Didier Reynders talks at the United Nations
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders took the floor today during an open debate of the UN Security Council on Children and Armed Conflict. Minister Reynders was invited to take part in this debate, opened to countries who do not sit at the Security Council, by France’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian.
In the run-up to his intervention, Didier Reynders co-chaired yesterday an event on the release and reintegration in society of children who have been part of armed forces or armed groups. Belgium organized this event in collaboration with UNICEF, represented by its Executive Director Anthony Lake, and the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflicts Virginia Gamba.
In his opening remarks, Didier Reynders deplored the fact that children are still disproportionally affected by armed conflicts. In Yemen, as an example, the United Nations verified 1,340 child casualties.
The Minister underlined that prevention, including education, was the only sustainable solution for this issue. He expressed also his concerns regarding the worsening impact of violent extremism on children.
Reintegration in society is essential. The Minister referred in this regard to the high level meeting which Belgium organized last year in New York in the presence of Queen Mathilde. This meeting made possible an exchange of best practices on psychosocial rehabilitation and the social integration of children who have been involved in conflicts.
Didier Reynders concluded his intervention noting that Belgium was committed to remain active on this issue.
During his visit to the United Nations, the Minister also participated in a meeting of the Security Council on the set-up of a joint force by five countries in the Sahel region to fight against transnational terrorism and trafficking (G5 Sahel). This force will be complementary to the United Nations’ Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and to the European Union’s training mission for the Malian Armed Forces (EUTM), both of which are led by Belgian generals.
The Minister also had contacts with ambassadors of a number of geographical groups. He spoke to them about peacekeeping in Africa, the support to countries affected by natural disasters, the fight against racism and the situation in the Middle-East.
Didier Reynders will leave New York later today for Washington, where he is due to meet with his counterpart Rex Tillerson tomorrow.