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Nordic statement delivered by H.E. Ambassador Ib Petersen, Permanent Representative of Denmark to the UN, on Children and Armed Conflict, at the Security Council Open Debate, 31 October 2017 in New York

01.11.2017  15:48

Check Against Delivery

Mr. President,

I have the honor of making this statement on behalf of the Nordic Countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway.
First, let me reiterate the full support of the Nordic countries to the 2007 Paris commitments and principles.

The Nordic countries strongly condemn the recruitment and use of children by all parties to conflict.

Non-state armed groups, including violent extremist groups use children to perpetrate acts of violence. All children associated with armed forces or armed groups must be considered primarily as victims.
At the same time, we must not forget children that travel to and return from conflicts with their families in addition to children born in the context of conflict.
Preventing and fighting the radicalization of children is an issue that concerns us all. While ISIL is now losing its territory, the threat of the group’s ideology and propaganda remains.  We will be facing a new generation born in conflict or radicalized as part of it. This is only one example and it raises a number of challenges that we need to address.
We know that kinship, forced recruitment, slavery, lack of education and online and offline propaganda all are important explanatory factors of radicalization and violent extremism.

We note that some military responses against non-State armed groups perpetrating violent extremism have raised challenges for the protection of children. In some cases, State-allied militia and vigilante groups have been mobilized and used children in support roles or even as combatants. When responding to violent extremism, Member States should ensure that their rules of engagement take into account that children may be living in areas under the control of armed groups or may be used on front lines following their abduction or recruitment.

Mr. President,

The Nordic Countries believe that we need to deal with the problem urgently.  We need a long-term perspective in preventing more children from being recruited and used by non-state armed groups, including violent extremist groups. We should address all forms of violent extremism through a variety of preventive and long-term international, national and local measures. Let me stress that these measures must always be in conformity with applicable international law, including human rights law and rule of law principles.

Jordan and Norway recently launched a ”Group of Friends of Prevention of Violent Extremism” in the UN. The aim of the Group is to seek a balanced implementation of the four pillars of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, with appropriate attention to all its pillars. This initiative has the full support and participation of the Nordic countries.

Mr. President,

On behalf of The Nordic Countries, please allow me to emphasize six challenges:

• We need to strengthen our efforts in providing quality education to children also in time of conflict. Access to safe schools and education is a human right and a precondition for development. We need to provide children with the tools necessary to develop critical thinking, a vital part of preventing radicalization and violent extremism.

• It is imperative that we share best practices, and increase cooperation on all levels. We must support and learn from non-governmental stakeholders such as civil society, women’s organizations, youth organizations, scholars and practitioners in order to adapt to new challenges.

• We need to work together with private entities, establish good global solutions to prevent proliferation of online propaganda material and the recruitment to violent extremism. We need to identify, and stop online radicalizers that target our children and youth.

• We must ensure a comprehensive and balanced implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. More emphasis on conditions conducive to terrorism and the respect for human rights and the rule of law is necessary, as is efforts to ensure the prevention of violent extremism across the UN system.

• Child protection concerns must be included in all efforts to end conflicts. This includes UN missions, where training in child protection for civilian and military personnel should be a key priority. The role of Child Protection Advisors must be protected.

• Finally, but perhaps the most urgent, we need to ensure that traumatized children, and children affected by radicalization receive the attention they need. We need to tailor specific programs for the reintegration of these children into society, including psycho-social support. We must ensure that children are protected and treated as children and in accordance with juvenile justice systems.

Thank you!