DAVAO CITY, Philippines, 12 February 2020 — UN children’s agency UNICEF, the Embassy of Belgium in the Philippines and various civil society partners came together today to commemorate the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers.
In 2018, the Report of the UN Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in the Philippines revealed a total of 69 grave violations affecting 109 children, 26 of which took place in 2017. There were three incidents of recruitment and use that affected 19 children. Most verified violations against children occurred in Mindanao.
Grave Child Rights Violations (GCRVs) are classified into six kinds, including killing and maiming of children; recruitment or use of children as soldiers; sexual violence against children; abduction of children; attacks against schools or hospitals; and denial of humanitarian access for children.
Belgian Ambassador Michel Goffin pointed out that “the erosion of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights globally, and the changing nature of conflicts, are becoming a permanent threat to children; attacks on children have been multiplied by three since 2010.”
“Children pay a deadly price during conflicts. Thirty years after the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, many children still get caught in the crossfire, their schools and homes attacked. We must remember that children are zones of peace and we must do all we can to protect them,” said Oyun Dendevnorov, UNICEF Philippines Representative.
Republic Act 11188, “An Act Providing for the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict” signed in 2019 constitutes a landmark achievement in promoting and ensuring the protection of children in situations of armed conflict.
“We urge the Government of the Philippines to ensure the effective implementation of the law so that children in situations of armed conflict realize the full spectrum of their rights,” Dendevnorov added.
In commemoration of the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, CTFMR members came together in Davao City to enhance their knowledge and capacities, hold strategic discussions on how to strengthen the network of actors in Mindanao, as well to update members on the latest national and global developments relating to monitoring and reporting grave child rights violations.
Belgium has a long-standing commitment to keeping the protection of children in armed conflict high on the international agenda. As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (2019-2020), Belgium is the chair of the UN Security Council Working Group on Children Affected by Armed Conflict. Its priorities are the full implementation of the multilateral regulatory framework as well as the reintegration and rehabilitation of child soldiers. In February 2020, Belgium is also chairing the Security Council.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in the Philippines, visit www.unicef.ph.