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Children and armed conflict
Report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict (S/2006/826)
The President (spoke in Spanish ): I now call on the representative of Slovenia.
Mr. Kirn (Slovenia): ...
The Network wishes to encourage the Security Council and the wider United Nations system to continue efforts to prevent or end all violations committed against children affected by armed conflict. The report of the Secretary-General, while reflecting progress made, also highlights new situations of great concern that have arisen, such as situations involving child victims of the recent violence in the Middle East, including in Lebanon, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.
The President (spoke in Spanish ): I give the floor to the representative of Indonesia.
Mr. Jenie (Indonesia): ...
Another issue of concern is the plight of children caught up in conflict situations in the Middle East — as exemplified by what recently occurred in Lebanon, where a greater number of children were killed than combatants. We believe that the Security Council should react in an urgent manner to prevent the loss of life of children in that region. In particular, action is necessary to protect the lives of children who are victims of the unresolved Palestinian problem, which is at the heart of the ongoing Middle East crisis.
The President (spoke in Spanish ): I now give the floor to the representative of Bangladesh.
Mr. Chowdhury (Bangladesh): ...
Violence against children is usually further exacerbated in situations of foreign occupation. We are concerned at the fresh incidents involving children in the Middle East, particularly in Lebanon and in the occupied Palestinian territories. Preventive measures and concrete actions need to be urgently taken to extend them fullest protection.
The President (spoke in Spanish ): The next speaker on my list is the representative of Israel, to whom I give the floor.
Mr. Carmon (Israel): ...
Across the globe, children are being recruited to join roving militias, armed gangs and terrorist groups. In our region, we have seen the recruitment of children for terror attacks and violence, including but not limited to suicide bombings. We have seen the cruel exploitation of children as human shields. And we have seen the transformation of children’s bedrooms into bomb-making factories, schools into weapons storehouses and kindergartens into terrorist safe houses. To combat that disturbing phenomenon, more attention must be paid to the incitement and provocation by communal and political leaders in our region as a whole, including in the Palestinian Authority.
Youth are extremely impressionable. They are susceptible to brainwashing by individuals of popularity, and indoctrination by the hateful materials found in the textbooks used in our region. Those forms of incitement are the most harmful, as they pervert the value and worth of education. In order to truly protect children, we must understand the educational consequences of incitement. Hence, it is with regret that we note that the severity of that issue was not reflected in the report of the Secretary-General. The incitement of children is no less dangerous than terrorism. It nurtures an infrastructure of hate and poisons the life stream of society. We hope more attention will be given to that pressing issue in the future.
Similarly, we regret that the report omits reference to the fact that children have actually been recruited by Palestinian terrorists to carry out attacks. This is a reality we face and it has been documented both by Israel and by human rights groups. We hope this reality is given attention by the Council and in future reports.
This year has been an especially difficult one for the children in our region, caught in the crossfire of vicious armed conflict and between currents of extremism and hate. Terrorist attacks in the north by Hizbullah and in the south by Palestinian terrorists have blanketed civilian life in Israel since early this summer.
While children in Israel’s north have gone on to rebuild their lives, children in Israel’s south continue to suffer from Palestinian terror. The situation became so grave that recently thousands of children were evacuated from their homes in Sderot. The psychological toll that terrorism has levied on children is only beginning to be understood. Just this morning, we learned that record numbers of teenaged students in the north of Israel have dropped out of school owing to post-traumatic stress. In the south, parents and medical health professionals are seeing exceptionally high levels of anxiety and fear among children, many of them showing signs of trauma and regression such as bed-wetting and nightmares. Some children cannot even remember what life was like before the Qassam rockets.
It is important to recall that no one has a monopoly on victim status. The suffering of all children — and I emphasize, all children: Lebanese, Israeli and Palestinian children — must be acknowledged. Denying the suffering of one side undermines the prospects for mutual understanding and tolerance.
Unfortunately, in this world body over the past month, we have seen exactly that: a willingness to ignore one side of suffering and to adopt one-sided resolutions. The resolutions adopted by the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly politicized tragic human suffering, projected a one-sided version of history and distorted reality. Those resolutions turned suffering children into political pawns to increase criticism of Israel, while ignoring reality on the ground and the source of terror.
