Monthly Archives: October 2017

Approving 15 Drafts, First Committee Calls for Crackdown on Supply Chains Giving Terrorist Groups Materials to Build Improvised Explosive Devices

The First Committee (Disarmament and International Security) sent 14 draft resolutions and 1 draft decision to the General Assembly today, including one aimed at preventing terrorist groups from accessing materials to build improvised explosive devices.

Finding Committee‑wide agreement on that matter, delegates shared deep concerns about the use of such weapons.  Afghanistan’s representative, who tabled the draft resolution “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices” (document A/C.1/72/L.15/Rev.1), said those weapons were causing devastating humanitarian consequences and were increasingly being used to target civilians.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved “L.15/Rev.1”, by which the General Assembly would strongly encourage States to develop and adopt their own national policies on countering improvised explosive devices, including through civilian‑military cooperation.  States would also be encouraged to strengthen countermeasure capabilities, prevent their territory from being used for terrorist purposes, and combat illegal armed groups, terrorists and other unauthorized recipients in their use of such weapons.

With delegates voicing different opinions on the draft, Egypt’s representative pointed out that the language in preambular paragraph 12 raised a web of issues far removed from the text’s aims.  Meanwhile, Cuba’s representative said operative paragraph 23 lacked an appropriate framework to establish definitions of anti‑personnel mines.

Tackling other draft resolutions on conventional weapons, the Committee took action on several relating to international treaties and conventions.

The Committee approved the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti‑Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.40) by a recorded vote of 158 in favour to none against, with 16 abstentions.  By the text, the Assembly would stress the importance of the full and effective implementation of and compliance with the Convention, including through the continued implementation of the action plan for the period 2014 to 2019.

While the representatives of India, Iran, Myanmar, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea cited security concerns as reasons for their continued need and use of such weapons, Morocco’s delegate said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.40” because it supported the objective of the complete destruction of mines and the provision of care for civilian victims.

The Committee also approved the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions” (document A/C.1/72/L.41) by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 2 against (Russian Federation, Zimbabwe), with 36 abstentions.  By the text’s provisions, the Assembly would urge all States outside the instrument to join, and all States parties in a position to do so to promote adherence to the Convention.

In approving the draft resolution “The Arms Trade Treaty” (document A/C.1/72/L.27) by a recorded vote of 144 in favour to none against, with 29 abstentions, the Committee would have the Assembly call upon all States that had not yet done so to ratify, accept, approve or accede to the instrument, in order to achieve its universalization.

Among those abstaining, Ecuador’s delegate said the instrument was unbalanced with regard to exporting and importing States.  Representing another perspective, the representative of the United States said his delegation’s abstention stemmed from his country’s current standard policy review of several conventions, including the Arms Trade Treaty.  However, the United States had robust transfer controls in place and cooperated with Member States to help prevent conventional arms from falling into the wrong hands, he said.

Approving a basket of draft resolutions on other disarmament measures and international security, the Committee took action on “Compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments” (document A/C.1/72/L.7), which was approved by a vote of 165 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 11 abstentions.

By that text, the Assembly would call upon all concerned States to take concerted action to encourage the compliance by all States with their respective non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and to hold accountable those not in compliance.

Also approved today were the following draft resolutions: “Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects” (document A/C.1/72/L.16/Rev.1); “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them” (document A/C.1/72/L.21); “Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus” (document A/C.1/72/L.43); “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects” (document A/C.1/72/L.56/Rev.1); “Objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures” (document A/C.1/72/L.24); “Relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/72/L.30); “Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” (document A/C.1/72/L.31); “Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation” (document A/C.1/72/L.32); “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.52/Rev.1).

In addition, the Committee approved the draft decision “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” (document A/C.1/72/L.44).

Speaking in explanation of position were representatives of Mexico, Australia, France, Singapore, Japan, Mali, Austria, Armenia, Indonesia, Libya, Venezuela, Argentina, Poland, Cyprus, Brazil, Switzerland, Syria, Liechtenstein, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, China, Brazil and South Africa.

The Committee will meet again at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 1 November, to continue its consideration of all draft resolutions and decisions before it.

Background

The First Committee met this morning to take action on all draft resolutions and decisions before it.  For background information, see Press Release GA/DIS/3571 of 2 October.

Action on Draft Texts

The representative of Mexico, explaining her delegation’s position on draft resolutions on disarmament aspects of outer space, agreed with the importance of preventing an arms race in outer space, and for the exploration of outer space for peaceful purposes.  The declaration of a country or several not to be the first to place weapons in outer space should not be understood as an endorsement to place weapons in that domain, which Mexico would strongly oppose.

The representative of India said her delegation had voted in favour of the draft resolution “No first placement of weapons in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.53), emphasizing that the legal regime to protect and preserve access to space for all needed to be enhanced.

The representative of Australia, speaking also on behalf of Canada and Japan, said delegations had abstained from voting on “L.53” because the draft resolution had not defined what constituted a weapon in outer space.  Any space objects capable of being manoeuvred could be potential weapons.  In addition, the no-first placement pledge could not be verifiable.  As such, their delegations would favour measures that had a practical rather than a political claim.  Furthermore, “L.53” was focused on space‑based weapons and did not address ground‑based arms, such as missiles and lasers.  Australia, Canada and Japan had also abstained from voting on the draft resolution “Further practical measures for the prevention of an arms race in outer space” (document A/C.1/72/L.54).  Noting that the draft had called for establishing a United Nations group of governmental experts, he said non‑binding but verifiable measures were more likely to gain wider acceptance and adherence by the international community.  Those were necessary for the strengthening of the legal regime on the issue.  The outer space transparency and confidence‑building measures should be considered in the Conference on Disarmament.

The representative of France said his delegation had voted against “L.54” because the necessary conditions for a legal binding instrument had not been met.  He regretted to note the restrictive nature of the mandate of the co‑sponsors and expressed concern about the financial implications for creating another group of experts.  For its part, France was ready to work with the international community to adopt confidence‑building and transparency measures for outer space.

The representative of Singapore, noting that her delegation had voted in favour of “L.54”, said the proposed group of governmental experts needed to be transparent and inclusive, taking into account the views of all countries.

The Committee then turned to draft resolutions related to conventional weapons.

The representative of Japan, introducing the draft resolution “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects” (document A/C.1/72/L.56/Rev.1), said it was essential to work together.  Expressing hope that it would be adopted by consensus, he said the draft’s preambular paragraph 9 had been deleted toward that aim, and called on all Member States to extend support for it.

The representative of Afghanistan, tabling the draft resolution “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices” (document A/C.1/72/L.15/Rev.1), said the current text included updates on several preambular and operative paragraphs to address the threats increasingly being borne by civilians.  Noting that prior versions of “L.15/Rev.1” had been adopted by consensus, he expressed hope for the same agreement in the Committee during the current session to help the global community fight against the use of such weapons.

The representative of Mali, introducing the draft resolution “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them” (document A/C.1/72/L.21), said it contained several updates and used the same language as the version the General Assembly had adopted at its seventy‑first session.  “L.21” would have the Assembly encourage the international community to support the implementation of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials.  He thanked co‑sponsors and encouraged other Member States to show their support by becoming a co‑sponsor.

The representative of Cuba said her delegation would disassociate itself from paragraphs referencing the Arms Trade Treaty in draft resolutions before the Committee.  As such, Cuba would abstain from voting on draft resolution “The Arms Trade Treaty” (document A/C.1/72/L.27) because the instrument had been adopted through a premature vote, did not enjoy consensus and was characterized by ambiguities and inconsistencies in definitions and legal gaps.  In addition, “L.27” was not balanced and favoured arms‑exporting States.

The representative of Austria, also on behalf of Liechtenstein, said even though improvised explosive devices were a loose and undefined weapons category, their delegations would vote in favour of “L.15”.  They hoped the subsequent version that would be tabled during the seventy‑third session of the General Assembly would have better language on standards so that they could join as co‑sponsors.

The representative of the Republic of Korea, referencing draft resolutions “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti‑Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.40) and “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions” (document A/C.1/72/L.41), said her delegation sympathized with the objectives of the texts, but because of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula, it was not a party to either instrument.   While the Republic of Korea could not support the draft resolutions, it would do its utmost to limit the humanitarian consequences of cluster munitions in a collaborative manner.

The representative of Armenia said his delegation would abstain from voting on “L.27”, which should be adopted by consensus to be more inclusive and effective.  He expressed concern that the Arms Trade Treaty could lead to situations involving political manipulation.

The representative of Indonesia, noting that her delegation would abstain from voting on “L.27”, said her country shared the spirit of the Arms Trade Treaty.  Indonesia was also carefully studying the instrument with a view to avoiding any possible inconsistencies with national law.

The representative of Egypt said his delegation would abstain from voting on “L.27” because of the Arms Trade Treaty’s shortcomings, including genuinely preventing the illicit supply of arms to terrorist groups, its lack of definitions and its reliance on arbitrary criteria.

The representative of Iran said his delegation supported measures to counter the threat posed by improvised explosive devices and would join consensus on “L.15”.  However, Iran would abstain from voting on “L.27” for several reasons, including that the call for the universalization of the Arms Trade Treaty lacked credibility.  The instrument had not been adopted by consensus due to its flaws and ignored the interests of some States, he said, citing examples of violations, including the export of billions of dollars of weapons to Israel, which that State had used in Palestine.

The representative of Libya said his country was not a party to the Mine Ban Convention, but supported and shared the international community’s concerns about those arms and their destruction.  Despite being fully aware of the damage caused by anti‑personnel mines, he said the Convention did not refer to the responsibility of occupying States to repair the damage they had caused, nor did it address the issue of providing assistance to affected countries.  For those and other reasons, his delegation would abstain from voting on “L.40”.

