International conference on Children and armed conflict: speech by Minister Didier Reynders

Didier Reynders

 

Majesty,
Excellencies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a honor to welcome you today at the Egmont Palace. I thank you all for having agreed to be present here. I especially would like to thank you, Majesty, to enhance this particular event with your presence and to, once again, highlight the importance you give to the thematic of Children and Armed Conflict and your deep interest and full commitment for this topic.

One of Belgian’s longstanding foreign policy priorities is the fight against impunity in all its aspects. Our action with respect to children and armed conflict should be seen in the broader context of this fight against impunity. Our involvement is situated on two levels: our political activism in international fora is complemented by an operational one in the framework of our aid programs, notably the monitoring and reporting mechanism of UNICEF.

The issue of children and armed conflict is a multi-faceted one. Today, we are focusing on different aspects of child protection policies from a variety of organizations that are all active in the field. Another important aspect is the rehabilitation and reintegration of children affected by armed conflict, in particular the psychosocial well-being of children affected by armed conflicts. It is an often forgotten aspect, although emotional wounds may last very long, if not forever. Therefore, Belgium organized a high-level event in New York six months ago to share best practices on psychosocial rehabilitation and social integration in the field. This event was part of the launch of our campaign for a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council in 2019-2020. If elected, Belgium will continue to actively engage on children and armed conflict, as we did during our last membership of the Security Council.

We are very pleased that we do not stand alone as illustrated by your presence here today. Another illustration is the conference France, our good neighbor and partner, will organize on the 21th  of February to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children associated with armed forces or armed groups. Belgium has endorsed these principles.