|Statement by Ambassador LIU Zhenmin at the Security Council Open Debate "Children and Armed Conflict"|
At the outset, the Chinese delegation would like to thank Ms. Coomaraswamy, SRSG for children and armed conflict and Ms. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF for their briefings. We also thank Secretary-General Mr. Annan for his statement.
China attaches great importance to the Council's discussion of the issue and we are against the recruitment and use of child soldiers and other violations of the rights and interests of children in armed conflict. It is our hope that the Council will play a unique role in its consideration of this question. China has explained its position in detail in July this year when the Council last debated the issue; here I would like to highlight the following points.
Firstly, the Council needs to continue to carry out its primary responsibility in the maintenance of international peace and security. All armed conflicts would inevitably put children and other vulnerable groups in harm's way. If the Council is able to prevent, reduce and resolve conflict situations by tackling their root causes, it will be providing the best protection for children; we deem this approach to be far more meaningful and effective than any attempt to remedy the situation after conflict has already broken out. Events of the year bear this out: thus the recent escalation of tension in part of the Middle East has once again taken a heavy toll on the lives of many children, whereas positive developments in peace processes in other regions of the world have brought hopes to children. This further proves that the Security Council should devote more attention to the conflicts themselves.
Secondly, in considering the issue of children and armed conflict, the Council needs to draw a distinction between situations on its agenda and those that are not on its agenda. The work of the Council is based on country specific situations. While being a thematic issue on the Council's agenda, the question of children and armed conflict is closely linked with the peace process in question and the specific nature of the conflict. The situations on the Council's agenda are essentially different from those not on its agenda. It is true that the Council should be concerned about the protection of children in both types of situations; nonetheless it should follow different approaches in dealing with them. Relevant resolutions of the Security Council have specific provisions to this effect. Furthermore, many countries not on the Council's agenda have misgivings about the motive and implications of the Council's consideration of the situations in their countries, the Council therefore should try to allay their concern by engaging them in dialogue and cooperation, so as to convince them that the purpose of its work is the protection of children.
Thirdly, we need to continue to improve the monitoring and reporting mechanism for children and armed conflict as well as the work of the Working Group. Although progress has been made since it became operational a little more than a year ago, the mechanism is still at an early stage of application. With the independent review of the mechanism only recently completed, it needs improvement through further practice and should refrain from moving too fast or acting too hastily. The Working Group has deliberated on situations of children in many countries and made its recommendations to the Council. China hopes that the Working Group will continue to demonstrate its professionalism and through cooperation and constructive discussions with the governments concerned, submit effective recommendations to the Council.
Also, China has always advised against the frequent resort to sanctions or threats of sanctions by the Security Council, and considers caution to be especially necessary on the question of children and armed conflict. Every conflict situation is different and there can be no generalizations or a one-size-fits-all approach. We need to work with the countries concerned and to encourage and support their efforts in protecting children. We hope that the Security Council's work can truly improve the plight of children in armed conflict.
Thank you, Mr. President.