The representative of Morocco said his delegation would vote in favour of “L.40” because it supported the objective of the complete destruction of mines and the provision of care for civilian victims.

The representative of Venezuela said her country was not a party to the Arms Trade Treaty and would abstain from voting on “L.27”.  The imbalanced instrument could be politically manipulated, preventing it from becoming a universal treaty.  Venezuela was fully committed to eradicating the illicit trade of conventional weapons and the best way to do so was through a multilateral regime, with a non‑discriminatory and objective instrument.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Countering the threat posed by improvised explosive devices” (document A/C.1/72/L.15/Rev.1), by which the Assembly would urge all States to provide support to reduce the risks posed by those weapons in a manner that considered the different needs of women, girls, boys and men.  It would also urge Member States to comply fully with all relevant United Nations resolutions, including those related to preventing terrorist groups from using and accessing materials that could be used to make such weapons.

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee turned to the draft resolution “Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects” (document A/C.1/72/L.16/Rev.1).  By the text, the Assembly would call upon all States that had not yet done so to take all measures to become parties to the Convention and the Protocols, with a view to ultimately achieve their universality.  It would also call upon all high contracting parties to ensure full and prompt compliance with their financial obligations under the Convention and its Protocols.

It approved the draft, as orally revised, without a vote.

The Committee considered the draft resolution “Assistance to States for curbing the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and collecting them” (document A/C.1/72/L.21), by which the Assembly would encourage the international community to support the implementation of the ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials.

By the terms of the text, the Assembly would also encourage the collaboration of civil society organizations in efforts of national commissions of States in the Sahelo‑Saharan region to combat the illicit traffic in small arms and light weapons and in the implementation of the Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects.  It would also call upon the international community to provide technical and financial support to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations in that regard.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft.

The Committee took up the draft resolution “The Arms Trade Treaty” (document A/C.1/72/L.27), which would have the Assembly call upon all States that had not yet done so to ratify, accept, approve or accede to the instrument, in order to achieve its universalization.  By the terms of the text, the Assembly would call upon those States parties in a position to do so to provide assistance to requesting States in order to promote the instrument’s universalization.

The Committee approved the draft by a recorded vote of 144 in favour to none against, with 29 abstentions.

The Committee considered the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction” (document A/C.1/72/L.40).  By the text, the Assembly would stress the importance of the full and effective implementation of and compliance with the Convention, including through the continued implementation of the action plan for the period 2014 to 2019.

By a recorded vote of 158 in favour to none against, with 16 abstentions, the Committee approved the draft, as orally amended.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions” (document A/C.1/72/L.41), which would have the Assembly urge all States outside the instrument to join and all States parties in a position to do so to promote adherence to the Convention through bilateral, subregional and multilateral means.

The Committee approved the draft by a recorded vote of 134 in favour to 2 against (Russian Federation, Zimbabwe), with 36 abstentions.

The Committee considered the draft resolution “Problems arising from the accumulation of conventional ammunition stockpiles in surplus” (document A/C.1/72/L.43), which would have the Assembly appeal to all interested States to determine the size and nature of their surplus stockpiles, whether they represented a security risk, their means of destruction, if appropriate, and whether external assistance was needed to eliminate that risk.  The Assembly would also request the Secretary‑General to convene a related group of governmental experts in 2020.

Acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft, as orally revised.

The Committee then took up the draft resolution “The illicit trade in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects” (document A/C.1/72/L.56/Rev.1), which would have the General Assembly call upon all States to implement the International Tracing Instrument, including in their national reports the name and contact information of the national points of contact and information on national marking practices used to indicate the country of manufacture and/or country of import, as applicable.

The Committee then approved the draft without a vote, as orally amended.

The representative of Ecuador said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.27” because the instrument had several shortcomings, including an imbalance between exporting and importing States.  Nevertheless, Ecuador would continue to study the text of the Arms Trade Treaty and its implications.

The representative of Egypt said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.40” due to the imbalanced nature of the Mine Ban Convention, which had been developed and concluded outside the United Nations.  The instrument lacked balance between humanitarian consequences and their use by countries for border protection.  On “L.15”, Egypt continued to support the draft resolution as it attempted to tackle an important threat improvised explosive devices posed.  However, he took issue with language in preambular paragraph 12, which raised a web of issues far removed from the actual scope of the draft’s objectives.

The representative of the United States said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.27” because his country was conducting a standard policy review of several conventions, including the Arms Trade Treaty.  Nevertheless, the United States cooperated with Member States to help prevent conventional arms from falling into the wrong hands and had robust transfer controls in place.

The representative of India said regarding draft resolution “L.27” that her country had strong national export controls of defence items and fully subscribed to the objectives of Arms Trade Treaty.  Pending the conclusion of India’s review of the instrument as it related to security interests, her delegation would abstain from voting on “L.27”.  On “L.40”, India was committed to the eventual elimination of anti‑personnel mines, but had abstained from voting on the draft as it did not consider the legitimate concerns of States, especially those with long borders.

The representative of Argentina said her delegation had abstained from voting on “L.41” because her country did not possess cluster munitions, had not subscribed to the Convention on Cluster Munitions and the language in the draft was not sufficiently ambitious.

The representative of Cuba said her delegation had joined the consensus on “L.43” with several reservations, including that the language did not reflect measures to be adopted to improve stockpile management.  “L.43” should respect the rights of States to determine their surpluses according to security needs, she said, noting that Cuba maintained and applied a strict and effective national system on ammunition controls, with its stockpiles being fully consistent with legitimate national defence needs.  Cuba also supported “L.15/Rev.1”, with reservations, including that preambular paragraph 18 and operative paragraph 23 did not offer the right framework to establish definitions on anti‑personnel mines.  Her delegation had abstained from voting on “L.40”, although it shared the legitimate humanitarian concerns from the use of anti‑personnel mines.

The representative of Poland, speaking on behalf of several countries, said their delegations had abstained from voting on “L.41”.  They supported international efforts addressing the humanitarian impact of cluster munitions and supported the Convention on Cluster Munitions’ humanitarian goals, but those objectives must be balanced with States’ security concerns and military needs.

The representative of Cyprus said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.41”.  Cyprus was a State party to the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects and was in compliance with European Union standards.  However, its ratification process of the Convention on Cluster Munitions was ongoing due to the current national security situation.

The representative of Pakistan said his country had joined the consensus on “L.15/Rev.1”, as it shared concerns about the use of improvised explosive devices by terrorist groups.  Pakistan had also voted in favour of “L.27”; however, the Arms Trade Treaty’s success and universality would depend on its non‑discriminatory implementation.  On “L.40”, he said his delegation had abstained from the vote because landmines continued to play a role in meeting security needs of many States and was an integral part of Pakistan’s defence policy.  On “L.41”, his delegation had abstained from voting because Pakistan did not respect treaties negotiated outside the United Nations framework.  On “L.43”, he said Pakistan had joined the consensus, but emphasized that the largest stockpiles were maintained by major military powers and they should take the lead in safe disposal efforts.

The representative of Brazil said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.41”.  While it had supported efforts to address cluster munitions through the United Nations, it had not participated in the process leading to the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as it was a parallel process to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.  There were serious loopholes in the Convention on Cluster Munitions and its effectiveness had also been undermined by article 21, which pertains to relations with States not party to that instrument.

The representative of Myanmar said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.40” and “L.41”.  While it supported the conventions in principle, there were constraints that were preventing Myanmar from joining them.

The representative of Switzerland said his delegation had joined the consensus on “L.15/Rev.1”, but had reservations.  The draft resolution described non‑State actors as illegal armed groups, and the terminology did not affect the rights and obligations stemming from international law and the human rights of non‑State actors.

The representative of Singapore said her delegation had voted in favour of “L.40” and supported initiatives on the prohibition of using anti‑personnel mines to target civilians.  Her delegation had also voted in favour of “L.41”, she said, as Singapore supported international efforts to address the humanitarian consequences of the use of cluster munitions.

The representative of Iran said “L.40” focused on the humanitarian consequences and did not consider any measures against the actual use of mines.  Because anti‑personnel mines were still an effective means of defence, Iran had abstained from voting on “L.40”.  Turning to “L.41”, he said the draft resolution should have considered the progressive transparency and all‑inclusive process to ensure that States’ rights to security were respected and that no individual State could obtain advantages over others.  Circumventing the United Nations disarmament machinery and creating instruments outside it was not acceptable nor in line with the Organization’s objectives.  The General Assembly should not encourage such a process.  For that reason, his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.41”.

The representative of Syria said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.27”.  Syria was among States seeking to codify the arms trade.  Pointing out that Syria was suffering from the “bloody actions” of terrorist groups that had obtained all types of weapons in an illegal way from regional and international parties, including States parties of the Arms Trade Treaty.  The instrument had been used to guarantee the interests of some conventional weapon‑producing States, had not been adopted by consensus and did not consider the views of numerous nations, having overlooked proposals to include in the text a reference to “foreign occupation”.  The text also did not include explicit language to ensure the absolute prohibition or supply of weapons to non‑State actors and terrorist groups.  Certain States that had supported the Arms Trade Treaty’s adoption had also equipped terrorist groups with weapons.  As such, his delegation had reservations on draft resolutions containing references to the Arms Trade Treaty.

The Committee then turned to draft resolutions relating to other disarmament issues and international security.

The representative of India said suggested amendments had been included in the draft resolution “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.52/Rev.1).  He expressed hope that the draft would be approved without a vote.

The representative of Cuba said her delegation had co‑sponsored draft resolutions “Relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/72/L.30), “Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” (document A/C.1/72/L.31) and “Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non‑proliferation” (document A/C.1/72/L.32).  With regard to “L.30”, she reiterated that disarmament and development were the main challenges faced by mankind today, and it was not acceptable to devote $1.7 billion to military spending while the world was in dire need of achieving development goals.  On “L.31”, Member States should comply strictly with environmental norms, she said, adding that the draft text was an important contribution to the quest for multilateral solutions.

