Mr. President,

Thank you for organizing this briefing. I would also like to thank former Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ms Gamba, and the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF, Mr Chaiban, for their presentations. We also thank Janvier for his powerful testimony.

Mr. President,

There is no second chance for childhood. At the moment we meet here, in many armed conflicts children fear for their lives. Their death is unacceptable. And their survival is too often accompanied by traumatic experiences that will remain engraved in their bodies, memories and actions for the rest of their lives.

Switzerland is deeply alarmed by the appalling situation of children in many contexts. The Secretary-General's report, for which we would like to express our thanks, paints a bleak picture, including the large-scale recruitment and use of children in Myanmar and the DRC; the abduction and murder of children in Israel and northern Nigeria; the inconceivable number of children killed and maimed in Gaza and Sudan, and the far insufficient humanitarian access in both contexts; the attacks on schools and hospitals in Myanmar and Ukraine; or the violence, including sexual violence, of gangs in Haiti.

With the highest number of grave violations ever verified - an increase of almost a quarter from last year – there is no other way to say it: we are collectively failing our duties to children. This must change. I'm going to outline three courses of action:

Firstly, it's time to redouble and reaffirm our support for the Security Council's "children and armed conflict" agenda. The tools established by the thirteen relevant resolutions can bring about positive changes in behavior, and must continue to be applied in an independent, credible and impartial manner. In this respect, we take note of the new entries in the report’s Annex. We call on all listed parties to engage meaningfully with the United Nations to prevent and end all grave violations. The monitoring and reporting mechanism remains the backbone of the agenda. Switzerland supports it financially in Syria and Yemen. Finally, it is important that the conclusions of this Council's working group are adopted, as they are essential for progress on the ground.

Secondly, the withdrawal of UN missions must not be at the expense of child protection. We note with great concern that the number of verified grave violations has either stagnated or increased in several transitional contexts, such as the DRC. UN country teams must be able to continue relevant protection and monitoring activities during and after transitions. It is therefore our duty to ensure that transition mandates take this into account. Switzerland contributes by funding UNICEF or by seconding child protection specialists to UN agencies – as for example in Mali, following the withdrawal of MINUSMA.

Thirdly, the rising trend in verified cases of killing, maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals, as well as the denial of humanitarian access, must be urgently reversed. Switzerland calls for international humanitarian law to be respected by all parties at all times. We also recall Resolution 2730 adopted by this Council last month on the protection of UN and humanitarian personnel, which includes those working to protect children. We also encourage all states to sign and implement the Safe Schools Declaration. The right to education must be guaranteed. To this end, Switzerland will continue to finance the Education Cannot Wait fund.

Mr. President,

Peace and respect for international law are the best protection for children. In particular, international humanitarian law, human rights and refugee law must be respected. In this respect, we also call on member states to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

At the same time, as a member of this Council, we must redouble our efforts to find and support political solutions to conflicts, and to prevent them.

"Humanity owes to the Child the best it has to give," said humanitarian and founder of Save the Children, Eglantyne Jebb. It's time for us, who have the means and the responsibility, to intensify our actions to protect the girls and boys who will build our societies of tomorrow.

Thank you.