Thank you very much, Mark, and the United States wants to thank the representatives of Belgium, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, and France for organizing this timely conversation on the occasion of the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers. Thanks also to Virginia Gamba and the other briefers for today’s meeting. We especially want to congratulate Belgium as the new chair of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.
The United States remains fully committed to the UN’s critical work in tackling violations and abuses of children that they face in the wake of conflict. These issues remain prevalent in conflicts in Africa, particularly the Central African Republic, and as numerous reports have documented, children in CAR have suffered the worst consequences of war: sexual slavery, forced recruitment as child soldiers, and deprivation of education and opportunity as security weakens and schools are occupied by armed groups. Despite this challenging environment, our speakers have shared important examples of how Child Protection Actors have made progress advocating for children caught in armed conflict in CAR.
Our work together on this scourge is far from over, and we remain deeply concerned over the lack of progress on the ground where parties to conflict, such as the Burmese security forces and the governments of South Sudan and Syria, continue to commit violations and abuses against children. We must find ways to elevate good examples, such as those we’ve heard today, and consider how we can sustain this progress not only in CAR, but make similar inroads in other contexts on the Security Council’s agenda. The costs of inaction are simply too high. And I strongly support Stephen’s suggestions of mainstreaming this discussion generally, and particularly, looking for more opportunities to do so in UN Security Council debates and in Sanctions Regime discussions.
We are proud of the work of our partners to better protect children affected by armed conflict in CAR and elsewhere. The United States supports UNICEF in its mandate to protect and assist children in CAR and globally, including specializing support for survivors of violence and ensuring children’s access to a range of life-saving assistance including nutrition, health, water, and sanitation. UNICEF teams on the ground are also to be commended for their heroic work helping to negotiate access and engage armed groups in an effort to prevent and respond to violations against children. We also support and commend the ICRC’s critical and often dangerous work in child protection around the world, particularly monitoring conditions for detained children.
I thank you.