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Statement by Ambassador Zhang Jun at the High-level Briefing of the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict

2020/02/12

(XIN HUA NEWS LI MUZI)

 

Mr. President,

China welcomes Mr. Philippe Goffin, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense of Belgium, and is pleased to see His Excellency presiding over today's meeting. I thank His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium for his statement.I would also like to thank Secretary-General Guterres, Commissioner Chergui and Ms. Becker for their respective briefings.

China welcomes the presidential statement just adopted by the Security Council, and appreciates the efforts of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to promote the development of the "Practical guidance for mediators to protect children in situation of armed conflict".

Children represent the future and hope of our world. They deserve the maximum protection, and also happen to be the most vulnerable group.In 1999, the Security Council adopted its first resolution on children and armed conflict, strongly condemning the targeting of children in armed conflict, and calling on all parties concerned to put an end to such practices. For more than 20 years, the United Nations and the international community have made unremitting efforts to protect children in armed conflict, and this issue has received increasing attention. However, reality indicates that what we have done is still far from enough. Armed conflicts and terrorist activities continue to spread. As a result, many children have been denied a carefree childhood and are struggling in the difficult situations of violence, fear, hunger, disease, and displacement.

The fundamental approach to protecting children from the harm of armed conflict is to stop and resolve armed conflicts. Disputes should be resolved through equal dialogue and negotiation, and the use or threat of force must be avoided. More attention should be paid to conflict prevention and the promotion of peace processes. In this regard, the special needs of children should be fully taken into account, so as to ensure that children are free from the harm of conflict and that their rights, including the right to education, are safeguarded. The Security Council should earnestly discharge its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, and stay committed to facilitating political settlement of conflicts through mediation. China firmly supports the Security Council to fulfill its mandate under the UN Charter and continue to play an active role in conflict prevention, peacekeeping and peace building, so as to allow children around the world to grow in a peaceful, secure and stable environment.

The priority now is that countries in conflict should assume the primary responsibility for protecting children in armed conflict. All parties to conflict should prohibit the recruitment and use of child soldiers. The United Nations and the international community should fully respect the leadership of the countries concerned, maintain close communication and coordination with them, support their capacity building, mobilize international resources to address their practical difficulties such as funding and technology gaps, and promote the effective implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions by those countries. Since 2018, under the framework of the South-South Cooperation Assistance Fund, the Chinese government has provided financial and technical assistance to countries such as Somalia, South Sudan, and the DRC to train officials and improve capacity building in the area of child protection. Those efforts have produced positive results.

Going forward, a comprehensive strategy is needed to make the return of children to their families, schools and society a priority for post-conflict reconstruction. Even if children survive a conflict, many of them may relapse into tragic situations due to physical and mental health issues and the lack of education. China calls on the international community and relevant United Nations agencies to work closely to support post-conflict countries in peaceful reconstruction, economic and social development, as well as the resettlement, demobilization, repatriation and reintegration of former child soldiers, in order to ensure that children have access to basic social services and can enjoy their rights to health and education. Since 2000, China has helped Africa build more than 200 schools. Chinese medical teams have been saving lives and treating children in many parts of Africa, and many touching stories are told of their devotion. It is particularly worth mentioning that the Chinese peacekeeping contingent deployed to the DRC has participated in the construction of the SOS Children's Village in the city of Bukavu since 2005. Despite the contingent's rotations over the years, its assistance to local children in the form of providing supplies and medical service has never been interrupted. We hope that international communities can provide concrete support to children of conflict-affected communities and help them address the practical difficulties that they face in their daily lives.

China stands ready to work with the international community to maintain international peace and security, improve the situation of children in armed conflict, and provide all children worldwide with a shared future of peace, stability and happiness.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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