Statement delivered by Ambassador Vladimir Drobnjak, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Croatia to the United Nations, at the Security Council Open Debate on children and armed conflict
New York, 07 March 2014
At the outset I would like to highly commend the Luxembourg presidency for convening this important meeting. There can hardly be a topic that calls for a greater attention than this one.
Our sincere appreciation goes to the Secretary General, the SRSG for Children and Armed conflict and the Executive Director of UNICEF for their valuable briefings. Special gratitude goes to Mr. Alhaji Sawaneh for his personal testimony.
Croatia aligns itself with the statement delivered earlier by the EU and I would like to add the following in my national capacity.
Reports of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict remind us starkly of the challenges ahead. We note with appreciation some progress made in the protection and reintegration of children affected by armed conflict, especially with regard to the release of children from armed forces and armed groups in several countries. However, we remain gravely concerned and saddened that children in many countries continue to terribly suffer from physical and emotional wounds that armed conflicts brought upon them.
Croatia fully supports all efforts aimed at the prevention and combating of sexual violence in conflict, as well as at ensuring accountability for crimes committed. Croatia became one of the global champions of the UK Initiative on Preventing the Sexual Violence in Conflict and supported a historic Declaration aimed towards world efforts to eradicate this war crime. We look forward to the elaboration of the International Protocol on the Investigation and Documentation of Sexual Violence in Conflict, which is of the special relevance for child rights and its protection.
Croatia strictly opposes and is gravely concerned about the use of schools for any military purposes because it puts children in grave danger and negatively affects their right to education. It seriously jeopardises their chances for the future. We recognise the right and access to education as a fundamental human right and particular attention is being paid to their protection through Croatia’s international assistance and development co-operation to countries in and emerging from conflicts.
Following a children-sensitive approach and particularly supporting girls' education, Croatia last year funded the construction of a library in Afghanistan used by 5,000 children and the high school being attended by 600 children. Also, last year we have provided medical treatment in Croatia to a number of Palestinian children suffering from respiratory diseases, contributing thus to their psycho-social rehabilitation and well-being.
As a country that experienced war horrors gravely affecting children Croatia fully supports the campaign “Children, Not Soldiers” with the main aim to prevent the recruitment of children by 2016.
The use of child soldiers, conscripting and enlisting children into armed units, is a war crime. There can be zero tolerance towards impunity. This and all other forms of war crimes and crimes against humanity must be prosecuted and brought to justice – primarily before national courts and ultimately, in the absence of capacity of States to do so, before the International Criminal Court (ICC). With the aim to strengthen this important principle of subsidiarity, Croatia fully supports deepening the dialogue between the Security Council and the ICC.
We all must increase the pressure on those who have no heart, no shame and no conscience – listing violations against children as clear designation criteria for sanctions and making concerted effort to sanction responsible individuals is one way to do it.
In order to protect those most vulnerable, those unable to protect themselves, we should spare no effort. Croatia firmly supports the inclusion of child protection advisors in peacekeeping operations as well as the organization of pre-deployment targeted training in child protection for peacekeepers. It is of the paramount importance that all relevant peacekeeping and peace-building operations properly address the impact of conflict on children, especially on girls. We also advocate that this aspect is given even greater prominence in respective reports submitted to the Security Council.
Croatia ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and calls for its universal ratification. We also consider the Paris Principles and Commitments as a useful guide in our common efforts to respond to the plight of children affected by armed conflicts worldwide.
Finally, as one of the cosponsors we commend the unanimous adoption of the new Security Council resolution.
I thank you.