|Statement by Ambassador Ma Zhaoxu at Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict|
China congratulates Sweden on its assumption of the presidency of the Council for this month. We welcome Prime Minister Löfven and thank him for presiding over this open debate. We thank Ms. Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and Ms. Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF for their briefings. We also thank Ms. Londoño for her statement.
The Council has just unanimously adopted resolution 2427 on children and armed conflict. We applaud Sweden's great efforts for holding the consultations and building consensus.
The item of children and armed conflict has been on the Council's agenda for more than 20 years. This means that children who were born when the Council adopted its first resolution on this issue are now adults.
Much to our regret, however, the continued eruption of armed conflicts and the spread of terrorism have rendered children one of the most vulnerable groups. Ruthless wars and atrocious terrorist attacks have devastated the lives of innocent children, denying them love and care and bringing instead unspeakable suffering. Those children need our concrete and effective protection and our attention to the maximum extent possible. It is incumbent upon the international community to give them what they deserve. To this end, I would like to highlight the following points:
First, give priority to prevention by teaching our children to cherish peace and reject war, in order to protect them from the harm of extremist and terrorist ideology. All sides should ensure that from an early age, children are taught to embrace values of peace and reject violence and conflict. The international community should take effective measures against online recruitment by terrorist organizations and the incitement of violence and extremism through the Internet. We should also mobilize families, schools and communities in helping children resist terrorist and extremist ideologies. We should strengthen international counter-terrorism cooperation, adopt a zero-tolerance and non-discriminatory approach, and resolutely combat all forms of grave violations against children committed by terrorist organizations, such as recruitment, killing, abuse and abduction.
Second, bring an end to hostilities and violence, and jointly maintain international peace and security. The most effective way of protecting children is to prevent and resolve conflicts. Entrusted with the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security, the Security Council should promote the use of political means as provided for in the UN Charter, including mediation, conciliation, dialogue and negotiation, and support and encourage all parties to peacefully settle their disputes and prevent armed conflicts from happening in the first place. The international community should promote the proper solution of regional hotspot issues and fully protect the rights and interests of children in the process, in order to save children from the scourge of armed conflict.
Third, proceed from a long-term perspective and provide capacity-building assistance to the countries concerned. The primary responsibility for protecting children in conflicts lies with the governments of countries concerned. To fully implement the Council's resolutions and various programmes and plans for the protection of children, the efforts and cooperation of the countries concerned are the key. We should fully respect national ownership, enhance dialogue and communication with relevant countries, and support the development of child protection capacity in the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration as well as security sector reform.
Fourth, strengthen coordination and forge international synergy for the protection of children. UNICEF, UNESCO, the World Bank and other relevant entities should work within their respective mandates and leverage their advantages for stronger cooperation. An integrated approach is needed to support the efforts of governments concerned in poverty eradication, universal access to education and sustainable development. Moreover, we should help children affected by armed conflicts to re-integrate smoothly into their respective societies and provide them with a favorable security and social environment that facilitates their healthy growth, so that they can become active contributors and promoters of peace in the future.
In this world that we all share, children are our common hope. Let us work together for the security and well-being of children around the world, and create a harmonious home in which they can grow up healthily. Let us joint hands to build a community of shared future for humankind, so that the sunshine of peace will put smiles back on children's faces as they grow into a better future.
Thank you, Mr. President.