The representative of Liechtenstein expressed strong support for the rule of law, including in the field of disarmament.  Legally binding multilateral instruments were key to non‑proliferation and disarmament progress.  Compliance was essential to achieve that objective, he said, noting that his delegation supported the draft resolution “Compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments” (document A/C.1/72/L.7).  In that vein, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme was one of the most significant achievements.

The representative of the United States said his delegation would not support “L.30” because disarmament and development were two distinct issues.  Similarly, it would not support “L.31” because the United States already operated under stringent environmental controls and the issue was not relevant to the First Committee’s work.

The representative of Cuba said her delegation would abstain from voting on “L.7” because the draft lacked an approach based on cooperation.  All States must comply with provisions of agreements they had previously entered into, she said, emphasizing that “L.7” paved the way for unacceptable interpretations of State obligations.

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said his delegation would vote against “L.7” because it contained elements that jeopardized Pyongyang’s interests.  Moreover, the draft targeted the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and pushed an “impure political purpose”.

The representative of Iran said his delegation supported the fundamental principle of “L.7”, but treaty obligations should be assessed objectively and judgments should be conducted by relevant international organizations in order to prevent subjective assessments that could be used as political and foreign policy leverage.  The international community had already witnessed that in the past and were well aware of current examples.  In that context, the draft had overlooked the central role of relevant organizations, including the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as the sole bodies for the verification of compliance of non‑proliferation and disarmament agreements.  At the same time, it was ironic that Israel, one of the draft’s sponsors, was itself not a party to any of the instruments banning weapons of mass destruction.  For those reasons, his delegation would abstain from voting on “L.7”.

The representative of France said his delegation would abstain from any draft resolutions containing explicit references to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The Committee then turned to the draft resolution “Compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and commitments” (document A/C.1/72/L.7).  By the terms of the text, the General Assembly would call upon all concerned States to take concerted action, in a manner consistent with relevant international law; to encourage, through bilateral and multilateral means, the compliance by all States with their respective non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements and with other agreed obligations; and to hold those not in compliance with such agreements accountable for their non‑compliance in a manner consistent with the Charter of the United Nations.

By a recorded vote of 165 in favour to 1 against (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), with 11 abstentions, the Committee approved the draft.

The Committee took up the draft resolution “Objective information on military matters, including transparency of military expenditures” (document A/C.1/72/L.24).  The Assembly would, by the text’s terms, invite Member States in a position to do so to supplement their reports, on a voluntary basis, with explanatory remarks regarding submitted data to explain or clarify the figures provided in the reporting forms, such as the total military expenditures as a share of gross domestic product, major changes from previous reports and any additional information reflecting their defence policy, military strategies and doctrines.

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

The Committee then considered the draft resolution “Relationship between disarmament and development” (document A/C.1/72/L.30).  By the text, the Assembly would urge the international community to devote part of the resources made available by the implementation of disarmament and arms limitation agreements to economic and social development.

Acting without a vote, the Committee then approved the draft.

The Committee turned to the draft resolution “Observance of environmental norms in the drafting and implementation of agreements on disarmament and arms control” (document A/C.1/72/L.31), by which the Assembly would call upon States to adopt unilateral, bilateral, regional and multilateral measures so as to contribute to ensuring the application of scientific and technological progress within the framework of international security, disarmament and other related spheres, without detriment to the environment.

Also acting without a vote, the Committee approved the draft.

It then took action on the draft resolution “Promotion of multilateralism in the area of disarmament and non‑proliferation” (document A/C.1/72/L.32).  By the text, the Assembly would call upon all Member States to renew and fulfil their individual and collective commitments to multilateral cooperation as an important means of pursuing and achieving their common objectives in the area of disarmament and non‑proliferation.

The Committee approved the draft by a recorded vote of 120 in favour to 4 against (Israel, Micronesia, United Kingdom, United States), with 49 abstentions.

The Committee then took up a draft decision on “Developments in the field of information and telecommunications in the context of international security” (document A/C.1/72/L.44), by which the Assembly would include that item in the provisional agenda of its seventy‑third session.

By a recorded vote of 173 in favour to none against, with 1 abstention (Ukraine), the Committee approved the draft.

The Committee then considered the draft resolution “Role of science and technology in the context of international security and disarmament” (document A/C.1/72/L.52/Rev.1).  By its terms, the Assembly would invite Member States to continue efforts to apply developments in science and technology for disarmament‑related purposes, including the verification of disarmament, arms control and non‑proliferation instruments, and to make related technologies available to interested States.

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

The representative of Ecuador said his delegation had abstained from voting on “L.7” because of several concerns.  Operative paragraph 7 could be interpreted as a possible justification of the application of unilateral sanctions outside the framework of the United Nations Charter.  Compliance should be in good faith and any amendment to agreements must be with the free consent of parties to them.

The representative of Pakistan said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.7” and shared the view that all States should comply with the treaty obligations in order to achieve global peace and security.  The question of compliance should be strictly applied to legal provisions of relevant treaties.  Agreed‑upon obligations were only those made by States voluntarily and in exercise of their sovereignty.

The representative of China said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.7” because nations should faithfully uphold treaty provisions without double standards.  For its part, China opposed using compliance as a political tool.

The representative of Brazil said her delegation had voted in favour of “L.7” because treaties should be fully implemented and compliance should not be selective.  Similarly, full compliance of article VI of the Treaty on the Non‑Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons should be upheld.  Effective verification mechanisms translated into effective compliance, she said, noting her delegation’s desire to see the language found in General Assembly resolution 66/49 in operative paragraph 6 of the draft resolution.

The representative of Venezuela said her delegation had abstained from voting on “L.7” because it was unbalanced and did not consider the responsibility of nuclear‑weapon States, and did not address concerns about the use of weapons of mass destruction.  She reiterated Venezuela’s commitment to adopt multilateral measures leading to the total elimination of nuclear weapons under the Non‑Proliferation Treaty framework.

The representative of South Africa said his delegation had voted in favour of “L.7” given that compliance with non‑proliferation, arms limitation and disarmament agreements were critical to maintain confidence in the multilateral system.  However, he was deeply concerned about the selective focus taken on certain agreements in the arms control environment.  Such imbalance caused divisions that could undermine the goals of certain instruments, he said, citing the Arms Trade Treaty as an example of that situation.

Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, 10/31/2017, #29

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room

2:37 P.M. EDT

MS. SANDERS: Good afternoon. Happy Halloween. I thought for sure I’d see some costumes today.

Q We’re dressed as reporters.

MS. SANDERS: That’s not nearly as exciting as what you could have come as, but we’ll let it slide for today.

Today, I’m once again pleased to talk about the topic that we and, more importantly, the American people are all very excited about: tax cuts.

We’re approaching the release of legislation based on the tax reform framework the President supports. Unfortunately, no matter how great the plan is for the hardworking families, Democrats are expected to criticize the tax cuts as they’ve done in recent years, putting partisan politics ahead of their constituents’ pocketbooks.

While arguing over President Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts, Democrats claimed it would only benefit the rich. The Democrat Speaker of the House at the time, Tip O’Neill, called them royal tax cuts, because he claimed they favored the wealthiest Americans.

What really happened was more than 14 million new jobs were created over five years; incomes grew by over 22 percent for the next seven years; and the economy grew by over 3.5 percent, on average, for the rest of the decade.

Some Democrats must have been paying attention to history, because as recently as last year, they publicly supported many of the principles for which the President is advocating today. That includes lowering the corporate tax rate, which is the highest among developed nations, so that our greatest businesses can be more competitive.

In fact, Presidents Obama and Clinton both advocated for cutting corporate tax rates. Senate Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer in the past called our tax system “upside down and inside out.” And last year, he actually admitted that cutting corporate taxes is “really important for American competitiveness.” Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi apparently agreed, because she said, “It is long past time for tax reform that would lower the corporate tax rate.”

The only thing that seems to have changed since then is who occupies the White House.

Since day one, the President has been committed to jumpstarting our economy and giving hardworking Americans the raise they deserve. Under the framework supported by the President, our economy will grow, businesses will invest back in the country, and American workers will see their wages grow. In fact, the Council for Economic Advisers estimates that a typical, hardworking American family would get a $4,000 pay raise.

So to Democrats in Congress, particularly those who would like to place American jobs and middle-class tax relief ahead of partisan politics, the question is very simple: Do you believe the Americans people deserve a pay raise?

We certainly do. And that’s what we’ll be focused on and fighting for. The choice is yours.

And with that, I’ll take your questions.

Steve.

Q Sarah, where does the President stand on this tax deduction for state and local taxes? That seems to be in dispute up on the Hill.

MS. SANDERS: Look, we’ve laid out our priorities for the tax cut plan. Those haven’t changed. The President is going to continue working with both the House and the Senate to push forward and make sure that the principles he laid out are achieved. And we haven’t made any adjustments to that at this time.

Q But what about the mortgage interest deduction?

MS. SANDERS: Again, same point here: We haven’t made any changes to the priorities that we’ve laid out. I’m not going to negotiate between you and I. But the President is going to be involved in ongoing conversations with members of both the House and Senate, and we’ve laid out what our priorities are and we’re going to stick to those as we move forward.

Q Has it come up in the conversation with Speaker Ryan just now?

MS. SANDERS: They’re still meeting now, and we’ll have a readout on that meeting once it’s completed.

Matthew.

Q Thanks, Sarah. A question on yesterday’s Mueller news. President Trump’s nominee to serve as chief science advisor over at the Agriculture Department is Sam Clovis, and Clovis was the campaign supervisor cited in that Papadopoulos plea. And his lawyer has since acknowledged that he was the one in that plea who encouraged Papadopoulos in August 2016 to make a trip to Russia to meet with Russia officials about the campaign.

