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Nordic Joint Statement on Children and Armed Conflict

Statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden on the occasion of the Open Debate of the UN Security Council on "Children and Armed Conflict" 10 September 2020
11.09.2020  16:29

The Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway, would like to express deep appreciation to the Republic of Niger for organizing this important debate on Children and Armed Conflict with particular focus on attacks against Schools.

 

Education is key to long-term peace and security, and sustainable development. Education is a human right. And yet attacks against schools or hospitals still constitute one of the six grave violations against children in armed conflict. We acknowledge that progress has been made on the protection of schools and protected persons in relation to schools from attacks and threats of attacks. 

 

The Security Council adopted resolution 1998 in July 2011, and related resolutions have followed. The Safe School Declaration of 2015 has been an important protection tool with its objective to prevent military use of schools and stop attacks on schools during armed conflicts. As of today, 104 states are signatories to the declaration. It indicates strong commitments of joint efforts to implement it.

 

Yet we are alarmed when the latest Secretary-General’s report on Children and Armed Conflict of June 2020 verifies 927 attacks on schools and hospitals – and as of December 2019 more than 3,300 schools have been closed due to insecurity in the central Sahel Countries, Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – affecting more than 650,000 children.

 

The reality is that there are growing security threats and crises in the world. When children are deprived of education, it has a huge impact on long-term peace and security and sustainable development. Attacks on schools are not only attacks on a building, they are attacks on the generations of tomorrow – even when a conflict ends, schools and teachers will be gone if attacks are not prevented.

 

Implications of the COVID-19 pandemic will exacerbate the crises and security threats of the world, not least for the most vulnerable in the conflict areas such as young girls who often are subject to increased sexual and gender-based violence.

 

COVID-19 emphasizes the need for improving remote verification. Remote verification is already ongoing in some conflicts, but enhanced methods are needed. Member states can play a role in supporting access to financing and innovative methods for remote data collection.

 

The Nordic Countries urge all UN Member States to keep a strong focus on preventive measures to protect children and ensure children’s education and access to mental health and psycho-social support in humanitarian crises. Protection of children’s rights must be integrated in all operational activities at country-level, as must an understanding of what protection is needed for girls and boys at different ages. Furthermore, we reiterate our call for all States to join and implement the Safe Schools Declaration and for defending the mandate of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism.

 

The Nordic Countries also urge all UN Member States to speak openly about how we can establish effective accountability measures. This is key. We need to ensure that those who are responsible for attacks on schools are brought to justice. This is important for long-term resilience and stability in affected societies. Most of all, we urge all parties to armed conflicts to comply with International Humanitarian Law to mitigate the severe implications on children in armed conflict.

 

Children in armed conflicts must always get the attention and protection they are entitled to.

 

Thank you