-To Provide Conducive Environment For Children To Thrive
Liberia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Lewis Garseedah Brown has challenged the United Nations Security Council and all UN Member States to do more to provide conducive environments where children can thrive.
Addressing the Security Council’s open debate on Children and Armed Conflict in New York, Ambassador Brown said “conducive environments are more than school buildings, desks and chairs; but also, about families and societies, and the means and systems to live in peace with each other sustainably.”
He cautioned that in the absence of sustainable peace, “School buildings, rather than centers for molding minds are converted into military barracks dedicated to fashioning children into instruments of war.”
The Liberian diplomat noted that while the UN was debating, children were still being used as weapons and soldiers of wars, a situation he described as unacceptable. “Their future – our future – is being blighted. The innocence of their childhood is being stolen, and the process of their growth perhaps forever violated.”
Highlighting that poor children, especially those who have little or no access to education are the most vulnerable for conscription for service in armed forces, Ambassador Brown stressed the need to elevate the inter-links between child protection, the rights of the child and conflict prevention in national action plans to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ambassador Brown used the occasion to express Liberia’s support to the Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) Agenda and urged that it should not only be seen as a tool to ensure that children are protected and perpetrators held accountable, but also as a moral imperative to move States to act with determination to prevent conflicts and protect children.
Accordingly, where the institutions of the State have clearly collapsed under the weight of the ongoing armed conflict, Ambassador Brown urged that the duty of protection, and ending the ongoing conflicts be extended to the regions of the conflict as well as other external actors who are vesting interests in the continuation of the conflicts. “It is time we truly held each other duly accountable for ending conflicts, as well as preventing them”, he stressed.
Regarding Child Soldiers, the Liberian Envoy named proper reintegration process as one of the best guarantee to prevent conflict and sustain peace. He however decried that it is the least supported in the efforts to return countries to peace despite the fact that, as in the case of Liberia, there is an overwhelming eagerness of child soldiers to be disarmed.
“Having spent the formative years of their lives living by the gun and without regard to democratic rules and norms of society, or for many of these child combatants, the experience and values of living under peaceful conditions, we throw them a bucket, a cutlass and maybe USD75, and ask them to be reintegrated. We ask them to forget their past, the only thing they really know. Of course, we can do better than this.” Ambassador Brown urged.
The UN Security Council’s Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict held on the theme: Protecting Children Today, Prevents Conflicts Tomorrow, followed the release of the Secretary General’s annual report on children and armed conflict which documented over 21,000 cases of grave violations of children’s rights in armed conflict in 2017; a drastic increase from the previous year.
Meanwhile, the Security Council through a unanimous vote of all 15 Members has adopted Resolution 2427, strongly condemning the recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict and demands that all relevant parties immediately put an end to such practices and take special measures to protect children.