UN Human Rights Council – 21st Session
Interactive Dialogue with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
Statement by Australia, 11 September 2012
Australia welcomes the appointment of Ms Leila Zerrougui of Algeria as the Secretary General’s new Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict and looks forward to working with Ms Zerrougui. We would also like to place on record our strong appreciation for the work of former SRSG-CAAC Ms Radhika Coomaraswamy. As noted by several civil society groups working in this field, she has been a crucial, vital partner for both NGOs and UN member states and has worked closely with the Security Council to develop a robust and vital mechanism to address effectively the violations that children in armed conflict suffer.
We also welcome this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to a strong and effective international framework to protect the rights, and address the situation of, children in armed conflict. We welcome the Secretary General’s 11th Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict and note the progress made over the past year to protect children better during situations of armed conflict. We are gravely concerned by the unacceptably high, and growing, number of persistent perpetrators of grave violations against children listed in the Secretary General’s report. We join the Secretary General in his call for decisive and immediate action to halt these violations, and to ensure that persistent perpetrators are brought to account. We look forward to the open debate in the Security Council on the issue of Children and Armed Conflict later this month, and support strong measures to bring an end to impunity for those who should be held accountable. We also echo the Secretary General’s recommendation that all situations about which the United Nations is engaged, even where there is no peacekeeping or political mission, should systematically address the need for child protection capacity.
Australia remains committed to the promotion of the rights of children, through continued funding in the Australian aid program. A key focus of our aid program is to address the political, social and economic factors that contribute to the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.
Australia is a strong supporter of specific initiatives that protect the rights and address the situation of children in armed conflict. For example, we provide ongoing support for the work of the MRM (Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism) globally, which has assisted MRM activities in Afghanistan, Iraq and Nepal, and the work of Watchlist to build the capacity of NGO partners to conduct effective monitoring, reporting and response activities on violations against children. We also support the work of Save the Children to respond to the rehabilitation and reintegration needs of former child soldiers in Nepal, and the Uganda Fund to assist war-affected children and youth in northern Uganda through rehabilitation and education.