(Check Against Delivery)
Statement by H.E. Ambassador Motohide Yoshikawa
Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations
At the Open Debate of the Security Council
On Children and Armed Conflict
7 March 2014
It is my great pleasure to see you presiding over this important body. Let me thank the Secretary-General, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, the Executive Director of UNICEF, and Mr. Sawaneh, former child soldier, for their briefings.
I also welcome and support the adoption of the Security Council Resolution S/Res/2143.
Today, I will touch upon four issues. First is the issue of child soldiers. The second is on persistent perpetrators. Third, I would like to mention the PKO’s responsibility to protect children. And fourth, military use of and attacks against schools.
First, I would like to address the issue of child soldiers and welcome the “Children, not Soldiers” campaign launched yesterday. I commend the initiatives taken by Special Representative Ms Zerrougui and the Executive Director of UNICEF, Mr. Lake, to start this campaign. We support this initiative, and join in its efforts to eliminate the recruitment and use of children by government armed forces in conflict by 2016.
When we look back, the issue of child soldiers is exactly what made the Security Council take up the “children and armed conflict” agenda. Child soldiers are deprived of their right to education. Their reintegration into society comes with difficulty. This is a heavy loss for the society as a whole.
Japan has provided support for the reintegration of child soldiers into society in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, both through bilateral assistance and through international organizations. This support is an application of the concept of “human security,” by protecting and empowering children who are most vulnerable in armed conflict. Japan has extended approximately 75 million dollars over the past five years for the reintegration of child soldiers into society. This includes a financial contribution to Sri Lanka for the purpose of supporting job training for former child soldiers through the U.N. Human Security Fund. We are planning to make further financial contributions related with child soldiers to such countries as the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Mauritania and South Sudan.
Secondly, when addressing the agenda of children and armed conflict, the international community needs to pay attention to persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children. In the last five SG reports on children and armed conflict, more than 30 conflict parties were listed. Among them, 11 parties have been on the list for more than a decade.
The Security Council should respond more firmly against those persistent perpetrators, including considering the possibility of an assets freeze.
In this context, Japan welcomes that, in Sri Lanka and Nepal, conflict parties have been delisted from the SG reports. These parties were delisted because they achieved considerable progress in implementing the plan of action which had been agreed between the U.N. and the parties. It is important to learn from these cases how the delistings were possible, because these lessons might be applicable to similar situations in other countries.
Thirdly, one of the main objectives of the U.N. Peacekeeping Operations is to protect children in conflict and post-conflict. And yet, we hear cases where U.N. Peacekeepers have been criticized for becoming violators of the rights of children. Is this not the disgrace to the reputation of the United Nations?
I would like to emphasize that U.N. Peacekeeping Operations should be a model in protecting children. We, the troop contributing countries to U.N. Peacekeeping Operations, should recognize our responsibility to train our personnel at home so that they will not abuse children in the course of their duties but will protect the children.
Finally, the “Children and Armed Conflict” agenda is not only about child soldiers. There is also growing recognition of military use of and attacks against schools.
Japan pays great attention to the formulation of the Draft Lucens Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict. The work of the “Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack” is bearing fruit. Japan for its part is willing to participate in the future process of the Lucens Guidelines.
Children are sometimes exploited, intimidated, threatened and even killed all over the world. There are a number of measures to prevent those tragic cases, including providing assistance to countries in conflict and developing rules and standards to address new challenges. We are determined to contribute to protecting the rights of children by using those concrete actions.
Thank you, Madame President.