General Assembly Security Council

United Nations Security Council

Open VTC on Children and Armed Conflict


23 June 2020


Mr. President,


We congratulate France for their successful Presidency of the Council in this month and convey our appreciation for convening this open VTC. We also thank the briefers for sharing their perspectives.


The Children and Armed Conflict agenda of the Security Council has evolved considerably over the last two decades. This year also marks the twentieth year of the adoption of the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. While a sound normative framework is already in place, protection of children in armed conflicts continue to present a wide array of operational challenges. 


A lot more remains to be done in keeping with the changing nature of armed conflicts and the varied nature of vulnerabilities that children face in such situations. We wish to highlight following points in this regard.


First, cherry-picking situations beyond the mandate of Council for inclusion in the UNSG’s Annual Reports on Children and Armed Conflict politicizes and instrumentalizes the child protection agenda. It also diverts attention from situations that pose threat to international peace and security.


There is also a need for greater transparency and an honest engagement between the Member States and UN mandate holders for providing accurate, objective and reliable information to the Security Council on the grave violations committed against children in situations of armed conflict. The relevant UNSC resolutions require, in no ambiguous terms, that such monitoring and reporting activities must be undertaken in cooperation and with the participation of the host government. This mandate has to be followed in letter and in spirit. 


Unfortunately, in case of the paragraphs pertaining to India in the latest UNSG’s Annual Report (S/2020/525), none of the above was adhered to, thereby contravening the mandate given to the SRSG to prepare the report.

The information claimed to have been ‘verified’ by the UN  cannot be based on hearsay and due diligence must be done in a transparent manner. Any derogation from this only undermines the credibility of the report. 


Second, abuse, exploitation, sexual violence and other grave violations against children by terrorists need greater focus and understanding. Terrorist networks are increasingly interlinked with other non-state actors such as organized crime syndicates, spreading their tentacles across borders. In some situations unholy nexus between state machineries and non-state actors adds further to the complexities leading to widespread violence and deprivation, afflicting children in multiple ways. 


Third, children remain particularly vulnerable to indoctrination through violent extremist ideologies designed to foment terrorism. Their social, emotional and cognitive developments are often interrupted by radicalization and experience of violence in armed conflicts, impacting them for life. 


Nowhere this is more true than in our region. Terror emanating from Pakistan has jeopardized the future of millions of children in its neighboring countries and beyond. Pakistan has the dubious distinction of running a system of ‘schooling’ young children in violent extremist ideologies and recruiting them for terrorist activities. A thriving transnational narco-terror network run by Pakistan threatens future of millions of children across regions. Educational institutions for girls continue to be targeted and children belonging to religious and ethnic minorities in Pakistan remain particularly vulnerable to egregious violations and deprivation of rights. 


Yet, the delegation of Pakistan relentlessly pursues an agenda of peddling fake narratives against India at every UN forum, turning a blind eye to their own follies. These are smoke screens for their designs of perpetuating terror in the region. 


We call for ending impunity for all actors inciting and perpetrating grave violations against children at home and abroad. There must be greater accountability and sincere efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice by governments from whose territory such entities operate. 


The UN must also reckon with the full complexity of such situations in order to better situate the child protection issues in context. 


Fourth, we need a more inclusive approach to provide protection to child victims of armed conflicts. Those children who face relocation and reintegration require special attention. Children who grow up in conflict and post-conflict situations often need a fresh start. 


Engagements with governments to strengthen legal and operational tools for child protection are important. These have to be complemented by community awareness and family resilience, so that parents cannot be coerced into sacrificing their children, or their future. 


From our experience of UN peacekeeping over the past six decades, we also recognize the importance of having sufficient resources and requisite number of child protection advisers on the field to make a difference. 


The importance of quality education and skill development to mitigate these negative consequences cannot be overemphasized. Use of digital tools to provide education, vocational training and psycho-social support open up new opportunities for children in fragile situations. Protecting schools, especially girls’ schools, and healthcare facilities and personnel, must be accorded priority to give all children the opportunities they deserve. 


Fifth, COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the vulnerability of children in armed conflicts by increasing their risk of exposure to violence and exploitation. UN agencies, peacekeeping missions and other partners have made commendable efforts in mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 and in facilitating humanitarian assistance. Rights and needs of  children must continue to receive priority in responding to the pandemic in armed conflicts. 


In conclusion, we reiterate India’s support to UN endeavours to protect  children in armed conflicts.


Thank you.