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Prevention, Development Must be Central in All Efforts Tackling Emerging Complex Threats to International Peace, Secretary‑General Tells Security Council

Prevention and development must be at the centre of all efforts to address both the quantitative and qualitative changes that were emerging in threats around the world, the Secretary‑General of the United Nations told the Security Council today, as some 60 Member States participated in an all‑day debate tackling complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security.

António Guterres said the perils of nuclear weapons were once again front and centre, with tensions higher than those during the Cold War.  Climate change was a threat multiplier and technology advances had made it easier for extremists to communicate.  Conflicts were longer, with some lasting 20 years on average, and were more complex, with armed and extremist groups linked with each other and with the worldwide threat of terrorism.  Transnational drug smugglers and human traffickers were perpetuating the chaos and preying on refugees and migrants.

The changing nature of conflict meant rethinking approaches that included integrated action, he said, stressing that prevention must be at the centre of all efforts.  Development was one of the best instruments of prevention.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would help build peaceful societies.  Respect for human rights was also essential and there was a need to invest in social cohesion so that all felt they had a stake in society. 

He also emphasized that women’s participation was crucial to success, from conflict prevention to peacemaking and sustaining peace.  Where women were in power, societies flourished, he pointed out.  Sexual violence against women, therefore, must be addressed and justice pursued for perpetrators. 

Prevention also included preventive diplomacy, he said, noting that the newly established High-level Advisory Board on Mediation had met for the first time.  The concept of human security was a useful frame of reference for that work, as it was people‑centred and holistic and emphasized the need to act early and prioritize the most vulnerable.

“Let us work together to enhance the Council’s focus on emerging situations, expand the toolbox, increase resources for prevention, and be more systematic in avoiding conflict and sustaining peace,” he said, emphasizing the need for Council unity.  Without it, he said, the parties to conflict might take more inflexible and intransigent positions, and the drivers of conflict might push situations to the point of no return.

Japan’s representative, Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, noting that in the 25 years since the end of the Cold War, there had been a rise in complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security.  That included the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the expansion of terrorism, and non‑traditional challenges such as non‑State actors and inter‑State criminal organizations. 

While the Council had been tackling those challenges, in most cases through a country or region‑specific context, he stressed that a human security approach was highly relevant when addressing complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security.  Such an approach placed the individual at the centre, based on a cross‑sectoral understanding of insecurities.  It also entailed a broadened understanding of threats and challenges. 

In the ensuing debate, speakers emphasized the need to adjust to the changing challenges to international peace and security and welcomed the Secretary General’s reform of the Organization’s security pillar and other initiatives.  Many stressed the need to address root causes of instability and conflict, including climate change, non‑State armed groups, extremism and terrorism, as well as poverty and underdevelopment. 

Calling for creativity in the Council’s efforts, they underlined the importance of prevention, and stressed the responsibility of the 15‑member organ to address threats to international peace and security at an early stage.  Delegations also called for strengthen cooperation and coordination with other United Nations bodies and with regional and subregional organizations.  Ending impunity for serious international crimes was equally crucial, with some delegates stressing the importance of effective cooperation with the International Criminal Court.

Other speakers took issue with the way the Security Council was functioning, with Turkey’s representative pointing out that the Council had failed many times to show timely and adequate responses to emerging crises, often as the result of the use, or the threat, of veto, which disabled the Council’s effectiveness. 

India’s delegate said a non‑representative Council, designed long ago to maintain a balance of power between rival States, was unable to handle challenges which had changed beyond recognition over the decades.  “An instrument that is no longer considered legitimate and has lost its credibility cannot be our hope for salvation,” he said, adding that “speech acts”, such as the current open debate, would have little impact.

The Russian Federation’s representative said it would be useful for the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other organs of the United Nations to consider the links between peace and security and socioeconomic and environmental issues.  Integrating all factors should not come under the work of the Council, which did not have the capacity in those other areas and for which the basic responsibilities in peace and security must remain the focus. 

China’s representative stressed the importance of firmly upholding the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, saying that the Council must respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States as well as their right to choose their own social structures.  The major organs of the United Nations should stick to their mandates while coordinating their efforts. 

Some Member States addressed specific challenges to peace and security.  The representative of Tuvalu, speaking for the Pacific small island developing States, underscored that climate change was not going away and was the most pressing contemporary security challenge.  The Secretary‑General should appoint a special representative on climate and security who could produce a report, in cooperation with scientific bodies, that identified and analysed potentially dangerous tipping points at the nexus of climate and security, he said. 

Slovenia’s delegate drew attention to water scarcity as a threat to stability, recalling the work of the Global High‑level Panel on Water and Peace chaired by the former President of her country.  Regional cooperation was vital in preventing water from becoming a cause of conflict or an amplifying risk, she stressed, citing successful practices in the Western Balkans region, as seen in the Sava River basin, which could serve as a model for water‑related cooperation.

Addressing cyber threats, Lithuania’s representative, also speaking for Latvia and Estonia, said hybrid threats and cybersecurity were priority issues for the Baltic States, noting that concerns regarding the Russian Federation’s interference in national election processes were not limited to European countries.  Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania had faced a politically motivated series of cyberattacks.  To cope with the strikes, the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, must cooperate. 

The Deputy Foreign Minister for Ukraine also spoke, as did representatives of Sweden, Egypt, Bolivia, United Kingdom, France, Kazakhstan, Uruguay, Senegal, United States, Ethiopia, Italy, Colombia, Liechtenstein, Pakistan, Hungary, Switzerland, Norway (for the Nordic countries), South Africa, Germany, Belgium, Indonesia, Peru, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Viet Nam, Mexico, Slovakia, Ghana, Chile, Guatemala, Botswana, Netherlands, Greece, Armenia, Australia, Morocco, Lebanon, Nepal, Maldives, Portugal and Bangladesh, as well as the European Union delegation.

Representatives of the Russian Federation and Ukraine took the floor for a second and third time.

The meeting began at 10:02 a.m. and ended at 4:20 p.m.

Opening Remarks

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said there had not only been a quantitative but also a qualitative change in threats to international peace and security.  The perils of nuclear weapons were once again front and centre, with tensions higher than those during the Cold War.  Climate change was a threat multiplier.  Inequality and exclusion fed frustration and marginalization.  Threats to cybersecurity were escalating and technology advances had made it easier for extremists to communicate. 

While the number of armed conflicts had declined over the long‑term, they had surged in the Middle East and Africa, he continued, with many lasting on average more than 20 years.  Conflicts were also more complex as armed groups competed for control over State institutions, natural resources and territory.  Extremist groups left little room for diplomacy.  There was also an increased regionalization and internationalization of conflicts.  Clashes were more linked with each other and with the worldwide threat of terrorism.  Transnational drug smugglers and human traffickers perpetuated the chaos and preyed on refugees and migrants.

The changing nature of conflict meant rethinking approaches which must include integrated action, he underlined.  Such efforts must be coherent, coordinated and context‑specific, working across pillars.  Towards that aim, he had initiated three inter‑linked reform efforts focused at repositioning the United Nations development system, streamlining internal management and strengthening the Secretariat’s peace and security architecture.  He had also sought to forge closer links with regional partners. 

He stressed that prevention must be at the centre of everything, as it would avoid human suffering and even save money.  Prevention was a sound investment that brought ample and visible dividends, and development was one of the best instruments of prevention.  The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development would help build peaceful societies.  Respect for human rights was also essential in prevention.  There was a need to invest in social cohesion so that all felt they had a stake in society. 

As well, gender equality was closely linked with resilience, he said, stressing that women’s participation was crucial to success, from conflict prevention to peacemaking and sustaining peace.  Where women were in power, societies flourished, he pointed out.  Therefore, it was critical that sexual violence against women be addressed and justice pursued for perpetrators.

Prevention also included preventive diplomacy, he said, noting that the newly established High‑level Advisory Board on Mediation had met for the first time.  The concept of human security was a useful frame of reference for that work.  Human security was people‑centred and holistic; it stressed the need to act early and prioritize the most vulnerable.

“Let us work together to enhance the Council’s focus on emerging situations, expand the toolbox, increase resources for prevention, and be more systematic in avoiding conflict and sustaining peace,” he said, emphasizing the need for unity in the 15‑member organ.  Without that unity, the parties to conflict might take more inflexible and intransigent positions, and the drivers of conflict might push situations to the point of no return.  “But with unity, we can advance security and well‑being for all,” he underscored.

Statements

KORO BESSHO (Japan), Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity, noting that in the 25 years since the end of the Cold War, some parts of the world had been enjoying the benefits of improvements in science and technology, from groundbreaking medicines to new frontiers in outer space.  However, during the same period, there had been a rise in complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security, including the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the expansion of terrorism.  Peace operations were also facing non‑traditional challenges such as non‑State actors and inter‑State criminal organizations.

The Security Council had been tackling those challenges, in most cases through a country or region‑specific context, he said.  It was important for the Council to discuss those complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security in a holistic and methodological manner.  However, it needed to increase its focus on effectiveness throughout the whole conflict cycle.  At the same time, close attention must be paid to the fact that peace and security, development and human rights were closely interlinked.  It was vital for the Council to enhance cooperation with other organs, both within the United Nations system and beyond.

A human security approach was highly relevant when addressing complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security, he continued, adding that such an approach placed the individual at the centre, based on a cross‑sectoral understanding of insecurities.  It also entailed a broadened understanding of threats and challenges.  Japan had consistently provided human‑centred and comprehensive assistance through cross‑sectoral efforts with a range of partners.  As for the Secretary‑General’s ongoing initiative for the reform of the United Nations, he said that the resolution on the restructuring of the Organization’s peace and security pillar was being tabled for adoption at the General Assembly.  Although the scope of that resolution did not include Security Council reform, no reform would be complete without the reform of that 15‑member organ.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs for Ukraine, associating himself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that while criticism of the Council’s work was mostly justified, there was currently no alternative entity to safeguard international peace and security.  The Council had achieved some positive results in recent years, including its role in implementing an agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC‑EP).  With the adoption of resolution 2349 (2017), the Council demonstrated an openness to addressing some of the underlying causes in the complex crisis in the Lake Chad Basin region.  It had also been active in addressing the threat of terrorism, engaging in a number of discussions and taking landmark decisions.  Because threats to international peace and security could not effectively be addressed in isolation, he welcomed the expansion of the Council’s agenda to include challenges such as human rights, development and climate change, to name a few.  Nonetheless, among the Council’s shortcomings or even outright failures were unresolved challenges in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and tragic events in the Middle East, as well as blatant violations of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction that continued with impunity.  Further, he expressed regret at the erosion of the rule of law, which was most obviously manifested in the aggressive policy of the Russian Federation towards its neighbours.

OLOF SKOOG (Sweden), aligning himself with the statements to be made by the European Union and the Nordic countries, said that international peace and security was increasingly hampered by the negative impacts of multidimensional poverty, climate change, transnational organized crime, food insecurity, weak governance, human rights violations and growing inequality.  The Council’s preventive role was now more important than ever before.  However, prevention was not possible without a comprehensive and holistic strategy to address the root causes and the conflict amplifiers.  While ongoing reform efforts would better position the United Nations system to enhance its joint analysis and integrated strategic planning capacities, it was also crucial to consistently integrate a gender perspective into long‑terms strategies.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said that an innovative approach, coordinated through the United Nations and focused on root causes, was needed to meet current interrelated, complex challenges to international peace and security.  In its analysis of conflicts and potential conflicts, the Secretariat must take into account the nature of each situation on a case‑by‑case basis.  The effectiveness of the Peacebuilding Commission must also be strengthened so that it could work with the Council to lay the foundation for stability in countries at risk.  Transnational challenges must be met through close coordination with regional organizations.  National ownership must be ensured in all efforts with the support of the international community, so that institutions capable of confronting all current challenges could be built.  He stressed that each organ of the United Nations must respect the mandate of the others, so that they could each adequately take on their respective responsibilities and not duplicate efforts.

PEDRO LUIS INCHAUSTE JORDÁN (Bolivia) said that the Council efforts were constantly endangered both by insufficient implementation of established mechanisms and the lack of coordination to prevent duplication of efforts.  Mediation, prevention and use of good offices, as well as use of Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter of the United Nations should be better used for peaceful settlement of disputes, with Chapter VII tools only used after other strategies had been well applied.  Unilateral actions were also imperilling the Council’s efforts to maintain peace and security.  Such action often resulted in negative consequences for entire regions by creating vacuums of authority, in which terrorist fighters could fill the void.  Robust actions must be taken to meet the terrorist threat.  Prohibition of nuclear weapons, in addition, was an important goal to meet to reduce the threat of devastating conflict.  As a pacifist country, his country would continue to advocate for the peaceful settlement of conflict to avoid the scourge of war and all its consequences, he said.

Matthew John Rycroft (United Kingdom) said that not only emerging threats but also conventional threats had been fuelled by developing transnational challenges, from internet incitement to enslavement of migrants.  All such factors must be confronted at home, in partnership, and multilaterally.  For example, at home, his country was tackling illicit financial flows that funded armed groups, terrorists and corruption, through new legislative acts.  The United Kingdom was also assisting 13 countries in meeting climate threats to reduce their vulnerability.  Multilaterally, it was supporting action of the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Human Rights Council to address the complex and diverse challenges.  For those organs to play their full role, the reforms proposed by the Secretary‑General must be supported.  That would enable the Organization to more effectively sustain peace, meet the Sustainable Development Goals and build respect for human rights.  He pointed out that, during the current open debate, millions of people were experiencing displacement, hunger and conflict as a single reality.  Those ills should all be addressed at the same time to achieve a safer world for all.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) affirmed that Council debates in 2017 had illustrated that the complex challenges facing international peace and security must, in the context of globalization, be met by a global response.  The United Nations must use all its tools to assist States in an integrated manner that addresses deep‑rooted causes.  Terrorism must be faced by addressing all factors — economic, political, cultural and social — along with multilateral security responses and regional arrangements supported by the international community such as the Group of Five for the Sahel (G5 Sahel) joint force.  Those responses must be accompanied by long‑term support for development.  Climate change, often exacerbating crises, must be met by technological and financial means, starting with the immediate implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  The Council should also be in close communication with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and other mechanisms so that it could react quickly to grave violations.  All challenges, along with ever‑present threats such as nuclear proliferation and inter‑State tensions, must be addressed by every State collectively, along with the mechanisms of the United Nations.  Therefore, he voiced his country’s full support for the Secretary‑General’s efforts to increase the effectiveness of the Organization.

KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan), expressing full support for the Secretary‑General’s reform proposals to make the United Nations more effective, called for a comprehensive, integrated strategy in which the priority of sustaining peace ran through all efforts.  His country had seen the importance of that approach since its independence and for that reason had been at the forefront of conflict prevention, including the establishment of the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia, among other efforts.  Reducing the threat of military confrontation was a priority for Kazakhstan, as shown by its hosting of conferences on Syria that had helped de‑escalate areas and promote political progress.  Peacekeeping operations had to become more viable and accountable, with adequate staff and equipment.  The Organization must comprehensively adopt a threefold strategy that addressed the peace and development nexus through a regional approach that involved the entire United Nations system working as one.  His country would continue to be fully engaged in strengthening international peace and security throughout its Council membership and beyond, he pledged.

LUIS HOMERO BERMÚDEZ ÁLVAREZ (Uruguay) said that the Council should consider all aspects that could worsen conflicts, such as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, legal and illegal trade in other weapons, terrorism, cyberattacks, and climate change.  The international community must show greater solidarity and global governance must be strengthened.  There was not only a need for prevention but also for creativity in which greater coordination between the organs of the United Nations was indispensable.  The nexus between security, development, human rights and the humanitarian spheres was clear, but factors such as climate change, pandemics and transnational organized crime could exacerbate crises in conflict or post‑conflict situations.  In such situations there was a need to strengthen the rule of law and promote sustainable economic growth, national reconciliation, access to justice, accountability, democracy, gender equality and protection of human rights.  The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons was a violation of international law. 

GORGUI CISS (Senegal) said over the last years, the international community had increased initiatives to address threats to peace, including through the reform of the Organization’s peace architecture and the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, among others.  Such factors as the circulation of small arms, sexual violence, recruitment of children, and illegal exploitation of natural resources required a holistic response.  Terrorism had suffered defeats but remained a threat as illustrated in numerous attacks.  Mandates of peacekeeping missions should be better adapted to the situation on the ground, he said, noting that African countries had used their troops to combat non‑State actors.  He welcomed the initiative to reinforce the security pillar.  Senegal’s water, peace and security initiative was aiming to facilitate access to transborder sources of water.

SHEN BO (China) said that, in the desire for peace and development, it was necessary to firmly uphold the principles of the United Nations Charter.  Although new challenges kept emerging, the Charter’s principles remained valid.  Maintaining peace and security was the primary responsibility of the Council and its authority should be defended by all Member States.  The United Nations and the Council should be subjective and impartial.  The 15‑member organ must also respect sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of States and their right to choose their own social structures.  Noting that root causes of conflict such as poverty and under‑development had not been solved and that threats such as climate change were constantly expanding, he urged for the full implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.  The major organs of the United Nations should follow the provisions of the Charter and stick to their mandates while coordinating their efforts. 

MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said the Council had a responsibility to respond to crises too large for one nation to deal with.  One of the Council’s most effective tools — peacekeeping operations — was a powerful mechanism, she said, noting that the United Nations deployed over 100,000 troops and police all over the world.  The missions, however, must adapt to the reality of the situation on the ground.  The quality of troops deployed should also be analysed.  Giving examples of successful peacebuilding, including in Liberia, where the United Nations had devised a peacebuilding plan in coordination with the Government and participation of civil society, she said the Council had mostly used missions after conflict had broken out.  There was a need to look at underlying challenges, such as failure to develop or lack of protection of human rights, as those factors could directly lead to instability.  In Yemen, 22 million out of 29 million were in need of humanitarian assistance and there was a risk of famine.  Famine conditions had been caused by conflict and parties more interested in personal gain.  The United Nations had the power to develop solutions to transnational problems, she said, encouraging the Secretary‑General to raise issues early on to the Council.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said that a new way of thinking, along with innovative tools, were needed to meet emerging, complex challenges in international peace and security through a comprehensive and holistic approach.  Strengthened partnerships were needed between United Nations bodies and regional organizations for that purpose.  The Secretary‑General’s vision could allow the creation of integrated capabilities with improved planning and budgeting to support operations on the ground and longer‑term efforts.  While a cross‑pillar approach was critical to address driving factors of conflicts that did not mean that the mandates of existing operations should be changed.  The Security Council should not impinge on the responsibilities of other bodies.  The Council had many responsibilities of its own to deal with, for example, principles of international law governing inter‑State relations, which were not at this point being adequately addressed.

PETR V. ILIICHEV (Russian Federation) stressed that a context‑specific approach must be highlighted, with all the particularities taken into account, and an over‑broad use of Chapter VII, as well as outside intervention, be avoided.  In that context, he rejected the blasphemous statement by the representative of Ukraine in relationship to international law, given that that representative’s Government had come into power illegitimately.  He called for full implementation of the Minsk agreements.  Factors, such as foreign intervention and economic compulsion, must be added to the list of drivers of current conflict that were being discussed.  In terms of an integrated strategy to international peace and security, it would be useful for the General Assembly, the Economic and Social Council and other organs to consider the links between peace and security and socioeconomic and environmental issues.  However, each must focus on its own responsibilities.  Integrating all factors should not come under the work of the Council, which did not have the capacity in those other areas and for which the basic responsibilities in peace and security must remain the focus. 

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy), aligning with the statement to be delivered by the European Union, said that during its presidency, his country had begun to address challenges in an integrated way, including a focus on migration and the nexus that phenomenon was connected to.  Protection and empowerment of people was key to building resilient societies.  The Secretary‑General should provide early‑warning information to the Council.  In order to address all problems in a comprehensive manner, United Nations effectiveness must be improved through building synergy between all actors.  In peace and security, capacity should be built to fully realize the concept of a peace continuum, as well as the building of inclusive political processes and resilient institutions.  His country would continue to fully support reform to strengthen the Organization across the three pillars.  In the Council, the interventions today showed that members had sufficient common interest to be able to reach consensus.

The representative of Ukraine, taking the floor a second time, said that it had been reconfirmed just recently that the Russian Federation was an occupying Power and a party to the conflict in the east of Ukraine.  For that reason, the country could not discuss the conflict as an impartial actor.  It must, instead, withdraw from Crimea and Donbass and make reparations for the damage it had caused in his country.

The representative of the Russian Federation, responding to his counterpart, encouraged the representative of the Ukraine to respect the Council and common sense.  The conflict in the Ukraine was a consequence of the seizure of power that was not accepted by people in the east of Ukraine, and while there was no proof of intervention on the part of his country, there was proof of malfeasance by Ukraine, including bombardment of schools and hospitals that threatened a large-scale humanitarian disaster.  He called for the implementation of the road map that was written into the Minsk agreements to resolve the situation.

The representative of Ukraine cited the Secretary‑General who voiced his concern over Russian arms flowing into eastern Ukraine, as well as actions in Crimea.  That was adequate proof of Russian aggression against his country.

