Statement by H.E. Mr. Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict
16 June 2010
I would like to extend a warm welcome to your Excellency for personally presiding over this important debate. I pay special tribute to Mexico for ably chairing the Security Council Working Group and to Canada for chairing the Friends of Children and Armed Conflict.
I would also like to add my gratitude to Ms. Coomaraswami, Ms. Johnson and Mr. Khare for their briefings. Most of all, Miss Manju has inspired all of us through her courage and strong faith in a better future.
The UN architecture on children and armed conflict has been in place almost five years now, including monitoring and reporting mechanisms, action plans and the Working Group. During these years, there has been a steady progress in reducing the number of child soldiers in the world.
Some parties have been delisted from the annexes of the SG report, such as the one in Burundi this year. Action plans were signed recently by parties in the Sudan, Nepal and the Philippines. It is a welcome move that six Central African countries adopted the N’Djamena Declaration last week and committed to taking measures to protect children according to global standards.
However, meanwhile, some new conflict parties have been listed. The latest SG report contains a list of 55 conflict parties in 13 countries. Clearly, a major challenge still remains to eliminate the scourge of inhumane treatment of children trapped in armed conflict.
I would like to address three issues.
(Accountability for persistent perpetrators)
First, Japan is particularly concerned about sixteen conflict parties which have been listed for the past five consecutive years. In order to ensure accountability of the persistent perpetrators, the Security Council agreed in resolution 1539 to consider imposing targeted measures against them. Yet the practice is not necessarily consistent.
To hold the persistent perpetrators accountable, the Security Council should include provisions in respect to conflict parties who commit serious violations against children in its resolution on sanction committees. The Working Group should exchange information and coordinate closely with the Sanction Committees.
The informal briefing by Ms. Coomaraswami to the Sanction Committee is as useful as the one she made on the case of the DRC last month. We encourage other Sanction Committees to consider similar briefings.
(Rape and other sexual violence)
Secondly, we welcome that the Secretary-General’s report has listed for the first time the parties responsible for rape and other sexual violence in accordance with resolution 1882. The report of the relatively low incidence of sexual violence against children reported does not reflect the depth and extent of the reality on the ground and practice by parties. We believe that it reflects the difficulties in collecting and verifying information on sexual violence.
Timely and reliable data is indispensable for appropriate action. Japan is grateful to the efforts of the UNICEF and PKO staff on the ground in collecting information and data on sexual violence. We encourage Ms. Coomaraswami to coordinate closely with the Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict in the monitoring and reporting of sexual violence against children.
(Attacks against education)
Thirdly, Japan believes that education is the most essential means of promoting human potentials. Achieving universal primary education is one of the fundamental pillars of the MDG. Therefore, Japan has to express strong condemnation of the widespread scope of attacks against schools as reported in the Secretary-General’s report. A new UNESCO report, Education under Attack 2010, indicates that the number of attacks on schools, students and teachers is growing in conflict situations and that these attacks on education appear to be far more severe and systematic than previously thought. The targeting of girl students in specific settings is a particular concern.
We call upon all conflict parties to stop and prevent attacks against schools and other educational facilities, and teachers and pupils, in particular girls, and to fully respect international humanitarian law. It is our hope that the next SG report will include full information and analysis on these attacks which cause long-term severe impacts on children and sound national development.
In conflict situations, children are the most vulnerable. Japan is a strong advocate of the concept of human security. I am pleased that Japan and Mexico, as co-chair of the Friends of Human Security, are jointly promoting the mainstreaming of this concept in the work of the UN. This human-centered, multi-sector approach, which focuses on both protection and empowerment at the individual and community levels, is particularly relevant to children and armed conflict.
Japan has been providing support, through the UN Trust Fund for Human Security, for projects that address the issue of children and armed conflict in a comprehensive and multi-sectoral manner in many countries including Timor-Leste, Nepal, Philippines, the DRC, and Uganda.
Japan remains committed to strengthening the protection and empowerment of children affected on the ground.