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Protecting children in armed conflicts: 25 years; Italy, “a moral imperative”

NEW YORK, JANUARY 18 – Protecting children in armed conflicts is “a moral imperative to put an end to the worst forms of violations of the rights of children during armed conflicts”, Italy said today at the UN during an event marking the 25th anniversary of the UN mandate on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC). UN Secretary General António Guterres opened the meeting: “Although international action over the past 25 years has led to the release of more than 170,000 boys and girls recruited to fight, more remains to be done”, he said.

Guterres urged countries to continue supporting the UN Office on Children and Armed Conflict, and keep the promise made more than two decades ago. “We need to strengthen our support of released children so they can reintegrate into their communities.  We need to place the needs and rights of children first in peace negotiations.  And we need to honour their bravery and resilience by giving them a full and active voice in their countries’ futures,” he said.

In conjunction with the anniversary, the UN Office on Children and Armed Conflict has issued a report that takes stock of challenges, gaps, successes and opportunities since its establishment. Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said the study also charts a way forward to further strengthen protection, and galvanize support at the international, national and local levels.  “The CAAC mandate requires us to be proactive, and not solely reactive, to break the cycles of violence that continue to harm children daily. It obliges us to also work towards preventing these violations before they occur,” she said.

As the mandate “was always meant to be one of collaboration”, she underlined the critical role for governments, international and regional organizations, civil society and communities both in preventing and addressing violations and in responding to the needs of survivors. Collaboration has brought results, she added, pointing to examples from countries such as the Central African Republic, the Philippines, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Colombia.

“The protection of children must be prioritized on every international agenda to guarantee a peaceful, safe, and sustainable development. This is especially evident today, since the conditions of vulnerable children have worsened due to the pandemic, the increase in armed clashes, and climate change”, Italy said today the UN Event.

Italy thanked Norway, the cosponsors, and the Office of the SRSG CAAC for giving the opportunity to take stock of the progress achieved over the past 25 years and the additional efforts we all need to carry out in light of the current situation.

Protecting children in armed conflicts is “a moral imperative to put an end to the worst forms of violations of the rights of children during armed conflicts”, Italy said: “This is why we are committed to a number of initiatives in this regard, including the promotion of the widest possible support to the ‘Safe Schools Declaration'”

Italy is also proud that the Universities Network for Children and Armed Conflict, launched in 2020 upon the initiative of the University of Perugia with the support of the Italian Government, has been developing its activities, in cooperation with the Office of the SRSG, and further growing, over the last year, to earn full international recognition as an academic reference in this field.

“We are ready to do more”, Italy said: “We look forward to thoroughly study and make full use of the new document that was launched today, and increase our efforts to contribute to the implementation of the CAAC agenda”. (@OnuItalia)

Il giornale Italiano delle Nazioni Unite. Ha due redazioni, una a New York, l’altra a Roma.

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