The representative of the Russian Federation said that the Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which regularly visited areas not controlled by the Government, had not noted massive troop movement in the areas under discussion.  In addition, he pointed out that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had been notified that all facilities in Crimea were working in compliance with the Agency’s regulations.

CARLOS ARTURO MORALES LÓPEZ (Colombia) said the maintenance of international peace and security was the fundamental mandate of the Council, which had the responsibility to ensure that decisions were coherent in light of changing needs.  An integrated approach required focus on the main causes and multipliers of conflict.  Nuclear proliferation, climate change, water scarcity and cyberspace attacks required flexible diplomacy.  Prevention and peacebuilding should be the Council’s priority in the maintenance of peace.  Expeditious and bold solutions were required to ensure that the Organization could prevent conflicts.  Reform of the peace and security pillar would make it possible to adapt the United Nations to present day crises.  The Organization’s activities in Colombia were a clear example of building peace, and the success of the peace process in his country was based on a comprehensive approach, including gender equality. 

GEORG HELMUT ERNST SPARBER (Liechtenstein) said that a comprehensive approach to peace and security included rule of law, fundamental rights and freedoms as well as sustainable development.  Implementation gaps in development commitments and disregard of human rights obligations were important early warning signals, he said, adding that contemporary security challenges tended to be complex, requiring tailor‑made, context‑specific solutions.  Stressing the importance of accountability in ensuring lasting peace, he added that transitional justice contributed to deterrence and allowed traumatized communities to come back together and move forward.  Noting the Council’s “half‑hearted engagement” with the International Criminal Court, he welcomed the Court’s announcement of investigations into various crimes in Libya.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan) said that conflicts continued to rage around the world and the longstanding internationally recognized disputes regarding Palestine, as well as Jammu and Kashmir, continued to fester.  The Palestinian and Kashmiri people continued to suffer horrific human rights violations at the hands of occupying forces, while the world continued to watch without responding to those egregious situations.  The drivers of such challenges, including political and economic injustice and terrorism and violent extremism, must be addressed.  What was needed was a shift from a culture of reaction to a culture of prevention.  There was obviously no one‑size‑fits‑all solution to conflict prevention and mitigation.  Moving a country towards durable peace began with a clear understanding of the sources and nature of conflicts, she said.

KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary) said that “comprehensive”, “integrated” and “holistic” were not just buzzwords, but real calls for action and anchors for the work of the United Nations.  The only way to achieve and preserve peace was through dialogue, she said, expressing appreciation for the Secretary‑General’s dedication to start a surge in diplomacy.  Preventive processes should include intercultural and interreligious dialogue and reconciliation, hand in hand with moderate religious and community leaders and faith‑based organizations.  Further, there was no sustainable peace without respecting human rights and international humanitarian law.

JÜRG LAUBER (Switzerland) said the United Nations framework for conflict prevention was in the DNA of the 2030 Agenda and in resolutions on sustaining peace adopted by the Council and the General Assembly.  It was also anchored in the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda.  Further, the implementation of the Paris Agreement was a significant preventative step as it acknowledged the strong links between climate change and peace and security.  As respect for human rights was also key to conflict prevention, his country had launched the “Appeal of June 13” to enhance systematic cooperation within the United Nations system on human rights issues.  The appeal specifically called for intensified cooperation between the Council and human rights organs of the United Nations with a view to strengthen conflict prevention.  He also highlighted that many grievances started around issues of perceived or real exclusion and injustice; they deserved greater attention.

FERIDUN HADI SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said all pillars of the United Nations were facing tremendous challenges.   No single State possessed the capacity to take on the challenges alone.  The United Nations was in acute need of substantial reform to confront the challenges faced.  A primary objective was to increase the effectiveness of peacekeeping operations while prioritizing political solutions.  Crisis prevention was essential, as well as preventing the relapse of crises in post‑conflict situations.  The Secretary‑General’s “surge in peace diplomacy” initiative and his reform of the prevention pillar had underscored their importance, he said, noting that his country was a co‑chair of the Group of Friends of Mediation.  The Council had failed many times to show timely and adequate responses to emerging crises.  Often, inaction was the result of the use, or the threat, of veto.  That disabled the Council’s effectiveness.  He underlined the importance of more Council interaction with non‑Council members and other United Nations bodies.  More attention must be payed to tackling the root causes of the multiplier factors of conflicts, including terrorism, climate change, water, and human and drug trafficking. 

NIDA JAKUBONĖ (Lithuania), also speaking for Latvia and Estonia and associating herself with the statement to be made by the European Union, said that the rise in military conflicts was outstripping the international community’s ability to cope.  Hybrid threats and cybersecurity were priority issues for the Baltic States, she emphasized, noting that concerns regarding the Russian Federation’s interference in national election processes were not limited to European countries alone.  Increased societal awareness, resilience building and media and information literacy could help tackle hybrid threats.  In 2007, Estonia had faced a series of cyberattacks, and Latvia and Lithuania had also experienced such politically motivated assaults.  To cope with the strikes, the public and private sectors, as well as civil society, must cooperate; regional and subregional cooperation was key to strengthening cybersecurity in critical infrastructure.  As hybrid and cyberthreats were here to stay, conventional security was not enough, she said, urging Member States to share best practices and lessons learned in tackling them.

TORE HATTREM (Norway), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, said conflicts were increasingly being caused by environmental degradation due to climate change, adding that the international community must cooperate to implement major environmental agreements.  Backing the strengthened United Nations‑World Bank partnership, he added that the Nordic countries were supporters of the Green Climate Fund and initiatives focusing on African and small island developing States.  The Nordic countries promoted the women, peace and security agenda, he said, and inclusivity started with women.  The international community must make better use of the positive contributions of young people, however.  For every dollar invested in prevention, 17 dollars were saved in post‑conflict assistance, he said, urging States to place prevention at the core of the United Nations agenda.  Security Council reform should include seats for Africa; it was also crucial to ensure small States had the opportunity to serve as elected members.

STEPHEN MAHLABADISHAGO NTSOANE (South Africa) highlighted that the nature of conflict was not the one envisaged by the creators of the United Nations.  Indeed, present‑day conflicts largely centred on the internal strife of Member States and transnational threats.  Unfortunately, while the world had changed, the Council had largely remained the same.  Contemporary challenges had brought divisions within the Council to the forefront, especially among its permanent members.  At times, such paralysis had cost human lives, he said, citing the lack of meaningful action on the situation between Israel and Palestine, as well as divisions on Syria.  While incremental improvements had been made to the Council’s working methods, such advancements did not obviate the need for comprehensive reform.  A more representative Council would allow it to be more effective in dealing with complex, contemporary challenges.  He called for a Council with a stronger voice for those closest to crises, one marked by non‑discriminatory decision‑making and collective, rather than narrow, national security interests.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany) said that, in anticipating threats to international peace and security, the Council must have the security implications of climate change on its radar and firmly on its agenda.  In addition, it should also include a host of factors, such as the growing interconnectedness in the cyberworld.  Lasting peace in such a complex world could not be achieved through military means alone, but in combination with development policy and a strong focus on prevention.  For that purpose, resilience of societies must be strengthened; that often started with respect and promotion of human rights.  Given abhorrent violations, such as sexual violence used as a tactic of war, the Security Council must do more to integrate human rights into its deliberations.   Supporting the Secretary‑General’s reform to make the United Nations work better across institutional boundaries, he called for full use of existing arrangements, such as the advisory role of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Describing multisectoral assistance for integrated Sahel initiatives provided by his country, he stressed that in all areas, comprehensive action was needed to respond to current security challenges.  His country stood ready to assume its responsibilities in that regard, he pledged.

JEROEN STEFAN G. COOREMAN (Belgium) said that the challenges for international peace and security had to be looked at through an integrated approach.  A focus on environmental security should be an integral part of a global approach to security.  Environmental challenges had led to migratory pressures and had provoked conflicts.  For that reason, climate change and ecosystem change should be analysed within the context of security.  He voiced his support for the appointing of a special representative for environmental security.  Such a person could become part of the broader reform of the peace and security pillar.  Belgium would continue to actively participate in the discussion and would anchor the global approach in its national policies.  It had accorded priority to funding the general budget of the United Nations agencies so that they could pursue a global approach.  His country had also funded a number of humanitarian funds to help in cases of natural disasters, such as the hurricanes that recently hit the Caribbean region.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) pointed out that conflicts had increased threefold in recent years with an unprecedented number of people forcibly displaced.  In that regard, he strongly supported the Secretary‑General’s call for a surge in political diplomacy and conflict prevention.  Because an inability to tackle the root causes of disputes could cause and sustain conflict, it was encouraging that the United Nations was increasingly examining conflicts in a comprehensive manner.  It was vital that the Secretary‑General’s proposals to restructure the Organization’s peace and security pillar succeed so that its engagement with the peace continuum was more effective and nimble.  Furthermore, the Council must fully uphold the principles of international law, human rights law and humanitarian law.  It must be judicious and not dictated by any particular national perspectives.  That commitment was tested by the question of Palestine.  The Council’s inaction had had devastating consequences on the ground, making solutions more complex.  Moreover, the Council could not solve international peace and security challenges singlehandedly.  Better cooperation was needed with troop‑ and police‑contributing countries in that regard.

SYED AKBARUDDIN (India) said that a basic reordering of perspectives was needed, emphasizing the need to address sustainable development for all and reduce gross disparities.  The Council must put a greater focus on the globalization of terror networks.  Even on an issue as serious as designating terrorist individuals and entities, Council‑mandated sanctions committees had failed to make concrete progress.  A non‑representative Council, designed long ago to maintain a balance of power between rival States, was unable to handle challenges which had changed beyond recognition over the decades.  “An instrument that is no longer considered legitimate and has lost its credibility cannot be our hope for salvation,” he said, adding that “speech acts”, such as the current open debate, would have little impact on billions of people striving to live in peace, safety and security.

FRANCISCO TENYA (Peru), stressing the importance of the reform drive at the United Nations, said that the traditional threats to international peace and security had been compounded by new complex global challenges.  Foremost among the latter was the impact of climate change.  Migration, food and security could be affected by that, in turn breeding more transnational crimes and illicit trade.  Strengthening the international community’s commitment to multilateralism was key and broad consensus was necessary on sustaining peace through rule of law.  Instead of “burying our head in sand”, the international community must tackle the problems through a multidimensional and inclusive approach.  Expressing support for the reforms of the Secretary‑General, he said that those reforms would shape the United Nations into a coordinated and flexible body.

JOANNE ADAMSON, European Union delegation, expressed support for the Secretary‑General’s reform efforts and underscored the need to engage other stakeholders, including the private sector, in peacebuilding and sustainable development.  To break the conflict cycle, increasingly complex challenges required changing approaches.  That was not only a moral obligation, but a pragmatic imperative with huge economic advantages.  Last year, the European Union adopted a global strategy reiterating its commitment to a global order based on international law, which translated into an aspiration to address the root causes of conflict.  While addressing conflict early was necessary, staying the course was an even bigger challenge, she said, as relapsing back into conflict was common. 

Meanwhile, the Council should not shy away from examining new and emerging challenges to peace and security, including climate change, she said.  The Council must also use its unique role within the United Nations system to prevent climate change‑induced unrest.  Overall, she said its working methods must evolve.  By addressing situations earlier and in a more integrated manner, Member States could transform their approach to conflict and further empower the Council in fulfilling its core mandate.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) said that the interlinkage between security and development was complex and nuanced.  Poverty and inequality might exacerbate tensions in some scenarios, but did not necessarily endanger international peace and security.  Geopolitical rivalries, militaristic approaches and the unilateral use of force were more serious sources of regional and global insecurity.  While discussing the complex dynamics that affect contemporary conflicts, care should be taken to avoid misinterpretations and generalizations.  Successful peacekeeping operations demonstrated the potential for a constructive relationship between security and development.  The recent experience of the United Nations in Haiti was a positive example, where, for thirteen years, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) contributed to a more secure and stable environment and assisted in the implementation of hundreds of initiatives that fostered peace and development at the local level.

MANAL HASSAN RADWAN (Saudi Arabia) said that contemporary challenges were complicated and interlinked.  Israel’s continued occupation of Palestinian land and the violence perpetrated by the terrorist settlers were clear violations of international law and one of the main reasons for the armed conflicts in that region.  The international community must work tirelessly to help the Palestinian people regain their rights.  As well, approximately twenty‑four hours ago, the capital of her country, Riyadh, had become a victim of an attempted attack by a ballistic missile randomly fired from Yemeni territory.  What the rebel militias were doing with the backing of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was a blatant violation of the United Nations Charter.  Rivers of blood were flowing in Yemen, she said, and the Council must take deterrent measures to resolve the threat posed to peace and security by the militia and Iran.

HELENA DEL CARMEN YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador), recalling that the United Nations was established to prevent the scourge of war, said that its founding document emphasized the glaringly obvious relationship between disarmament and development.  The 2030 Agenda had served to further highlight that link.  Calling on all relevant stakeholders to work together in a coordinated way, she said that there were a myriad of factors affecting peace and security, including climate change.  Also stressing the imperative need for the Council to refrain from mandate creep, she recalled that Article 99 of the Charter conferred on the Secretary‑General the role of alerting the Council to any threats to international peace and security.  The Secretary‑General must make use of the powers under that Article, she said, adding that gender‑mainstreaming had multiple benefits in peacebuilding.

MIRGUL MOLDOISAEVA (Kyrgyzstan), highlighting the Council’s important role in peacekeeping and humanitarian action, said increasing its effectiveness was only possible if members were unanimous in responding to emerging threats.  Also expressing support for the Secretary‑General’s reform initiatives, she added that those reforms would strengthen the international community’s ability to prevent and resolve conflicts.  It was necessary to improve the effectiveness of the United Nations and its bodies in order to confront the challenges to development, peace and security.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL-THANI (Qatar) said that her country had adopted a global approach to international peace and security.  Challenges to peace and security required a positive approach, with dialogue not confrontation.  There was a need to strengthen a collective prevention of conflicts to achieve international peace and security.  Qatar had always participated in resolving conflicts peacefully, she said, welcoming the Secretary‑General’s aim to make conflict prevention into a priority.  She also welcomed regional consultations in sustaining peace in the Middle East.  The major complex challenges in that region represented a threat to international peace and security, and cooperation between countries in the Middle East and the international community was needed to eradicate those challenges.

TOFIG MUSAYEV (Azerbaijan) said that the objective of ensuring a peaceful and prosperous world was hardly achievable if universally recognized fundamental values, norms, and principles were overtly disregarded or misinterpreted.  At a time of brutal armed conflicts and high levels of forced displacement, more concerted action was required at all levels to end conflicts and direct greater attention to preventing future conflicts.  Welcoming the General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution on restructuring the United Nations peace and security architecture, he said that States must comply with their international obligations, particularly those relating to respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States and the inviolability of their borders.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH. A. ALOTAIBI (Kuwait) renewed his country’s deep conviction that development and human rights were linked to peace and security, and noted the vision of the Secretary‑General to work towards enhancing the main pillars of security, human rights and development.  Peace required complete harmony and a coordinated effort, and there was a need to enhance the relationships between the United Nations and regional organizations.  The problems faced were extremely complex, and the cooperation of others was needed to help solve them.  Underscoring the importance to hold regional dialogues in order to exchange expertise, he said that would lead to the continued involvement of regional organizations in the peaceful settlements of conflicts.

NGUYEN PHOUNG NGA (Viet Nam) said a human‑centred and whole‑pillar approach was urgently needed to implement a comprehensive and long‑term strategy on conflict prevention and sustaining peace.  Full use must be made of existing preventative diplomacy and mediation tools, and the United Nations should coordinate enhanced partnership with regional and subregional organizations.  Peacekeeping must be coupled with peacebuilding, she continued, emphasizing the need for Security Council unity in taking decisions and collective action.  As for the situation in the East Sea, or South China Sea, she called on all parties concerned to exercise self‑restraint and settle disputes peacefully in line with international law.

JUAN SANDOVAL MENDIOLEA (Mexico) said the world was at a critical crossroad in the maintenance of peace and security.  Praising the priority the United Nations was giving to conflict prevention, he said it was necessary to find political solutions to disputes.  To do so, it was necessary to fix the fragmentation in the United Nations and enable it to wield its tools more effectively.  Supporting the Secretary‑General’s initiatives in that regard, he said the Organization must invest in peace and security “for every person in every country”.  Peacekeeping should be pursued in harmony with the other agendas of the United Nations, including the ones enshrined in “the holy triumvirate of peace and security, development and human rights”.  The threat or use of force was even more serious when it accompanied the dangers of weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons, he said, calling for a robust system of global governance.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said the Security Council should, in a more systematic and targeted manner, deal with challenges in the areas of non‑traditional and cross‑border threats, including those concerning public health, exploitation of natural resources, climate change, poverty and forced displacement.  Both the Council and the General Assembly should take greater advantage of the work of the Peacebuilding Commission.  Preventing conflict was one of the Council’s most significant responsibilities; it should enhance its preventive and mitigating role.  Security sector reform, a priority area for Slovakia, should focus on genuine national ownership and effective partnerships, among other targets.

MARTHA AMA AKYAA POBEE (Ghana), emphasizing the need to work across the United Nations system and noting efforts to reform the Organization’s peace and security architecture, said the Council’s capacity to play a preventative and mitigating role would be enhanced by a structured dialogue on the security implications of development‑related issues.  Much could also be gained through increased collaboration between the Council and regional and subregional organizations, such as the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).  Noting that peacebuilding and sustaining peace went hand in hand with Sustainable Development Goal 16 [promoting just, peaceful and inclusive societies], she said effective strategies across the United Nations system to support that objective would ultimately lead to the effective maintenance of global peace and security.

BELEN SAPAG MUÑOZ DE LA PEÑA (Chile) said a multidimensional approach was necessary to respond to threats, including non‑State and non‑military ones.  Recalling that in January 2015, her country had convened an open debate in the Council on inclusive development, she said there was widespread agreement that security and development were mutually reinforcing.  Underscoring the importance of inclusion, she noted that the design of the transition from MINUSTAH had contained a strong element of national ownership.  Further, it was important to raise awareness regarding the Arria Formula meetings and integrate subsidiary bodies and groups of experts in the work of the Council when designing missions and transitions.  The Council must also improve interaction with regional and subregional bodies.

OMAR CASTAÑEDA SOLARES (Guatemala) said that the United Nations had striven to resolve conflict since its founding through a series of measures, including the maintenance of peace and peacebuilding, as well as promoting recovery and rebuilding.  In all of the aforementioned activities, the Council had played a critical role whenever called upon to respond to various conflicts.  His country had experienced that directly through the United Nations Verification Mission in Guatemala.  The exit of peacekeeping or special political missions did not mean an end to the peace process.  In response to various collective appeals for an urgent change in the way in which peace instruments available to the United Nations were used, Guatemala was optimistic about the Secretary‑General’s plan to conduct an overhaul and review of those tools.  He remained convinced that prevention and mediation should be at the forefront of the Organization’s efforts on peace and security.

CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE (Botswana) said the Council must deploy all the tools at its disposal to effectively deal with emerging threats, and the Organization must act as a whole, coordinated entity.  However, the burden for maintaining international peace and security could not be solely placed on the United Nations; regional bodies should play a critical role.  Because of their presence on the ground, such bodies were better placed to appreciate and address security challenges.  He welcomed the development of partnerships, including African Union‑European Union and African Union‑United Nations joint efforts.  He also highlighted the role of subregional entities, citing Botswana’s experience with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which included structures tasked with addressing peace and security challenges and played a key role in preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution and management, among others.  He also noted States’ collective accountability for effective border management, which could help to reduce crime and insecurity.

LISE HUBERTA JOHANNA GREGOIRE VAN HAAREN (Netherlands), stressing the importance of an integrated approach and early action, said that the challenges of the twenty‑first century transcended borders.  Her country had learned, sometimes the hard way, of the connection between root causes and ensuing conflict.  However, it was not enough to formulate an integrated response to conflict; the Council should also devote attention to preventing conflicts.  While the Council’s involvement with the situation in Gambia earlier in 2017 had proved timely and successful, a clear focal point was still lacking on the issue of climate and security.  Given the growing risk of climate change increasing tensions within and between nations, he underscored that it was important that there be an institutional home for the issue.

ONDINA BLOKAR DROBIČ (Slovenia) said the Council must better integrate peacekeeping with development and humanitarian efforts.  The United Nations and its Member States, regional organizations, non‑governmental organizations (NGOs), and civil society must all support fragile countries, especially by enhancing their societal resilience and security architecture.  Ending impunity for serious international crimes was equally crucial, she said, stressing the importance of effective cooperation with the International Criminal Court and calling upon States that had not yet done so to ratify the Rome Statute.  Turning to water scarcity, she recalled the work of the Global High‑level Panel on Water and Peace chaired by the former President of Slovenia.  Regional cooperation was also vital to avoid water becoming a cause of conflict or amplifying risk, she pointed out, citing successful practices in the Western Balkans region, for example, in the Sava River basin, which could serve as a model for water‑related cooperation.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) said that a priority in tackling growing global insecurity should be taking a holistic approach to address the drivers of conflict and to focus on both prevention and long‑term stability.  Greece, considering itself a pillar of stability in a region that bordered on the Middle East and North Africa, had hosted international conferences that had aimed at promoting tolerance, pluralism and dialogue among civilizations.  It also engaged in bilateral programmes that utilized country synergies and joint activities in culture and other constructive areas, such as trade and research.  Greece had also established mechanisms of cooperation with countries in the Balkans.  As it was on the front line of migration issues, it advocated for the streamlining of migration governance that made use of existing forums and promoting global partnership.  Affirming the importance of addressing climate change as well, she pledged her country’s support to the Organization’s efforts to address all factors involved with international peace and security to shape a more peaceful world for the future.

