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Belgium is putting the issue of children in armed conflict on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council, which our country presides over this month. February 12 is the “International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers”, and our country will use that symbolic day to issue a call to action. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense Philippe Goffin will chair the briefing at the UNSC on integrating child protection measures into peace processes. King Filip will address the UNSC on behalf of our country.
Today, over 420 million children (one in five children worldwide) are suffering the consequences of situations of armed conflict. The number of violations of children's rights in conflicts is increasing. The United Nations wishes to improve the fate of these children by tackling the six serious violations of children's rights: killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction, attacks on schools or hospitals, denial of access to humanitarian aid and the recruitment of child soldiers.
Rehabilitation and Reintegration
For years, Belgium has been committed to placing the protection of children in armed conflicts at the heart of the international agenda, inter alia through support for the United Nation’s Children's Fund, UNICEF and through our development cooperation in partner countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As Chair of the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict within the United Nations Security Council, our country has reached consensus in recent months on the extremely complicated situations in Syria and Myanmar.
In concrete terms, Belgium calls in particular for systematic attention by the United Nations to the protection of children in its peacekeeping operations and its targeted use of sanctions. Our country is also committed to a strong preventive dimension, including through the reintegration and rehabilitation of young people whose rights have been violated during armed conflict.
Practical guidelines for peace negotiators
February 12th marks the "International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers”. Our country will use this symbolic day to issue a call to action. King Filip will address the members of the United Nations Security Council (chaired by Minister Goffin) on this issue. António Guterres (UN Secretary-General), Smaïl Chergui (African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security) and Jo Becker (NGO Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict) will brief the Security Council. Belgium counts on all member states of the Council to support the practical guidelines for peace negotiators. In doing so, our country seeks to address the problem of children in conflict situations in a sustainable manner. After all, child protection measures are often the first measures on which the warring parties can agree and constitute a first concrete step towards peace. However, despite the extent of available knowledge, operational support to mediators in the area of child protection remains fragmented.
This afternoon, Minister Goffin, together with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, will present these practical guidelines to a wider audience: all UN Member States as well as civil society have been invited to this kick-off meeting. People involved in conflicts during their childhood and NGOs active in the field will share their testimonies.
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