Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN, United States

Security Council: Open Debate on Children an Armed Conflict

Introduction by H.E. Karel J.G. van Oosterom, Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the United Nations New York, 2 August 2016

(1.  Introductory remarks)   

Thank you, Mr President, terima kasih, tuan presiden!

The Netherlands aligns itself with the statement delivered by the European Union and with the statement by Canada on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict.

I will address the following three issues in my national statement: the 20th anniversary of the mandate, current trends and credibility-issues.

(2.   20th anniversary of the Mandate)

Mr President, 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the mandate of the SRSG on children and armed conflict.

The Netherlands commends the current SRSG, her predecessors and all who have contributed, often under difficult circumstances, to implementing this mandate over the past two decades.

The SRSG serves as the leading UN advocate for the protection and well-being of children affected by armed conflict. We can see, almost on a daily basis, the disproportionate impact of war on children. In Syria, Yemen and South-Sudan, to name but a few. Too often, children are the primary victims in conflict.

Therefore your work, Mme Zerrougi, is so important to all of us.

You help the most vulnerable in the most dire circumstances.

We pay tribute to your personal empathy, your efforts, your energy.

Important gains in the implementation of the mandate of the SRSG have been made, as was mentioned by the SRSG earlier.

But this year’s report by the Secretary General is another stark reminder: there is no room for complacency.

(3. Worrying trends)

We see worrying trends: the increased number of abductions, the effects of violent extremism, the growing negative impact of forced displacement on children.

These trends show the need for further action.

As rightfully stated by the EU delegation, our approach to fighting and preventing violent extremism needs to be comprehensive and should address its root causes.

To prevent displacement and its negative effects on children, it is crucial that all parties in conflict respect International Humanitarian Law.

In this regard, let me draw attention to the particularly distressing situation for citizens, including children, in Aleppo in Syria.

Let me refer to the op-ed piece my Minister of Foreign Affairs Koenders wrote in the Independent last weekend. 

Delivery of humanitarian assistance in Aleppo should be beyond dispute, regardless whether people flee or decide to stay.

The government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands therefore calls on the members of this Council to ensure agreement on OCHA’s proposal for opening regular 48-hour humanitarian corridors.

The members of this Council should redouble their efforts to reach a diplomatic solution in Syria.

Global efforts should be geared towards a two-track approach: fighting terror and leveraging a political solution.

Humanitarian access, restoration of a ceasefire and resumption of the peace talks in Geneva are first priorities.

The urgency of the situation is underlined by today’s reports about a horrific chlorine gas attack in Idlib province in which mostly women and children are among the victims. 

(4. Credibility and independence)

Mr. President,

For the international community to take action and to hold parties of conflict accountable for grave violations against children, we need a strong and credible monitoring and reporting mechanism.

Previous SG reports, including their annexes, have proven of instrumental value in this regard.

The Netherlands is concerned about a recurring trend over the past years to alter the content of the reports and to influence the listing of perpetrators.

This could lead to double standards and could seriously undermine the credibility of the reports and of the United Nations.

It is of the utmost importance that the integrity of the mandate on Children and Armed Conflict be respected by all of us.

Concluding remarks

The Netherlands fully supports the independent mandate of SRSG Zerrougui.

The past 20 years have shown us that under this mandate a lot can be achieved.

This year’s report underlines its continued relevance.

And we urge all member states to guarantee its credibility and success for the coming 20 years.

Mr President, The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a Partner for Peace, Justice and Development. And the position and protection of children is key to all these dimensions.

Thank you Mr. President.