Human Rights Council 44th Session – Interactive dialogue with the Special representative on Children and Armed Conflict – Statement by the Nordic-Baltic countries by H.E. Ambassador Katrin Saarsalu-Layachi, Estonia – 2 July 2020

Madame Special Representative,

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Estonia.

We would like to thank you for your report and hard work in the field (of children and armed conflict).

We welcome your attention to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and its optional protocol, celebrating 20th anniversary this year. The best interests of the child should always be the primary consideration and children associated with armed groups should be treated first and foremost as children with rights protection needs, and victims of human rights violations and abuses.

We are deeply concerned about the high number of child casualties, increase in the denial of humanitarian access to children, and attacks against schools and hospitals, as also discussed last week in the frames of the Security Council open debate.

We are alarmed by the high number of rape and other forms of sexual violence against children, particularly girls. Despite all efforts, the cases too often remain unreported, among others due to stigma, and the impunity persists.

The vulnerable situation of children in armed conflict has been further exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We reiterate our strong support to the SG’s call for a global ceasefire, aimed to protect persons in the most vulnerable situations.

The Nordic and Baltic countries welcome strengthening of the synergies between Geneva and New York. In this regard, we agree with your recommendations to the Human Rights Council, to include recommendations on the protection of children affected by armed conflict when considering country-specific or thematic resolutions, and in States parties’ reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child.

Madame Special Representative, would you have further recommendations on how to enhance the cooperation and synergies between the Human Rights Council and the Security Council?

Thank you.