Queen Mathilde and Alexander De Croo hold plea to stop war on children

The brutality of conflicts is affecting millions of children and the number of violations against children in conflict situations is continuously increasing. In the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, Belgium’s Queen Mathilde and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo held a plea to stop the war on children.

Together with the NGO Save the Children, Belgium co-sponsored a high-level event on children and armed conflict. While important steps were taken in the past to protect children in armed conflict, the number of violations against children in armed conflicts is unfortunately rising. Marking the 100th anniversary of Save the Children – set up in London to help children in situations of conflict in the aftermath of World War I – the discussion focused on current actions by States regarding the protection of children in conflict.

Deputy Prime Minister De Croo opened the event and HM the Queen spoke in her capacity as UN Advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals. Also Nadia Murad, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, addressed the audience.

Still on the rise

Like a century ago, boys and girls continue to be caught up in the severe and often life-altering consequences of war and armed conflict. And while the past 100 years considerable progress has been made in improving their protection, attention and action remain essential as reported violations against children in situations of conflict are on the rise. Belgium remains fully engaged in that domain.

“Children continue to be recruited by armed forces, often get separated from their families, driven from their homes, killed, sexually abused or exploited. It is not enough that we do our best to stop the war on children. We must do what is required,” Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said.

Belgium leads negotiations

During its mandate in the Security Council (2019-2020), Belgium holds the presidency of the United Nations Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. In the coming months, Belgium leads the negotiations within the UN Security Council on how to deal with children’s rights violations in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Central African Republic. Earlier this year, consensus was reached on this with regard to Syria and Myanmar. The fight against impunity is one of Belgium's foreign policy priorities.

Belgium also plays a leading role in the fight against children's rights violations in armed conflicts outside the UN Security Council. Belgium is an important contributor to UNICEF’s Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism which collects reliable information on serious violations of children’s rights in situations of conflict.