Given all that, is the President still comfortable with him, Sam Clovis, serving in the administration?

MS. SANDERS: I’m not aware that any change would be necessary at this time.

Q And on that note, is the administration aware of who the other three or four campaign individuals who were referenced in that Papadopoulos plea were? And are any serving in or advising the administration?

MS. SANDERS: I’m not aware of the specific individuals. What I can say is that I think Papadopoulos is an example of actually somebody doing the wrong thing while the President’s campaign did the right thing.

All of his emails were voluntarily provided to the special counsel by the campaign, and that is what led to the process and the place that we’re in right, was the campaign fully cooperating and helping with that.

What Papadopoulos did was lie, and that’s on him, not on the campaign. And we can’t speak for that.

Jon.

Q The Chief of Staff, John Kelly, said that this counsel investigation has been very distracting to the President. Can you elaborate on that? Is this affecting his ability to get the job done here?

MS. SANDERS: I don’t think it’s at all affecting his ability to get his job done. And that wasn’t the point he was making. You guys seem completely obsessed with this, while there are a lot of other things happening around the country, and, frankly, a lot of other things that people care a lot more about. The media refuses to cover it, and I think that’s the distraction, instead of the focus being constantly on tax cuts and tax reforms.

My guess is, if you look at the records, the questions that I take in here day out have far more to do with an investigation that, frankly, most Americans don’t care too much about, and a whole lot less to do with policies that actually impact them.

Q Why are you so confident that the investigation won’t go on much longer?

MS. SANDERS: Because we have confidence that it’s going to come to a close in short time.

Glenn, go ahead. (Phone rings.) Glenn has got a call. Maybe he needed to phone a friend to get help with his question. (Laughter.)

Q Sarah —

MS. SANDERS: Glenn, I had more faith in you to be able to ask a question all by yourself, but —

Q The other thing that General Kelly said yesterday was in reference to General Lee, and he said that the Civil War was a result of a failure to compromise. Was he suggesting that there be compromise on the abolition of slavery? Can you expand on exactly what he was talking about?

MS. SANDERS: Look, all of our leaders have flaws — Washington, Jefferson, JFK, Roosevelt, Kennedy. That doesn’t diminish their contributions to our country, and it certainly can’t erase them from our history. And General Kelly was simply making the point that just because history isn’t perfect, it doesn’t mean that it’s not our history.

Q Let me follow up. You’re a proud daughter of the South. When you see Nathan — like a statue as they had in Memphis of somebody like Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was responsible for the Fort Pillow Massacre, and other folks like that, is there a differentiation? Do you think there are certain Confederate figures who don’t deserved to be honored, like Nathan Bedford Forrest?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I don’t think that we should sit here and debate every moment of history. I think those moments took place. There are moments that we’re going to be a lot less proud of than others, but we can’t erase the fact that they happened. I think you have to determine where that line is. The President has said that those are something that should be left up to state and local governments, and that’s not who I’m here representing today, so I’m not going to get into the back and forth on it.

Jon.

Q Thanks a lot, Sarah. Just to follow up on what you said yesterday and what you have reiterated today about this investigation and your belief that it’s going to be wrapping up soon. Yesterday, you said that, “Those are the indications that we have at this time.” From your point of view, is what you’re saying wishful thinking? Is it spin? Are you getting leaked information that gives you that indication? Why do you continue to say that you believe that it is wrapping up soon?

MS. SANDERS: Again, that position has not changed, and we do think that it will wrap up soon. I didn’t say it would be three or four days; I said soon. And we hope that that’s the case, in large part because we know that the facts are on our side, there was no collusion. And we’re looking forward to moving forward, and hoping that you guys can as well, and we can actually start talking about and focusing on some of the things that I mentioned to Jonathan that we feel the American people would rather the conversation be turned towards.

Jessica.

Q At the Papadopoulos hearing —

MS. SANDERS: Sorry, I’m going to keep moving.

Q I just want to ask you this one thing about one of the prosecutors that is on Bob Mueller’s team. At the plea hearing for Mr. Papadopoulos last month, he hinted at the possibility of more to come in the investigation. He said the Mueller probe is “a large-scale, ongoing investigation of which this case” — the Papadopoulos case — “is a small part.” So, given what he said, as an officer of the court, are you disagreeing with anything that he said in his remarks during that plea hearing?

MS. SANDERS: Maybe his reference is in looking more to come between the Democrats and the Clinton campaign, since I think if there’s any evidence that we’ve seen to date, it’s between them colluding with other foreign governments, certainly not from our side.

Jessica.

Q Sarah, I have one question about what the President said today, and then an Asia trip question, broadly. But the first question is: The President mentioned in the tax reform meeting there that he was going to be announcing “soon” some companies that are coming back to the United States. Can you either name them or give us the industry that we’re talking about?

MS. SANDERS: You know I’m not going to get ahead of an announcement that the President is going to make. If he wasn’t willing to tell you today, I’m certainly not going to step in and do it.

Q And then on the Asia trip, the speech that he’s making at APEC is being billed as a theme for the trip as well as the Indo-Pacific. Does this administration see India as a pivotal part of your strategy when it comes to the Asia-Pacific more broadly?

MS. SANDERS: It certainly plays a big role, and General McMaster will be here later this week to discuss the trip in greater depth and more detail. And he’ll be happy to address more of those questions at that time.

Q Sarah, the former White House strategist, Steve Bannon, is saying the administration should push back harder against Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Does the President support defunding the special counsel?

MS. SANDERS: No. And I’m not sure what we’d push back against since, so far, all they’ve done is come up with ways and shown more and more that there was no connection between the Trump campaign and collusion with Russia.

John.

Q Thank you, Sarah. Two questions, please. First, the President is quoted last year as calling Mr. Papadopoulos, and I quote, “a great guy.” And today it was “a liar.” And I wonder, just to kind of clear the air, how well did he actually know him? And was briefed by him often? Did he have frequent meetings? How well does he know this man?

MS. SANDERS: My understanding is the only interaction he ever had was the one meeting that the advisory council gathered together, where he was in a large group of other people in the room. And to my knowledge, that’s the only interaction they ever had.

Again, this was a campaign volunteer. He wasn’t somebody that was a senior advisor, as many of you want to bill him to be. He was somebody that played a minimal roll, if one at all, and was part of a voluntary advisory board. That’s it.

Q And he only met the President — candidate Trump, one time?

MS. SANDERS: That’s my understanding, John. That’s the only incident that we’re aware of.

Q The other thing I wanted to ask was that a few weeks ago, when the President sent out Twitters about the media, he suggested that equal time be applied. Now, to many people, that was a euphemism for the Fairness Doctrine, something that President Ronald Reagan helped eliminate and which Democrats, such as Leader Pelosi, have tried to revive. Is he seriously in favor of reviving the Fairness Doctrine? And I might add that its premier opponent of revival was a young congressman named Mike Pence.

MS. SANDERS: I don’t know that he’s into the deep weeds of the Fairness Doctrine, but I know he certainly believes in fairness. And I think that he would like to see that applied, certainly, to his administration in a way that it probably hasn’t been so far.

Charlie.

Q The President — sorry, Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore is on Capitol Hill today. Does the President have plans to meet with him at any point today or this week before he leaves for Asia?

MS. SANDERS: No, there’s no planned meetings at this time.

Q Sarah, there is still a lot to be negotiated on taxes — SALT, which was just brought up; possible phasing in of the corporation rate, just to name a couple. When the tax bill — whatever of it — is released tomorrow, will the President wholeheartedly endorse this as his plan?

MS. SANDERS: As of right now, we see no reason to feel otherwise. But until we see the details of that, I’m not going to speculate on where we are. We’ve laid out what our principles are, and we expect that that piece of legislation to reflect those principle. If it does, you’ll certainly see the administration come in with full-throated support.

Q And lastly, on the Fed — I know you’re not going to give us a name. I’m not asking you to give us a name.

MS. SANDERS: But what If I did, wouldn’t it be fun? (Laughter.)

Q Then we would love the name.

Q Come on —

MS. SANDERS: That’s the most excitement we’ve ever gotten out of this room. (Laughter.) Sorry.

Q If you want to give us a name, we will take it. If not, my simple question is: Has the President made his decision, or is he still debating it?

MS. SANDERS: I can tell you that it’s not Major Garrett. (Laughter.) But beyond that, I don’t have anything to weigh in on.

go ahead.

Q President Trump, during the campaign, repeatedly castigated Hillary Clinton for not coming forward and coming clean when she got debate questions ahead of the debates. Why didn’t anyone in the Trump campaign, including his son, come forward when there were solicitations from Russian agents to provide dirt on his opponent?

MS. SANDERS: I’m not sure how those two things are even remotely related, so I couldn’t begin to figure out how to answer that question.

Q I’m just getting to the sense of the proactive duty to come clean when there is an ethical question. And is the President upset that people in campaign did not come clean when there were ethical questions and ethical lines being broached?

MS. SANDERS: I don’t believe that to be an ethical question. That’s a pretty standard campaign operating procedure.

Q Collaborating with the Russians is?

MS. SANDERS: That’s not collaboration with the Russians. Sorry, Noah. I know you want it to be, but it just isn’t.

Go ahead, Mara.

Q I have two questions. The first one is: You’ve been very clear that Trump didn’t collude but Hillary did. What is your definition of collusion?

MS. SANDERS: Well, I think the exchanging millions of dollars to create false information is a pretty big indication. I think taking millions of dollars into a foundation that benefits you while making decisions that impact people that gave that money, I think those are certainly areas of collusions that should certainly be looked at.

Q And my second question is about —

MS. SANDERS: Steven. Sorry.