ZOHRAB MNATSAKANYAN (Armenia) said that terrorism should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilization, but at the same time, called for the acknowledgement of evidence of extremists and terrorists targeting specific communities based on religion or ethnicity.  He called for addressing the suffering of Yazidis, Christians and other minorities, and the indiscriminate attacks and forced displacement of ethnic Armenians from certain Syrian cities.  Armenia had been providing humanitarian aid to the Syrian population, sheltering approximately 22,000 refugees and implementing policies to facilitate housing, education, health care and other integration measures.  Turning to regional issues, he said the OSCE Minsk group co‑chair countries had in October reiterated a commitment to mediating a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno‑Karabakh conflict.  They had also welcomed the resumption of high‑level dialogue between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Geneva on 16 October and a meeting of their foreign ministers on 6 December.  Armenia remained fully committed to negotiations in that regard.

DAVID GREGORY YARDLEY (Australia) said addressing increasingly complex contemporary challenges to international peace and security required a change of approach.  Of particular importance was conflict prevention, sustainable peace, women’s participation in peacebuilding and United Nations reform.  All staff within the Organization must show leadership in embedding prevention approaches across all operations and programmes.  Furthermore, efforts to support peaceful societies must be inclusive, he said, citing evidence that meaningful participation of women in peace processes led to more durable outcomes.  In that regard, he acknowledged the practical steps taken in 2017 by the Department of Political Affairs, Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the Peacebuilding Support Office.  Expressing strong support for the Secretary‑General’s ambitious reform efforts, he called for the Organization to prioritize prevention and inclusive peacebuilding.

OMAR HILALE (Morocco) said the growing number of conflicts and the resulting fallout required a review of the Organization’s response.  Indeed, the international community had not made great use of mediation and conflict tools, which were needed to achieve lasting peace.  He welcomed the Secretary‑General’s reform agenda, which he hoped would result in a more transparent and cooperative approach.  For its part, Morocco was active in addressing the impact of climate change on peace, and the world was already witnessing its effects, including migration and the erosion of coasts.  Concerning the threat of terrorism to international peace and security, he said peacekeepers could not react robustly to threats if they remained “shackled” in their current mandates.  In that vein, he expressed support for the G5 Sahel joint force and called for its full logistical and financial support, noting that multidimensional missions often lacked needed resources to support their mandate.  At the same time, resolving conflict required partnership, he said, calling for the United Nations to take the lead in coordinating efforts.

HASSAN ABBAS (Lebanon) said the notion that conflicts had become more complex should not distract from addressing root causes, including foreign occupation and aggression.  Lebanon faced many challenges, including almost daily Israeli violations of its sovereignty and the presence of more than 1.2 million refugees from Syria.  Such challenges had contributed to a significant decrease in gross domestic product (GDP) growth, higher unemployment and poverty levels and an overstretched infrastructure.  The pioneering United Nations strategic framework, signed by the United Nations system and the Government in October 2016, recognized Lebanon’s multidimensional challenges, he said, emphasizing that the United Nations must follow a “whole of Lebanon” approach which leveraged and integrated the Organization’s diverse expertise, capacities and resources while supporting Lebanon along the path to sustainable development, as per the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

NIRMAL RAJ KAFLE (Nepal) said that studies had established the hazardous consequences of climate change on people as well as on the existence of small islands.  The security and economic implications of climate change could not be ignored.  That and other natural disasters would increase the number of environmental migrants in the coming decades.  It was the common responsibility of the United Nations membership to ensure secure futures for island‑dwellers and environmental migrants.  In Nepal, snowcaps were increasingly receding in the Himalayas.  As well, his country was experiencing pressure on food security and witnessing the extinction of some rare flora and fauna.  The Council could play an important role in addressing climate change simply by sending a message of its collective commitment.  The Council members that were also major contributors to greenhouse gas emissions must lead others by example, he said.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) recalled that, with resolution 2349 (2017), the Council had recognized that climate change had an adverse impact on security.  Now, the Council and the General Assembly must clearly articulate practical measures the Organization could take in response to climate change and other non‑traditional security threats.  Measures could include the Secretary‑General preparing regular periodic assessment reports to serve as an early warning mechanism.  Moreover, the Council and Assembly could also consider examining the feasibility of establishing a regular coordination mechanism through which all of the Organization’s principal bodies and relevant agencies could contribute to designing conflict prevention, peacemaking and peacekeeping operations.  Small States were the most vulnerable to non‑traditional and emerging security threats and it was necessary that small island developing States in particular had a seat at the Council.  However, over 72 years, only eight such States had served in that body, he recalled, expressing hope that his country would be elected for the 2019‑2020 term in order to represent those States and contribute to shaping decisions affecting the smallest members of the international system.

SAMUELU LALONIU (Tuvalu), on behalf of the Pacific small island developing States, said that climate change was the most important security challenge facing the world today, as affirmed in a seminal report by the previous Secretary‑General.  The growing attention paid to the issue in this chamber gave hope, but dangerous impacts were already occurring, with the most vulnerable bearing the largest burdens.  On the small islands, there were record‑breaking droughts and storms and extreme heat and floods had displaced more people than many conflicts.

Climate change was not going away and the situation would continue to deteriorate even if the goals of the Paris Agreement were met, he said.  The changes could be abrupt and could severely affect many systems that were currently relied on for modern life.  For those reasons, the Secretary‑General should appoint a special representative on climate and security, who could produce a report, in cooperation with scientific bodies, that identified and analysed potentially dangerous tipping points at the nexus of climate and security and address concerns that the securitization of climate change would lead to more militarization.

JOSÉ ATAÍDE AMARAL (Portugal) said addressing both the new and old threats to global peace and security required, more than ever before, a multilateral approach that also involved tackling the root causes of conflict.  Complex contemporary challenges required continuous adaptation of mechanisms, better coordination and early action to address threats at all levels.  Affirming the importance of conflict prevention, he supported the Secretary‑General’s reform proposals in that context.  The integration of a gender‑balance perspective was also a priority, as was an ever‑strengthening relationship between the General Assembly, Security Council and the rest of the United Nations system, including through the Peacebuilding Commission.  Early Council consultations on situations of imminent risk and collective action were important to break the conflict cycle.  Portugal stood ready to fully contribute to those efforts.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said emerging challenges had the potential to further exacerbate protracted conflicts and create multiplier effects across borders.  Conflict prevention was, first and foremost, a national responsibility and the active participation of all segments of society was fundamental to mitigating the potential drivers of conflict.  Meanwhile, the United Nations had a critical role in facilitating and monitoring the implementation of internationally agreed commitments to support Member States.  However, the range of tools at its disposal needed to be deployed with sensitivity to the realities on the ground and in consultation with relevant national, civil society and humanitarian actors.  The failure to do so was evident in the “textbook case of ethnic cleansing” witnessed in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August, he said.  Furthermore, while the Council did not need to remain confined to a strict definition of its mandate, it should find ways to enhance its interface with other principal organs.

News

Condemning Attacks on Aid Efforts, General Assembly Adopts Package of Texts, One Urging States to Better Protect Humanitarian Workers, Respect International Law

The General Assembly today adopted seven draft resolutions, among them texts on credentials, the culture of peace and on strengthening the coordination of humanitarian and disaster relief assistance.

Condemning in the strongest possible terms the alarming increase in threats to and deliberate targeting of aid workers, the Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/72/L.22).  By its terms, the Assembly urged States to make every effort to ensure the full implementation of the rules of international law that protect aid workers.

Also by the text’s terms, the Assembly called upon all Governments and parties in complex humanitarian emergencies in countries in which humanitarian personnel were operating to cooperate fully with the United Nations and other humanitarian agencies and organizations and to allow those personnel to perform efficiently their task of assisting the affected civilian population, including refugees and internally displaced persons.  It also called upon all States to consider becoming parties to relevant international instruments.

Prior to taking action on “L.22” as a whole, the Assembly, by a recorded vote of 95 in favour to 12 against, with 17 abstentions, decided to retain two paragraphs referencing the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  Several speakers, including the representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said that language related to the Court was worthy of inclusion.

Meanwhile, Sudan’s representative, whose delegation had requested the vote, warned against politicizing humanitarian efforts.  Stressing that the International Criminal Court was not a United Nations organ, he reiterated that it was instead “at best a threat to the peace and stability” in his country.

Also under the humanitarian assistance umbrella, the Assembly adopted, without a vote, three draft resolutions on:  international cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development; strengthening of the coordination of emergency humanitarian assistance of the United Nations; and assistance to the Palestinian people, which had been introduced on 8 December.  (See Press Release GA/11990 of 8 December).

Sharing the perspective of those providing aid, a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), highlighted two worrying gaps in the United Nations indivisible new policy on prevention, development and peace.  The first was protection, as the policy focus rested on development and peace with recognition that protection was essential to both.  If people were being attacked, forcibly displaced, looted, impoverished, besieged, unlawfully detained or were too afraid to go to hospitals and schools, they would not attain development or peace.  The second gap was neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action.  States must respect that essential practice — rooted in the Geneva Conventions — so that vulnerable people, both under or beyond the State’s control, could be protected and assisted impartially on the basis of need.

Raising another concern, a representative of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said risks driven by climate change would be unevenly weighted against poorer people living in areas of low development.  As such, she encouraged all stakeholders to ensure real progress by recognizing the added value of local actors in addressing and reducing disaster risks and impacts of climate change.

Turning to its agenda item on the culture of peace, the Assembly adopted the draft resolution “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (document A/72/L.29), reaffirming that interreligious and intercultural dialogue constituted important dimensions of the dialogue among civilizations.  It also condemned any advocacy of religious hatred that constituted incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence and underlined the importance of moderation as a value within societies for countering violent extremism and for further contributing to the promotion of interreligious dialogue, tolerance and cooperation.

By the terms of the draft resolution “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/72/L.30), adopted without a vote, the Assembly urged the appropriate authorities to provide age-appropriate education in children’s schools, including lessons in mutual understanding, tolerance, active and global citizenship and human rights.  It also underlined that early childhood development contributes to the development of more peaceful societies through advancing equality, tolerance, human development and promoting human rights.

The Assembly, by the draft’s terms, called for investment in early childhood education, including through effective policies and practices.  It also invited Member States to continue to emphasize and expand their activities promoting a culture of peace and to ensure that peace and non-violence were fostered at all levels.

Considering the Report of the Credentials Committee (document A/72/601), the Assembly adopted without a vote a resolution, contained therein, on the credentials of representatives to the seventy-second session of the General Assembly.

In other business, the Assembly also elected the following 17 members to the Committee for Programme and Coordination for a three‑year term beginning on 1 January 2018:  Belarus, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Cuba, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, Pakistan, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, United Kingdom, and United States.  It postponed to a date to be announced the appointment of members to the Committee on Conferences.

Also speaking today were the representatives of Canada (also for Australia, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Norway) Russian Federation, Ireland, Iran, Indonesia, Philippines, Bangladesh, Armenia, United States, Brazil, El Salvador, as well as the State of Palestine and the Holy See.

Speaking in exercise of the right of reply was the representative of Azerbaijan.

The Assembly will meet again at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, 12 December, to consider global health and foreign policy.

Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Assistance

ABDULLAH ABU SHAWESH, observer for the State of Palestine, said everyone must work together to ensure “no one gets left behind” in the quest for sustainable development.  All United Nations aid to the Palestinian people was strictly for relief and reconstruction.  “We cannot use these funds for true development,” he said, emphasizing that the Israeli occupation must be rejected so Palestinians could attempt to realize the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Describing a five‑year Palestinian strategy focused on the adaptation and monitoring of development goals, he said all such progress, however, was being jeopardized by the Israeli occupation.  Despite grave scarcity of resources and problems caused by the occupation, Palestinian determination remained unshakeable.  “We are capable of overcoming all difficulties,” he said, noting all the sacrifices the Palestinian people had made to date.

PHILIP SPOERRI, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said there were two worrying gaps in the United Nations indivisible new policy on prevention, development and peace.  The first was protection, as the policy focus rested on development and peace with recognition that protection was essential to both.  If people were being attacked, forcibly displaced, looted, impoverished, besieged, unlawfully detained or were too afraid to go to hospitals and schools, they would not attain development or peace.  Inadequate detention policies also posed a risk to development and peace because inhumane detention practices could increase political grievances.  The second gap was neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action.  States must respect that essential practice — rooted in the Geneva Conventions — so that vulnerable people, both under or beyond the State’s control, could be protected and assisted impartially on the basis of need.

ANNE CHRISTENSEN, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said risks driven by climate change would be unevenly weighted against poorer people living in areas of low development.  Those included individuals crowded in urban slums without access to reliable water and electricity sources as well as displaced persons in disaster‑prone and climate‑exposed areas.  Addressing such risks would require increased investment in local action and strong effort to ensure assistance reached those suffering the most.  Ways must be found of linking science to policy, decision‑making and action on the ground — for example, addressing climate extremes through early warning systems that reached the most vulnerable communities and enabled them to act.  Her organization had been working on quick and early action by communities and local authorities through an innovative method of advance financing based on weather forecasts.  She encouraged all stakeholders to ensure real progress by recognizing the added value of local actors in addressing and reducing disaster risks and impacts of climate change.

Prior to taking action on the draft resolution “Safety and security of humanitarian personnel and protection of United Nations personnel” (document A/72/L.22), representatives explained their delegations’ positions.

The representative of Canada, also speaking on behalf of Australia, Liechtenstein, New Zealand and Norway, regretted to note that a separate recorded vote had been called on several paragraphs of “L.22”, which sought to remove text that had been agreed upon for years.  Recent attacks on humanitarian and medical personnel in recent years only amplified the text’s relevance, she said.  Preambular paragraph 28 underscored the role the International Criminal Court could play and operative paragraph 7 called on all States to consider becoming party to the Court, she said, calling on all to vote to retain those paragraphs.

The representative of the Russian Federation said the seventy‑second session marked the second year that delegations were calling for others to review language in certain paragraphs because the draft resolution could no longer be considered consensual.  With the establishment of the International Criminal Court, the international community was expecting concrete actions to deal with impunity, settle existing conflicts and prevent new flashpoints of tension.  Yet many years into the Court’s existence, those expectations remained.  The alternative wording that had been proposed to the paragraphs in question deserved support because they considered salient issues.  Moreover, the proposed amendments should be supported because if adopted, they would return “L.22” to its consensual nature.

The representative of the Netherlands, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed regret that Sudan had called for a vote on preambular and operative paragraphs in “L.22”.  The International Criminal Court was a tool to fight impunity and contribute to international peace.  Its role was to complement rather than replace existing national judicial systems, he said, also stressing that perpetrators of crimes against humanity must always be held accountable.  The fight against impunity for the most serious crimes was critical in ensuring a fair and just society.  Peace and justice were complementary and not mutually exclusive, he said, expressing support for the paragraphs in question.

The representative of Sudan expressed serious reservations regarding the inclusion of references to the International Criminal Court in “L.22”.  The Court was not an organ of the United Nations, despite some parties painting it as such.  The principle of free consent meant that only those who were party to an agreement were bound by it.  Since 2003, the Court had been an impediment to peace in Darfur, creating a wedge between peace and justice, and was “at best a threat to the peace and stability in my country”, he said, adding that the Court was also fraught with corruption and scandals and lacked independence, as half of its budget was drawn from voluntary contributions from States and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who exercised control over it.  Noting the rejection of his delegation’s proposal to replace language in preambular paragraph 28 and operative paragraph 7, he emphasized that lofty goals of humanitarian assistance must not be mixed with a political agenda.

The Assembly then decided, by a recorded vote of 95 in favour to 12 against, with 17 abstentions, to retain preambular paragraph 28 and operative paragraph 7 of “L.22”.  Acting without a vote, it adopted “L.22” as a whole.

In a point of order, the representative of Israel referenced an Assembly resolution that had been adopted in 1998 on the participation of Palestine in the work of the United Nations.  The subject matter of today’s resolution did not fall under the rules of co-sponsorship, which were clearly indicated in the rules governing the United Nations.  Any decision to disregard those rules violated United Nations resolutions and undermined the Organization’s work.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote the draft resolution “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/72/L.23).

The representative of Israel said Palestine’s participation as a co-sponsor did not fall under the rules of co-sponsorship.  Any decision to disregard those rules undermined the United Nations work.

The Assembly adopted without a vote the draft resolution “International cooperation on humanitarian assistance in the field of natural disasters, from relief to development” (document A/72/L.24).

Also without a vote, it adopted the draft resolution “Assistance to the Palestinian people” (document A/72/L.25).

An observer for the Holy See reiterated his delegation’s reservations, including the belief that abortion was not a dimension of the terms “sexual and reproductive health” and “health-care services”.  With reference to gender, that concept was not to be interpreted as a social construction.

Credentials Committee

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), Chair of the Credentials Committee, introduced the “Report of the Credentials Committee” (document A/72/601), containing a draft resolution on the credentials of the representatives of Member States to the seventy-second session of the General Assembly.  The Committee had approved that draft resolution, which would have the Assembly accept the credentials of representatives of a number of Member States.

The representative of Iran, explaining his delegation’s position, said he supported a consensus decision, but expressed reservations to parts of the report that could constitute the recognition of the Israeli regime.

The representative of Indonesia drew attention to the “unfriendly” action of Vanuatu in including on their list of delegations a non-citizen of Vanuatu who had acted in a separatist movement of West Papua.  That person had spread malicious rumours and should not be granted credentials.  Indonesia objected to that act and rejected whatever message it had intended to convey.  It violated norms of multilateral conduct and the rights of Member States, he said, adding that the accreditation of Vanuatu, with knowledge that those individuals had such a mindset, was an act of hostility against Indonesia.  Member States should not play into the hands of separatists.  As such, Indonesia requested an explanation from Vanuatu concerning their delegation.

The Assembly then adopted the draft resolution without a vote.

Culture of Peace

TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR. (Philippines), introducing the draft resolution “Promotion of interreligious and intercultural dialogue, understanding and cooperation for peace” (document A/72/L.29), said the text aimed to strengthen mechanisms and take action to promote sincere and constructive dialogue across cultural and religious divides.  The world was facing seemingly intractable conflicts and complex challenges that not only caused immense human suffering and economic loss, but also hindered socioeconomic cooperation and the pursuit of inclusive societies.  Suspicion and ignorance among various religions and civilizations were being exploited by extremist and terrorist groups to propagate their agendas.  It was essential to build on shared values and aspirations by strengthening mechanisms and actions through constructive dialogue, better understanding, moderation and promoting a global culture of peace.  He also pointed out several oral revisions to the text.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh), introducing the draft resolution “Follow-up to the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace” (document A/72/L.30), said that the current version of the text contained four new elements.  It acknowledged the high-level event on Culture of Peace and its focus on early childhood development and recalled that General Assembly resolution 70/272 on the review of the United Nations peacebuilding architecture had introduced the notion of “sustaining peace”.  In addition, “L.30” noted the establishment of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism and recognized the role of the work of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations in promoting a culture of people.  The draft also reiterated the request to consider convening in September 2018 a high-level forum devoted to the implementation of the Programme of Action.

The Assembly then adopted without a vote “L.29” as orally revised.

Also without a vote, it adopted “L.30”.

The representative of Armenia, explaining his delegation’s position, said objections to some paragraphs in “L.29” were based on the fact that Azerbaijan had abused international fora.  Preambular paragraph 23 concerned an event named World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue, which was a glaring example of manipulation against Armenia.  Due regard should be given to Azerbaijan’s destruction of heritage, as in the case of the obliteration of a medieval cemetery.  As such, Armenia disassociated itself from that paragraph.

The representative of the United States said his country was committed to a culture of peace through rejecting violence and promoting human rights, including by supporting efforts to enhance interreligious dialogue.  However, each country had its own development priorities.  The word “moderation” remained undefined in international law, he noted, adding that programmes and policies must respect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The representative of Canada said operative paragraph 10 in “L.29” noted that interventions countering violent extremism were context-specific.  Respect for human rights, diversity and inclusion were needed to help communities to become more resilient.  Intercultural and interreligious dialogue was needed to create mutual respect and understanding.  It was a difficult balance, but Canada was committed to working with partners to preserve it.

The representative of Brazil said his delegation endorsed the twin resolutions on the peacebuilding architecture, yet cautioned that while supporting both the culture of peace and sustaining peace concepts, those actions should run on parallel tracks to avoid conflating mandates and concepts.  The General Assembly could do more on the human rights and development elements of the culture of peace.

