Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict

Statement by NATO Secretary General’s Special Representative for Women, Peace and Security, Clare Hutchinson

  • 23 Jun. 2020 -
  • |
  • Last updated: 02 Jul. 2020 10:56

Mr. President,

I thank you for the opportunity to address the Security Council on the occasion of this Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict. 

I would like to recognize the considerable and impactful work of the Security Council through its Working on Group on Children and Armed Conflict over the years and note that much has been achieved.

Mr. President,

NATO has long recognised that protecting children in armed conflict is an important aspect of any comprehensive strategy to resolve conflict, and a key component of durable peace and security.

NATO has mainstreamed child protection into its work since the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago with a view toward practical field-oriented measures to address conflict-related violations against children.  This was given concrete structure with the adoption by the North Atlantic Council of the “Protection of Children in Armed Conflict – Way Forward” in 2015 and has been reaffirmed by the Alliance in its most recent 2018 Brussels Summit.  NATO is also considering avenues to strengthen its policy framework on children and armed conflict in light of lessons learned in the near future.

A key measure of any successful policy, however, is its impact on the ground where children are in harm’s way.  Crucial to impactful action to protect conflict-affected children is both awareness by our own forces and experts and the full integration of child protection in our work with partners.  Together with the UN, we have developed practical, field-oriented measures to address conflict-related violations against children, including adopting Standard Operating Procedures for monitoring the six grave violations and an up-dated training package on children and armed conflict for our troops which should be released shortly. 

In Afghanistan, NATO’s Resolute Support Mission (RSM), a non-combat mission, is established to train, advise and assist the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces.  The Mission continues to prioritize child protection principles in its training and capacity building and played an active part in the 2017 Afghan National Army Child Protection Policy. A senior Child Protection Adviser has been in place in our Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan since 2016 and undertakes policy advocacy with all Afghan Security Forces ensuring that child protection is addressed.  NATO Officials continue to raise the issue of protection of children in their political and military engagements with senior officials.

Mr. President,

While we are proud of what we have achieved, there is still much to do.  We continue to reach out to the Afghan Security Forces and our UN and NGO partners to ensure that training and policy goals to better protect children are maintained and deepened, and to reinforce our political commitment.

Fifteen years ago this month, also under a French Presidency, the world stood up and, by adopting Security Council Resolution 1612, made a choice to protect conflict affected children around the world, not just in statements but in concrete action. 

NATO stands with the entire international community in recognizing that we all have a collective responsibility in guaranteeing that all children, everywhere, are protected, not only in word, but also in deed.