NEW YORK, 23 February 2005 - UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah today appealed to the United Nations Security Council to do more to protect the rights of children affected by armed conflict.
“Armed conflict exacts a terrible toll upon children,” she told the assembled delegates at UN Headquarters in New York. “Caught up in conflicts that have multiple causes and little prospect of early resolution, children’s rights continue to be violated on an egregious scale. They fall victim to disease and malnutrition, are subjected to forcible displacement and brutal violence.”
On 16 February the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan submitted a report to the Security Council listing the parties to armed conflict that recruit or use children. The report calls for targeted measures against those who violate children’s rights. It has been described by Under-Secretary-General Olara Otunnu as “...a turning point for transforming words into deeds, standards into enforcement and condemnation into accountability.” The report also proposes the first monitoring system to protect children in armed conflict.
Violators ‘should be prosecuted’
Ms. Salah said the Security Council can perform a vital protective role by enforcing international legal standards. She appealed for the Council to consider measures such as close monitoring of countries’ compliance with standards, holding perpetrators accountable and focusing strongly on the rights of all children, not only during conflict but after it ends.
Ms. Salah outlined UNICEF’s work in countries such as Liberia, Somalia and Afghanistan, where thousands of child soldiers have been demobilized and provided with counselling and support to help them resume normal lives. And she described urgent problems related to armed conflict, such as sexual violence, trafficking of weapons and the use of cluster munitions and landmines.
She said a systematic monitoring and reporting system is needed to better understand the problem and to hold violators accountable. “They should be prosecuted, and that is why we bring this to the Security Council, because the Security Council can translate all justice into action.”
23 February 2005:
UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah addresses the United Nations Security Council on children in conflict.