I would like to thank Brazil for organizing this debate and the speakers for their contributions.
"Children are both our reason to eliminate the worst aspects of armed conflict and our best hope of succeeding in that charge”. These were the words of Graça Machel in her seminal study on the impact of armed conflict on children in 1996. Her words are still true, as the Secretary-General's report demonstrates. We are deeply concerned about the high number of grave violations against children. It is particularly alarming that sexual violence and abductions have increased by 20% and that one in three victims is a girl.
Switzerland would like to highlight three points:
First, internally displaced children or children displaced abroad are particularly vulnerable and exposed to grave violations. Often, these children are also deprived of their fundamental rights such as the right to education. Switzerland calls for the implementation of Security Council Resolution 2601 on the protection of education in armed conflict and for the adoption of the Safe Schools Declaration by all States.
Second, children associated with armed groups must be treated as victims. In line with resolution 2427, we call on all member states to prioritize non-judicial measures focusing on rehabilitation and reintegration and to use detention only as a last resort. Successful reintegration contributes in turn to sustainable peace. The Peacebuilding Commission should treat reintegration as a priority, also through the theme of mental health and psychosocial support, and keep the Council informed of its deliberations.
Third, to protect children in conflict, it is urgent to preserve the independence, impartiality and credibility of the instruments at our disposal. The criteria for listing or delisting parties responsible for grave violations in the annexes to the annual report must be clear, consistent, and objective. This year, the Secretary General added Mozambique, Ethiopia – and following the Russian military aggression – also Ukraine to the list of situations of concern, and called for the strengthening of monitoring capacities in the Central Sahel region. The situation of children in these new contexts – as in all the countries mentioned in the report – must receive the necessary attention from the Council. Let us also ensure that there are sufficient human and financial resources for the monitoring and reporting mechanism on the ground everywhere. To this end, we call on the Council to include child protection provisions in all relevant mandates and on Member States to allocate the necessary resources.
Switzerland calls on all parties to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, human rights law and international refugee law. Graça Machel's aspiration must become a reality – as a future member of the Security Council, Switzerland will continue to work to ensure the protection of children in armed conflict.
Thank you for your attention.