The representative of El Salvador said constructing a culture of peace required institutions to be strengthened, noting that “L.30” underscored the importance of development in early childhood.  It was crucial to ensure children completed their early education and for curricula to include the culture of peace.  El Salvador was a member of the Peacebuilding Commission, he said, adding that his country had experienced a transition and was now working on supporting the United Nations to facilitate a new national agreement.  It was important to create strong institutions, he said, calling on all Member States to support the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in implementing a culture of peace in connection with the Sustainable Development Goals.  He also appealed to the General Assembly President to convene a high-level forum on the implementation of the Programme of Action.  Peace could not be considered in a reductive fashion as just the absence of war; peace was an endeavour that the international community must produce together.

Right of Reply

The representative of Azerbaijan, speaking in exercise of the right of reply, said multiculturalism was a long-standing tradition in his country.  “L.29” welcomed the Declaration and referred to the World Forum on Intercultural Dialogue and other fora.  Yet, there was nothing surprising in Armenia’s attempts to politicize resolutions.  By obstructing efforts and challenging global initiatives because of its relation to Azerbaijan, Armenia had demonstrated that its good faith was elusive.  Regarding human rights and international humanitarian law, he said Azerbaijan had preserved its diversity to the present day.

Programme and Coordination Committee Elections

The Assembly then turned to the election to the Committee for Programme and Coordination the following members, nominated by the Economic and Social Council, for a three-year term beginning on 1 January 2018:  Belarus, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chile, Cuba, Germany, India, Iran, Japan, Pakistan, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, United Kingdom and United States.

The Economic and Social Council had nominated Botswana, Burkina Faso and Cameroon for the three of the four seats among African States; India, Iran, Japan and Pakistan for the four seats among Asia-Pacific States; Belarus, Bulgaria and the Republic of Moldova for the three seats among Eastern European States; Brazil, Chile and Cuba for three of the four seats among the Latin American and Caribbean States; and Germany, Portugal, United Kingdom and United States for four of the five seats among the Western European and other States.

The following States were eligible for immediate re-election, after 1 January 2018:  Argentina, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Eritrea, France, Haiti, Peru, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Senegal, United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

The Economic and Social Council had postponed the nomination of one member from each of the following groups:  African States, Latin American and Caribbean States and Western European and other States for election for three-year terms beginning on 1 January 2018.  Members were also reminded of the remaining two vacancies among the Western European and other States, for terms beginning on the date of election and expiring on 31 December 2017 and 31 December 2018, respectively.

As one seat from Asia-Pacific States for a term beginning on the date of appointment and ending on 31 December 2019 remained vacant, the General Assembly President appointed China to fill that vacancy.  The General Assembly would take action to fill remaining vacancies upon the receipt of nominations by the Economic and Social Council.

The Assembly then postponed to a later date the appointment of members of the Committee on Conferences.

News

Security Council Reiterates its Condemnation of Trafficking in Persons, Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2388 (2017)

Secretary‑General Underlines Collective Responsibility to ‘Stop These Crimes’

The Security Council reiterated its condemnation of trafficking in human beings today, particularly the sale of people by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), as well as other violations and abuses by Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army and other such groups for the purpose of sexual slavery, sexual exploitation and forced labour.

Unanimously adopting resolution 2388 (2017) ahead of a day‑long debate on that subject, the Council underscored the importance of collecting and preserving evidence relating to such acts so as to ensure that those responsible could be held accountable.  It reaffirmed its condemnation, in the strongest terms, of all instances of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, who made up the vast majority of all trafficking victims in areas affected by armed conflict.

Also by the text, the Council stressed that trafficking undermined the rule of law and contributed to other forms of transnational organized crime that could exacerbate conflict and foster insecurity and instability, thereby undermining development.  The Council underscored the importance of cooperation in enforcing international law in investigating and prosecuting trafficking cases.

The Council also expressed, by further terms of the text, its intention to give greater consideration to how peacekeeping and political missions could help host States combatting human trafficking.  It also requested that the Secretary‑General ensure the inclusion of trafficking in assessments of country situations and in the training of mission personnel, which would help in identifying, confirming, responding and reporting on situations of trafficking.

Briefing ahead of the debate were Secretary‑General António Guterres as well as Yuri Fedotov, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, and Smail Chergui, the African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security.

Secretary‑General Guterres declared “it is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes” by bringing perpetrators to justice, increasing humanitarian aid and strengthening national capacity to protect the vulnerable.  There was also an urgent need to ensure more opportunities for regular migration and to restore the integrity of the refugee protection regime.  “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the twenty‑first century,” he stressed.  However, reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that increasing numbers of victims trafficked from Iraq, Syria and Somalia were appearing in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, he noted.

A framework of action to counter trafficking, rooted in international law, had been built through Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention), and the September 2017 Political Declaration on the implementation of the Global Plan of Action.  Cooperation, mutual legal assistance and the sharing of information were critical to that framework’s implementation, he said, adding that his first report on implementing resolution 2331 (2661) demonstrated the ongoing work carried out by Member States and the United Nations system.  “These efforts need to be intensified,” he said.

Data collection, analysis and technical assistance provided by UNODC and others, particularly actors in conflict situations, must be fully utilized, he emphasized, adding that the same applied to coordination through the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.  Efforts to end poverty and exclusion must also be stepped up.  More must be done to support victims, he said, underlining that they should be treated as victims of crime and not detained, prosecuted or punished.  He called for contributions to the Blue Heart Campaign and the United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children.  “The international community’s commitment is being tested,” he declared.  “We need to show the world our determination to end human trafficking, help its many victims and hold those responsible accountable for their crimes.”

Mr. Fedotov said the UNODC had designed tools for United Nations entities in conflict situations, enhanced data‑collection processes, developed training for police officers seconded to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations and helped victims.  It was now considering how to strengthen the work of the Inter‑Agency Coordinating Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons, he said.  In more general terms, he said widespread and systematic violations of people’s fundamental rights during mass movements remained a grave concern.  Thanks to efforts by the Council and the wider United Nations system, there was forward momentum against trafficking, but the international community’s resolve must be translated into action across all regional processes and initiatives, he emphasized.

Ms. Giammarinaro said egregious patterns of trafficking, forced labour and slavery were a strategy for terrorist groups, pointing out that such gross human rights violations were perpetrated systematically by criminal or armed groups taking advantage of the breakdown in the rule of law to carry out the “dirty business” of trafficking and become more powerful and dangerous.  Violations such as trafficking were not only a consequence of conflict, but also a cause, she pointed out, saying the Security Council’s agenda on trafficking should therefore be linked with the processes linked to the Global Compact on Migration and Refugees, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Moreover, it should be addressed in tandem with the women, peace and security agenda, and the Six Grave Violations against Children during Armed Conflict Agenda.  Expressing particular concern about the situation of children, she said they were used as child soldiers or sexual slaves during conflict, and were disproportionally affected by displacement.

Mr. Chergui said interventions to prevent trafficking should include measures to reduce vulnerability, build capacity alongside national Governments and strengthen border security, noting that national legal frameworks were inadequate and often needed strengthening.  Immediate actions should include demolishing camps in Libya and destroying criminal networks, he said, declaring: “Our common humanity is at stake.”

With more than 70 speakers participating in the open debate, delegates affirmed the serious violation of human rights represented by trafficking in persons, with many relating the harrowing stories of victims, particularly women and children.  Some speakers outlined national programmes to help victims and root out trafficking through the three‑part effort of prevention, protection and prosecution.

While most delegates hailed the resolution, many others questioned the expansion of the normative framework, some expressing regret that too many frameworks would fragment anti‑trafficking efforts.  Spain’s representative suggested that the UNODC take the lead in creating a global strategy.

In addition, many delegates called for greater legal migration opportunities to reduce the vulnerability of those to whom borders were now closed.  Bolivia’s representative advocated universal citizenship to reduce the vulnerability of migrants.

Many delegates began their statements by expressing disgust over recently disseminated images of African migrants in Libya being auctioned as slaves.

Libya’s representative, condemning such activity, said the authorities had initiated an investigation and would hold perpetrators accountable.  He called on the international community to help his country address challenges posed by irregular mass migration through Libya rather than using such media misrepresentations for defamatory purposes.

Also speaking today were representatives of Ethiopia, Sweden, Ukraine, Russian Federation, France, United States, Bolivia, Senegal, Japan, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Uruguay, China, United Kingdom, Italy, Venezuela (for the Non‑Aligned Movement), Colombia, Ireland, Spain, Hungary, Liechtenstein, Iran, Pakistan, Brazil, Estonia, Belgium, Peru, Indonesia, Slovakia, Germany, Turkey, Switzerland, South Africa, Qatar, Jordan, Israel, Panama, Norway, Morocco, Sudan, Austria, Philippines, Guatemala, Argentina, Canada, Bangladesh, Iraq, Georgia, Bulgaria, Nigeria, Botswana, Botswana, Maldives, Malaysia, Belize, Portugal, Kuwait, Azerbaijan, United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Myanmar, Netherlands and Armenia.

Representatives of the European Union, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the International Organization for Migration also spoke, as did the observer for the Holy See.

The meeting opened at 10:08 a.m. and closed at 5:09 p.m.

Briefings

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said “criminals and terrorists are capitalizing on, and perpetuating, the disorder and mayhem of conflict”, funding their crimes by brutally preying on the vulnerable.  Sexual exploitation, forced labour, the removal of bodily organs and slavery were the tools of their trade.  Citing Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) as having forced women, boys and girls into dehumanizing servitude, he said such activities constituted serious abuses of human rights, as did the horrific practice of selling African migrants as “goods” in Libya.

“It is our collective responsibility to stop these crimes” by bringing perpetrators to justice, increasing humanitarian aid and strengthening national capacity to protect the vulnerable, he emphasized.  There was also an urgent need to ensure more opportunities for regular migration, to restore the integrity of the refugee protection regime and to increase the number of refugees in the developed world.  “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the twenty‑first century,” he stressed.  However, reports from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) showed that increasing numbers of victims trafficked from Iraq, Syria and Somalia were appearing in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

He said a framework of action to counter trafficking, rooted in international law, had been built through Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Protocol) and the September 2017 Political Declaration on the implementation of the Global Plan of Action.  Cooperation, mutual legal assistance and the sharing of information were critical to implementing that framework, he said, adding that his first report on implementing resolution 2331 (2661) demonstrated the ongoing work carried out by Member States and the United Nations system.  “These efforts need to be intensified,” he said.

Data collection, analysis and technical assistance provided by UNODC and others, particularly actors in conflict situations, must be fully utilized, he continued, adding that the same applied to coordination through the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.  Efforts to end poverty and exclusion must also be stepped up.  More must be done to support victims, he said, underlining that they should be treated as victims of crime and not detained, prosecuted or punished.  In that regard, he called for contributions to the Blue Heart Campaign and the United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children.  “The international community’s commitment is being tested,” he declared.  “We need to show the world our determination to end human trafficking, help its many victims and hold those responsible accountable for their crimes.”

YURY V. FEDOTOV, Under‑Secretary‑General and Executive Director, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said the draft resolution due for adoption today would set new goals and targets in combatting human trafficking.  Condemning slave markets in Libya, “where people are sold like commodities”, he said he took note of the assurances by that country’s Government that such cases were being investigated.  “Our collective horror at this news serves an important purpose:  it can quicken the pace of our actions and encourage a global partnership against human trafficking,” he said.  As part of its response, UNODC was prepared to help strengthen Libyan law enforcement’s capacity to investigate and prosecute criminals; align national laws with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention) and its protocols on trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants; build partnerships among States in the region and improve the capacity of authorities in Libya and other countries to investigate the finances flowing from such crimes.

In more general terms, he continued, the widespread and systematic violations of people’s fundamental rights in mass movements remained a grave concern.  Al‑Shabaab, Boko Haram, ISIL/Da’esh and other terrorist groups were exploiting boys and girls as sexual slaves or soldiers, but thanks to the efforts of the Security Council and the United Nations system, there was forward momentum against the trafficking of persons in conflict situations.  However, the international community’s resolve must be translated into action across all regional processes and initiatives, he emphasized, encouraging States parties to the Palermo Convention to strengthen international cooperation, develop comprehensive legislation and ensure that no offender escaped justice.  Early warning and early screening initiatives must be deployed proactively, and victims protected and assisted.

Describing the UNODC response to resolution 2331 (2016) as extensive, he said the Office had, among other steps, designed tools for United Nations entities in conflict situations, enhanced data collection processes, developed training for police officers seconded to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, assisted victims under the umbrella of the United Nations voluntary trust fund for victims of human trafficking, and held States to implementation of the Palermo Protocol.  Welcoming contributions to the voluntary trust fund, he appealed for greater coordination within the United Nations family, noting that UNODC was considering a meeting at the principals level in 2018 that would give new impetus to the work of the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.

MARIA GRAZIA GIAMMARINARO, United Nations Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children, said the trafficking of people in armed conflict or fleeing conflict, and the protection of the rights of victims, demanded concerted and effective action.  Citing a recent video disseminated by CNN showing an auction of young migrants, she said trafficking for purposes of exploitation and slavery was a tragic reality.  Noting that trafficking was fuelled by political instability and occurred regularly in the context of large migration flows, she said that, as a form of gender‑based violence, it disproportionately affected women and girls, while also targeting children and young adults on a massive scale.

At the same time, egregious patterns of trafficking, forced labour and slavery were a strategy for terrorist groups, she continued, pointing out that such gross human rights violations were perpetrated systematically by criminal or armed groups taking advantage of the breakdown in the rule of law to carry out the “dirty business” of trafficking and become more powerful and dangerous.  That was one of the reasons why the prevention of trafficking was directly linked to the maintenance of international peace and security, she explained.  In that light, a human rights perspective was crucial.

She went on to emphasize that violations such as trafficking in persons were not only a consequence of conflict, but also a cause.  The Security Council agenda on trafficking should therefore be linked with the process of the global compact on migration and refugees, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Moreover, it should be addressed in tandem with the women, peace and security agenda, and with the Six Grave Violations against Children during Armed Conflict Agenda.  Expressing particular concern about the situation of children, she said they were used as child soldiers or sexual slaves during conflict, and were disproportionally affected by displacement.  She underlined the obligation of States to ensure that victims of trafficking were protected from further exploitation and harm, and to prevent, respect and fulfil the human rights of human tracking victims, including by holding non‑State actors accountable at all times.

SMAIL CHERGUI, Commissioner for Peace and Security, African Union, noted that the regional bloc was currently engaged in 15 conflict situations, and in each case, trafficking was eroding human dignity.  Although much of it was below the radar screen, sexual abuse and the recruitment of child soldiers were rife.  Slavery was common, and reports from Libya caused a loss of words.  The business of smuggling migrants in that country had become so lucrative that criminals were fighting over it.  Outlining the African Union’s efforts to alleviate the situation, he said the prevention and resolution of conflict were the most important elements of the bloc’s partnership with the United Nations.

Interventions to prevent trafficking should include measures to reduce vulnerability, build capacity alongside national Governments and strengthen border security, he said.  National legal frameworks were often inadequate and needed strengthening.  Describing regional arrangements to tackle trafficking in various parts of Africa, he said the bloc was also developing assistance initiatives, emphasizing that the entire effort must be linked to sustainable development.  However, there had been difficulties in moving beyond the normative framework to action, he said, adding that there were also missing links in partnerships between various actors.  Immediate actions should include demolishing camps in Libya and destroying criminal networks, he said, declaring:  “Our common humanity is at stake.”

Statements

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said that the sale of migrants as slaves in Libya was the latest despicable act to come to life and must sound the alarm for action by the international community.  He called for swift action to identify the perpetrators of the slave trading.  Root causes such as poverty and conflict must be addressed, and more attention focused on the vulnerabilities of women and children, he emphasized.  In addition, much more must done by transit and destination countries to increase the opportunities for legal mixed migration.  Recognizing the positive aspects of migration, he emphasized that it was crucial to respect the rights of migrants.  The goal was well‑regulated migration with human rights at its centre, irrespective of the status of individuals.  Victims of trafficking must also be helped to reintegrate, he said, adding that existing international instruments could form the basis for cooperation on all those issues.

IRINA SCHOULGIN-NYONI (Sweden), aligning herself with the statement to be made by the European Union and the Nordic countries, said the chilling reports of outright slave trade in Libya were appalling, and she called on authorities to investigate those activities.  Because sexual violence and exploitation were linked to trafficking, women and children were often the most vulnerable.  Thus, it was essential to provide proper aid to the victims and secure evidence of such crimes so that the perpetrators could be brought to justice.  The United Nations presence in conflict situations could play an important role in the response to trafficking through capacity‑building, national support and protection of civilians.  The Council could also include relevant criteria for the listing of traffickers in sanctions resolutions.  Building strong rule of law institutions was essential, as was the cooperation between global and regional organizations such as the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and UNODC.  Because trafficking was in essence a criminal business model, such criminal assets must be targeted to effectively interrupt organized crime networks and terrorist groups.

VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said trafficking in persons was a curse and a disgrace of modern times.  Moreover, it was a gross violation of human rights and an extremely complex form of organized crime.  Numerous ongoing conflicts had generated the exploitation of civilians, with terrorist and other armed groups forcing victims into sexual slavery and compulsory labour.  As such, trafficking was a transnational threat requiring a transnational response, he said.  In that regard, Ukraine was encouraged that the Council had addressed the issue in two recent resolutions, and fully supported the Political Declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.  On the financing of such activity, he called on the international community to cut the profits enjoyed by traffickers, who viewed other human beings as mere commodities.  Ukraine had made significant progress towards establishing a national human trafficking response framework, he said, but Russian aggression had displaced 2 million people, leaving them particularly vulnerable to exploitation.

EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) described the Ukraine delegate’s insinuations against his country as absurd.  Calling for a holistic approach covering prevention, criminal prosecution and assistance to victims, he expressed support for the leading role of the United Nations in consolidating efforts to combat trafficking in persons, and welcomed the measures adopted within the UNODC framework to provide targeted assistance to States.  He called for continued building of capacity to implement the United Nations Global Action Plan, describing it as the compass that set the direction for State efforts to combat human trafficking.  However, he cautioned the Council to be careful about attempts to change approaches or develop alternative platforms to deal with the issue, which could weaken the relevant international regime.  At the same time, the Council should avoid duplication of efforts and deal with the trafficking issue only in the context of its agenda, he emphasized.

ANNE GUEGUEN (France), associating herself with the European Union, said human trafficking was one of the world’s most widespread and profitable forms of trafficking.  It was employed as a tool for financing and even recruitment by armed groups and terrorists, she said, adding that such actions were not only abhorrent, but constituted crimes against humanity and even genocide.  The perpetrators must be held accountable, she said, stressing that Member States had a duty not only to protect civilians, but also to uphold international law and principles.  Calling for robust national action plans, she said France was helping the most vulnerable States, particularly in Africa, to address trafficking in persons.  She urged all States to come together with the aim of preventing such activity, underlining that it was the collective responsibility of Member States to punish those responsible for such actions.

NIKKI R. HALEY (United States) said the scenes of people being sold like cattle in Libya should shock everyone, and the practice must be stopped.  Trafficking had deleterious effects well beyond its victims and was a prime example of human rights violations occurring in conflicts where terrorists held sway, she stated, relating the harrowing stories of people captured by Boko Haram and others.  Describing her country’s activities to prevent trafficking, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators, she said a victim‑centred approach was critical to the success of law enforcement efforts, welcoming the Council’s call for a mechanism to investigate trafficking abuses.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), expressing horror at images of individuals auctioned in Libya, strongly condemned such activity and called urgently for the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators.  Noting the widespread displacement that had occurred in the past decades, he urged cooperation among all States in the implementation of the Palermo Convention and its related Protocol.  Poverty and interventions in the affairs of States were major causes of migration flows, as were closing borders to migration and the possibility of profiting from money raised through crimes flowing into the international financial system.  Bolivia supported the establishment of universal citizenship to reduce the vulnerability of migrants, he said.

FODÉ SECK (Senegal) called for a full inquiry into the modern slavery in Libya that had recently reached the media.   Calling for a full inquiry and action to ensure the end of such crimes, he said the resolutions passed by the Security Council provided the tools with which to fight them.  Africa was active in countering trafficking since it was home to many conflicts, he said, pointing out that trafficking was found in all corners of the world, particularly in theatres of war where terrorists were present.  Human trafficking must be addressed as a priority in all conflict zones because it funded further terrorist and criminal activity.  Senegal had ratified all international instruments relating to human trafficking in addition to having strengthened its legal framework for that purpose and for the protection of victims.  Stressing also that accountability for violations was critical, he said international mechanisms must take over where national justice was not up to the task.  Countering trafficking must be a regular part of all efforts to combat the ills of humanity, he added.

KORO BESSHO (Japan), citing Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), said that armed and terrorist groups were using human trafficking for fundraising and recruitment.  Despite the international community’s increasing awareness, those non‑State actors had continued to recruit boys and girls for combat or support functions and, in some cases, were radicalizing them to commit terrorist acts by using deception, threats and promises of rewards.  The resolution encouraged Member States to use refugee registration mechanisms, as well as early warning and screening frameworks, to identify potential trafficking victims.  Identification of victims was the first step towards protecting them and prosecuting perpetrators.

