Switzerland welcomes the holding of this meeting. We thank the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, Ms. Gamba and Dr. M'jid, for their presentations and especially for their precious work for children. Ms. Divina's welcome contribution underlines the importance of including the voice of youth.
Every child has the right to a childhood. Every child has the right to grow up in a safe environment, to develop its potential, to be heard, and taken seriously. This is what the General Assembly enshrined more than thirty years ago in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which is nearly universally applicable.
And yet, we read the following testimony in a recent publication from Ms. Gamba's office, "[They] were using a school [...] to bury the bodies [...], children are being raped, several schools and health centres in the provinces are being used as bases for armed groups." Madam President, no child should witness such violence.
As we are gathered in this chamber, grave violations continue to be committed against girls and boys – be it in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Myanmar, or in Ukraine, to name but a few situations. We have a responsibility to do better. States can rely on a solid framework, which include the resolutions of this Council, in particular resolution 2427, as well as the abovementioned Convention and its Optional Protocol, on the involvement of children in armed conflict, as well as international humanitarian law.
Against this backdrop, Switzerland would like to emphasise three points:
First, this Council has developed numerous tools to prevent grave violations. For these tools to maintain their deterrent effect, their independence, impartiality, and credibility must be preserved – this includes the annexes of the annual report. The UN should be able to continue to engage with all actors to develop action plans to end and prevent violations against children. In addition, resolution 1379 requests the Secretary-General to bring to our attention situations of concern, which are not yet on the agenda of this Council. Their timely inclusion in the annual report further promotes prevention. This contributes to remind all parties of their obligations under international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law. Strengthening prevention also means fighting against impunity in a persistent manner.
Second, the fulfilment of the right to education is a fundamental aspect of prevention. The realisation of this right is under pressure, as the situation of women and girls in Afghanistan, among others, demonstrates. Out of school children are more vulnerable to grave violations. Yet attacks on schools continue to increase in many conflict zones. An estimated 222 million children in crisis situations are in need of educational support. This is why Switzerland and the global fund “Education Cannot Wait” – in close collaboration with Colombia, Germany, Niger, Norway and South Sudan – are organizing a high-level conference in Geneva this week, dedicated to the promotion and financing of education in emergencies and protracted crises.
Third, reintegrating children associated with armed groups or forces is critical to maintaining peace, preventing re-recruitment, and offer them a future. Many of these children are girls. Reintegration programs must therefore be sensitive to gender, age, and specific vulnerabilities. Children must be more involved in their design. We welcome the work that the UN, member states and civil society are doing on the ground. The development of a rapidly deployable child protection capacity could further support these efforts.
The Security Council often falls short of expectations in relation to exercising its preventive responsibilities. By strengthening the preventive aspects of the children in armed conflict agenda, we can not only make concrete progress in this regard, but also protect the rights of children, as called for in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In this way, girls and boys can shape their own future and become actors for peace.