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Speech by Prime Minister Stefan Löfven at the UN Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict, 9 July 2018
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Members of the Security Council,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I want to thank Special Representative Gamba and Executive Director Fore for their important and, at times difficult to listen to, briefings to the Council. Let me also thank Yenny Londoño for sharing her inspirational story.
Childhood is not just the start of our life; it is the foundation of it.
It is the base from which we reach our full potential. The base for peaceful and prosperous societies.
Put simply: ensuring the care, safety and protection of children today, prevents conflicts tomorrow.
Yet, we are not doing nearly enough to protect our children.
350 million children are affected by armed conflict today.
They are at risk of being killed or maimed.
They risk being victims of sexual violence.
They risk having no other school than that which war teaches them: Loss. Fear. Hatred. Revenge.
While the need to do more is clear,
our concerted efforts are having an effect.
In the last two decades, 130 000 children
have been released from armed groups.
In the last two years, more than 12 000 children
have received UN-assistance for reintegration.
With today's unanimous adoption of resolution 2427 we not only strengthen the Children and Armed Conflict agenda more broadly, but we also further the prevention agenda.
Let me highlight a few ways in which this is done:
First, children's needs are often overlooked when peace is negotiated. Indeed, universal concern for children may sometimes open the door to find new solutions. This resolution emphasizes how the Children and Armed Conflict agenda is integral to conflict prevention and sustaining peace.
Second, it sets out a framework for the reintegration of children associated with armed forces or armed groups. Successful reintegration is in the best interest of the child, but also in the best interest of societies. It places children as part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Third, it recognizes that access for all girls and boys to education and health care, including mental health, in conflict is essential. It also, for the first time, distinguishes between girls and boys and makes the point that their needs and vulnerabilities are different.
Fourth, it links the Children and Armed Conflict Agenda to
the Sustainable Development Goals. To achieve the 2030 Agenda, we can leave no child behind.
Fifth, it states, for the first time in a Council resolution,
the central principle that children in armed conflict
should be treated primarily as victims.
Sixth, the resolution stresses accountability for ALL violations and abuses against children – not just the gravest crimes – thereby setting a new standard for the prevention of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. There can be no exceptions to humanity, and there can be no exceptions to international humanitarian law.
Finally, the resolution addresses the need to also consider the views of children. We must listen to children, hear their perspectives, as well as their proposals for solutions.
In that vein, Sweden, with UNICEF and civil society partners, organized a series of child consultations around the world focusing on children as refugees, children as agents for peace and on the reintegration of former child soldiers. We also organized consultations in Sweden.
All this resulted in these recommendations where the messages from children to us, as decision makers, are clear:
Provide security and safety. Put food on the table. Ensure education. Provide care for sick or injured.
And, above all else: End war.
We've agreed on today's resolution; now we must implement it. Representative Gamba, with partners, is working to develop practical guidance and tools to integrate child protection issues in peace processes.
For us, in this council, our responsibility is to consider the effect of conflict on children, in all our work; in the renewal of mission mandates, by ensuring every mission has child protection advisors, and by including children's perspectives in our discussions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I can think of no better way to address the root causes of conflict
than to give children a loving and safe childhood
and protect them from the scourge of war.
It is up to us to live up to our responsibilities and to deliver on the children's demands.
It is up to us to prevent the conflicts of tomorrow, by protecting children today.