Q Just to follow up from Glenn. Robert E. Lee aside — and I understand your point about how all leaders have flaws — but what Kelly said yesterday was that an inability to compromise led to the Civil War. And back in the spring, the President said that he thinks that Andrew Jackson could have made a deal to avert the war. What is the compromise that they’re talking about? To leave the southern states slaves and the northern states free? What was the compromise that could have been made?

MS. SANDERS: I don’t know that I’m going to get into debating the Civil War, but I do know that many historians, including Shelby Foote, in Ken Burns’ famous Civil War documentary, agreed that a failure to compromise was a cause of the Civil War. There are a lot of historians that think that, and there are lot of different versions of those compromises.

I’m not going to get up here and re-litigate the Civil War. But there are certainly, I think, some historical documentation that many people — and there’s pretty strong consensus from people from the left, the right, the north, and the south — that believe that if some of the individuals engaged had been willing to come to some compromises on different things, then it may not have occurred.

Q Thanks, Sarah. Apropos what’s going on on the Hill this afternoon, and Facebook disclosing yesterday that more than 100 million Americans were apparently exposed to what amounts to Russian propaganda, what’s the White House’s view of that notion, that more than 100,000 people have been reading and watching what this Russian outlet has been putting out?

And what do you make of the notion that there ought to be some kind of requirement that Facebook be required to disclose — the way that many broadcasters are required to disclose — when political ads are made?

MS. SANDERS: I think we need to see how this process works out over the next several days. And some of those questions are things that you’re going to have to ask Facebook. That’s not something that the federal government can weigh in on at this point, until the findings of that investigation and those hearings are completed.

Hallie.

Q Sarah, I’d like you to follow up on something you said earlier, but I also want to follow up on the conversation that’s been happening about the slavery compromise. I’m not asking you to re-litigate the Civil War. We don’t need a history lesson on the compromises that have happened. But does the White House at least acknowledge that the Chief of Staff’s comments are deeply offensive to some folks, and historically inaccurate?

MS. SANDERS: No. Because as I said before, I think that you can’t — because you don’t like history, doesn’t mean that you can erase it and pretend that it didn’t happen. And I think that’s the point that General Kelly was trying to make. And to try to create something and push a narrative that simply doesn’t exist is just, frankly, outrageous and absurd.

I think the fact that we keep trying to drive — the media continues to want to make this and push that this is some sort of a racially charged and divided White House — frankly, the only people I see stoking political racism right now are the people in the groups that are running ads like the one you saw take place in Virginia earlier this week. That’s the type of thing that I think really is a problem. And I think it is absurd and disgraceful to keep trying to make comments and take them out of context to mean something they simply don’t.

Q There’s a new poll out that shows that the public seems to trust many of the mainstream media outlets that the President criticizes more than they trust the President himself. Why do you think this would be? And do you think the White House agrees with that?

MS. SANDERS: I haven’t seen anything to suggest that. I’d have to look into it. I certainly can’t comment on some study I know nothing about and don’t agree with.

Q Sarah, given some of the criticism we’ve heard from the President’s outside advisors, is the President happy with his legal team right now? Does he feel well-represented, well-defended when it comes to the Mueller probe particulars?

MS. SANDERS: I’m not sure how he couldn’t, considering — as I said yesterday and I’ve repeated several times today — all of the revelations that have taken place over the last several days and hours have nothing to do with the President, have nothing to do with his campaign. And I think the further we get into it, the more and more we see that happening.

Kevin.

Q Thank you, Sarah. I just wanted to ask about taxes and then maybe just a very quick follow on the discussion about compromise. If I’m understanding you correctly, what you’re really saying is, he’s not just suggesting a compromise on slavery, he’s talking about other compromises that may have been germane to that period of history. Is that fair?

MS. SANDERS: Look, I think that was part of the conversation that a lot of people have had. He didn’t get into the specifics because that’s something that’s been discussed very widely by many historians, again, from both the left, the right, the north, the south — however you want to look at it. And he didn’t get into the details of it because it wasn’t the point he was making.

Q On taxes. I just want to get a sense of what the President might really be interested in as far as the child tax credit and as far as the Obamacare individual mandate. Is it your opinion that the President would be supportive of both? Meaning, that they need to be a major tenet of the tax reform that will be unveiling this week?

MS. SANDERS: He certainly supports the childcare tax credit. I’m sorry, what was the other piece you were asking?

Q The Obamacare individual mandate. Does that have to be a part of tax reform?

MS. SANDERS: I don’t believe it has to be part of tax reform, but the childcare tax credit is something he’d certainly like to see.

I’ll take one last question.

Major.

Q Sarah, you said to us a few moments ago the Papadopoulos plea agreement is an example of an individual doing the wrong thing but the campaign doing the right thing — if I remember what you said — correct me. Does that extend to Sam Clovis encouraging George Papadopoulos to go to Russia on behalf of the campaign to solicit information?

MS. SANDERS: My understanding is there wasn’t encouragement. He made multiple attempts at setting up a variety of meetings that were constantly rebuffed. He also made false statements to investigators. That’s something that the campaign nor the administration would ever support. All of his emails, again, were voluntarily provided to the special counsel by the campaign, and that is how they got to the place that they’re in right now.

Q Are you saying that Clovis is being misinterpreted by George Papadopoulos?

MS. SANDERS: I’m not getting into the detail of that. I’m talking specifically about the multiple attempts that he made in setting up a variety of meetings. There were more than one instance in which he tried to set up meetings that were rebuffed by the campaign. He lied about a lot of those activities, and that is the place that you, I think, see come through in the emails that were voluntarily turned over.

Q Let me ask you about one thing you said yesterday. You were asked at one point during yesterday’s briefing when the President became aware that Russia was behind hacking and possession of emails. You said, “I’m not sure of the specific date of when that took place, so I’d have to look and get back to you.”

MS. SANDERS: Yeah. I can respond to that now. The President was briefed in a pretty widely publicized meeting back in January. Later that very day, he said publicly that he had received the intelligence briefing and he believed Russia was behind the email hacks.

Thanks so much guys. I hope you have a happy and safe Halloween.

END

 2:59 P.M. EDT

UN Security Council urges more protections for children in conflicts

31 October 2017 &#150 Deeply concerned about the abuse of children in war zones, the United Security Council today &#8211 in a debate in New York which included Secretary-General António Guterres and his special envoy on the issue &#8211 urged countries and non-State actors to allow children access to education and healthcare during and post-conflicts.

The Council said that it is &#8220gravely concerned by the scale and severity&#8221 of human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law committed against children in some countries, including terrorism, mass abductions, and sexual slavery, which can cause displacement and affect access to education and healthcare services.

Through a statement agreed by all 15 of its members, the Council also noted that children’s international human rights continue to be violated &#8220with impunity&#8221 in some countries, and stressed that the best interests of children, as well as their needs and vulnerabilities, be considered when making any decisions related to children in war zones.

Welcoming the Secretary-General’s &#8220enhanced engagement&#8221 with parties on the issue, the Council reiterated that protection of children should be an important aspect of a comprehensive strategy to resolve conflict and sustain peace.

Addressing the Council’s day-long debate, the Secretary-General said children around the world are suffering &#8220enormously and unacceptably,&#8221 resulting in &#8220global shame.&#8221

&#8220If we leave the next generation traumatized, seething with grievances, we betray those we serve and we betray ourselves,&#8221 he said in the open debate of the Council.

He pointed to his latest report on the issue, which included a record high number of child casualties in Afghanistan, a doubling of verified cases of recruitment and use of children in Syria and Somalia, and widespread sexual violence against children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and other countries.

If we leave the next generation traumatized, seething with grievances, we betray those we serve and we betray ourselves. Secretary-General António Guterres

However, the report, which was presented to the Council earlier this month, also notes &#8220better&#8221 protections, including the release of children held in Somali prisons, and &#8220substantive&#8221 measures taken by the coalition in Yemen led by Saudi Arabia.

&#8220We need to strengthen our engagement with regional and sub-regional actors,&#8221 Mr. Guterres said, stressing the need for additional legal and political commitments to protect children, and urging Member States to provide resources to support these initiatives.

He also appealed to all parties to the conflicts to work with the UN, to ensure protection for &#8220the most precious resource of your countries: your children.&#8221

Among the dozens of other speakers who addressed the Council today was the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba.

She said children are used &#8220as fuel of war,&#8221 and called for international action to address the use of children &#8220as expendable commodities by warring parties.&#8221

Echoing the Secretary-General’s call for resources, the Special Representative appealed for adequate funds to implement and sustain reintegration, reinsertion and reskilling programmes to support children conscripted into armies. She also reiterated that such children, including girls, are primarily victims.

Violations of child protection provisions must be investigated and violators held to account, she said: &#8220Accountability must be prioritized to break cycles of violence aid prevention efforts.&#8221

Security Council: children and armed conflict

Note: Following is a partial summary of today’s Security Council meeing on children and armed conflict. A complete summary will be available later today as Press Release SC/13050.

Briefings

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said children around the world were suffering enormously and unacceptably in conflict, a source of global shame.  Armed groups forced girls and boys to become suicide bombers.  Children were stigmatized by having been recruited by armed groups, yet they were held criminally responsible for acts they were forced to commit.  Parties to conflict often obstructed life‑saving assistance for children, he said, noting that 2016 had witnessed the most child casualties ever recorded by the United Nations in Afghanistan.  There had been a doubling of verified child‑recruitment cases of in Syria and Somalia, in addition to widespread sexual violence against children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and elsewhere, he said, adding that tens of millions of children were also uprooted by fighting.

Despite that bleak picture, however, some progress had been possible, he said.  Changes in the reporting process had allowed for deeper engagement with parties to conflict, and the security forces of five Government security forces and four armed groups had put measures in place to better protect children during 2016.  While there was progress, however, the scale and intensity of some crises required redoubling efforts and taking innovative approaches, he said.  The cross‑border elements of conflict were increasing, requiring the strengthening of engagement with regional and subregional actors.  Additional legal and political commitments to protect children should also be encouraged, he added, appealing to Member States to provide resources in support of initiatives.

