New York – On the heels of the launch of the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers”, the members of the UN Security Council pledged support for the joint initiative by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF.
In a resolution adopted unanimously, the Security Council called upon Member States, the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and the donor community to support the objective of the campaign, to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by the 8 Government security forces listed in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict by 2016. They are Afghanistan, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.
Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative welcomed the Council’s endorsement of the campaign.
“The commitment shown by the eight Member States to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children in their security forces sends a powerful message to the international community and parties to conflict all over the world,” said Ms. Zerrougui during her presentation at the Security Council. “It is time to make child soldiers history. I want to stress here that the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers is not only a joint effort by my Office and UNICEF. It must be a joint effort by all of us.”
She added that her Office, UNICEF, UN and NGO partners have already started to work with the Governments concerned by the campaign to mobilize resources and provide the support needed to achieve their common goal.
The Special Representative reminded the Council that despite this encouraging progress with Government forces, conflict in several areas of the world continue to have a devastating toll on children with grave violations committed by State and non-state actors.
“We cannot afford to lose a generation of children in Syria,” she said as she described how children continue to be killed, mutilated, lured into battle, and often unable to have access to lifesaving humanitarian assistance. “Attacks on schools and hospitals continue unabated,” she added.
In the Central African Republic, Ms. Zerrougui described the situation of children as dramatic and repeated that, despite the mobilization of the international community, resources remain too limited to provide assistance to thousands of children, including those recruited by parties to conflict.
In South Sudan, children are being recruited, used in fighting and killed. The South Sudanese Government has committed to ending the recruitment and use of children in its armed forces. This new wave of violence threatens to erase the progress achieved.
The resolution adopted today by the Security Council also called for better protection of schools and asked Member States to develop concrete measures to deter the use of schools by armed forces and non-State armed groups.
“Military use puts schools and schoolchildren in danger because it can transform schools into battlefields. We have developed tools to better protect schools and teachers from attacks and it is important to prevent their military use by parties to conflict,” concluded the Special Representative.
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