Statement by the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, H.E. Mr. Sergiy Kyslytsya at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate: children and armed conflict
(July 9 2018)
Ukraine highly appreciates the initiative of Sweden to hold this open debate, as well as your personal chairing of this meeting. We thank the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict Ms. Virginia Gamba and Executive Director of UNICEF Ms. Henrietta Fore for their presentations.
Ukraine welcomes the initiative of Sweden to adopt an updated UN Security Council resolution on children and armed conflict. By co-sponsoring this resolution Ukraine underscores once again its commitments in protection of children in the situations of armed conflicts.
As I am about to deliver a statement in my national capacity, I also would like to highlight that Ukraine aligns itself with the statement to be delivered by the EU.
It is regrettable that since the first Security Council open debate on children and armed conflicts that was held in 1998 children continue to be disproportionately affected in situations of armed conflicts.
The scale of violations committed against children, as documented in the Secretary General’s report, is extremely alarming. Behind these data lies enormous human sorrow that impacts children lives, causing long-term psychological trauma, making violence and insecurity permanent features of their everyday lives.
Let me thus echo other speakers before me that the right thing to do in the face of these grim facts is to intensify our common efforts to ensure enhanced protection of children in armed conflicts.
In this context, enhanced cooperation of the United Nations with regional and subregional organizations at all stages of the conflict cycle could make a substantive contribution in this regard.
It is equally important that adequate level of funding and support is provided to the governments to assist them in carrying out reintegration programs aimed at children scarred by armed conflicts.
Access to education, psychological support and rehabilitation are important building blocks in devising and implementing efficient strategies for preventing escalations of current conflicts and emergence of new ones.
It is worth mentioning that monitoring is an important preventive mechanism that can identify risks for sharp deterioration of the situation and make respective recommendations for early action.
But unfortunately, even despite existing preventive mechanisms, we witness the lack of their implementation in the situations of emerging conflicts.
I would like to remind you that, despite the existing resolution on the role of prevention in the promotion and protection of human rights that was initiated by Ukraine long before an armed aggression launched by the Russian Federation, the United Nations Human Rights Council was unable to use the preventive instruments of human rights violations at its disposal.
20 years ago, a permanent member of the Security Council at the open debates on children and armed conflict noted that «leaders of military factions are using children ever more frequently in armed conflicts as cannon fodder».
Back then, no one sitting at this table could imagine that the same Council member will launch a full scale armed intervention against neighboring states, illegally occupy parts of their territories and resort to the same tactics it vehemently condemned, namely shelling densely populated civilian areas, endangering lives of civilians, including children.
One recent example. On May 28, a 15-year-old girl died after an artillery attack of the Russian forces in the city of Toretsk in Donbas.
Moreover, there are also reports that children as young as 15 years old were recruited to armed youth groups and were taking part in active combat as full-fledged members of combined Russian and Russia-led militant forces, including as youth reconnaissance and sabotage groups operating in the government-controlled territory of Ukraine.
One of the brutal examples is the detention of six teenagers, citizens of Ukraine in September 2016, two years ago, in the city Yasynuvata by Russian occupation administration on charges of subversive activities. These children are still remain under illegal arrest in detention facilities and the question of their release since discussed within Trilateral Contact Group in Minsk. Unfortunately, no progress has been achieved yet.
There are some 200 thousand boys and girls residing in the 15 km zone along the line of contact on both sides and they all long for peace to come final to their land, when they can go to school without worrying that their classes could be interrupted by a sudden artillery shelling or take a walk in the fields or forests without fear of booby traps and mines.
This conflict has already claimed way too many lives, including those of 80 innocent children on board of the MH17 flight, shot down four years ago - in July 2014 - by a Buk missile system of the Russian 53rd Anti-Aircraft Military Brigade, which had been brought into the territory of Ukraine from the Brigade’s permanent base near the city of Kursk.
Let me remind you that back in 2015 the UN Security Council resolution aimed at creating an international tribunal to prosecute persons responsible for the attack on MH17 was vetoed by a country claiming that «international legality is the main attribute of a stable world and security». That country can easily contribute to resolution of the conflicts by putting an end to its practices of constantly and purposefully undermining international legal system, abandoning its aggressive policies, withdrawing its troops from the occupied territories of neighbouring states and ceasing flooding the region with heavy weapons.
On our part, Ukraine has always been consistent in its policy to ensure protection of children in situation of armed conflict. With the endorsement and ratification of the basic documents, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol, as well as Paris Commitments and Paris Principles, Ukraine has fully committed itself to the protection of the rights of children.
We continue to attach great importance to the Safe School Declaration, a framework to ensure better protection of schools and students and the Government of Ukraine intend to endorse the Declaration after completing necessary internal procedures.
We note the absence of the reference to the situation of Ukrainian children affected by the conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine in the UN Secretary-General’s thematic report. Such situation reflects the efforts of the Government of Ukraine to protect and save the lives of the children affected by the armed aggression.
Ukraine pays special attention to the reintegration of almost 240 thousands children out of around 1.7 million internally displaced persons.
Being in this Council during the previous two years Ukraine strived for the preventive role of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflicts. We welcome the adoption of the resolution today, which should give more possibilities to the Special Representative to implement her role in conflict prevention.
We are encouraged by the approach just expressed by Ms. Virginia Gamba that “we must move to an era of prevention”. It is fully in line of the general vision of the Secretary-General on Peace and Security Pillar reform based on the prevention of conflict concept.
It is evident, that preventive diplomacy represents a major tool the UN should deploy more. Ukraine as an initiator of the already mentioned resolution of the UN Human Rights Council on the role of prevention in the promotion and protection of human rights firmly believes that without systematic approach to prevention throughout the whole Organization we will not be able to succeed in preventing new conflicts and their resumption.
In matters of preventing conflicts and gross violations of human rights the speed and determination of the UN are crucial. In 1994 in Rwanda and later in Srebrenica the UN failed to react promptly to prevent genocide. In 2014 neither then leadership of the United Nations, nor the members of the Security Council at that time did not managed to stop Russia’s military aggression and occupation of Crimea and Donbas.
Finally, I would like to close my statement with the quote of a notable Swedish scientist Alfred Nobel: “Good wishes alone will not ensure peace” (end quote).
It seems like the right time to stop enjoying ourselves or as they say in English the right time to stop having a ball.
I thank you, Mr. President.