Statement by Gennady Kuzmin, Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN, at the open VTC of UNSC members on the issue of Children and Armed Conflict
We thank France for convening today’s meeting. We further thank the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and other briefers for their contributions to today’s discussion. The topic of child protection is of paramount importance to the Russian Federation.
The Secretary-General’s report confirms that children in different countries around the world that are involved in armed confrontations continue to encounter brutal violence. One of the main reasons for their plight is that parties to armed conflicts ignore the rules of international humanitarian law and armed groups make open use of barbaric methods of warfare. The Security Council cannot remain indifferent and should make unfailing efforts to protect children in armed conflicts.
Almost 15 years ago the Security Council adopted milestone resolution 1612 with a noble aim – to protect those most vulnerable in armed conflict – children. The Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, created by this historic decision, is a unique mechanism, which has facilitated more effective protection of children in conflict. We would like to use this opportunity to acknowledge the hard work for the sake of children, trapped in various conflicts all over the world.
Efforts by the Group would be incomplete without the crucial work done by the SRSG. We would like to once again express our sincere appreciation to SRSG Gamba for her daily and hard labor in pursuing her mandate and making a tangible difference for children in situations of armed conflict. We are open to further cooperation between the Russian Federation and SRSG’ s Office in the field of protection of children in armed conflict. Russia remains in support of her important initiatives, raising awareness of the problems of child victims of armed conflict, information campaigns on the reintegration of children, preventing their recruitment and others.
In various countries around the world engulfed in hostilities, children continue to endure brutal violence and hardships. And now their plight gets even harder due to the unprecedented global health crisis, COVID-19. Unfortunately, even this crisis did not lead to rejection of unilateral coercive measures, which affects essential healthcare services, social infrastructure, food security and other aspects of life. They do affect ordinary people, especially children directly, despite all the reassurances about so called “humanitarian exemptions” that we heard in the Council so many times already. We do regret that the Secretary-General has not mentioned this key issue in his report. We call on the Secretary-General and SRSG Gamba to pay special attention to the detrimental effect of illegal political sanctions on children in armed conflict and include a relevant section in future reports.
Terrorists present a major threat to children in armed conflict. They do not shy away from using even small children and bringing them into their ranks. No child caught in such a devastating maelstrom should be marginalized by society. Children have the right and should become full members of society once again. Their rehabilitation and reintegration is a crucial aspect of the CAAC agenda today.
The Russian Federation fully supports and concurs the Secretary-General call upon all concerned Member States that have not already done so to take steps for the voluntary repatriation of children stranded in conflict zones, including children actually or allegedly associated with ISIL.
We understand the importance of reintegrating children affected by conflict. Since 2018, the Russian Federation has ensured the return of Russian children from battlegrounds in Iraq and Syria and their ongoing rehabilitation. More than 150 Russian children have already successfully been evacuated from Iraq and Syria. Although current pandemic slowed down this work, it will be continued.
Our hope is that there will be more examples of the successful reintegration of child combatants, addressing the plight of children in conflict and improving the protection of their lives. Our overall efforts in the Security Council should foster progress to that end and to develop strategies to prevent grave violations for the benefit of children and our future.