BARLYBAY SADYKOV (Kazakhstan) called for urgent measures to address human trafficking, including harmonizing legislation across countries, ending impunity, enhancing cross border controls, blocking criminal assets and expanding international cooperation with regional affiliates.  Because peace and development were also essential factors in the eradication of trafficking, he called for strengthened cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the African Union, the League of Arab States and other regional organizations.  Kazakhstan had participated with the Commonwealth of Independent States and with OSCE as part of that Organization’s Alliance against Trafficking in Persons.  It had also established a national referral mechanism, implemented the “STOP traffic” preventative campaigns and was regularly monitoring mass media and the Internet to detect traffic‑related materials.

IHAB MOUSTAFA AWAD MOUSTAFA (Egypt), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said combating trafficking was a priority for his country’s Government.  Egypt was among the States that had ratified the relevant resolutions and protocols, and had established a legal and institutional framework to guarantee its international obligations.  He called upon the international community to redouble efforts to cut off all sources of funding for terrorist organizations, using all available mechanisms to do so.  Emphasizing that human trafficking was not related to any religion, nationality or civilization, he said religious leaders could play an important role in dismissing the links that some extremists tried to spread.

LUIS BERMÚDEZ (Uruguay), noting that 60 per cent of trafficking victims were female foreigners, called upon States to guarantee the fundamental rights of victims by strengthening protection mechanisms.  He stressed the principle of non‑criminalization of irregular migration, calling upon Governments to provide the victims with the tools necessary to cope in transit countries by making them less vulnerable to traffickers.  Overall, there was need for a broad, multidimensional approach involving determination and political will, he said.

WU HAITAO (China) said protracted armed conflicts had led to rampant criminal activities by armed groups and terrorist organizations.  Such crimes were on the rise in conflict situations, and the international community must address such “hotspot” issues with urgency and help settle disputes peacefully.  At the same time, the root causes of conflict must be addressed so as to create a sound protective environment for women and children in such situations.  He called for efforts to completely cut off the terrorist funding chain, as well as the means for spreading their ideology.  As for the plight of refugees, he called for joint efforts to address the problem using the 1951 Refugee Convention as a guiding framework.  In that connection, States must also promote sustained development in the origin countries of refugees, he said.  While respecting national sovereignty, the international community must provide assistance to vulnerable countries in such areas as border control and judicial assistance.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) noted the shock caused by the video of slave trading in Libya and expressed deep concern over trafficking abuses occurring in conflict zones.  Data gathering and information‑sharing, highlighted in the Secretary‑General’s report, were critical in combatting trafficking, as was improving coordination among and between United Nations entities.  The full range of mechanisms meant to counter terrorist financing must be applied to trafficking, he said, emphasizing that transparency must be enforced in supply chains, and peacekeeping missions more fit to counter trafficking.  “Let us stand together to end exploitation of human beings,” he urged.

VINCENZO AMENDOLA, Under‑Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, welcomed the adoption of today’s resolution, noting its provisions on victim protection, greater coherence within the United Nations system and other ways in which it complemented the first resolution on the issue.  Condemning human trafficking, he said Italy fought it every day while prioritizing the human rights of migrants and other persons in the massive movement of human beings affecting the Mediterranean region.  Links to organized crime must be better explored, and all States must ratify the Palermo Protocol, he emphasized, adding that a comprehensive approach was needed to address root causes of vulnerability such as conflict and poverty.

SAMUEL MONCADA (Venezuela), speaking for the Non‑Aligned Movement, stressed that trafficked persons should be treated as victims of crime and, in line with domestic legislation, should not be penalized or stigmatized.  It was also imperative to break any existing impunity cycle and hold accountable those responsible for committing such crimes which, in some circumstances, could be defined as war crimes or crimes against humanity.  Human trafficking must be addressed both collectively and comprehensively, including by examining its root causes and drivers, as well as its multidimensional nature.  Addressing such a complex issue required a preventive rather than military approach, including through enhanced international cooperation.

He expressed concern about the growing links between human trafficking and transnational organized crime, with trafficking being used as a means of financing and recruitment for terrorist activities.  In the Sahel‑Saharan region, hostage‑taking and terrorist acts represented a threat to regional security and stability.  He urged all States to address the issue through cooperation and dialogue, highlighting the importance of the Palermo Convention.  Moreover, he underlined the historic opportunity provided by the 2018 International Conference on Migration, expressing the bloc’s commitment to the negotiation process for the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration.  The international community should refrain from taking any measures stigmatizing certain groups or individuals, including third‑country nationals and their families.  Instead, it was necessary to consider tailored and nationally owned strategies to prevent and combat human trafficking.

MARIA EMMAN MEJIA VELEZ (Colombia), expressing horror over images of slave trade in the Mediterranean, said that her Government had had to assist many victims of trafficking.  She welcomed the growing international framework to fight the scourge, observing that gaps were being filled and lessons learned were being exchanged.  She joined those who called for the universal ratification of the protocol to the Palermo Convention and added her support for the role of UNODC.  All Member States should come together to put an end to the human rights abuses that constituted human trafficking, she said.

BRIAN FLYNN (Ireland), associating himself with the European Union and noting that his country was a co‑sponsor of resolution 2388 (2017), said trafficking for sexual exploitation was a form of gender‑based violence, and called for an increased focus on prevention programmes.  His country’s commitment to the issue could be seen in its national action plan and financial contributions to fight human trafficking, including its support to the European Union’s Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and the OSCE National Referral Mechanism on anti‑trafficking.  Ireland also provided funding to a range of international organizations and civil society partners.  Noting the importance of public awareness, he emphasized the critical role of civil society in preventing and combating human trafficking.

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said that human trafficking was the modern face of slavery, emerging in situations of conflicts where there was a clear breakdown in the rule of law.  The Security Council needed to take action, he said, welcoming resolution 2331 (2016).  As for the issue of fragmentation in combating human trafficking, the international community lacked a single comprehensive strategy.  In that regard, he proposed that UNODC devise a comprehensive strategy that all bodies could follow.  Recalling the horrors occurring in places such as Libya, he urged that the full use of peacekeeping and special political missions address the phenomenon.  States could not simply point to the failings of others.  All bore responsibility, and the international community had a long way to go in fulfilling that responsibility.  To combat human trafficking, his delegation had suggested setting up a global network of anti‑trafficking coordinators that could share best practices.  That recommendation had been received favourably by the European Union and he expressed hope that others would follow.

KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary), expressing dismay at recent news reports showing migrants in Libya being sold as slaves, commended the Secretary‑General for calling on authorities to investigate those auctions.  She outlined a number of steps that could address the global threat of human trafficking more effectively, including a human rights and survivor‑centred approach.  She also called for the effective implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions.  Along with the Netherlands and Belgium, her country had established a transnational referral mechanism to make the identification, referral and assistance of victims more efficient.  There needed to be a greater compliance with international humanitarian law and for accountability by ending impunity and bringing the perpetrators to justice.  However, it was not enough to bring perpetrators of trafficking to justice; those who supported and enabled their activities must also be held accountable.  Furthermore, the international community must explore what role existing mechanisms tasked to investigate violations of international humanitarian law could play in ensuring that such crimes were investigated by the competent authorities.

CHRISTIAN WENAWESER (Liechtenstein) said a strong law enforcement response to human trafficking was imperative, reiterating his country’s call to contribute to the universal acceptance of the Palermo Protocol. He also pointed out that some of the issues on the Council’s agenda illustrated the drastic consequences that resulted from the lack of regular migration channels.  Libya was one case in point where the recurrence of the crudest and most brutal forms of modern slavery had exacerbated the situation in that country and had “put us all to shame collectively”.  Resolution 2331 (2016) had recognized that offences associated with trafficking in persons might constitute war crimes, and, in some contexts, crimes against humanity.  That implicitly pointed to the potential role of international criminal justice systems, he said, underscoring the importance of the International Criminal Court in situations where it had jurisdiction, as it did in the case of Libya.  The Security Council itself had created jurisdiction by referring the situation to the Court, he noted.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, said that human trafficking must be addressed comprehensively and collectively.  A close look at its root causes needed to be taken, including foreign aggression and intervention, occupation, war and protracted conflicts, political instability, terrorism, genocide and ethnic cleansing, all of which created conditions under which millions became displaced in their own countries or sought refuge overseas.  The current situation in Libya and the concerns over reported enslavement were the result of focusing on symptoms rather than root causes, he added.  Member States whose destructive military options had left millions of people at the risk of exploitation and trafficking were not in a position to produce politicized reports, labelling others while denying their own responsibilities, he said.

ELMAHDI S. ELMAJERBI (Libya) said that anticipating and preventing the outbreak of armed conflict and using preventive diplomacy were the best ways to avoid untold tragedy and human suffering.  Unfortunately, however, those hopes were all too often impeded by negative foreign interventions motivated by contradictory interests that were often the reason behind the conflict.  That created serious hardships reaching far beyond national borders and eventually causing growing international concern.

Regions suffering armed conflict and instability were the most vulnerable to trafficking in human beings and Libya was no exception, but it was keen to address such violations, he continued.  Dismayed that media outlets were reporting the sale of migrants into slavery in Libya, he condemned and denounced such actions as inhumane as well as incompatible with national legislation and societal values.  The authorities had initiated an investigation into those allegations and would hold the perpetrators accountable, he vowed.

A transit country for large and continuous flows of illegal immigrants, Libya was going through difficult times, he said, adding that it was unfair to expect it to assume responsibility for the consequences of migration.  All agreed that the burden exceeded national capacities, and the practical solution was to consider the reasons why people were driven from their home countries, and develop solutions.  Rejecting any attempt to settle immigrants in Libya on the grounds of possible dangers and repercussions to the country’s social and cultural fabric, he called upon the international community to help his country address the challenges posed by irregular migration rather than exploiting misrepresentative media investigations for defamatory purposes.

MALEEHA LODHI (Pakistan), condemning the use of African migrants as slaves in Libya, called for enhanced international cooperation among countries of origin, transit and destination.  Underscoring his country’s commitment to fight the crime of trafficking in persons in line with various international instruments, he highlighted the Palermo Convention, the Palermo Protocol and Security Council resolution 2331 (2016).  Pakistan had implemented a national action plan for combating human trafficking and smuggling, along with a strategic framework and a strengthened trafficking‑related legislation.  Concerning the global compact for safe, orderly and regular migration, he expressed hope that the adoption of that instrument would help strengthen the existing global legal framework.  Long‑term political and financial commitments and support, as well as the Security Council’s efforts, were critical to help build States’ capacities to address the root causes of conflict.

ALEX GIACOMELLI DA SILVA (Brazil) said that terrorism, as a threat to international peace and security, should be addressed by the Security Council.  Organized crime remained primarily a domestic public security issue, which might require international cooperation, pursuant to the framework established by the Palermo Protocol and other relevant international legal instruments.  Whereas human trafficking might occur in some armed conflict scenarios, there were no intrinsic or automatic linkages between those phenomena.  Trafficking also took place in situations that were not related to threats to international peace and security, such as displacements following natural disasters.  For trafficking to be effectively addressed by the United Nations, the Security Council should be mindful of the mandate and technical expertise of the General Assembly, the Human Rights Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, as well as the role of UNODC.

MINNA-LIINA LIND (Estonia), speaking for Latvia and Lithuania, aligned herself with the statement to be made by the European Union.  Expressing concern about the increase of connections between armed groups and human trafficking, she also stressed the importance of countering the criminal misuse of information and communications technologies while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.  In addition, it was imperative to investigate, prosecute and convict perpetrators of human trafficking crimes and end impunity.  An increased focus on prevention was central in addressing root causes and vulnerabilities.  Enhanced efforts were needed to actively combat the demand for trafficked people in destination and transit countries.  She expressed support for UNODC and its implementation of the Palermo Convention and the Palermo Protocol.  She also called for greater cooperation at the international level, particularly through the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons.

KAREN VAN VLIERBERGE (Belgium), associating herself with the European Union, said that human trafficking undermined rule of law and flew in the face of the principle of human dignity.  Instability and precariousness created hotbeds for trafficking, and it was necessary to ensure the continuity and comprehensiveness of the multilateral system that aimed to combat trafficking.  Its efforts should span prevention, identification and interception of existing networks, and bring perpetrators to account.  Turning to the need for awareness‑raising, she stressed the necessity to train various stakeholders, including international and national personnel deployed in areas where there were human crises.  Belgium had organized training for military personnel deployed in humanitarian context.  Given the military victory over Da’esh, the international community must redouble its efforts to fight the connection between trafficking and terrorism.

GUSTAVO MEZA-CUADRA (Peru) said that trafficking was a complex phenomenon that deprived people of freedom and dignity.  The unanimous adoption of resolution 2388 (2017) would enable the international community to combat the problem more consistently, in line with the Palermo Convention and its protocols.  Highlighting the “perverse dynamic” wherein terrorist groups benefited from lucrative transnational organized crimes such as trafficking, he also noted the intrinsic link between trafficking in persons and trafficking in migrants.  Migrants and refugees, in their search for a better life, tended to become easy victims for traffickers.  Particular focus should also be placed on women and children, he said, adding that it was necessary to improve the mechanism for protecting victims.

JOANNE ADAMSON, European Union delegation, said that the complex interplay between supply and demand must be addressed if human trafficking were to be eradicated.  She expressed her support for the Secretary‑General’s recommendations focused on addressing the nexus between trafficking in persons and conflict‑related sexual violence, including by terrorist groups.  The European Union had built an ambitious and comprehensive legal and policy framework to combat human trafficking.  The approach was human rights‑based, victim‑centred, gender‑specific and child‑sensitive, focusing on prevention, criminal prosecution and victim protection.  The framework also considered the specific assistance needs of the most vulnerable, especially women and children.  In addition, the bloc had promoted national mechanisms for early identification and victim assistance based on the principle of non‑punishment and unconditional assistance.

In September, the European Union and the United Nations had launched the Spotlight Initiative, aimed at eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls, she continued.  The initiative was backed by an initial dedicated financial envelope of €500 million.  As well, the bloc would work towards implementing commitments made under the Call to Action on Protection from Gender‑based Violence in Emergencies.  She called for greater coherence across the United Nations, emphasizing the essential role of the Inter‑Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons in ensuring that efforts were not duplicated.  The European Commission would shortly publish its priority actions to address human trafficking.  Those actions would build on ongoing work, take stock of the achievements of the European Union Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012‑2016 and ensure continuation of those efforts, including coordinating with stakeholders, increasing the knowledge base and strengthening victim protection.

Ms. JARBUSSYNOVA, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said that it was imperative to adopt and implement a multidisciplinary, cross‑sectoral and transnational approach.  That initiative must incorporate inclusion and collaboration as watchwords to ensure more effective investigations and timely prosecutions.  Action should not be limited to the development of policy and legislative frameworks.  To date, OSCE had trained 200 law enforcement officials, prosecutors, labour inspectors, financial investigators and civil society representatives in an intensive simulation exercise to combat trafficking along migration routes.

Such practical initiatives were critical, not only to foster better synergies, but to achieve long‑lasting results, she continued.  There was often a sophisticated system of recruitment, along with a number of worrying trends, including the steadily increasing number of recruits of girls and young women who joined terrorist organizations to serve as “wives”, and the engagement of young high school graduates for exploitative purposes.  That information had led to a research project, launched in 2017, to better understand the links between recruitment and exploitation patterns of traffickers and terrorist groups.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said that, despite joint efforts, human trafficking remained one of the gravest challenges to humanity.  Refugees were particularly vulnerable, and their welfare and safety needed to be ensured to prevent them from becoming victims.  At the same time, it was critical to strengthen efforts to implement all anti‑trafficking instruments.  Cross‑border collaboration aimed at investigating, disrupting and dismantling networks must also be prioritized.  At the regional level, his Government was working to implement the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Convention against Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, and was committed to the Bali Declaration on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime.  He advocated for better training of peacekeepers in the area of human trafficking and held up the 2030 Agenda as a means to counter the instability and economic desperation that amplified the problem.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the European Union, said that having ratified all major international treaties, as well as implementing European Union legislation, his country had also strengthened its national laws in order to increase the protection of victims.  Less than two months ago, Slovakia had agreed on the Political Declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons.  He stressed the need to address the factors that increased vulnerability in trafficking, including poverty, unemployment, inequality and conflict.  Prevention rather than response must be focused upon, and the protection of victims and the prosecution of perpetrators should be timely, accurate and comprehensive, he said.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany), associating himself with the European Union, said that, because collecting physical evidence in armed conflict remained a significant challenge when addressing human trafficking, his Government supported the Secretary‑General’s approach to identify additional evidence outside conflict zones.  It was critical to make such crimes unprofitable, he said, emphasizing the importance of tracking financial flows and transactions derived from trafficking, including through the Financial Action Task Force.  Furthermore, if the rule of law was not upheld, and trafficking in persons was allowed to thrive in situations of conflict, such crimes could contribute to the destabilization of societies and States.  At the national level, Germany had undertaken victims‑focused measures, including support through social services and psychological support.  Other measures were supporting law enforcement and the criminalization of clients who knowingly used sexual services from trafficked persons.  The participation of civil society was also encouraged, including through Germany’s 2016 national action plan on business and human rights.

FERIDUN H. SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey) said that human trafficking was a global problem that required a global response, including the four pillars of prevention, prosecution, protection and partnerships.  Due to its geographical location, Turkey had been adversely affected by the rising trends in human trafficking.  Criminal and terrorist networks were resorting to different forms of exploitation, ranging from gender‑based sexual violence to forced recruitment of adults and children.  His country was actively fighting against terrorist organizations in its region, and had also introduced comprehensive administrative and legal measures to combat human trafficking.  At the international level, Turkey was a party to the Palermo Convention and its relevant supplementary protocols.

OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) said that the Secretary‑General’s report provided an excellent baseline of activities undertaken by the United Nations to fight human trafficking, giving insight into best practices developed by Member States.  Noting that forced displacement and migration increased the risk for trafficking and exploitation, he added that, while the absence of security was favourable to the business model of traffickers, peaceful countries with strong rule of law were by no means exempted.  For its part, Switzerland was working on strengthening measures for identification and protection of persons in the asylum procedure.  Also highlighting the importance of fact‑finding mechanisms, he said the combination of reporting and monitoring helped build a knowledge base on trafficking.

EPHRAIM LESHALA MMINELE (South Africa) said that illicit trafficking in drugs, stolen antiquities and light weapons often followed the same routes used by human traffickers.  Those activities threatened international peace and security, including by sustaining terrorism.  The appalling reports over the last few days that showed African migrants in Libya being sold as slaves was a clear indication of the urgent need for the commitment to eradicate human trafficking.  One of the highest risks to displaced persons was the threat of being trafficked, particularly for refugees fleeing conflicts.  Trafficking operations often flourished when Government institutions and law enforcement capacities were eroded by sustained conflict.  The ultimate objective should be to address the conflict that gave rise to human trafficking.  Development challenges should be addressed, as should the dangers of external interventions which had been witnessed in Libya, Iraq and Syria, and had led to the proliferation of refugees and internally displaced persons.

SIMON KASSAS, observer for the Holy See, said that to eradicate human trafficking, its economic, environmental, political and ethical causes must be confronted.  Wars and violent conflicts had become the biggest driver of forced human displacement.  Such conflicts enabled human traffickers to exploit such environments and target refugees.  Efforts to end conflict should be accompanied by measures to protect affected populations from traffickers, in particular the most vulnerable, including women and children.  He highlighted the importance of implementing the responsibility to protect in the context of the migration and refugee crisis.  The criminalization of forced migrants and of undocumented and irregular migrants in general exacerbated their vulnerabilities and drove them further into the clutches of traffickers.  It also rendered them less likely to collaborate with law enforcement authorities to catch and punish traffickers.

TARIQ ALI FARAJ AL-ANSARI (Qatar) said that the Secretary‑General’s report contained important recommendations that would enable the international community to combat human trafficking, especially in conflict‑prone regions.  The indicators showed an increasing numbers of victims, especially among women and children.  Terrorist groups were using human trafficking to recruit soldiers and raise funds.  His country would focus on addressing the root causes of trafficking, whether social, economic, cultural, political, ideological, or due to the absence of rule of law.  At the national level, there were a number of legislative measures in place to punish perpetrators and provide rehabilitation for victims.  Qatar was also a member of the Group of Friends United against Human Trafficking, and was one of the biggest supporters of UNODC.

SIMA SAMI BAHOUS (Jordan), expressing alarm about the revolting images of human trafficking in Libya that had recently surfaced in the news media, said that human beings continued to be sold like merchandise, despite the best efforts of the international community to combat the problem.  It was necessary to have a holistic vision of the issue.  Instead of focusing solely on the hotspots, the international community must combat underlying causes.  Security and development issues were inextricably linked and it was crucial to redouble efforts to fight human trafficking perpetrated by terrorist groups.  Calling for a global preventive strategy that would empower young people and build capacity in developing countries, she noted that Jordanian law criminalized all forms of human trafficking.