He noted that, whereas armed groups and armed forces had released thousands of children in 2016, only half of them had been successfully reintegrated into their families and communities.  More must be done to provide funding for programmes to offer education, job training, counselling and family reunification, he emphasized.  A legal framework to protect children in armed conflict was in place, but accountability for crimes and violations of human rights and humanitarian law must be pursued.  “If we leave the next generation traumatized, seething with grievances, we betray those we serve and ourselves,” he stressed.  Calling upon all parties in conflict to work with the United Nations to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable and precious resource, he urged the Council to strongly support that effort in order to build long-term peace, stability and development.

VIRGINIA GAMBA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, pointed out that she had only assumed that position earlier in 2017, and said developments during her time so far had been extremely worrying, with more than 20,000 violations against children documented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) alone during 2016.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report on children and armed conflict (document S/2017/821), she said 2017 had not been much better.  The number of children recruited and used by armed groups remained at “startling levels” in Somalia and South, and attacks on schools and hospitals had been conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Child casualties were common in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, and in recent months, armed groups and Governments continued to delay and deny them life-saving aid, she said.  Sexual violence against boys and girls was widespread in conflict situations.

“What we have inflicted upon children in war zones in recent years will be our disgrace,” she continued.  “We must take urgent action to address this use of children as expendable commodities by warring parties.”  The announcement of new commitments to protect children was one source of hope, she said, highlighting the Paris Principles as an important initiative.  Other positive steps included ratifications of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and endorsements of the Safe Schools Declaration.  “We need to work together to ensure that these political pledges make a practical difference for children on the ground,” she emphasized.

She went on to say that the report showed there had been tangible progress in diverse situations when political will was applied.  In that regard, the Civilian Joint Task force in Nigeria had signed an action plan, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines as well as the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been delisted, children had been separated from armed cadres in Colombia, and measures had been put in place by the Saudi Arabia‑led coalition in Yemen.  She said her office was helping to strengthen those measures and working with Yemeni and Sudanese authorities to reinforce other mechanisms, open new child‑protection units and provide additional training.  Such examples of cooperation and political engagement should be seen as models, so that best practices could be rolled out in as many places as possible to better protect children, she emphasized.

All efforts to protect children in the context of armed extremism must be carried out under international human rights law, she continued, stressing that, under the Paris Principles, all children allegedly associated with armed groups were primarily victims and must be treated as such.  Their separation, demobilization and reintegration would be much more effective than mass detention, she said, appealing for adequate funding of reintegration programmes that had already helped 100,000 children re‑enter society.  “We must not further victimize children.”  To improve response to violations, it would be necessary to prioritize accountability by strengthening justice systems, enhancing partnerships at all levels, ensuring that dedicated and adequately funded child‑protection capacities accompanied United Nations peace operations, and that peacemaking efforts were reinvigorated.  In that regard, she called for the inclusion of child‑protection provisions in ceasefires and peace agreements.

MUBIN SHAIKH of the non-governmental organization Child Soldiers Initiative described his own six‑year period of radicalization into extremism as a teenager following a trip into Taliban‑controlled areas of Afghanistan.  He said that his radicalization had resulted from “an ideology conflict, poisonous ideology from other teens and a search for meaning and belonging”, but he had turned away from that malevolent way of thinking following the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States.

“I ended up studying Islam properly and went through a period of de‑radicalization,” he said, adding that he had then joined the Canadian Security Intelligence Service as an undercover operative.  He had also become a member of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, exploring the ways in which children, teens and adults were exploited by extremists, including such groups as the Taliban, Al-Qaida, Al-Shabaab, Al‑Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Boko Haram.

“Around the world, non‑State armed groups, including violent extremists, are using children to sow violence, carry out attacks, build their ranks and prolong their beliefs and agenda into the future,” he said, adding that the recruitment of children was both systematic and intentional.  The groups realized they could gain from children advantages they could not gain from adults since they were easier to forcibly or coercively recruit and indoctrinate, and they were often viewed with less suspicion by security forces.  Describing the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers as a timely and useful document, he emphasized that “we must respond to this challenge preventatively”.  Indeed, it was far better to ensure that children were never recruited in the first place than to address their disrupted childhood, trauma and indoctrination after the fact, he said.

Whether the indoctrination of children was of a religious or radical nature — or carried out by urban street gangs, bandits or pirates — the challenge was the same, he stressed.  They were all robbing children of their innocence and leaving them to die.  Calling for a holistic approach by Governments, security services, the United Nations, military forces, peacekeepers, corrections personnel and others, he said security sectors in particular must be adequately trained to deal with the problem.  “As with all efforts to counter violent extremism, security sector actors must build mutual trust and respect with affected communities, preventing the marginalization and mistrust that can help fuel recruitment,” he said.  A robust, holistic and collective approach “which puts children’s rights up front” would enable the international community to protect children from harm, prevent violence and create a more peaceful and equitable society.

The Council then issued presidential statement PRST/2017/21.

Statements

JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France and Council President for October, said there was need to move forward to the objective of a world in which children were not victims of armed conflict.  The international community had denounced the recruitment of children by armed forces and groups for more than 20 years, he noted.  France had promoted effective mechanisms to protect children in armed conflict, he said, recalling that 10 years ago, its capital had hosted a conference that had culminated in the adoption of the Paris Principles.  Despite such progress, 230 million children were living under armed conflict, he said, emphasizing that non‑State armed groups and terrorists bore greatest responsibility for violations.

There was a need for prevention based on efforts undertaken to end violent extremism, and also need to raise awareness.  There was also a need to protect schools.  Close cooperation with UNICEF was necessary to ensure the reintegration of children recruited by armed groups, and the deployment of child protection advisers was essential.  The action plans were also an important tool, he said, stressing that everything needed to be done to ensure that the return of children to their families was permanent.  Underlining the indispensable necessity to fight impunity, he said that was the responsibility of States, but pressure musts be brought to bear on those recruiting children and those involved in sexual violence.  The interests of children must prevail, he said, adding that respect for and the strengthening of their rights should be the basis of all commitments.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, recalled her visit last week to Afghanistan, noting that one in three civilian casualties of the conflict there was a child.  Armed groups in that country continued to recruit children, who also remained at risk of sexual violence, she said.  “We, the international community, have a responsibility”, she said, to “do all in our power to give all children the right to their childhood”.  Whereas there was a unique consensus on the matter within the Council, Sweden had a long tradition of working to strengthen the protection of children, she said, emphasizing that the Council could do more to improve its efforts in that regard.

Calling upon Member States that had not yet done so to sign the Paris Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration, she said the international community must also ensure that its response to State and non‑State armed groups remained in accordance with international law.  She also stressed the need to prioritize the effective reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces or armed groups.  “These children should always be treated as victims,” she added.  It was essential to guarantee children the right to education, particularly girls.  As the penholder on children and armed conflict, Sweden welcomed today’s presidential statement, she said, adding that it strengthened the Council’s stance on many relevant issues.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, expressed deep concern at the information provided in the Secretary-General’s report.  The international community must redouble efforts to protect children in armed conflict, he said, noting that his country had supported international mechanisms including the Paris Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration.  In his country itself, however, he said that 90 children were killed since the beginning of Russian aggression in the east with many more killed in the downing of the airliner and others maimed by mines.  He regretted that that information did not make its way into the Secretary‑General’s report.  Children displaced by the conflict numbered some 240,000 and there had been forced recruitment of young men and detention of others.  His Government had been working hard to improve the situation of affected children, but in occupied areas in the east, many were deprived of education.  He hoped that the situation would be included in future reports and pledged his country’s continued dedication to the issue.

TARIQ MAHMOOD AHMAD, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, said that no effort should be spared to protect children.  The report was alarming in that light.  Children should not be imprisoned.  He called for all armed groups who had not done so to put measures in place to protect children and prevent their recruitment, and for all who had put measures in place to fulfil their commitments.  He enumerated his country’s support for education for children in conflict areas, along with other aid targeted to such children.  Condemning sexual abuse by United Nations workers, whether they were peacekeepers or agency staff, he stressed that there must be no more impunity for such abuse.  Acknowledging some progress in child protection as described by the report, he attributed some of the positive developments to the Special Representative’s office, pledging continued support to that office.  He called for greater efforts to ensure that children will be protected and educated no matter where they lived.

The representative of Ethiopia said he looked forward to the compilation of best practices on child protection issues, as he was concerned at grave violations, particularly by terrorist groups in recruiting in asymmetric warfare.  The use of children as suicide bombers was a serious matter, as was their forcible displacement.  While welcoming the signing of action plans, he noted with concern issues associated with implementation, including reintegration of children.  He said securing release of children and ensuring their disarmament and reintegration would require sustained support, in particular by child protection advisers.  Parties to armed conflict should treat children who had been used by armed groups as victims.  Internally displaced and refugee children were often unaccompanied and frequently victim of sexual abuse and exploitation and must be treated with care, including education and documentation.  More needed to be done to enhance cooperation between the Council and regional and subregional organizations.  His country had taken various measures to ensure protection of children in areas where Ethiopian troops were deployed, including mechanisms to ensure accountability of any violation committed by its troops.

The representative of Italy said some progress had been achieved, including the signing of 29 action plans, 18 with non‑State armed groups.  There was a need to continue widest addition by States to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The Paris Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration were initiatives that would make a difference.  Child protection should be included in mandates of peacekeeping missions and child protection advisers should be fully funded and staffed.  Peacekeeping personnel should get specific training on child protection.  States needed to develop measures to ensure that recruitment of children was criminalized and perpetrators were brought to justice.  Preventing and responding to child recruitment was not only a matter of concern of the Council but demanded action by all stakeholders, including non‑governmental organizations.  “By serving the interest of children, we serve the best interest of humanity,” he said.