I would like to take just a moment to note that Israel finds the statement, made during today’s deliberations, that more children than combatants were killed during this summer’s conflict in Lebanon — and I suppose that those statements meant terrorists — to be highly troubling and questionable. I am unaware of the source of the data cited, but what I do know is that Hizbollah, by firing weapons from civili I would like to take just a moment to note that Israel finds the statement, made during today’s deliberations, that more children than combatants were killed during this summer’s conflict in Lebanon — and I suppose that those statements meant terrorists — to be highly troubling and questionable. I am unaware of the source of the data cited, but what I do know is that Hizbollah, by firing weapons from civilian areas and using civilians as human shields, deliberately distorted the distinction between civilian and terrorist. They attempted to escape retaliation and avoid responsibility for their terror. The obscurity surrounding the number of civilians and terrorists killed merely confirms that tactic. While the death of every innocent civilian — adult and child alike — in time of war is a real tragedy, the specific statement that we heard today could lead to conclusions that are clearly problematic.
The ceasefire agreed upon two days ago in our region is a sign of promise, a promise of peace and hope for us and for our children — all children. But more must be done. We must see to it that the tensions underlying this conflict, the hatred and incitement, and Hamas’s disregard for its internationally accepted obligations — to recognize Israel, to renounce violence and terror and to abide by previous agreements — are addressed.
Israel awaits a genuine Palestinian partner that desires peace. Indeed, our region has had a difficult few months. But the past cannot be changed, and the victims on all sides of the conflict cannot be returned. What remains is the course that we chart together to prevent further tragedies and to bestow a legacy on the next generation. If we do so, we can transform animosity into amity and embark together — not in the distant future, but in our day — on the path of mutual recognition, respect and direct dialogue.
The President (spoke in Spanish ): The next speaker on my list is the representative of Egypt, to whom I give the floor.
Mr. Abdelaziz (Egypt) (spoke in Arabic ): ...
Permit me at the outset to express our appreciation to the Secretary-General for his report on children and armed conflict (S/2006/826), which was submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1612 (2005). We also thank Ms. Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF, and Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, for their insightful presentations today. In addition, we thank the Security Council for its efforts, in cooperation with the relevant United Nations bodies, to put an end to the suffering of children in armed conflict, as well as violations and exploitation perpetrated by parties to conflicts.
Despite the fact that the report acknowledges the escalation of violence against children in the Middle East, including in Lebanon, the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, which has resulted in thousands of child victims, mostly as a result of the ceaseless Israeli aggression against Lebanon and Palestine, the report makes no reference to any measure taken by the United Nations to put an end to that shameful situation. To the contrary, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General has not yet had the opportunity to visit Lebanon and Israel to assess the situation on the ground and to submit a report to the Working Group of the Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict. Moreover, no monitoring and reporting mechanism has been established to monitor the deteriorating situation there. In contrast, such mechanisms have been established to follow up on progress made in the seven other designated conflict areas, despite the fact that the situations in Palestine and Lebanon figure on the Security Council’s agenda. Those two situations are no less important than other conflict situations for which the Council has established monitoring and reporting mechanisms, although they are not included on its agenda and are thus outside the Council’s purview, such as the situations in Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Therefore, Egypt stresses the need to give a broad mandate to the fact-finding mission to be sent to the Palestinian territory pursuant to General Assembly resolution A/ES-10/16 — which was adopted at the Assembly’s tenth emergency special session after the Security Council had failed to take action in that regard — to prepare a detailed report on violence against Palestinian children and to determine Israel’s responsibility for the situation. We also call on the Secretary-General to send his Special Representative to Lebanon on an urgent mission to report on the deteriorating situation of Lebanese children as a result of the most recent Israeli military aggression. We look forward to receiving detailed information on both important situations in the next report on children and armed conflict.
The meeting rose at 6 p.m.
This record contains the text of speeches delivered in English and of the interpretation of speeches delivered in the other languages. The final text will be printed in the Official Records of the Security Council . Corrections should be submitted to the original languages only. They should be incorporated in a copy of the record and sent under the signature of a member of the delegation concerned to the Chief of the Verbatim Reporting Service, room C-154A.