NOA FURMAN (Israel) said that, due to a serious trafficking problem throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, her country had introduced a comprehensive anti‑trafficking law in 2006 with the goal to make every Government official, student, business executive, police officer and citizen aware of trafficking and its victims.  Israel’s National Anti‑Trafficking Unit provided more than 50 training sessions for officials annually.  Lawyers in the State Attorney’s Office received special training to enhance the law enforcement side of anti‑trafficking.  For the general public, lectures and interviews with survivors at universities and in the media were offered.  Leaflets were distributed to raise awareness and efforts had been made to reduce the stigma that could accompany human trafficking.  On the international level, Israel worked with other countries to combat trafficking on a global scale, she said, adding that it had not been spared from the cruelty of human trafficking, but it was doing its best to combat it on all fronts.

ISBETH LISBETH QUIEL MURCIA (Panama) said that human trafficking recognized no borders and affected all countries.  It was a degrading practice and a violation of human rights, which stripped away the humanity of victims for the benefit of criminal networks.  She echoed the condemnation of the United Nations Secretary‑General, following reports in the media that revealed the existence of markets of human beings in Libya.  The auctioning of migrants and refugees was a shocking reality, she noted.  As conflicts generated migrant flows, she urged international cooperation efforts to focus on the problem through a unified approach.  In‑line with the Global Plan of Action, Panama had rolled out specific actions for the prevention of human trafficking and the prosecution of traffickers.  In the area of data collection, it had created a biometric database that prevented individuals with criminal ties from entering the country.

TORE HATTREM (Norway), speaking on behalf of the Nordic Countries, acknowledged the dual nature of human trafficking as a cause and consequence of conflict and instability.  Terrorist groups such as ISIL, Boko Haram, Al‑Shabaab and the LRA were using trafficking as a tactic of terror and war, while also raising money for their operations and criminal infrastructure.  Women and children were particularly exposed, often in the form of sexual slavery, and forced labour as soldiers and spies.  Welcoming the adoption last week at the margins of the United Nations Peacekeeping Ministerial conference in Canada, of the Vancouver principles on the prevention of the recruitment and use of child soldiers, he said it was necessary to improve data sharing and monitoring between countries and the Organization’s entities.

Mr. ELKHADIR (Morocco) said that in 2013, his country had adopted a national policy for fighting human trafficking that focused on a humane approach that would shelter migrants from being trafficked.  Morocco had also demonstrated its commitment at the international stage by adhering to the relevant conventions.  Extreme poverty and conflict, among other causes, had spawned vulnerabilities that criminals could exploit, and a security approach was not enough to fight that.  What was needed was a multi‑sectoral approach that involved cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination, he stressed.

Mr. MAFADAL (Sudan) said that the heinous pictures and news about the African refugees in Libya should provide impetus to the international community in confronting the problem.  Criminal networks were profiting from humanitarian crises, especially by exploiting vulnerable groups for sexual trafficking and organ trade.  Calling for international and bilateral cooperation in intercepting illegal financial flows, he said that the unprecedented mass movements of refugees and migrants had led to huge problems, including in his country.  Recalling Sudan’s recent progress in combating transnational organized crime, he said that its police forces had managed to liberate thousands of victims of smuggling on their way to Libya and eventually Europe.

JAN KICKERT (Austria), aligning him with the European Union, welcomed the adoption of resolution 2388 (2017) and highlighted the vulnerability of women and children in conflict situations.  Terrorists were capturing women and girls to sell or offer as rewards to fighters, and children were being recruited by armed groups and then being used as child soldiers and human shields.  In combating human trafficking, Austria was following a victim‑centred approach based on rights and rule of law.  It was crucial to focus on preventing trafficking, identifying and protecting victims and ending the climate of impunity.  In view of the transnational nature of the offence, all stakeholders, both at the national and international level, needed to work together, he said, encouraging States to make use of the expertise offered by UNODC.

KIRA CHRISTIANNE DANGANAN AZUCENA (Philippines) said that armed conflict and unstable peace and order situations increased the vulnerabilities of children and youth for recruitment into civilian armed groups and rebel groups.  The Philippines’ efforts were focused on preventing recruitment, holding perpetrators accountable and training frontline officers on appropriate methods to assist children rescued from armed groups.  Examining trafficking corridors and business flow was critical in addressing how human trafficking was being used to finance terrorist activities, armed groups and transnational organized crime networks.  That approach had enabled her Government to locate victims and traffickers throughout the entire process, especially at critical points of intervention.

JORGE SKINNER-KLÉE (Guatemala) said that armed conflicts and humanitarian crises amplified the risk of trafficking, and victimized refugees and internally displaced persons.  There was growing proof of the link between trafficking and terrorist groups.  The Council had witnessed the high cost in human life due to conflicts, and the work it did could have an impact on that area.  A year ago, it adopted resolution 2331 (2016), which condemned all acts of trafficking in persons.  That resolution also focused on the importance of collecting evidence in relation to those acts, to ensure the accountability of those responsible.  He said he deplored that most victims of such crimes had been children, and condemned the fact that migratory women and children had become vulnerable to trafficking and crime networks.  The Council should not fail to address such violent and inhumane acts, he said.

GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina) said that she believed that combatting trafficking should involve a comprehensive approach, and it was relevant that it was discussed within the framework of the General Assembly.  Terrorist groups were using trafficking as a weapon of terror and a source of financing, she said.  At the national level, combatting trafficking in persons was dealt with by Argentina’s executive committee, which also provided protection to victims.  It coordinated the actions of a variety of Ministries, and the Federal Council had been tasked with drafting the country’s strategy.  The Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of National Security had promoted the gender perspective across the board, by providing training and preventing gender‑based violence.  Conflict could only be tackled when respect for international humanitarian law was safeguarded, she said.

LOUISE BLAIS (Canada) said that her country’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy aimed to reduce poverty, inequality, violence and conflict, all of which increased vulnerability to human trafficking and led migrants towards smuggling.  Human traffickers could be deprived of funding and access to the international financial system by using tools developed to combat financial crime.  In that context, the Canadian project PROTECT, established in 2016, was a unique public‑private endeavour involving the country’s financial intelligence unit, law enforcement and financial institutions committed to tracking money‑laundering associated with such activities.  She also drew attention to the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers, launched at the recent United Nations Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial.  Canada had endorsed the Principles and looked forward to working with others to implement them, she said.

MASUD BIN MOMEN (Bangladesh) said that, since 25 August, his country had witnessed an unprecedented influx of 620,000 people, mostly Rohingya, from Myanmar’s Rakhine State, in the wake of the atrocious crimes committed against them.  He expressed concern over the possibility of the large number of women and children among them falling prey to traffickers.  With sea routes becoming safer during the current season for operating makeshift boats, it was likely that those elements would try to take advantage of the forcibly displaced persons from Rakhine State still entering Bangladesh on an almost daily basis.  Those who claimed that the situation on the ground in Rakhine State had stabilized were either deliberately ignoring the reality or had a vested agenda of their own.  The Secretary‑General was expected to brief the Council in December on the situation in Rakhine State, and he urged him to make practical recommendations for addressing the threat of trafficking in persons.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), underscoring that human trafficking undermined rule of law and stoked further instability, stated that his country had ratified the Palermo Protocol and had adopted legislation which set up a mechanism to assist human trafficking victims and hold perpetrators accountable.  The Government had also participated in the exchange of information with various competent bodies, international organizations and neighbouring States and was working with civil society organizations and religious circles.  Iraq had suffered enormously, with Da’esh abducting thousands of its citizens, including women and children.  Calling upon countries of destination not to treat trafficking victims as illegal immigrants or criminals, he said that all Member States must implement all the relevant texts, including resolution 2331 (2016), resolution 2379 (2017) and the resolution just adopted that would enable a coordinated response.

ASHRAF ELNOUR MUSTAFA MOHAMED NOUR, International Organization for Migration (IOM), said that while legal frameworks for victims of human trafficking had been strengthened in recent years, there had been less progress in preventing human trafficking from occurring in the first place.  The demand for cheap goods and sexual services drove trafficking, he noted, adding that the number of people benefiting from protection schemes for victims remained small.  It was important to increase Governments’ and civil society’s capacity to identify and assist all migrants in vulnerable situations.  More investment was needed to learn and draw on the experience and expertise acquired by the anti‑trafficking community to date.  Underscoring the importance of the collection, standardization and analysis of data, he highlighted the agency’s Counter-Trafficking Data Collaborative, which was a multi‑stakeholder, open data publishing platform.

KAHA IMNADZE (Georgia), aligning himself with the European Union, said trafficking was being used by criminals as a weapon of terror and the growing number of refugees and migrants would only exacerbate the problem.  The root causes of migration must be addressed, he said, urging the international community to do more to help the Government of Libya.  Taking action against trafficking required a sustainable political commitment, legislative framework, multisectoral approaches, proactive investigations and awareness raising initiatives.  The Russian Federation’s illegal occupation of the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions remained an obstacle to the Government of Georgia, affecting the full implementation of counter‑trafficking measures, he said, adding that there were no mechanisms to effectively identify, investigate and prosecute alleged cases in occupied regions.

GEORGI VELIKOV PANAYOTOV (Bulgaria), associating him with the European Union, stressed the importance of accelerating the international commitment to eliminate human trafficking through a comprehensive, multidisciplinary and cross‑border approach.  Reaffirming a commitment to the implementation of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols therein as well as to Security Council resolution 2331 (2016), he added that the draft under consideration today emphasized the protection of children.  Bulgaria was among the pioneers in Europe to adopt specialized anti‑trafficking legislation back in 2003 and currently had one of the most comprehensive legal and institutional frameworks to combat trafficking in persons, he noted.

TIJJANI MUHAMMAD BANDE (Nigeria) said terrorist groups, such as ISIL/Da’esh and Boko Haram, had introduced a new dimension to human trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and girls.  Although Boko Haram had been militarily defeated and some success had been achieved in liberating a number of women and girls held as hostages, a great amount of work still remained to be done until all hostages were freed.  The situation in Libya further confirmed the complexity of trafficking networks and the dehumanizing treatment of the victims.  The United Nations system should work in concert to fight human trafficking in conflict situations and in the context of terrorism.  A coordinated approach among the agencies would enhance the overall effectiveness of the United Nations in the fight against trafficking and terrorism.  Further, Member States should further commit to the implementation of relevant international legal instruments such as the Palermo Protocol.

EDGAR SISI (Botswana) said no country was immune to human trafficking, which had been exploited by terrorist groups and networks to finance illegal activities.  A State party to the Palermo Convention, Botswana had passed the Anti‑Human Trafficking Act of 2014 and established a committee to prohibit, prevent and combat the phenomenon and protect and assist victims.  He expressed appreciation for continued UNODC support in training prosecutors, law enforcement and judicial officers on human trafficking, terrorism and money laundering.  Through such assistance, Botswana had conducted awareness campaigns and capacity‑building and training workshops.  Looking ahead, he called for strengthening international cooperation, partnerships and technical assistance.

ALI NASEER MOHAMED (Maldives) said his country had criminalized trafficking in persons in 2013 and continued to implement strict measures.  Noting the Security Council’s increased role in confronting human trafficking in conflict situations, he said the best strategy to end such crimes was through a culture of respect for human dignity, human rights and the protection of rights for persons in vulnerable situations.  Partners must work with national Governments in strengthening the implementation of national and international laws and norms.  The Maldives hosted a large number of migrant workers and recognized the importance of protecting the rights of its expatriates.  Efforts to halt trafficking included a five‑year national action plan and, at the international level, joining the Palermo Convention in 2013.  In that regard, he called for stronger global cooperation and coordination to identify effective solutions.

MUHAMMAD SHAHRUL IKRAM YAAKOB (Malaysia) said that, given the multi‑faceted dimensions of trafficking in persons, it was crucial that the international community mobilized complementary legal means to investigate and dismantle trafficking networks.  He expressed support for UNODC and other relevant bodies in providing technical support to Member States to build and enhance their law enforcement capacities.  Because Malaysia was a country of destination and transit, cooperation and coordination with neighbouring countries and the international community were essential to combat trafficking.  He called on the Council to better utilize its tools to monitor trends in human trafficking in armed conflicts areas, identify perpetrators and hold them accountable.  He also underscored the role played by local communities, civil societies and religious leaders in ensuring the reintegration and rehabilitation of survivors.

LOIS MICHELE YOUNG (Belize) said her country had benefited from regional, international and civil society support in providing ongoing training to build up its prevention, protection and prosecutorial capacities to address trafficking in persons.  The training was targeting sectors like tourism and agriculture, businesses such as utilities companies and inspectors of the Social Security Board to help identify potential victims.  With support from IOM, it had also trained prosecutors, with a special focus on the rights of victims and the role of the judiciary and prosecutors in upholding them.  However, the country lacked the financial and human resources to address long‑term victim assistance that would reintegrate them into the workforce and away from the protection system.  Her country had found that language and low levels of literacy were major barriers to victims being retrained and accessing gainful employment.

FRANCISCO ANTÓNIO DUARTE LOPES (Portugal) said that any effective intervention regarding human trafficking must be based on common efforts in terms of prevention, awareness and support.  He urged all who had not yet done so to accede to and ratify the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, which provided a broad basis for action against traffickers as well as protection and assistance to victims.  Portugal had developed its first national plan against trafficking in 2007, involving the public sector as well as civil society.  Its third national plan was currently being implemented, entailing policy measures focused around prevention, awareness, research, education, criminal investigation and cooperation.

MANSOUR AYYAD SH A ALOTAIBI (Kuwait), associating himself with the Non‑Aligned Movement, noted the effect of conflict in his region on forced migration and subsequent vulnerability to trafficking.  Such migration must be dealt with in a humane way that addressed underlying causes.  Slavery, which was particularly reprehensible, and other such crimes were serious violations of human rights that could be defined as crimes against humanity or war crimes.  Efforts to stem human trafficking must be linked to sustainable development goals.  His country had adopted laws to outlaw human trafficking and had signed onto international instruments.  The international framework must be strengthened, with wider international cooperation within existing instruments.  Paying tribute to all the specialized agencies that had taken leading roles in fighting the scourge, he reaffirmed his country’s commitment, including by continuing to strengthen its legal regime.

HABIB MIKAYILLI (Azerbaijan) said that root causes of such crimes must be addressed, perpetrators must held accountable and the necessary legal, psychological, material and other assistance must be provided to victims.  Strengthening State authority and the rule of law was also critical.  Welcoming the growing international framework, he noted that his country had ratified the Protocol to the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and had adopted related national action plans to cover actions over the past 14 years.  The legal framework for liability for trafficking had been inserted into the criminal code, mechanisms had been developed to coordinate the work of ministries and bilateral and multilateral agreements had been signed with some 40 countries, in addition to other activities at the international level.

AMIERA OBAID ALHEFEITI (United Arab Emirates), said that human trafficking had become a matter of deep concern in her region, particularly in regards to the harm caused to women and girls who were prey to Da’esh and other violent extremists.  Since 2007, the United Arab Emirates had developed legal frameworks, policies and social infrastructure to fight those crimes.  Prevention had been pursued through education programmes and other means; law enforcement had been trained; and prosecutorial capacity had been strengthened.  As well, survivors were being provided with counselling, shelter and resettlement, among other assistance.  Multilaterally and internationally, the country was cooperating with countries of origin, having signed agreements with five such countries to help address related conditions there.  She called for the development of an integrated, holistic response with cooperation between public and private sectors and linkages to sustainable development for all.  She also called on Member States to engage in the process that would encourage safe and orderly legal migration.

MACHARIA KAMAU (Kenya) said that the kidnapping of the school girls in Chibok, Nigeria by Boko Haram was a chilling reminder of how trafficking had evolved into a weapon of terror.  He drew attention to the abhorrent situation in Libya, where Africans were being auctioned in open slave markets.  Nothing could be more distressing than slavery being practiced in broad daylight in front of news cameras.  The adoption of Security Council resolution 1973 (2011) had significantly contributed to the breakdown of law and order in Libya.  That resolution, which had been passed against the will of the African Union, remained a stigma and an indictment of the Security Council.  In its short‑sightedness, it had caused more suffering and distress than it sought to address.  Further, it was the Council’s action that had led to Libya’s coastline becoming an open border for traffickers and smugglers who had become merchants of death.  The Council, therefore, had a special obligation to address the situation in Libya.  Tragically, the plight of migrants crossing through that country had been exacerbated by the European Union’s policy of financing, training and equipping undefined groups in Libya to intercept migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea.  He demanded an end to the European Union’s inhuman policy and called on the Union to seek sustainable solutions for migrants in detention camps in Libya, including solutions dealing with those who had been sold into slavery.

HAU DO SUAN (Myanmar) welcomed the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons and UNDOC’s Technical Assistance Programmes for Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants.  Myanmar had enacted the Anti‑Trafficking in Persons Law in 2005 and continued to conduct awareness‑raising activities across the country.  It was also cooperating with other countries in the region by signing bilateral agreements, including ratifying ASEAN’s Convention against Trafficking in Persons.  While humanitarian crises due to natural disasters or conflicts left people living in affected areas vulnerable, persistent poverty in less developed countries was also a root cause of the issue, he/she said, noting the importance of private sector engagement and efforts to reach the relevant goals of the 2030 Agenda.  Regarding the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state and the potential exploitation of the people who fled across the border, Myanmar was working with Bangladesh on the voluntary, safe and dignified return of that population.  The repatriation process would start in three weeks after signing a bilateral agreement for the arrangement of repatriation, he/she said.

KAREL JAN GUSTAAF VAN OOSTEROM (Netherlands) stressed that prevention was of the utmost importance, while there was also a need to enhance the international community’s understanding of the relationship between human trafficking and the financing of terrorism.  Trafficking in human beings was an act that constituted a gross human rights violation, which made it crucial for the United Nations and its Member States to prioritize the protection of victims.  Human trafficking thrived in climates of impunity, which underscored the need to arrest, detail and prosecute perpetrators.  Partnerships were at the heart of the shared responsibility to stop human trafficking, and in that context, the Netherlands encouraged the Security Council to address irregular migration, including human trafficking, in mission mandates and reporting, where appropriate.

MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia) said that trafficking of human beings was a global challenge that needed to be addressed collectively and holistically.  His Government, along with international cooperation, had initiated numerous national reforms, including implementing four national action plans to combat that phenomenon.  While its initial aims were to create a sound legislative framework and carry out assistance projects for victims, the focus had shifted towards prevention‑related activities.  A strong partnership between national authorities and civil society organizations was especially important in that regard.  He went on to highlight the need for adequate training of all stakeholders, including peacekeepers and humanitarian personnel to help identify and tackle the risks of trafficking, especially related to women and children.

