Annan calls for action to protect children from conflict Council reiterates commitment

Member States have done much over the past decade to protect children from the ravages of armed conflict, through new laws, prosecutions and investigations, but this is just the beginning and more needs to be done, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other senior officials told the Security Council today.Mr. Annan’s call came during a day-long meeting on children and armed conflict focusing largely on his recent report, highlighting that children are still being recruited as soldiers, and also being murdered, tortured or sexually abused during times of conflict. After the debate, the Council issued a statement reiterating its commitment to protect children in conflict.“During the past 10 years, we have tried to place the issue firmly on the international agenda. Since 1998, when the first Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict began work and the Council held its first open debate on the subject, the subject has gained greater visibility… and yet, we have only begun to scratch the surface,” Mr. Annan said.“It is incumbent on all of us to sustain this political and practical momentum, and to keep a close eye on situations of concern… I hope that the Council will consolidate the gains that have been made, and will move forward to cover all situations of concern and all grave violations.” Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, echoed the call for more to be done, while also noting that many peace agreements signed over the past few years have included child protection provisions and a framework for child demobilization.“Despite these progressive developments many challenges remain and more action has to be taken to protect the interests of children trapped in situations of armed conflict. Though a great deal has been done in formulating standards and receiving commitments, the actual implementation on the ground is far from satisfactory,” she said.“So far the process of scrutiny and monitoring has been selective and focused on only a few countries. It is our belief, jointly shared with UNICEF (the UN Children’s Fund) and other partners, that we must expand the focus to all situations of armed conflict so that there is equal treatment of children regardless of where they live.”In her remarks, UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman said she remained deeply concerned by conflicts in several countries, noting for example that in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, some 119 Palestinian children had been killed this year, more than twice the number of deaths registered in 2005. She also cited the situations in Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).“We have made significant progress over the past year. Today, we must renew our commitment to the children who are impacted by this unacceptable practice,” she said, referring in particular to the trauma caused to children by armed conflict.Gabriel Oling Olang, representative of Save the Children, also addressed the Council, along with diplomats from over 40 countries, before Foreign Minister José Antonio García Belaunde of Peru, which holds this month’s presidency, read out a statement on behalf of the 15-member body. “The Security Council strongly condemns the continuing recruitment and use of children in armed conflict in violation of applicable international law, the killing and maiming of children, rape and other sexual violence, abductions, denial of humanitarian access to children and attacks against schools and hospitals by parties to armed conflict.”He added: “The Security Council reiterates its… commitment to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on children and its determination to ensure respect for and continued implementation of its resolutions 1612 (2005) and all of its previous resolutions on children in armed conflict.” read more

Bangladesh fully committed to UN peacekeeping as vital element of global peace

That’s according to Major General Mohammad Humayun Kabir of Bangladesh, who is currently the Force Commander of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP).Maj. Gen. Humayan began his long and distinguished UN career in the hostile environment of the UN Protection Force (UNPROFOR), in Bosnia, serving in the capital Sarajevo, which was besieged by Bosnian-Serb forces during the mid-1990s.He also served as a Military Observer with the UN Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), from 2002 to 2003.He has served as Brigadier General and Director of Military Operations for the Bangladesh Army, and is currently Commandant of his country’s Military Academy.Highlighting Bangladesh’s commitment to foster women peacekeepers and police, and increase the numbers who serve by 2020 and beyond, he told UN News from his base in Cyprus that it was “virtually impossible” to protect civilians who rely on UN peacekeeping missions around the world, without the participation of women.He said there were 157 Bangladeshi women peacekeepers currently serving, and more than 1,400 had been deployed throughout the world in total over the years, including an all-female Bangladeshi Formed Police Unit that served in Haiti between 2015 and 2017.“Personally, I believe that it’s very important that you have gender parity, particularly the participation of female peacekeepers,” he said.He added that in today’s modern “multi-dimensional” peacekeeping missions focussing on civilian protection, “your situational awareness is much better and naturally your performance will also be better.”He said that majority-Muslim Bangladesh was committed to having what he called a “female engagement platoon” in every mission where they contribute troops and police.Maj. Gen. Humayan said there was widespread public support for women playing an active role in public service across a wide range of sectors.Women officers began serving in the Bangladeshi Army back in 2003.He also praised the “tremendous” support that Bangladeshi blue helmets receive at home, for their work across ten peacekeeping missions, as it currently stands.“The Bangladesh Government is always more than willing to make sure that the contingents who are deployed; they are properly trained, properly equipped so they are fit for purpose – fit for the mission.”He said that despite suffering the loss of 135 peacekeepers on active duty over the years, Bangladesh was proud of the fact that it is consistently among the top three troop-contributing countries, or TCCs.“Bangladeshi people are aware of what kind of contributions” are being made each day, “ensuring peace and stability in the global perspective, and I think they are very proud of us.” read more