The Open Debate began with statements by the new Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Leila Zerrougui, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Mr. Hervé Ladsous, UNICEF Executive Director, Mr. Anthony Lake, and President of the International Center for Transitional Justice, Mr. David Tolbert. Following their remarks, a total of 47 delegations took the floor, speaking on behalf of 87 States. Of these 47 speakers, 38 had participated in the Open Debate in either 2011 or 2010.
- Click here to read the transcript of the Open Debate (Morning Session)
- Click here to read the transcript of the Open Debate (Afternoon Session)
35 delegations, speaking on behalf of 75 States offered broad support for the United Nations’ Children and Armed Conflict agenda. These speakers welcomed the progress achieved to-date, highlighted the importance of the Secretary-General’s annual report in its current form and supported the work of the Special Representative. Only 12 States criticized some parts of the Children and Armed Conflict agenda, primarily the annual reports of the Secretary-General. Of these 12 States, eight had been mentioned in the Secretary-General’s annual report. However, being mentioned in the Secretary-General’s report did not necessarily lead a State to criticize the Children and Armed Conflict agenda, as some mentioned States (notably Democratic Republic of the Congo and Afghanistan) welcomed and supported the agenda. 16 speakers supported the Secretary-General’s reporting.
The major theme of the debate, addressed by the overwhelming majority of speakers, was the importance of accountability for violations against children. Delegations stressed the need to hold perpetrators accountable, with the majority emphasizing the need for criminal accountability through national and international courts and almost half the speakers urging the use of sanctions against violators. Many speakers encouraged the Security Council and its Working Group to review and increase the use of its tools to put pressure on perpetrators of violations against children. Two States highlighted the importance of reparations and six speakers called for more attention to rehabilitation and reintegration.
The majority of speakers supported the conclusion of action plans by parties to conflicts as important tools in protecting children. Support was also expressed by several delegations for the importance of strengthening national capacities to end violations. Four States called on the Security Council to expand its list of so-called “trigger violations” to include all six grave violations against children.
More controversial were calls on States to allow direct access by the United Nations to non-State actors for the purpose of concluding action plans (opposed by ten of 17 speakers addressing the issue) and the idea of exploring the possibility of some form of thematic sanctions mechanism outside of the current sanctions committee structures (supported by seven speakers with five expressing opposition).
In sum, the Open Debate reflected the clear commitment of the majority of United Nations Member States to the Children and Armed Conflict agenda. However, the criticisms of a minority of delegations of the Secretary-General’s established reports and the lack of unanimity behind resolution 2068 send a warning message of the need to remain vigilant against efforts to roll back the gains achieved under this important initiative.