Resolution

The full text of resolution 2388 (2017) reads as follows:

The Security Council,

Recalling presidential statement 2015/25, resolution 2331 (2016),

Taking note of the Secretary-General’s report (document S/2017/939),

Recalling its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations,

Taking note of the efforts undertaken by United Nations entities and international and regional bodies to implement resolution 2331 (2016), including the development of a thematic paper on trafficking in persons in conflict situations, the establishment of the Task Team on anti-trafficking in humanitarian action within the Global Protection Cluster, the development by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) of a structured system of data collection on trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict, including through the publication of the 2016 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, and the inclusion by the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), within the existing mandate, under the policy guidance of the Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC), and in close cooperation with UNODC and other relevant entities, in its country assessments, as appropriate, of information regarding Member States’ efforts to address the issue of trafficking in persons where it is committed for the purpose of supporting terrorism, including through the financing of or recruitment for the commission of terrorist acts,

Recalling the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and its Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which includes the first internationally agreed definition of the crime of trafficking in persons and provides a framework to effectively prevent and combat trafficking in persons, and further recalling the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons,

Recognizing that trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict and post-conflict situations can be for the purpose of various forms of exploitation, including exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs; further recognizing that trafficking in persons in armed conflict and post-conflict situations can also be associated with sexual violence in conflict and that women and children in situations of armed conflict and persons forcibly displaced by armed conflict, including refugees, can be especially vulnerable to trafficking in persons in armed conflict and to these forms of exploitation,

Recalling the Political Declaration on the implementation of the United Nations Global Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons, adopted by the General Assembly on 27 September 2017, and further welcoming the resolve of Member States expressed therein to take decisive concerted action to end trafficking in persons, wherever it may occur,

Reiterating deep concern that despite its condemnation of acts of trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict, such acts continue to occur,

Reiterating its solidarity with victims of trafficking in persons in armed conflict and post-conflict situations andnoting the importance of providing them with appropriate care, assistance and services for their physical, psychological and social recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration, in full respect of their human rights and in a manner that takes full account of the extreme trauma they have suffered and the risk of further victimization and stigmatization,

Reaffirming that trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict, especially women and girls, cannot and should not be associated with any religion, nationality or civilization,

Recalling resolutions 2359 (2017) and 2374 (2017), which express concern over the serious challenges posed by different forms of transnational organized crime, including trafficking in persons and the smuggling of migrants in the Sahel region, and recalling also resolutions 2240 (2015) and 2380 (2017), which express concern that the situation in Libya is exacerbated by the smuggling of migrants and human trafficking into, through and from the Libyan territory, which could provide support to other organized crime and terrorist networks in Libya,

Reiterating the critical importance of all Member States fully implementing relevant Security Council resolutions, including resolutions 2195 (2014), 2253 (2015), 2199 (2015) and 2368 (2017), which express concern that terrorists benefit from transnational organized crime in some regions, including from trafficking in persons, as well as 2242 (2015), which expresses concern that acts of sexual violence and gender-based violence are known to be part of the strategic objectives and ideology of certain terrorist groups used as a tactic of terrorism and an instrument to increase their finances and their power through recruitment and the destruction of communities; and further reiterating the connection between trafficking in persons, sexual violence and terrorism and other organized criminal activities, which can prolong and exacerbate conflict and instability or intensify its impact on civilian populations,

Recognizing the need to continue to foster a global partnership against trafficking in persons among all stakeholders, including inter alia, through bilateral, multilateral and regional processes and initiatives,

Recognizing that trafficking in persons entails the violation or abuse of human rights and underscoring that certain acts or offences associated with trafficking in persons in the context of armed conflict may constitute war crimes; and recallingfurther the responsibilities of States to end impunity and to prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes as well as other crimes and the need for States to adopt appropriate measures within their national legal systems for those crimes for which they are required under international law to exercise their responsibility to investigate and prosecute,

Condemning in the strongest terms continued gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law by ISIL (also known as Da’esh); and abductions of women and children by ISIL, ANF, and associated individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities and expressing outrage at their exploitation and abuse, including rape and sexual violence, forced marriage and enslavement by these entities, encouraging all State and non-state actors with evidence to bring it to the attention of the Council, along with any information that human trafficking and related forms of exploitation and abuse may support the perpetrators financially, emphasizing that States are required to ensure that their nationals and persons within their territory do not make available any funds, financial assets or economic resources for ISIL’s benefit, and noting that any person or entity who transfers funds to ISIL directly or indirectly in connection with such exploitation and abuse would be eligible for listing by the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011), 2253 (2015) and 2368 (2017) concerning ISIL/Da’esh, Al‑Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities,

Recognizing that persons affected by armed conflict and fleeing conflict are at great risk of being subjected to trafficking in persons, and stressing the need to prevent and identify instances of trafficking in persons among those forcibly displaced or otherwise affected by armed conflict,

Expressing grave concern over the high numbers of women and children subjected to trafficking in armed conflicts, and recognizing that acts of trafficking in persons are often associated with other violations of applicable international law and other abuses, including those involving recruitment and use, abduction and sexual violence including, inter alia, rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution and forced pregnancy; and calling on all Member States to hold perpetrators accountable and to assist victims in their recovery and reintegration,

Reiterating its grave concern over the abduction of children in situations of armed conflict, the majority of which are perpetrated by non-State armed groups, recognizing that abductions occur in a variety of settings, including schools, further recognizing that abduction often precedes or follows other abuses and violations of applicable international law against children, including those involving recruitment and use, killing and maiming, as well as rape and other forms of sexual violence, which may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity, and calling on all Member States to hold perpetrators of abductions accountable,

Expressing deep concern over the heightened vulnerability to exploitation and abuse of children forcibly displaced by armed conflict, particularly when separated from their families or caregivers, andunderlining the need to ensure protection of all unaccompanied children who are victims of or those vulnerable to trafficking in persons through their prompt identification and immediate assistance taking into account their specific needs,

Condemning all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict, including trafficking in persons and recalling all its resolutions on children and armed conflict that call for the protection of children, and in particular Resolution 1261 (1999) as well as resolution 1612 (2005), establishing the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on children and armed conflict,

Noting measures taken by UN peacekeeping and special political missions in accordance with their mandates, to assist host States in exercising their primary responsibility to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, also noting measures taken by Member States to provide pre-deployment training on trafficking in persons to personnel that will be deployed in UN peacekeeping missions and encouraging further action in this area,

Noting the initiative by Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Field Support and the UNODC to develop a training module on human trafficking and smuggling of migrants for in mission training of police personnel in selected peacekeeping missions, where applicable,

Underscoring the need for improved collection, also through relevant data base systems managed by international organizations, including UNODC and INTERPOL, of timely, objective, accurate and reliable data on trafficking in persons in situations of conflict, disaggregated by sex, age and other relevant factors, as well as on financial flows associated with trafficking in persons,

Reaffirming the need to ensure organization and coherence in the efforts of the United Nations System to address trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict or in post conflict situations and further recognizing the need to continue to work towards an enhanced comprehensive and coordinated approach to prevent and combat trafficking, which can contribute to sustainable peace and stability,

“1.   Reaffirms its condemnation in the strongest terms of all instances of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, who make up the vast majority of all victims of trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflicts, and stresses that trafficking in persons undermines the rule of law and contributes to other forms of transnational organized crime, which can exacerbate conflict and foster insecurity and instability and undermine development;

“2.   Urges Members States to consider, as a matter of priority, ratifying or acceding to, and for States Parties to effectively implement, the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementing Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, as well as all relevant international instruments;

“3.   Calls upon Member States to reinforce their political commitment to and improve their implementation of applicable legal obligations to criminalize, prevent, and otherwise combat trafficking in persons, and to strengthen efforts to detect and disrupt trafficking in persons, including implementing robust victim identification mechanisms and providing access to protection and assistance for identified victims, including in relation to areas affected by armed conflict; underscores in this regard the importance of international law enforcement cooperation, including with respect to investigation and prosecution of trafficking cases and, in this regard, calls for the continued support of the UNODC in providing technical assistance to Member States upon request;

“4.   Further calls upon Member States, where appropriate, to review, amend and implement anti-trafficking and related legislation to ensure that all forms of trafficking in persons, including when it is committed in situations of armed conflict or by armed and terrorist groups are addressed, and to consider establishing jurisdiction to end the impunity of offenders in line with Article 15 of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime;

“5.   Also calls upon Member States to step up their efforts to investigate, disrupt and dismantle networks engaging in trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict and to take all appropriate measures to collect, preserve and store evidence of human trafficking;

“6.   Calls upon Member States to combat crimes that might be connected with trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict, such as money-laundering, corruption, the smuggling of migrants and other forms of organized crime, including by making use of financial investigations in order to identify and analyse financial intelligence, as well as by reinforcing regional and international operational law enforcement cooperation;

“7.   Calls upon Member States to strengthen compliance with international Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism standards and increase capacity to conduct proactive financial investigations to track and disrupt human trafficking and identify potential linkages with terrorism financing;

“8.   Urges Member States, while addressing trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflicts, to adopt a multi-dimensional approach that includes incorporating information on the risks of trafficking in persons into school curricula and training programs;

“9.   Encourages Member States to increase efforts to collect, analyse and share through appropriate channels and arrangements and consistent with international and domestic law data relating to financial flows associated with human trafficking and the extent and nature of financing of terrorism activities through human trafficking activities, and to provide, where applicable, CTED and the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team with relevant information pertaining to linkages between human trafficking and terrorist financing;

“10.  Reiterates its condemnation of all acts of trafficking, particularly the sale or trade in persons undertaken by the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL/Da’esh), including of Yazidis and other persons belonging to religious and ethnic minorities, and of any such trafficking in persons crimes and other violations and abuses committed by Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and other terrorist or armed groups for the purpose of sexual slavery, sexual exploitation, and forced labour, and underscores the importance of collecting and preserving evidence relating to such acts in order to ensure that those responsible can be held accountable;

“11.  Requests the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team, when consulting with Member States, to continue including in their discussions the issue of trafficking in persons in areas of armed conflict and the use of sexual violence in armed conflict as it relates to ISIL/Da’esh, Al-Qaida and associated individuals, groups, undertakings and entities and to report to the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolutions 1267 (1999), 1989 (2011), 2253 (2015) and 2368 (2017) on these discussions as appropriate;

“12.  Requests the CTED, within its existing mandate, under the policy guidance of the CTC, and in close cooperation with UNODC and other relevant entities, to increase its efforts to include in CTED’s country assessments, as appropriate, information regarding Member States efforts to address the issue of trafficking in persons where it is committed for the purpose of supporting terrorism, including through the financing of or recruitment for the commission of terrorist acts;

“13.  Calls upon Member States to enhance the capabilities of professionals interacting with persons forcibly displaced by armed conflict, including refugees, such as law enforcement, border control officials and criminal justice systems personnel of refugee and displaced persons reception facilities, to identify victims or persons vulnerable to trafficking, to adopt gender and age sensitive assistance, including adequate psychosocial support and health services, regardless of their participation in criminal investigations and proceedings;

“14.  Recognizes the need to strengthen the identification, registration, protection, assistance for forcibly displaced persons, including refugees and stateless persons, who are victims of trafficking or at risk of being trafficked;

“15.  Encourages Member States to use refugee registration mechanisms to assess vulnerability and identify potential victims of trafficking as well as their specific assistance needs, and in this regard, encourages Member States to develop informative material to explain to victims of trafficking in persons who are refugees their rights and avenues for assistance, so as to enable them to engage with relevant authorities and access services and psychosocial support that are available to them;

“16.  Encourages Member States, in particular transit and destination States receiving persons forcibly displaced by armed conflict, to develop and use early-warning and early-screening frameworks of potential or imminent risk of trafficking in persons to proactively and expediently detect victims and persons vulnerable to trafficking, with special attention to women and children, especially those unaccompanied;

“17.  Urges Member States thoroughly to assess the individual situation of persons released from the captivity of armed and terrorist groups so as to enable prompt identification of victims of trafficking, their treatment as victims of crime and to consider, in line with domestic legislation, not prosecuting or punishing victims of trafficking for unlawful activities they committed as a direct result of having been subjected to trafficking;

“18.  Strongly condemns violations of international law, especially those which affect children in situations of armed conflict, including those involving killing and maiming, sexual violence, abduction and forced displacement, recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, attacks against schools and hospitals, denial of humanitarian access and trafficking in persons;

“19.  Urges Member States to identify children who are victims of trafficking and those who are unaccompanied or separated from their families and caregivers, to ensure, where relevant, their timely registration and to consider their particular protection needs, including, as appropriate, by referring them to the relevant child protection authorities regardless of their immigration status;

“20.  Recognizes the importance of providing timely and appropriate reintegration and rehabilitation assistance to children affected by armed conflict, while ensuring that the specific needs of girls and boys as well as children with disabilities are addressed, including access to health care, psychosocial support, and education programmes that contribute to the well-being of children and to sustainable peace and security and encourages relevant international organizations and civil societies organizations to assist Member States’ efforts in this regard;

“21.  Urges Member States to refrain from the use of administrative detention of children, especially those victims of trafficking in persons, for violations of immigration laws and regulations, unless as a measure of last resort, in the least restrictive setting, for the shortest possible period of time, under conditions that respect their human rights and in a manner that takes into account, as a primary consideration, the best interest of the child and encourages them to work towards the ending of this practice;

“22.  Requests the Secretary-General to further explore, as appropriate, links between the trafficking of children in conflict situations and the grave violations against children affected by armed conflict as determined by the United Nations, with a view to addressing all violations and abuses against children in armed conflict;

“23.  Welcomes further briefings on trafficking in persons in armed conflict, as necessary, by relevant United Nations entities, including the Executive Director of UNODC, UNHCR, and other international and regional bodies such as International Organization for Migration (IOM), and encourages Member States to provide to UNODC information on victims of trafficking from areas affected by conflict or victims trafficked into conflict areas for inclusion within the existing reporting obligations;

“24.  Requests the Secretary-General to ensure that the thematic paper on trafficking in persons in conflict situations developed by UNODC in consultation with relevant United Nations agencies and other international bodies is disseminated within the UN system, and encourages relevant United Nations agencies and entities to use it in their respective activities in accordance with their mandates and develop their capability to assess and respond to situations of trafficking in persons in armed conflict;

“25.  Expresses its intention, to give greater consideration, where appropriate, to how peacekeeping and special political missions, can assist host States in exercising their primary responsibility to prevent and combat trafficking in persons, and requests the Secretary-General to ensure that assessments of country situations conducted upon the Security Council’s request on such missions include, where relevant, anti-trafficking research and expertise;

“26.  Requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with Member States, to ensure, where appropriate, that training of relevant personnel of special political and peacekeeping missions include, on the basis of a preliminary assessment and taking also into account the protection and assistance needs of the victims of trafficking in persons, specific information enabling them, within their mandates, to identify, confirm, respond to and report on situations of trafficking in persons;

“27.  Reiterates its intention to integrate the issue of trafficking in persons in areas affected by armed conflict into the work of relevant Security Council Sanctions Committees where in accordance with their mandates, and expresses its intention to invite all relevant Special Representatives of the Secretary-General, including the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict and the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, to brief these sanctions committees, as necessary, in accordance with the Committee’s rules of procedure and to provide relevant information, including, if applicable, the names of individuals involved in the trafficking in persons who meet the committees’ designation criteria;

“28.  Also requests the Secretary-General to ensure that members of the monitoring groups, teams and panels supporting the work of relevant sanctions committees build their technical capacity to identify and report on instances of trafficking in persons encountered in the discharge of their duties and in accordance with their respective mandates, and further requests the Secretary-General to ensure that the monitoring and reporting arrangements on sexual violence in areas affected by armed conflict systematically collect data on conflict-related trafficking in persons for the purpose of sexual violence or exploitation;

“29.  Invites the Secretary-General to ensure that the work of the investigative team established pursuant to resolution 2379 (2017) is informed by relevant anti‑trafficking research and expertise and that its efforts to collect evidence on trafficking in persons offences are gender-sensitive, victim centred, trauma-informed, rights-based and not prejudicial to the safety and security of victims;

“30.  Calls upon Member States to cooperate with the investigative team established pursuant to resolution 2379 (2017), including through mutual arrangements on legal assistance, where necessary and appropriate, and in particular to provide it with any relevant information as appropriate they may possess pertaining to its mandate under that resolution;

“31.  Calls upon United Nations system organizations to enhance transparency in their procurement and supply chains and step up their efforts to strengthen protections against trafficking in persons in all United Nations procurement and to that effect request major suppliers to establish and implement anti-human trafficking policies and disclose information on measures taken to counter trafficking in persons in their operations and supply chains;

“32.  Welcomes efforts aimed at developing a coordinated response within the United Nations System to prevent and counter trafficking in persons in situations of armed conflict and to protect its victims, and requests all United Nations entities involved in combating trafficking in persons to actively participate in the regular work of existing mechanisms, especially the Inter-Agency Coordination Group against Trafficking in Persons which was established to foster coordination among United Nations entities and other international organizations;

“33.  Invites the Secretary-General to include in relevant regular reports on special political and peacekeeping missions, information on efforts undertaken, within their mandates, to assist the host-State’s institutions in preventing and combating trafficking in persons and in protecting and assisting victims of trafficking, in particular women and children;

“34.  Requests the Secretary-General to follow-up on the implementation of this resolution and report back to the Security Council on progress made within 12 months;

“35.  Decides to remain actively seized of this matter.”

News

Human Rights Council President Urges Governments to Protect Fundamental Freedoms in Word, Deed, as Third Committee Considers Report of Geneva-Based Body

The President of Human Rights Council urged Governments to ensure that efforts to protect fundamental freedoms existed “not just in words, but in practice”, as he presented his annual report to the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) today.

Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli, who had addressed the General Assembly plenary earlier in the day, said the Council adopted 114 resolutions, presidential statements and decisions, 80 of them without a vote.

The situation in Myanmar deserved special attention, he said.  The Council had created an independent fact‑finding mission to examine alleged human rights violations by military and security forces, particularly in Rakhine State, extending its mandate to September 2018 when its final report would be considered.

Turning to Syria, he said the Council had held interactive dialogues with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, and extended that body’s mandate for another year.

More broadly, he said the Council had established a new special procedures mandate ‑  the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members — and created a joint task force to bridge the gap between the Council’s workload and resources.  He also informed delegates he had received reports of threats against those who had cooperated with the Council.  Any such intimidation was unacceptable.

In the ensuing debate, described potential areas for the Council’s reform, with Eritrea’s delegate, on behalf of the African Group, stressing that the body should never be used as a tool for political purposes.  He also rejected the Council’s practice of “naming and shaming” and imposing mandates that did not enjoy the support of the concerned country.

The representative of the European Union said there was potential to strengthen dialogue between the Human Rights Council and the Security Council.  The Human Rights Council’s mandate must be carried out so that early warning could become early action, he said, calling the independent Special Procedures mandate‑holders the world’s “eyes and ears,” attentive to emerging crises.

Earlier in the day, the Third Committee concluded its debate on refugees, with speakers from host countries highlighting the challenges of sheltering large numbers of displaced people.  The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said his country had welcomed more than 318,397 refugees from Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He called for international support for local integration of the refugees.  Sudan’s delegate said the inflow of refugees into her country was mixed with illegal migrants who had been trafficked, while Uganda’s delegate called for international support, as assisting refugees had over‑stretched its meagre resources.

Ukraine’s delegate, meanwhile, said 1.6 million people had been internally displaced from Russian‑occupied areas of Ukraine.  Similarly, Georgia’s delegate said the ethnic Georgian population in occupied regions faced an imminent threat of expulsion.  The representative of Russian Federation, exercising the right of reply, objected to baseless accusations against her country.  South Ossetia and Abkhazia were independent States and the Russian Federation had never controlled those territories.  Further, citizens were fleeing Ukraine due to crimes by ultranationalists and Ukrainian authorities.  The Russian Federation had offered voluntary donations to the High Commissioner for Refugees to manage the situation in eastern Ukraine, she added.

Also speaking in the discussion on refugees were representatives of Pakistan, China, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Argentina, Serbia, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Thailand, Botswana, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Ethiopia, Zambia, Nigeria, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Mali and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Also speaking in the debate on the Human Rights Council report were representatives of Paraguay, Egypt, Colombia, Eritrea, Japan, Iraq, Syria, Botswana, United States, Cuba, Iran, Algeria, Nigeria, El Salvador, Latvia, India, China and Morocco.

The representatives of Algeria, Ukraine, Georgia, Morocco and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 6 November to continue its work.

Background

The Third Committee met today to continue its debate on the promotion and protection of human rights.  (For more information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/4216).

NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan) commended the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants but stressed that more must be done to find solutions to the refugee crisis.  Pakistan had sheltered millions of Afghan refugees in the past four decades, providing them with education, health care and jobs.  While the Prime Minister had said that they would not be repatriated forcibly, host countries had largely been taken for granted and their national resources stretched to cater to refugee needs.  He called for equal burden sharing and establishing long‑term solutions to address the root causes of displacement.

ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia) said the ethnic Georgian population living in occupied regions faced an imminent threat of expulsion.  Harsh restrictions had been imposed on education in the native Georgian language and Georgian classes had been prohibited in the Gali district and Tskhinvali region.  Further, the closure of entry and exit points across the occupation line by Russian occupation forces had also severely restricted the freedom of movement of local residents.  Those occupation forces had demolished the homes of internally displaced people from Georgia in the occupied Tskhinvali region.  She said talks on humanitarian issues in occupied regions, and on displaced people from Georgia, had been politicized by the Russian Federation.

YAO SHAOJUN (China) said it was crucial to focus on both the symptoms and root causes of the refugee problem.  Root causes, such as social instability and imbalance in development, should be addressed by stepping up assistance for development.  There was also a need to resolve disputes through dialogue.  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should summarize its experience and practices of pilot projects for implementing the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and use the information for the formulation of the Global Compact for Refugees.  Negotiations of the Global Compact must be driven by Member States and should be advanced gradually.  She called on UNHCR to maintain its objectivity and neutrality and avoid interfering in internal affairs of countries and politicizing refugee protection mechanisms.

Ms. ALFASSAM (Kuwait) said the displacement crisis had worsened in recent years, threatening international stability.  Noting the High Commissioner’s focus on addressing its causes, she called on all States to cooperate in relevant efforts.  Pointing to the New York Declaration as a cornerstone to improve the living conditions of refugees and migrants, she said Kuwait was providing assistance through pledging conferences, contributing more than $2 million to assist refugees in the Middle East and elsewhere.  The situation of refugees without official documents was a priority, she said, and relevant documentation was being issued to those in Kuwait.

Ms. SUKKAR (Jordan) said those fleeing conflict and entering Jordan had reached 2.8 million, with a majority being Syrian nationals.  Those circumstances had severely stressed public services, impacting Jordan’s development trajectory.  The Government was pursuing long‑term plans to address the refugee crisis and had established a single national framework to address the matter.  Syrian refugees without required documentation had been allowed to enrol in school, and some 200 schools now operated double shifts to allow for the attendance of refugee children.  Health services were also being provided, including gender‑sensitive attention to women and girls.  The protracted nature of the regional crisis had pushed Jordan’s assistance capacity to its limits, she said, stressing the importance of burden sharing.

MARWAN FRANCIS (Lebanon) expressed deep concern over the protracted situation of forced migration and stressed that the crisis should not become “the new normal”.  The international community must work together, he said, noting that burden and responsibility sharing were fundamental to addressing forced migration.  The causes of the crisis must also be tackled, and assistance must account for the specific context of each situation.  The return of refugees to their homes also must be a priority, he affirmed, adding that Lebanon hosted 1.2 million Syrian refugees and 400,000 Palestinian refugees.  The mass influx was straining limited assistance capabilities, he said, commending the High Commissioner’s efforts to engage with development partners.

