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UNSC debates child protection in peace processes

Child protection is at the heart of the United Nations (UN)’s peace and security agenda and the core of conflict prevention efforts, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Speaking at a debate of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on how to protect children in situations of armed conflict in New York on February 12, Guterres emphasized the child protection as a starting point for dialogue, confidence building, negotiation and reconciliation efforts among parties involved in the conflict.

On this occasion, Guterres introduced the “Practical Guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict”, which was developed on the basis of concrete examples in which child protection issue was successfully integrated into peace processes or peace agreements.

UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba stressed at the debate that “protection of children and the prevention of violations against them should and must be prioritized in mediation and peace building efforts to ensure long-lasting and sustainable peace in countries affected by armed conflict".

She encouraged member states, regional and sub-regional organizations, mediators, parties to conflict, and other actors involved in peace processes to make full use of this practical guidance.

Participants to the event shared concerns over the recurrence of serious violations against children, including the use and recruitment of child soldiers, killing and causing injuries, sexual violence, kidnapping, assault on schools and hospitals, and refusing humanitarian access to conflict areas.

They stressed that protecting children is essential to break the deadlock circle of violence and conflict, towards building sustainable peace.

In his statement, Vietnam’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy affirmed that protecting children in armed conflict is a priority of the UNSC, the obligation of each UN member state and the responsibility of each person when witnessing hurts caused by conflict to children that are unable to defend themselves.

He applauded the “Practical Guidance for mediators to protect children in situations of armed conflict”, while stressing the role played by regional organisations in connecting efforts at national, regional and global levels.

While sharing Vietnam’s experience, Quy affirmed the importance of education to help children overcome the devastation of war, and cultivate their love of peace and hope for a better future./