Statement by H.E. Mr. Tsuneo Nishida
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict
12 July 2011
I would like to congratulate on your presidency for the month of July. I would also like to express my gratitude to the Secretary-General, his Special Representative Ms. Coomaraswamy and the UNICEF Executive Director Mr. Lake for their comprehensive briefings. Japan very much appreciates the advocacy activities of Ms. Coomaraswamy in particular her country visits, as well as the dedicated field works done by UNICEF in the area of children and armed conflict.
While there has been commendable progress such as the signing of action plans by the Afghanistan Government and by the Chadian Government this year with the United Nations to end recruitment and use of child soldiers, many challenges still remain on the agenda of children and armed conflict, including sexual violence against children.
Based on Japan’s experience in the Security Council Working Group for two years until the end of last year, I would like to focus on three issues we regard as particularly important: attacks on schools and hospitals, accountability of persistent perpetrators and a comprehensive approach.
Firstly, Japan is deeply concerned with the reported trend of an increasing numbers of attacks on schools and hospitals during conflicts. We strongly condemn the perpetrators of those attacks, in particular those who targeted girl students and also girl’s schools.
Attacks on and military use of educational and medical facilities as well as attacks against pupils, teachers and medical personnel not only deprive children of their lives but also seriously violate the child’s fundamental rights of access to educational and medical services. Such acts are not permissible in any circumstances and, in conflict situations in particular, the Security Council should play a key role in protecting children’s rights to education and health.
In this regard, we welcome that the new resolution, which was just adopted by the Council and Japan has proudly so-sponsored, requests the Secretary-General to include in the annexes to his report those parties that engage in recurrent attacks on schools and hospitals as well as against protected persons in relation to schools and hospitals.
Secondly, Japan continues to be concerned about as many as fifteen conflict parties which have been listed for more than five consecutive years in the annexes of the Secretary-General’s report. In order to ensure accountability of the persistent perpetrators, the Security Council must reinforce targeted measures against them, which the Council already agreed to impose in resolution 1539 seven years ago.
We welcome that, as a result of the briefing by Ms. Coomaraswamy in the Sanction Committee on the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Committee included several individuals in its sanction list for their grave violations against children. We encourage the briefings to relevant sanction committees by both SRSGs for Children and Armed Conflict and also on Sexual Violence in Conflict to be held on a more regular basis.
We commend German Presidency and all Council members for addressing with very strong terms the accountability of the persistent perpetrators in the new resolution.
Thirdly, I would like to underline the need to address the issue of children and armed conflict in a more comprehensive manner through cooperation between Member States and the UN system.
Support must be ensured seamlessly from the protection of children under conflict to rehabilitation, care and reintegration of children who are formerly associated with armed forces or groups and victims of sexual violence in peacebuilding. Children’s perspectives need to be always considered in the process and programs related to DDR, SSR as well as landmines, unexploded ordinance and cluster munitions.
We also expect that the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, apart from just adopting conclusions on each situation annually, will be more creative in holding special meetings and issuing political messages in a timely manner in response to a SRSG’s urgent appeal.
In its assistance to conflict and post-conflict countries, Japan has been placing great importance on the protection and empowerment of children, who are the most vulnerable. It has extended, for example, assistance in the rehabilitation of child victims of landmines and mine risk education in countries such as Cambodia in cooperation with international partners. Through the UN Trust Fund for Human Security, Japan has also supported community-based programs which improve the educational environment and provide education and training for former child soldiers in the DRC. By preventing and alleviating the deleterious impacts of conflict, we will continue to endeavor to enable children around the world to have a brighter future.