Delivered by: Her Excellency Lana Nusseibeh, Ambassador and Permanent Representative

Madam President,

I want to begin by thanking the UK for convening this important debate as the first in their Presidency of the Security Council in July, and we wish them and their team every success in leading our work this month.    

Thank you also to SRSG Gamba and Deputy Executive Director Abdi for your briefings today, and for your tireless efforts to strengthen the protection of children around the world.

I’d also like to thank Ms. Violeta for bringing a direct voice of experience into Council deliberations today.

I’d like to start by welcoming the clear four-point action plan put forward by SRSG Gamba in her remarks as well as Ms. Violetta’s point that the Security Council should be a guarantor of implementation of peace agreements. This goes to the core of the Council’s mandate and our ability to protect children around the world.

The trendlines, as we’ve all noted, of the 2022 report are alarming and give us all pause to reassess, when it comes to our efforts, in terms of what is working and what is failing.

The report highlights that the highest number of grave violations were verified in DRC, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Somalia, Syria, Ukraine, Afghanistan, and Yemen, and we would really support continued partnership with the SRSG in these countries to ensure this trend does not continue this year.

Overall, 2022 tragically saw 8,630 children either killed or maimed, according to the verified numbers in the report, and as Members of the United Nations, this should be unacceptable to all of us.

Given the finding that the majority of child casualties were perpetrated by government forces, our common target as UN Members should be no less than reaching the point where the mandate of the Special Representative is no longer needed.

First, to support the SRSG’s priorities, the Council must double down on conflict prevention and conflict resolution. The record high number of situations of concern is a clear example that conflict management strategies are not enough. We need a change of paradigm to sustainably end conflict and prevent it from happening in the first place.

The Council’s tools must be tailored to reflect the reality and the true nature of conflict today.

With non-state armed groups responsible for fifty percent of grave violations, deploying the standard responses, the “shame” list, and other traditional means are simply not as effective with these groups. 

In the face of bad faith actors who prey upon and exploit children, the Council must do better to adapt to these new realities.

The ultimate objective is not merely punitive, but changing behaviour, changing mindsets, deterring and preventing future violations. We must make full use of the powers of this Council to fulfil our responsibilities towards children.

Second, we are deeply concerned by the cascading cycle of violence that occurs when children are also violated through their indoctrination and recruitment into armed groups. In the words of a previous SRSG, Olara Otunnu, “child soldiers are forced to give violent expression to the hatred of adults”.

As Ms. Violetta reminded us today, we must recognize that these children are not only victims. They are also agents of change and peacebuilders. In this regard, countering indoctrination and recruitment must be a cornerstone of the Security Council’s work on the CAAC agenda. The SC must see education as its most potent weapon to counter the threat of armed conflict against and by children.

We should ensure equal access to quality education that promotes peace, tolerance, and mutual understanding, as well as the reestablishment of educational facilities, including through international cooperation and assistance.

If we fail in this endeavour, we risk creating lost generations of children newly susceptible to radicalization.

Third, change the mindset of the partnership of governments with SRSG Gamba and her team to an approach based on complementarity. I think this would be one of the most effective things we do collectively together.

SRSG Gamba has worked tirelessly to improve partnerships with governments around the world, and that needs to be acknowledged, but we must accelerate that trend to ensure that the work of her and her team is embraced and carried out in full partnership and cooperation with the governments based on trust and confidence-building measures.

We must aim to create a new understanding about implementation based on collaboration rather than avoidance.

The Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism may be a technical tool, but we must ensure that the full weight of the Council is behind it to ensure dialogue with key stakeholders and ensure implementation of corrective measures.

Madam President,

I will end with a quote by Ishmael Beah in his book about his experience as a child soldier in Sierra Leone.

“My squad is my family, my gun is my provider and my protector, and my rule is to kill or be killed.” I think we all agree that that is not a childhood that any of us would wish on anyone.

Thank you, Madam President.