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Annan Calls For Action To Protect Children

Annan Calls For Action To Protect Children From Conflict; Council Reiterates Commitment

New York, Nov 28 2006 10:00PM

Member States have done much over the past decade to protect children from the ravages of armed conflict, through new laws, prosecutions and investigations, but this is just the beginning and more needs to be done, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other senior officials <"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2006/sgsm10763.doc.htm">told the Security Council today.

Mr. Annan’s call came during a day-long <"http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2006/sc8877.doc.htm">meeting on children and armed conflict focusing largely on his recent report, highlighting that children are still being recruited as soldiers, and also being murdered, tortured or sexually abused during times of conflict. After the debate, thῥ Council issued a statement reiterating its commitment to protect children in conflict.

“During the past 10 years, we have tried to place the issue firmly on the international agenda. Since 1998, when the first Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict began work and the Council held its first open debate on the subject, the subject has gained greater visibility… and yet, we have only begun to scratch the surface, Mr. Annan said.

“It is incumbent on all of us to sustain this political and practical momentum, and to keep a close eye on situations of concern… I hope that the Council will consolidate the gains that have been made, and will move forward to cover all situations of concern and all grave violations.”

Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, echoed the call for more to be done, while also noting that many peace agreements signed over the past few years have included child protection provisions and a framework for child demobilization.

“Despite these progressive developments many challenges remain and more action has to be taken to protect the interests of children trapped in situations of armed conflict. Though a great deal has been done in formulating standards and receiving commitments, the actual implementation on the ground is far from satisfactory,” she said.

“So far the process of scrutiny and monitoring has been selective and focused on only a few countries. It is our belief, jointly shared with UNICEF (the UN Children’s Fund) and other partners, that we must expand the focus to all situations of armed conflict so that there is equal treatment of children regardless of where they live.

In her remarks, <"http://www.unicef.org/">UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman said she remained deeply concerned by conflicts in several countries, noting for example that in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, some 119 Palestinian children had been killed this year, more than twice the number of deaths registered in 2005. She also cited the situations in Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“We have made significant progress over the past year. Today, we must renew our commitment to the children who are impacted by this unacceptable practice,” she said, referring in particular to the trauma caused to children by armed conflict.

Gabriel Oling Olang, representative of Save the Children, also addressed the Council, along with diplomats from over 40 countries, before Foreign Minister José Antonio García Belaunde of Peru, which holds this month’s presidency, read out a statement on behalf of the 15-member body.

“The Security Council strongly condemns the continuing recruitment and use of children in armed conflict in violation of applicable international law, the killing and maiming of children, rape and other sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian access to children and attacks against schools and hospitals by parties to ar῭ed conflict.

He added: “The Security Council reiterates its… commitment to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on children and its determination to ensure respect for and continued implementation of its resolutions 1612 (2005) and all of its previous resolutions on children in armed conflict.”

Ends

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