19 September 2012Statement by UK Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant to the Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict
Thank you Mr President
And thank you for convening today’s important debate on Children and Armed Conflict. We welcome the strong leadership that Germany has brought to this issue, both in its role as President of the Council and particularly in its chairmanship of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.
I also thank the four briefers for their important statements today. I would like to take this opportunity to express warm appreciation to the former Special Representative of the Secretary-General Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy for her advocacy and active engagement over the last six years, which resulted in the release, reintegration and protection of countless children across the world.
The United Kingdom welcomes Ms. Leila Zerrougui to her appointment as the new UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. This is a demanding but extremely important role on the dossier of central importance to the United Nations core mission. She will have the United Kingdom’s full support and we look forward to working closely with her.
The Secretary-General’s latest report is strewn with evidence of hideous crimes committed against children which cannot be ignored:
In the face of such evidence, individual and collective ambition on this agenda must remain high. United Nations efforts to help children affected by armed conflict can work and work well. Action plans have resulted in the release and reintegration of thousands of children recruited and caught up in fighting. In its verdict against Thomas Lumbanga in March of this year, the International Criminal Court issued its first judgement on the issue of child recruitment, setting groundbreaking jurisprudence for future cases and sending a strong message to those who continue to believe they can safely commit grave violations against children with impunity. In our efforts to address such grave violations, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Council’s working group are vital tools which must be preserved and supported.
It is against this background that we welcome the adoption today of UN Security Council resolution 2068.
The adoption of this resolution sends an important message of the Council’s determination to take forward the agenda of Children and Armed Conflict in an active, forward-looking and wide-ranging manner. The United Kingdom welcomes the fact that this resolution has secured strong Council support spanning all regions. We would have liked for the resolution to be adopted unanimously and regret that this did not happen. We disagree with assertions from some Council members that insufficient efforts were made to find consensus. In our view extensive negotiations were conducted in circumstances in which some delegations maintained solidly negative positions towards this agenda, proposing amendments whose effect would have been unacceptably to constrain the role of the Special Representative. Significant compromises were made in an effort to reach consensus. But we could not accept the assertion made by some Council members that the former SRSG over-reached her mandate in the conduct of her business. That accusation is completely unfounded.
The United Kingdom remains deeply concerned about the unacceptably high and increasing number of perpetrators of grave violations against children – 32 parties who have been listed for grave violations against children for five years or more. We need an innovative and practical approach to address the increasing number of armed groups who persistently rob children of their futures. We must demonstrate that they will be held accountable for their actions. We should not tolerate such abuse. We encourage the Security Council and the Working Group to consider what further tools should be available to help bring to justice those who commit grave crimes threatening the peace, security and well-being of children.
Children and Armed Conflict is an agenda which the Security Council should be consolidating and advancing. Consensus and Council unity are desirable and important and worth striving for, as happened in these negotiations. But they are not ends in themselves. Consensus should not be secured at the expense of an effective approach to the global challenge of Children and Armed Conflict. We must maintain a high level of ambition for this agenda in the United Nations and elsewhere. We believe that Security Council Resolution 2068 gives us the right basis for doing so.
I thank you.