflict when it convenes its summit conference in Istanbul, Turkey, on 18 to 19 November.
The OSCE is the right place for promoting children s rights and protection because of its broad membership, comprehensive and cooperative view of security and the integrated approach it applies in its activities on the ground , said Mr. Otunnu. I appeal to the OSCE to engage in an on-going basis in dialogue on this issue and stress this component of its work.
The Special Representative called on the Organisation s Permanent Council, the body responsible for political consultation and decision- making, to pay special attention to the situation of children when discussing concrete undertakings. As a first step, he said, reports submitted to the Permanent Council on situations of armed conflict, transitions to peace and post-conflict situations should systematically include assessments of the impact on children. Similarly, he said, other OSCE institutions including the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the High Commissioner for National Minorities, should be encouraged to monitor the situation of children within their areas of work.
Mr. Otunnu outlined several areas in which the OSCE could focus its efforts to make children s rights a central concern in policy- making, priority-setting, resource allocation, programme implementation and advocacy.
I urge the Organisation to join me in seeking specific commitments from parties to conflicts within its region to respect the
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rights of children , said Mr. Otunnu. We must translate the concept of children as a zone of peace into practical arrangements on the ground.
The Special Representative also addressed what he called the deeply distressing and precarious situation of internally displaced communities. In many areas within the OSCE region – the northern Causasus, Tajikistan, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia to name a few – many hundreds of thousands of people have been uprooted by violence.