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Statement by Ambassador Yukio Takasu
Permanent Representative of Japan
at the Open Debate of the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict

17 July 2008

Mr. President,

I would like to express my appreciation to you for convening this open debate on children and armed conflict. My appreciation goes also to the valuable presentations by Special Representative Coomaraswamy, Executive Director Veneman, and Assistant Secretary-General Mulet.

Since the Security Council took up this issue for the first time about 10 years ago, we are heartened by certain progress towards protecting children who have the misfortune to be caught in the midst of armed conflict. For example, important precedents have been set at the International Criminal Court and the Special Court for Sierra Leone, to put an end to impunity for crimes against children, particularly the recruitment and use of children by armed forces or armed groups. The monitoring and reporting mechanism established by the Security Council resolution 1612, the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, and the child protection advisers (CPA) in the peacekeeping and political missions have all contributed to achieving concrete results. The dialogue amongst the parties concerned led to the release of more than 3,000 child soldiers in Côte d'Ivoire. In Chad and the Central African Republic, an agreement was reached by the parties to the conflict this May to release the child combatants.

Despite these achievements, we are deeply concerned with the plight of the estimated 250,000 children who are still forced to serve in armed forces and armed groups. The recent report of the Secretary-General (S/2007/757-A/62/609) and the report the SRSG (A/62/228) highlighted emerging critical issues of concern; a lack of security in and around camps for internally displaced persons and refugees; and illegal detention of children for alleged association with armed groups.

Mr. President,

Those children affected by armed conflict who have been deprived of their families and appropriate education should be given every opportunity to enjoy normal civilian life. Post-conflict peacebuilding must address the life and livelihood of such children and ensure their full reintegration into communities. It is indispensable to provide not only physical protection but also basic human services. We should pay particular attention to alleviate the factors at the community level which are likely to lead to the recurrence of conflicts, namely, discrimination against former child soldiers and lack of productive economic activities. Physical and mental rehabilitation, vocational training and expanded educational opportunities should be provided to empower those victims. In post-conflict situations, governments have the primary responsibility to lead the way by formulating and implementing child-rights based policies while communities and civil society play the important role to build a climate of reconciliation and forgiveness.

The Peacebuilding Commission can support national efforts to address the needs of children. For example, the Burundi Peacebuilding Strategic Framework makes specific commitments to address the needs of child soldiers and promote their human rights in the context of transitional justice, in response to SRSG Coomaraswamy's briefing at the country-specific meeting. In the case of Sierra Leone, the Peacebuilding Cooperation Framework recognizes that education, employment and empowerment of youth is a critical and priority issue.

At the last open debate on children and armed conflict in February, the Council issued the Presidential Statement (S/PRST/2008/6), inviting all parties concerned to enhance their exchange of information about programmes and best practices on the reintegration and rehabilitation of children. The Peacebuilding Commission with its diverse stakeholders will be able to provide valuable support to develop a coordinated, integrated approach to achieve durable peace.

Mr. President,

Children are members of society who are most vulnerable when a conflict breaks out. The concept of human security, which Japan promotes wholeheartedly, focusing on the safety and security of the individual, provides a vitally important perspective for the protection and empowerment of children affected by armed conflict. An integrated approach based on such a concept is highly relevant to the entire process. We believe that these endeavors will in turn contribute to the international efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. G8 leaders stressed at the Hokkaido Toyako Summit the importance of the enhancement of human security and promotion of good governance in achieving these goals.

In mainstreaming the human security approach, Japan has been providing assistance to the programmes aimed at supporting former child soldiers and victims of sexual exploitation and violence in many countries including the DRC, Burundi, Uganda and Liberia. Also, through the UN Trust Fund for Human Security, Japan supports capacity-building in the local community to build durable child-friendly environments, for instance, in Kenya and DRC.

TICAD IV also addressed the importance of ensuring human security as a top priority. Political leaders agreed the importance of approaching seamless peace-building efforts from human-centered perspective, encompassing conflict prevention, early warning, conflict resolution and the prevention of relapses into conflict, as all these contribute to a durable peace. Likewise crucial are a smooth transition between one phrase and the next and the creation of interdependence between security, human rights and development.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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