Statement by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, at “Protecting Our Future: A Priority for All” Launch of the UNODC Roadmap on the Treatment of Children Recruited and Exploited by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups

(as delivered)
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen,

To begin with, I would like to thank UNODC and all co-sponsors for organizing this event.
 
In the past years, thousands of children have been recruited by terrorist groups and exploited in different roles, as was already explained by Simone, and they have been put to the role of suicide bombers, combatants and other various supporting functions.
 
And though these children are victims, victims of violence and should be treated as such, especially in judicial processes, they are often treated by society with suspicion and are made targets of harassment, stigmatization and even arbitrary arrest.
 
This kind of stigmatization deprives these children of opportunities for rehabilitation and social reintegration, and often pushes them back towards paths of violence.
 
So the treatment of children recruited and exploited by terrorists and violent extremist groups is of great concern to all of us, all of us here, and the government of Japan attaches great importance to addressing this issue.
 
Since 2017, Japan has contributed to the project led by UNODC titled “Preventing and Responding to Violence against Children Recruited and Exploited by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups.” There is a pamphlet in front of you which explains this. I won’t go into it any further. 
 
Through this project, UNODC organized 2 regional capacity-building events in Bangkok and Beirut, and this was a regional capacity meeting, and a cross-regional capacity-building conference also in Tokyo.
 
At the event held in Tokyo, 45 participants, including criminal justice experts, social workers, and detention facility personnel from 9 countries, namely, Bangladesh, Iraq, Lebanon, Morocco, Maldives, Nepal, Philippines, Tunisia, and Sri Lanka, these specialists, experts, gathered for 3-days of workshops and took part in active discussions and training exercises.
 
Outcomes of these regional and cross-regional capacity-building events have contributed to the compilation and elaboration of the “UNODC Roadmap” that we are talking about today and launching is going on just now. And this Roadmap provides guidance on key aspects of prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration justice strategies as well as measures to overcome the challenges related to child recruitment and exploitation by terrorists and violent extreme groups.
 
I wish to express my sincere appreciation to all who worked hard, took part in this enormous effort to create the Roadmap. Thank you very much everyone who is here.
 
However, of course, launching the Roadmap is just the beginning; we need to implement it and implement at the local level. That is of the utmost importance.
 
I am sure that today’s discussions focusing on challenges faced by Member States in dealing with this issue will serve to deepen our thoughts towards effective implementation of the Roadmap.
 
As mentioned by Simone, next April, Japan will host the 14th United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. The so called “Crime Congress” will discuss implementation of Sustainable Development Goals from the perspective of the rule of law, crime prevention and criminal justice.
 
Since the prevention of terrorism and youth engagement in order to make societies resilient to crime is essential for achieving the SDGs, Japan hopes to address some of today’s topics of discussion at the Kyoto Congress, which will take place next year as I said.
 
The government of Japan would like to contribute to resolving these issues through continued cooperation with UNODC and other member states who are interested, and we really welcome you here today to deepen our discussion.
 
Thank you very much indeed.