Madam President,

I would like to join others in congratulating the United Arab Emirates on their presidency of the Council in June, and wish you, Madam President, and your team every success. You can count on Switzerland's support. I would also like to thank you for organizing this debate, as well as Special Representative of the Secretary-General Gamba and Deputy Executive Director Abdi for their in-depth analysis and all their crucial work. My special thanks go to Ms. Violeta.

Almost thirty years ago, Graça Machel made an urgent appeal in her seminal report on the impact of armed conflict on children: "We must look beyond what seems immediately possible, and find new ways and new solutions to shield children from the consequences of war [...]".

This Council responded to this call by developing the "Children and Armed Conflict" Agenda through successively adopting thirteen resolutions that created important protecting tools for children. While the CAAC agenda has helped to change the lives of thousands of girls and boys, the annual report reminds us that the situation of children caught up in armed conflict remains disastrous. 27,000 grave violations of children's rights are 27,000 grave violations of children's rights too many. Although more than half of the total number of violations emanate from armed groups, it is worrying to note, as Ms Gamba mentioned, that government forces have been responsible for the majority of child killings, attacks on schools and hospitals, and denials of humanitarian access.

Respect for international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law is fundamental in this context, and we must intensify our collective efforts to protect children in armed conflict. To this end, it is our duty to focus on the following three points:

Firstly, the tools developed by this Council will remain effective if - and only if - they are used in an independent, credible and impartial manner. The criteria for including parties in the annexes to the annual report, or for removing them, must be transparent and objective. The listing of Myanmar's armed forces for additional grave violations, as well as that of the Russian armed forces and armed groups affiliated with them in the context of military aggression against Ukraine, is consistent and important. We call for a meaningful engagement of all listed parties with the UN to prevent and end all grave violations. Additional resources now must be mobilized, including for the monitoring and reporting mechanism that Switzerland supports in several countries.

Secondly, verified attacks on schools and hospitals have more than doubled in one year.  This is simply unacceptable! The use of these infrastructures for military purposes has also increased significantly. We call on all states to sign and respect the Safe Schools Declaration, and to implement Resolution 2601 adopted by this council. Fulfilment of the right to education is the key to a better future and lasting peace.

Thirdly, successful reintegration of children previously associated with armed groups or forces is fundamental. The importance of long-term reintegration programmes that also provide economic opportunities and address gender-based needs cannot be overstated. Such programmes are also a powerful antidote to the risk of future recruitment.

Madam President,

Even if the situation remains bleak, let's never forget what Ms Violeta described: children, with their inherent creativity, ambition and recommendations, which we have listened to carefully, can change the world. Or, to once again draw on the words of Graça Machel: “In a world of diversity and disparity, children are a unifying force capable of bringing people to common ethical grounds.”

Thank you.