The representative of United States said violations and abuses of international law concerning children were rampant.  Of particular concern was the abuse of children by terrorist groups.  South Sudan remained a major cause of concern, as 17,000 children had been recruited by armed groups, the same number of peacekeepers there, she said.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, dozens of armed groups had recruited children and used rape as a weapon of war.  To better help children victims, there was a need to demand that all parties to conflict fulfil all obligations under international law.  When parties failed to comply with their obligations, they should be held accountable.  Atrocities by the regime of Bashar al‑Assad, helped by the Russian Federation, were impossible to calculate and perpetrators of those atrocities should be held accountable.  The United Nations should do more to focus on what happened to children after they were released, she stressed.  Children released by armed groups needed medical and psychological support as well as food, she said, underlining the importance of maintaining the role of child protection officers in field missions.  Progress should be noted, however, including the fact that Governments had signed action plans.

The representative of Uruguay, associating himself with the statement to be delivered by Canada, said all States should put an end to impunity of perpetrators of crimes committed against children and highlighted in that regard the important role of International Criminal Court.  He also drew attention to the sale of weapons to parties that had been identified as violators and urged for an end to those sales.  He noted that there were still 43 States that had not raised the minimum age of enlistment in armed forces to 18 years.  To defend the right to education was a key factor in post‑conflict situations.  Training of staff in peacekeeping missions was also important, he said, and he expressed concern at staffing cuts in child protection efforts in peacekeeping mandates, particularly regarding information gathering.  Children must be treated as victims when they had been recruited by armed groups and detention should be a last measure.  He welcomed the recent signing of action plans by Mali and Sudan.  He stressed the importance of the monitoring and reporting measures to gather information of serious violations against children.

KORO BESSHO (Japan), associating himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, said that the key to improving the dire situation of children in conflict situations was the use of the monitoring and reporting mechanism.  His country would continue to support the activities of the Special Representative in that regard and of child protection officers in the field.  Japan had adopted the Paris Principles.  Calling for support to affected States to be supported in reintegration of children formerly associated with armed groups, he noted that his country had been doing so in many situations, with employment training included for many.  In general, he reiterated the importance of implementing agreed‑upon frameworks on the ground.  No child should live in fear of attacks.  Together with other partners in the international community, his country would continue its efforts to implement commitments to better the lives of children all over the world.

The representative of Bolivia, acknowledging the serious effects on children in many conflict situations as described in the report, cited the crimes of Boko Haram as particularly striking, along with incarceration and loss of life among Palestinian minors.  To better protect children, the root causes of conflict must be addressed.  He condemned all abuses against children by armed groups, stressing that there were special protections for them in international law because of their vulnerability.  He also called for all those who had not ratified international instruments to do so.  In addition, he emphasized that tangible actions and rehabilitation programmes must be implemented.  He cited the handling of children’s issues in the Colombian peace agreements as a model to be replicated in other areas.

The representative of Senegal, welcoming the work being done by the United Nations to protect children in conflict situations, including actions by the Security Council, said that considerable progress had been made.  It should not obscure the fact that violations against children continued, however, in many current situations.  All actors must redouble their efforts to overcome major challenges, including recruitment by non-State armed groups.  Member States, in addition, must abide by their commitments in the area.  Senegal developed a national strategy regarding protection of children, reintegration of children associated with armed groups and civics education.  Prevention of violations against children and ending impunity were important priorities.  Arguing that better prevention must be based on a reliable early warning system in collaboration with regional partners, he pointed to the Cape Town Principles on protecting children in Africa.

The representative of China said that the international community must take concrete measures to protect children, including zero tolerance for terrorism, fighting terrorist outreach online and working with effected countries, who had the primary responsibility to protect the children within their borders.  While respecting those countries’ sovereignty, the United Nations should coordinate with such countries and regional partners to ensure they were protected, fed and educated.  Agencies such as UNICEF, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Bank should also help address the root causes of children’s suffering.  His country would continue to support efforts to shield children from suffering harm because of war.

The representative of Russian Federation expressed concern about disrespect for international law in conflict, emphasizing that there could be no excuse for violations of children’s rights.  The Russian Federation was providing humanitarian assistance in Syria, taking the needs of children into account, he said, adding that it had organized the rehabilitation of schools and hospitals, and that Russian doctors were providing medical assistance to children.  Noting that those responsible for the situation of children in Syria preferred not to talk about it, he questioned the change in the format of the documents annexed to the Secretary‑General’s report, in particular, criteria used to determine who would undertake the protection of children and who would not.  International humanitarian law contained standards on the protection of children in armed conflict and there was no need to change international norms, he said.

Emphasizing the importance of enhancing effective implementation, he said the Council’s efforts should focus on approaches approved by the United Nations.  He underlined the integrity and independence of the Special Representative, as well as the need to ensure that the information contained in the report was reliable and without double standards.  In response to the statement by Ukraine’s representative, he said what was happening in that country was openly discriminatory.  For example, a law was being prepared that would bar education in the Russian language to children whose native tongue was Russian, he said, adding that Ukrainian forces had shelled schools, as reflected in reports by United Nations observers.  Everything depended on whether peace could be restored, which could be done through the Minsk Agreement, he said, expressing hope that Ukraine would respect that agreement and implement it.

The representative of Kazakhstan encouraged all Member States to ratify and implement relevant international treaties, and to enact national legislation accordingly.  The United Nations child‑protection capacity on the ground, as well as the capacity to monitor and report grave violations of their rights, must be preserved.  There was also a need for child‑protection criteria in order to establish or renew sanctions committees.  He urged Member States to treat children allegedly associated with non‑State armed groups primarily as victims and use detention as a last resort.  There was a need for adequate resources to ensure children had safe access to education, health care, basic services and trauma counselling.  Every effort must be made to prevent recruitment, large‑scale radicalization and widespread dissemination of terrorism ideology among young people, including by use of the Internet.  It was also important to provide inter‑religious and inter-ethnic education with the goal of forging a national identity based on the shared human value of tolerance in a global civilization.

The representative of Egypt said a radical solution to support child victims of armed conflict had not yet been found.  The Council had provided a legal framework, but it had not been implemented.  He encouraged the Special Representatives to increase dialogue, especially with non-State groups.  Emphasizing that Governments bore primary responsibility for protecting civilians, especially children, he said the Council and the General Assembly were the official institutions for drafting or amending the legal framework of the child‑protection mandate.  Egypt called for addressing the six grave violations identified in the child-protection mandate equally, he said, adding that there was a need to address the root causes of conflicts, notably poverty and under-development.  He called for an end to double standards, pointing out in that regard that the report did not list the ongoing suffering of Palestinian children in areas of Israeli occupation.  Children had a right to education even in times of emergency, he said, underlining that basic education must also be provided to refugee and migrant children.

The representative of Ukraine, replying to the statement of the Russian Federation, said that that latter country was listed as an Occupying Power in Ukraine and was therefore not eligible to pronounce on the situation, at least as long as the country did not return Crimea and make other amends for the situation.

The representative of Belgium, associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union delegation, deplored the continued suffering of children in armed conflict.  Noting that his country had endorsed the Paris Principles and the Declaration on Safe Schools and hospitals, he said that prevention of recruitment began by keeping places of learning free of danger.  Combatting extreme violence must begin with attacking its roots and be carried out with full respect of human rights.  Underlining the importance of rehabilitating and reintegrating children who had been associated with armed groups, he described various activities co‑sponsored by his country.  He asked that children’s protection be better pursued through peacekeeping mandates.  He pledged his country’s long-term dedication to the issue through the Security Council, especially if elected as a non‑permanent member, and other forums.

GUSTAVO MEZA‑CUADRA (Peru), expressing grave concern at the situation described in the Secretary-General’s report, called on States that had not yet done so to endorse the Paris Principles as his country had done.  The measures were being implemented with respect for the best actions to be taken for each child.  Reintegration of children affected by conflict was a priority.  As a future non‑permanent member of the Council, Peru would continue to ensure that children’s protections remained central in the organ’s work, along with other efforts to ensure human rights.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union delegation, expressed concern over what he called the unacceptable violations of children’s rights presented in the report.  Extremism must be countered in full compliance with international law to effectively protect children.  The signing and effective implementation of action plans with armed groups was an essential tool to achieve concrete progress.  It was vital to continue to create frameworks and mechanisms to protect children, but their implementation was paramount.  In that context, he urged all parties to end attacks on schools and hospitals and stop the military use of institutions of learning in accordance with international law.  Germany intended to further pursue the matter of children in conflict if elected as a non-permanent member of the Council, and was pursuing efforts to strengthen regional networks in favour of children’s protection.

MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by Norway, said there was now a robust framework to open dialogue with parties to conflict.  Nevertheless, children in armed conflict were deprived of the most fundamental human rights.  He was particularly concerned at the impact of asymmetric attacks by non‑State groups on children.  The full respect of international humanitarian law, human rights and refugee law had to be the cornerstone of all efforts to address the problem.  Dialogue with non‑State armed groups was necessary to address violations, as had happened in Colombia.  Children exploited by armed groups should be recognized as victims.  Detention for reasons of national security impacted thousands of children in armed conflict, he said, and it was outrageous that they were treated as threats to security.  The obligations of States regarding refugees should not been given up in the context of security.  Prevention of conflict remained the most ethical and effective approach in protecting civilians, including children.

MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) welcomed the fact that the results achieved by her country had been recognized.  She assured the Special Representative that violations against children would not reoccur.  The changing nature of armed conflict represented a challenge to child protection.  Colombia was no stranger to the problem, she said.  More than 20 years ago, it had put in place legislation to prohibit recruitment of those under the age of 18 in its armed forces.  The peace process had placed child victims, included recruited children, at the heart of negotiations.  There were 132 minors who had been separated from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) and placed under the protection of the State.  A National Reintegration Council had been established which undertook reintegration of children separated from the FARC.  Columbia was focused on ending child recruitment and offering released children other life options, including through education.

The representative of Canada, speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed conflict, said that s/he remained deeply concerned about the rise of armed groups employing extreme violence and their recruitment and use of children, including the use of children as suicide bombers.  Violent extremism posed unique child protection challenges.  It should be remembered that children associated with armed groups should be considered as victims first and afforded relevant protections under international humanitarian law.  They should be detained only as a last resort and for the shortest period necessary in full respect of international humanitarian law and applicable international human rights law.

S/he also welcomed the vital role played by peacekeepers in promoting child protections and welcomed the release of the new Department of Peacekeeping Operations‑Department of Field Services‑Department of Public Information Child Protection Policy to support those efforts.  Troop- and police‑contributing countries should undertake concrete steps to prioritize and further operationalize child protection within peacekeeping in terms of the training and doctrine of their national forces.  Adequate resources were also needed to deliver mission success.  S/he was concerned that extensive cuts to the staffing and budgets of child protection adviser positions, as well as consolidation efforts, would undermine the Organization’s ability to deliver on the critical child protection mandates put forth by the Security Council.

Speaking in his/her national capacity, s/he said that Canada had developed a national doctrine on addressing child soldiers, the first of its kind worldwide.  Canadian Armed Forces Joint Doctrine Note 2017-01 provided strategic guidance to the country’s forces regarding potential encounters and engagement with child soldiers.  It also provided commanders with baseline guidance through which to develop their predeployment training, and operational and mission‑specific considerations.

The representative of Turkey, shared the concern of the report on the scale and severity of violations against children in conflict, noting the increasing involvement of non‑State actors in such violations, among whom he named ISIL, Boko Haram and PKK/PYD [Kurdish Workers Party/Democratic Union Party], whom he said continued to recruit boys and girls under the age of 15 to carry out terrorist attacks.  The international community must display joint and robust political determination as well as concerted action in addressing the situation.  In that context, Turkey continued to support the well-being of children in vulnerable situations, hosting some 3.3 million displaced by conflict and exerting every effort to meet the education needs of the approximately 835,000 school‑age Syrian children in the country.  He realized its efforts were not meeting all needs; new schools and teachers were urgently needed.  He called once again on the international community to act in conformity with the principle of responsibility and burden-sharing in that regard.

The representative of Liechtenstein, associating himself with the Group of Friends of Children in Armed Conflict, said the erosion of respect for international humanitarian law being seen today had an impact on children.  Voicing support for the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General, as well as for the monitoring mechanism established by Council resolution 1612 (2005) to document grave violations, he said that in the last six months alone more than 500 schools had been attacked worldwide.  Pointing to disturbing related trends, including the use of air strikes against schools and the use of schools for military purposes, he strongly condemned such actions and urged all parties to conflict to respect the principle of distinction and other basic rules of international humanitarian law.  Where they were violated, accountability must be ensured, he said, also endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration and calling on Member States — especially members of the Council — to follow suit.  In addition, he called on States to prosecute those who had been associated with child recruitment and violence against children to end the impunity gap that persisted in many conflict and post-conflict societies.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflicts and the group of countries endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, called on Member States to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  He went on to recall the “eerie testimony” of Joy Bishara, who was one of the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok, Nigeria, observing that the main purpose of attacks on schools was to spread fear of receiving an education, because education and knowledge were the cornerstones of progress.  On the other hand, lack of education increased the risk of radicalization and the recruitment of children.  “Their place is not on the battlefield, their tools are not bombs and firearms, they should be at their school‑desks, with a pen and a book in their hands,” he emphasized.  He called for holding accountable recruiters, kidnappers, sexual offenders and all other perpetrators for crimes against children in a court of law.

RIYAD MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said that more than 2,000 Palestinian children had been killed since 2000 by Israeli occupying forces and settlers.  In 2016 alone, 35 Palestinian children were killed and 887 were injured.  Palestinian children, including in East Jerusalem, were subject to mass arbitrary arrest and detention, house arrest, ill‑treatment, sexual abuse, and torture.  The international community must demand the immediate and permanent release of all children from Israeli captivity.  “There can be no justification for detention and abuse of children,” he stressed.  Deliberate attacks on schools and closures of educational institutions, as well as restrictions on humanitarian access continued unabated.  Palestine reiterated that all those well‑documented Israeli crimes called for the inclusion of Israel and its settlers on the list of parties that commit grave violations affecting children in situations of conflict.  The absence of such inclusion deeply affected the credibility of the list, and made it vulnerable to criticism of politicization.  He urged the international community to uphold its responsibility and enforce international law to bring Israel’s violations and occupation to an end.

FEATURE: As Afghan war grinds on, a marginalized young generation raises its voice

31 October 2017 &#150 It is “show time” on Asia Television in Western Afghanistan, as talk show guest Somaia Ramish replies to a pointed question about war and peace.

“Fortunately, women haven’t had a major role in the conflict or the destruction of Afghanistan, which strengthens our voices at the peace table,” said the provincial councilwoman, 30, adding: “Unfortunately, these days, violent extremism has a bigger advertising budget than does the promotion of peace.”

Confronting the horrors of a war they hope to end one day, young Afghans are making themselves heard through traditional media and on the Internet. These Afghans, many educated and non-traditional, are countering messages from militant groups which seek to play upon ethnic and religious differences to encourage violence.

The young Afghan voices belong to students, young politicians, and also journalists. In the case of Asia Television, support from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) helps sustain a regular peace dialogue, which runs alongside a slate of soap operas and other entertainment shows. The support is part of a nationwide UN effort to invest in peace, and the show’s producers say it sends a strong message and helps drive grassroots conflict resolution.

Young Afghans remain highly susceptible to war propaganda, which comes in the form of street whispers and threats over social media. At the same time, it is a challenge for the central Government to win the respect of young Afghans, especially in distant provinces.

“Without security, we can’t have peace,” says Arash Majedi, 23, who serves lamb and chicken kabobs in a strobe-lit shisha café, which plays a steady beat of Iranian rap music. “It is the responsibility of the Government to stop someone from blowing us up.”

Set on the western edge of Afghanistan, surrounded by pockets of war and bordering Iran, Herat is a 5,000-year-old centre of Asian culture caught between a tide of extremism and popular, albeit ancient, traditions of cultivating flower gardens and reciting poetry with friends and relatives.  

“Insurgents are active in almost all the districts around us,” said Said Sayedi, 28, who heads a conflict resolution centre in Herat, which has struggled for funding in recent years. “In some cases, foreign powers are trying to dominate more moderate insurgent groups to keep other militants in check.”

“We try to encourage independent thinking and help the young choose non-violence,” he said. “This needs to be elaborated in order that they can break free.” Sayedi concedes that there are many “no-go zones” around Herat where conflict resolution experts cannot enter. “We would need an escort to go south to Shindand district. There are lots of kids – 15 and 16 years old – who are being recruited there by rival factions.”

Unfortunately, these days, violent extremism has a bigger advertising budget than does the promotion of peace. Somaia Ramish

UN officials said local peace initiatives remain in dire need of more outside help to sustain their work. “Afghan youth are actually reaching out to the UN and conveying to us their wish that the UN [and others] can play a new role in regional peace negotiations,” said Najibullah Rezaee, a UN political affairs officer.

Even as the battle for the hearts of young Afghans intensifies, new voices are speaking up. “Despite the challenges and marginalization young Afghans face, they still are carrying out a new and dynamic role in support of peace,” said Fraidoon Poya, a public affairs officer with UNAMA in Herat.

Behind the iron gates of Herat University, built to a modern and spacious design after the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Arman Qaderi, 23, a senior in the law faculty, organizes classes and edits texts on peace. His Peace Club has produced, with the help of Professor Nasir Rahimi, a systematic approach to changing minds and behaviour.

“The most important thing we can do is help to motivate people who already feel the urge for peace,” said Qaderi. A colleague Fardina Salehi, 28, works as a financial secretary and also as an instructor in peacemaking. “Here in Afghanistan, we experience more war than we do peace,” said Salehi. “I’ve learned that peace starts in the family and moves to society. Our approach is totally different than any of the other classes taught here at Herat University. We approach learning through discussion, participation and brainstorming.”

“Due to ongoing conflict, we are all in violence with each other – even within our own families,” said Salehi. “When I watch violence on TV, my mind is further disturbed. We all have to seek ways to calm our minds.”

Professor Rahimi said he has seen a change sweeping across the campus in Herat. In a walk with students down to a newly-inaugurated Park for Peace, he reflects on some changes he’s seen in recent years. He says peace is not an easy path, but one with a growing following.

Recently, 20 students from the Sharia Law faculty took a two-week journey to India to walk in the footsteps of Mahatma Gandhi, who spearheaded India’s independence movement based on non-violent resistance. The tour included visits to Gandhi’s home and to his ashram. When violence engulfed Herat on a recent week, these same students helped to organize a city-wide blood drive to support victims of sectarian violence.

“When we began our peace initiative, a lot of students doubted the approach: They said, ‘You can’t possibly bring peace after so much failure and war,’” said Professor Rahimi. “Students openly wonder – after decades of war – how talking about peace is going to make a difference. After they overcome initial doubts, however, they come to me and ask how they can move towards a deeper understanding of peace.”

UNAMA has a mandate to support the Government of Afghanistan and its citizens in a shared goal of becoming a stable, open, and peaceful nation. This feature piece is meant to tell a human interest story related to how Afghanistan and the UN are working together to overcome the many challenges to achieving this goal.