|Statement by H.E. Ambassador WANG Guangya on Children in Armed Conflict in the Open Debate of the Security Council|
|(New York, 17 July 2008)|
The Chinese delegation wishes to thank you for coming to New York to preside over this meeting. The Chinese delegation also thanks Madam Coomaraswamy, special representative of the Secretary-General, and Madam Veneman, executive director of UNICEF, for their briefings.
China is deeply concerned about violations committed against children in armed conflict in some countries. China opposes recruitment and use of child soldiers and other violations of the rights and interests of children in armed conflict. We support the various efforts of the United Nations, including those of the Security Council, to promote the protection of children in armed conflict. On this occasion, I wish to emphasize the following:
First, the Security Council should stay focused on its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. Armed conflict inevitably hurts and affects children and other vulnerable groups. By working to prevent, reduce or resolve conflicts at the root, the Security Council will be able to provide the best protection it can to children. This is far more meaningful and effective than remedial measures taken in the aftermath of conflict. A look at the reality this year shows that while many children in Afghanistan and other regions are becoming victims of armed conflict as a result of the deterioration of the security situation, the positive progress in the peace processes of Cote Ivories and other regions has brought about hope for children there. This is yet proof again that the Security Council should pay more attention to the issue of armed conflict per se.
Second, in addressing the issue of "children in armed conflict", the role of the government concerned should always be respected and supported. Security Council Resolution 1612 stresses the primary responsibility of the government concerned for the protection of children and the need for other parties to cooperate with the government in their efforts. The working group on "children and armed conflict" should increase communication with the government concerned, acknowledge and support its positive measures and continue to enhance mutual confidence so as to avoid politicizing the question of children and interfering in the internal affairs of the country concerned under the pretext of protecting children. The UN secretariat should also strengthen communication and cooperation with the government concerned to ensure the accuracy and objectivity of its information and improve the quality of its reports.
Third, continued efforts are needed to improve the monitoring and reporting mechanism and the proceedings of the working group on the basis of Resolution 1612. Since the monitoring and reporting mechanism went into operation, progress has been made in information collection. However, for many countries and regions, the mechanism is still at its initial stage and needs to be constantly improved in practice, rush and haste should therefore be avoided. Under the coordination of France as its chair, the working group has considered the question of children in a number of countries. The Chinese delegation hopes that the working group, with continued professionalism and objectivity, will be able to find solutions to relevant issues through cooperation with the government concerned and constructive consultation, and put forward useful proposals to the Security Council. The Chinese delegation supports the working group in its continued efforts to consider its working methods to improve its efficiency and transparency.
China is always opposed to the willful use or threat of sanctions by the Security Council, and believes that the issue of sanctions should be approached with even greater caution when it comes to the question of "children and armed conflict". Situation varies from conflict to conflict and cannot be treated all alike or addressed with a one-size-fits-all approach.
The Chinese delegation once again calls upon all parties to armed conflict to truly honor their obligations, comply with international humanitarian law, and respect and protect the rights of children. In promoting post-conflict reconstruction, the international community should give priority to the reintegration of children into their families, schools and communities and provide sufficient resources to guarantee the accomplishment of this goal.
Efforts by the Security Council alone are not enough for solving the question of "children and armed conflict". We encourage UNICEF, the World Bank and other international agencies to play a greater role in helping the countries concerned to prevent the involvement of children in armed conflict. We also welcome the positive role played by NGOs in this regard.
Having ratified the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict under the Convention on the Rights of Children, China is now a party to the protocol. We call for ratification of and accession to the protocol by more countries. China hopes that with the efforts of all parties, the situation of children in armed conflict will truly improve and they will have a beautiful tomorrow that they deserve.
Thank you, Mr. President.