Statement by Deputy Permanent Representative Gennady Kuzmin at the Security Council briefing “Children and armed conflict, Integrating child protection into peace processes”
We commend Belgium for the initiative to hold today's meeting.
We thank the UN Secretary-General and all invited speakers for their contributions to today's debate.
Child protection is one of the most important issues for Russia. We attach great importance to the activities of the SC Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. This is a unique mechanism, now led by Belgium that for 15 years has contributed to protecting children in conflict, ensuring accountability for violations and preventing future violence.
In many countries engaged in armed conflict, children continue to face brutal violence. Terrorists do not shy away from using even small children. Systematic recruitment of minors, denial of access to education and violence against children have become commonplace. The world community must not tolerate it. Even terrorists’ families, wives and children become hostage to terrorist criminal activities, they are stigmatized and discriminated against.
None of the children caught up in this terrible maelstrom should be rejected by society. These children have a right to become full members of society again. Their rehabilitation and reintegration are crucial aspects of the "children and armed conflict" agenda so far. This is an area where different state actors, civil society and international organizations can cooperate successfully and effectively, complementing each other's efforts.
Russia understands the importance of the reintegration of children affected by conflict. Our major concern is our citizens, who by a twist of fate have found themselves in a difficult situation. Since 2018, Russia has been taking all measures to return Russian children from combat zones in Iraq and Syria and reintegrate them to normal life. Many of these minors have ended up in prison with their mothers, who are under investigation or sentenced to prison terms for their involvement in ISIS terrorist activities. More than 150 Russian children have already been taken out of Iraq and Syria. Just the other day, the Russian Commissioner for Children removed 26 children from the ‘Al-Hawl’ refugee camp. 9 more children will be brought to their homeland in the very near future. This work will continue.
Today, a number of States affected by armed conflicts are making significant efforts in this area. Their positive example should inspire others. However, they need support from the international community within respectful and constructive dialogue based on unconditional adherence to the principles of State sovereignty.
The voluntary practical guidelines developed by Special Representative Ms. Gamba at the request of the Security Council should become a useful tool that will help States and the United Nations to solve reintegration problems and to mainstream issues of child protection in conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction.
We hope that thanks to this new tool, there will be much more examples of the successful reintegration of child combatants, and we will be able to improve the situation of children in conflict and enhance their overall protection.
In turn, our joint efforts within the Security Council should contribute to progress in this area for the benefit of children and our future.