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Statement by Ireland at UNSC Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

Statement delivered on behalf of Ireland by H.E. Amb. Brian Flynn, Chargé d'Affaires, at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

02 August 2019

Thank you, Mr. President.

First of all, allow me to congratulate you on assuming the Presidency of the Council and to wish you all the best for the month ahead.  I also want to thank today’s briefers, and in particular Ms Kamara and Mr. Awan for bringing such important and moving personal testimony to us today.   

Mr. President,

The facts revealed in the Secretary General’s report are stark. Children remain at the frontline of armed conflicts across the world. We heard this morning that some 13,600 children have been released and reintegrated, which is undoubtedly a positive development. However, this is no cause for celebration, as this same period has seen over 24,000 recorded grave violations against children across 20 countries.

It is evident, Mr. President, that in these times of crisis our common efforts to protect all children from aggression and violence fall far short of where we need to be - collectively we must do more.  We believe that this Council has an important role to play.

In the past year we have seen the Security Council unite to address this issue; last July with the adoption of Resolution 2427 which states that children recruited by armed groups should be treated primarily as victims of violations of international law and just recently with the adoption of Resolution 2475, led by Poland and the UK, on persons with disabilities. This resolution contains important language on the specific needs of children with disabilities affected by armed conflict.

For our part, Ireland was pleased to co-sponsor both of these Resolutions. Our collective challenge as ever, Mr. President, is now moving towards implementation.

One way to do that is to deliver on the Act to Protect Agenda, launched earlier this year by Special Representative Gamba.  A key action in this agenda is to deliver services to children affected by war.

Ireland’s international development policy, launched earlier this year, commits us to increasing our spending on education with a particular focus on emergencies.

When violence erupts, children are frequently denied education, leaving them open to indoctrination or exploitation. Education is increasingly recognised as a vehicle for helping children deal with trauma and a means to equip children with the knowledge and skills to develop and contribute to rebuilding their communities and countries.

This forms a core part of our third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security and this, along with our new development policycontain a commitment to delivering on a target of a quarter of a billion euro to improve global education, especially for girls in conflict affected areas.  

We are also supportive of reintegration programmes, which are fundamental to realising the Rights of the Child, ending the cycle of violence, and ensuring sustainable peace. This year, Ireland joined the Group of Friends of the Reintegration of Child Soldiers.  Groups like these help to shed light on how the legacy of conflict continues to affect children long after the guns themselves have been silenced.

We also need to do more, as Special Representative Gamba said earlier, to reduce the devastating impact caused by landmines, IEDs andUXOs.

Mr. President,

We must work to ensure respect for international humanitarian law and, importantly, strengthen accountability for all violations. Ensuring compliance with IHL is all the more important in a context of increased urbanisation of conflict, where the risk of violations is greater.  These violations, including the denial of humanitarian access and attacks against schools, medical facilities and personnel, are utterly unacceptable.  The Security Council must play its role in ensuring accountability and referring violations to the ICC, and the Council must work to ensure that any referral is accompanied by ongoing support to the Court, particularly with respect to the execution of arrest warrants and the provision of adequate financial support.

Mr. President, in conclusion,

We must do more to implement the resolutions of this Council.  We must ensure respect for international humanitarian law and demand accountability for its violation.  We must continue to listen to testimonies like those of Ms Kamara and Mr. Awan, and heed their calls to action.   We must to more to protect our children. 

This is a priority for Ireland and, with the support of our partners here at the UN in the near future, it is a topic we would work actively on as an elected member of the Security Council for the term 2021 - 2022.

Thank you again, Mr President, for organising this important debate.  I can assure you of my country’s continued commitment to working with our partners both here at the UN, and globally, to protect all children from all forms of aggression and violence.

Thank you.

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