Ms. MARTINIC (Argentina) called the adoption of the New York Declaration a step in the right direction, noting that while her country was committed to sheltering Syrian refugees, there was a need to establish sustainable regional and international solutions.  In November, Argentina would host two subregional meetings on implementation of the Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action to address displacement trends.  While no country was free from the impact of refugee movements, developing countries had been most affected and there was a need to identify institutional frameworks that would help them both better address refugee needs, and particularly, the rights of women, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and disabled refugees.

MARINA IVANOVIC (Serbia) said increasing numbers of refugees in his country had strained its accommodation capacities.  The large influx had also led to growing xenophobia and intolerance.  Serbia had offered refugees and migrants accommodation, food and health protection.  Its experience dated to the 1990s when thousands of people from the former Yugoslavia had fled to Serbia.  The country had also sheltered 200,000 internally displaced people from Kosovo and Metohija since 1999.  The regional housing programme for refugees, implemented by four countries in cooperation with the European Commission, UNHCR, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), was an example of partnership between host countries, countries of origin and international partners.

Ms. HWANG (Republic of Korea) said the global refugee crisis had overwhelmed humanitarian responses.  However, the New York Declaration was reason to be optimistic and the recent pledging conference for Myanmar was a timely event.  Calling for durable solutions to the crisis, she urged humanitarian actors to address the causes of displacement and redouble efforts to strengthen partnerships with the private sector and development agencies.  Underlining the principle of non‑refoulement, she said no country could cope with the refugee crisis alone.  Republic of Korea was the first country in Asia to adopt an independent refugee law and was implementing a pilot resettlement programme for refugees.

HARRISON W. MSEKE (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), drew attention to the challenges facing host nations as they tried to implement the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework.  A poor country, United Republic of Tanzania had nevertheless met its obligations, welcoming more than 318,397 refugees from Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo.  As part of the pilot roll‑out of the Framework, it would focus on admission and rights, emergency response, inclusion and self‑reliance, local integration of new citizens, third‑country options and voluntary repatriation and reintegration.  To the latter point, the Government would establish group processing for Congolese refugees, while ensuring that returns to Burundi were conducted in line with the principles of voluntary repatriation.  He requested international support for the local integration of 1,972 Burundian refugees who had been granted citizenship, referring to a concept note outlining proposed projects for the Kigoma region, which hosted the most refugees.

The representative of Ukraine said his country had faced numerous humanitarian challenges due to the Russian aggression.  Some 1.6 million people had been internally displaced from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, while many others lacked basic water and sanitation services. The humanitarian response plan was underfunded and while Ukraine was grateful for support from the High Commissioner’s Office, humanitarian aid into the country had been blocked by local authorities backed by the Russian Government.  Such human rights violations against ethnic Ukrainians had forced many to flee their homes.

The representative of South Africa, associating him with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said that his country continued to “open our ports of entry to refugees and asylum seekers,” giving them the right of access to education, healthcare, jobs, legal aid and access to courts.  Voicing concern about the consequences of refugee outflows which continued to fall disproportionately on developing countries, he said that international cooperation in sharing the burden of hosting refugees had become critical in addressing such challenges.  In that regard, his the momentum gained towards the elaboration of the Global Compact for Refugees through discussions on the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework was encouraging.  One of its key outcomes had been to ease the pressure through burden sharing; thus, the Framework should ensure adequate, predictable and equitable sharing of such burdens aimed at drastically easing the pressure on hosts.  Underlining that the establishment of development funding mechanisms should be mindful of those principles, he voiced his strong support for close cooperation and joint planning between humanitarian and development actors.

SUPATTRA AUEAREE (Thailand) said the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Migration were complementary, expressing support for the Framework.  In turn, that Framework would generate inputs for the international community to draft the Global Compact on Refugees, on track for adoption in September 2018.  Reviewing Thailand’s efforts, she cited efforts by her Government and Myanmar to facilitate the voluntary return of 71 displaced persons from Myanmar.  Thailand supported UNHCR’s “#Ibelong” campaign to end statelessness by 2024, and had implemented measures which would enable around 80,000 children born in Thailand to apply for Thai nationality.  The Cabinet also had finalized and implemented a screening system for undocumented immigrants and refugees, to address the problem of mixed migration.

PHOLOGO GAUMAKWE (Botswana), associating himself with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Group, said Africa continued to account for a large number of refugees, internally displaced persons and asylum seekers.  Displacement had resulted from protracted conflict, he said, adding that the global refugee crisis was a stark reminder of the need to assume collective responsibility for the provision of humanitarian response.  Noting that Botswana was host to 3,500 refugees, he said the repatriation process must be re‑engineered to reduce turnaround times for those wishing to return home.  Stressing the need for long‑term solutions, he said financial assistance was central to addressing the crisis.

Ms. MEHDIYEVA (Azerbaijan) said addressing the needs of displaced persons required the resolution of armed conflict, adding that attention to the issue of internally‑displaced persons was far from sufficient.  Armenian aggression had resulted in large‑scale displacement in her country.  Azerbaijan was making progress in providing assistance to displaced persons, she said, adding that several United Nations agencies had reported positively on the matter.  She underlined that approaches to alleviate the plight of internally‑displaced persons would be incomplete if they did not place repatriation as their priority.

The representative of Morocco said the global humanitarian crisis was spreading, with Africa particularly affected by displacement.  He commended the efforts of sub‑Saharan States that had welcomed refugees and urged that assistance be given to them.  Several States were profiting from the refugee populations they hosted, which was the case in Algeria.  Refugees in Algeria had been stripped of their humanitarian rights, with camps in Tindouf falling victim to fraud.  Humanitarian aid was being diverted from refugee camps, he said, asking for a re‑evaluation of assistance being provided to refugees in the region.  Algeria could not continue to use refugees as a means to enrich itself, he affirmed.

HAILESELASSIE SUBBA GEBRU (Ethiopia) voiced concern that the High Commissioner’s budget was underfunded, citing a 75 per cent funding gap in the refugee response plan for Ethiopia.  Also concerning were the protection challenges related to human trafficking and smuggling, sexual and gender‑based violence and forced recruitment.  Assistance must go beyond repatriation, efforts which would require better collaboration between humanitarian and development actors in countries of origin.  He encouraged the expansion of resettlement opportunities as a means of international protection, stressing that partnership should remain the cornerstone of UNHCR’s approach.  International refugee protection should be guided by principle of burden and responsibility sharing, and support provided for least developed countries, which were hosts to the largest numbers of refugees

HELLEN CHIFWAILA, (Zambia), said her country hosted 57,000 refugees.  Since August, it had received some 3,360 Congolese refugees fleeing clashes between the forces of their Government and militia groups.  Noting that Zambia was ready to work with partners to provide assistance, she said the Government had introduced a law outlining provisions for the establishment of a refugee fund and refugee settlements.  Zambia was also considering the possibility of relaxing the encampment policy, in turn allowing refugees to engage in employment and achieve self‑reliance.  Around 20,406 refugees lived outside the settlements, she said, noting that the Government was providing education to refugee children in settlements.

ALEX AJAYI (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group, said all States must promote the rights of refugees, migrants and displaced persons, and expressed concern over the welfare of refugees around the world.  The advent of Boko Haram’s insurgency had led to the establishment of camps for internally-displaced persons across Nigeria, which were ensuring access to life‑saving social services.  Displaced children were being granted access to education, with safe school initiatives in place.  Nigeria was carrying out a policy of civilian protection to better protect the population from armed conflict, he said.

DIZERY SALIM, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), recalled that the Uganda Red Cross had participated in drafting the terms of reference for the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework Secretariat.  While local actors had a strong understanding of circumstances, politics and culture relevant to the provision of refugee protection and assistance, global actors could do more to provide a quality, sustainable and principled response.  “There are times when we treat them as contractors instead of partners,” she said, and it was essential to boost their institutional capacity and provide core funding.  A good legal framework could strengthen the role of local actors and Governments alike.  IFRC had worked for more than a decade in more than 100 countries to strengthen domestic legal frameworks to facilitate responses to large‑scale emergencies.  On refugee resilience, she said participatory assessments should include host communities, which were often vulnerable themselves and whose generosity should not be taken for granted.

MOUSSA DOLLO (Mali) said his country was emerging from a socio‑political crisis which had forced thousands of citizens to flee their homes.  Mali attached great importance to refugee crises, and had introduced both a national policy and action plan to address the needs of internally displaced persons.  It also had worked with neighbouring countries, including Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania, to facilitate the return of Malian refugees.  With the Government working to establish peace and reconciliation in Mali, a tripartite agreement had resulted in 70,000 Malian citizens returning from Burkina Faso.  He thanked neighbouring countries for their help in sheltering Malian refugees.

Ms. SALIM (International Committee of the Red Cross) said that despite meaningful progress, millions of people continued to be displaced by armed conflict and other violence, many within their own countries.  More must be done to prevent such circumstances and support both displaced people and their hosts.  He highlighted the need to better respond to displacement in cities, welcoming that Special Rapporteur Jimenez‑Damary had focused on enhancing the participation of displaced people in decisions affecting them.  States should mark the twentieth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement by drawing on good practices in addressing the needs of internally displaced people.

Ms. MUKHTAR (Sudan) said the geographic location and cultural heritage of her country had attracted refugees for years.  Sudan was committed to addressing the needs of refugees but faced challenges, as their inflow was mixed with illegal migrants who had been trafficked.  As such, the Government had enacted a law against human trafficking.  But Sudan had received little international assistance to deal with the refugee crisis.  The Government had provided the best treatment possible and would continue to provide refugees with health care, security and education, while working to facilitate their return.

KINTU NYAGO (Uganda) said the large influx of refugees from South Sudan and other countries into Uganda led to the hosting of a solidarity summit on the matter earlier this year.  Assisting refugees was over‑stretching the Government’s meagre resources, he said, adding that a grassroots‑based assistance programme was being implemented with help from the World Bank and United Nations.  Termed the “Uganda Model”, that programme faced land‑management and service‑access challenges, he said, urging the international community to provide support to ensure the approach accomplished long‑term solutions.

Right of reply

The representative of Russian Federation, exercising the right of reply in response to her counterparts from Georgia and Ukraine, objected to baseless accusations against her country.  South Ossetia and Abkhazia were independent States and the Russian Federation had never controlled those territories, she said, adding that Georgia had ignored the needs of those forcibly displaced.  Further, the reason citizens were fleeing Ukraine was due to crimes committed by ultranationalists and Ukrainian authorities who had started a conflict in the country’s eastern regions.  The Russian Federation did not control republics and there were no Russian forces there.  It had offered voluntary donations to UNHCR to manage the situation in eastern Ukraine, she said, adding that the republic of Crimea was a subject of the Russian Federation in accordance with international law.

The representative of Algeria said to Morocco’s delegate on the question of refugees that Algeria was a host country for refugees.  There was no issue around Algeria’s calling into question any resolution adopted by the United Nations, he said.  It was Morocco that was “slithering away,” creating delays each time.  Algeria had been constant in its defence of self‑determination.  Morocco claimed innocence in the context of human rights, but in Western Sahara, its record was clear and confirmed, he said.  Morocco was an occupying power, not an administering power.  From the standpoint of international law, the territory was described in various United Nations resolutions.

The representative of Ukraine reminded the representative of the Russian Federation that in 2014, the latter had deployed so‑called “green men” to the territory of Crimea, and that an unlawful referendum had been held on the territory.  In 2014 the Russian Federation had fuelled war in Ukraine and now was proud of helping refugees from Ukraine.  Citing a Russian proverb, he said “no matter how many times you are going to say halva, it is not going to be any sweeter.”

The representative of Georgia said in response that the Russian Federation had misled the international community and undermined the rights of persons internally displaced from the occupied territories of Georgia.  Further, the Russian Federation had not complied with the United Nations Charter or resolutions on Georgia, and its violations had been noted by an international fact‑finding mission.  The Russian Federation bore responsibility for resolving the issue of internally displaced persons and improving the human rights situation in Ukraine.

The representative of Morocco, in response to Algeria’s delegate, said the latter country had demonstrated complete disregard for and ignorance of international law.  Algeria’s claim that Morocco had occupied the Sahara was false because the territory had always belonged to Morocco.

The representative of Algeria, responding to Morocco’s delegate, said the latter country had illegally occupied Western Sahara and Algeria was not alone in voicing that opinion.  The right to self‑determination should be exercised in accordance with international law and Algeria stood by that position.

The representative of Morocco, responding to Algeria’s delegate, said the people of the Sahara had pledged allegiance to Morocco.  Algeria sought to create a territorial problem because of its “hegemonic designs”.  Yet it had only highlighted the importance of self‑determination in the context of the Sahara, not in the context of other countries.

Human Rights Council Report

JOAQUÍN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI, President of the Human Rights Council, presented the body’s annual report (document A/72/53), outlining its activities, resolutions, decisions and presidential statements adopted at its regular session, as well as its special session in December 2016.  Over the year, the Council had adopted 114 resolutions, presidential statements and decisions, 80 of them without a vote.  By the end of 2017, it would have reviewed 28 States’ human rights obligations under its universal periodic review.  Once again, the Council had seen greater participation by small island developing States and least developed countries, thanks to the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund that had supported 27 delegates and fellows from 26 countries.

He said the situation in Myanmar deserved special attention and the Council had created an independent fact‑finding mission to examine alleged human rights violations by military and security forces, particularly in Rakhine State, extending its mandate to September 2018 when its final report would be considered.  On the situation in Syria, he said interactive dialogues with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry had been held and the Commission’s mandate had been extended for another year.  He went on to describe other efforts related to South Sudan, Burundi, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Libya, Georgia and Yemen.

In 2017, the Council had established a new mandate, namely the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, and decided against extending the mandates of the Independent Experts on Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti.  He said 118 Member States and one Observer State had extended a standing invitation to thematic special procedures, but he expressed concern that a few States had decided not to cooperate with the Council’s mechanisms.  Calling on all States to provide full cooperation, he stressed it was also essential that civil society actors and national human rights bodies be provided with a safe space for their voices to be heard.

The Council had adopted several resolutions, with recommendations made to the General Assembly, he said, notably regarding Syria and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  It had requested the Assembly to submit the reports and oral updates of the respective commissions of inquiry on the situations in Eritrea and Burundi.  To bridge the gap between the Council’s workload and resources allocated to it, a joint task force had been established, which had suggested measures to help save time.  He also said he had received reports of threats against those who had cooperated with the Council, emphasizing that any such intimidation was unacceptable.  He urged the international community to ensure that efforts to protect human rights existed “not just in words, but in practice”.

When the floor opened, the representative of Colombia asked how United Nations reform proposed by the Secretary‑General accounted for human rights issues.

The representative of Spain said the Human Rights Council was the primary specialized body for human rights in the United Nations system, adding more work was needed to improve coordination between the relevant agencies in New York and Geneva.  She said resources had fallen short of meeting the Council’s needs for 2018 and suggested streamlining upcoming meetings.

The representative of Japan said the Council must be subject to constant review to better meet the needs of people worldwide.  The General Assembly should pay attention to reviews of the Council and asked what priority areas had been identified in that regard.

The representative of Eritrea asked what the Human Rights Council was doing to ensure attention was being given to all rights issues, especially with regards to financing.

The representative of Hungary, associating himself with the European Union, said the Council constituted the best universal framework to protect basic rights.  Noting the needs of vulnerable groups, he called for the de‑politicization of its work.

The representative of Latvia stressed the importance of strengthening ties between the Council and the General Assembly.  Referencing reprisals against people cooperating with United Nations human rights agencies, she asked what could be done to ensure Organization‑wide action to mitigate reprisals.

The representative of Switzerland said civil society played a pivotal role in strengthening rights and asked what obstacles had been encountered in protecting persons cooperating with the Council.  She also asked how the protection of those persons could be strengthened and what working relations should be established among relevant agencies.

The representative of Germany said the United Nations could benefit from closer interaction among its institutions.  Civil society representatives had a clear place in the Council’s work and he asked how those wishing to cooperate with it could effectively be protected from reprisals.

The representative of Austria noted the importance of responding early to emerging crises and said the Council had a broad role to play in the Secretary‑General’s prevention agenda.  He asked how the Council could contribute to those efforts.

The representative of Australia said human rights and prosperity went hand‑in‑hand and committed his Government to enhancing the Council’s effectiveness.  Turning to management reform, he asked how the Council’s work could be streamlined.

The representative of Lichtenstein asked how the Council could strengthen engagement with other relevant agencies.

The representative from the European Union said he valued the independence of the Council’s work and its engagement with civil society.  He asked how the universal periodic review process could be improved, and how Member States could address difficulties in sourcing Council meetings.

The representative of the Republic of Korea expressed concern over reports of intimidation and reprisals against individuals cooperating with United Nations human rights institutions and asked how the Council’s working methods could be improved.

The representative of Norway welcomed the Council’s autonomy and said that combating discrimination promoted stability.  Expressing concern over the Council’s increasing workload, he asked how work could be made more efficient.

The representative of Ireland, associating himself with the European Union, said the Council was performing well, but questions remained regarding the promotion of universal participation in its work.  He asked how Member States and observers could foster a more inclusive Council.

The representative of South Africa said the Council’s status as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly had been maintained in relevant resolutions and attempts to review the Council should only be done through the relevant framework.

The representative of the United Kingdom said the international community must take on abuses wherever they occurred, and called on all countries, particularly new and existing Council members, to cooperate with the Special Procedures.  He asked how the States could best protect civil society space at the Council and, in turn, how the Council could support the mainstreaming of human rights across the United Nations system.

The representative of Bahamas asked for an evaluation of the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, and for reflections on what impact small developing countries such as the Bahamas could have on the Council’s work.

The representative of Iraq said human rights reports should be presented in a periodic manner, and asked if the legal framework must be strengthened in the context of pursuing terrorist groups committing war crimes and genocide.  He also wondered how States could be encouraged to improve their interaction with the Council.

The representative of Indonesia asked about strategies for ensuring that genuine dialogue with the Council was sustained.  Human rights were universal, indivisible, interdependent and mutually reinforcing.  They must be treated in a fair and equal manner, and those principles should guide the Council’s work.

The representative of Guatemala acknowledged the importance of strengthening the Human Rights Council, and his country would continue to support its work in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).  He asked how Member States in New York could ensure better coordination between the Third Committee and the Council.

The representative of Argentina said there should be smooth cooperation between New York and Geneva, expressing concern about reported attacks on mandate‑holders and a lack of cooperation with them by Member States.  All States must respect for the Council’s independence.  Argentina urged all to bolster cooperation with Special Procedures, and States to uphold their reporting commitments.

Mr. MARTELLI responded to questions about reform by stressing the importance of information flow.  The international community must consult at the grass‑roots level on how suggested reforms could take place.  Underscoring the importance of implementing resolutions, he said they must reach communities and local governments.  On the issue of resources, he said the Human Rights Council had started to limit speaking time, among other measures.  The universal periodic review was a valuable resource that States could not lose or waste, he said, noting that many countries voluntarily presented midterm reports in advance of deadlines.  Parliaments must be included in human rights work, as they ensured that new international legislation could be transposed into domestic law.

The United Nations human rights system was an admirable one, he said, noting that in the previous cycle of meetings, 900 interventions had been made by civil society.  Emphasizing the importance of accurate information, he said States must not politicize the Human Rights Council, though the world was politicized; they must work according to universality and respect for the legal framework.  On the links between New York and Geneva, he noted that there were procedures in place that allowed discussion to take place before decisions were taken by the 47 countries voting in the Human Rights Council.  Prioritization remained crucial, but ultimately, complementarity between New York and Geneva existed and must be bolstered.  The goal was to improve decision‑making in a more holistic fashion in a future‑oriented perspective.  Human rights work would never fade from the agenda; it was a process.

Ms. HAILE (Eritrea), speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed that the Council’s mandate must be driven by the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue free from politicization, selectivity and double standards.  The universal periodic review was the pillar of the Council’s work, she said, calling for the adequate funding of mechanisms that would allow States to implement Council recommendations.  Reaffirming the Group’s commitment to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, she commended the Council’s work in the area of practical enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.  Fulfilling those rights was key to eradicating extreme poverty, she assured.

The African Group prioritized dialogue and international cooperation aimed at assisting States to fulfil human rights obligations, she said.  Meeting those obligations required recognizing that extreme poverty and social exclusion constituted violations of human dignity, she said, voicing concern over the apparent “hierarchy of rights”.  She also expressed concern over attempts to undermine the Third Committee’s mandate by having the Council’s report submitted to the General Assembly without the Committee’s endorsement.  To that end, the Africa Group would continue to present its annual resolution on the Council’s report, she assured.

CHARLES WHITELEY, European Union delegation, said there was potential to strengthen dialogue between the Human Rights Council and the Security Council.  The Human Rights Council’s mandate to help prevent rights violations must be carried out so that early warning could become early action, he said, calling the independent Special Procedures mandate‑holders the world’s “eyes and ears,” attentive to emerging crises.  Underscoring the importance of the Council’s independence, he strongly opposed any attempts to undermine its institutional position within the United Nations.  In Syria, the Council’s efforts to foster accountability and fight impunity were crucial, he said, also describing its work related to Yemen, Sri Lanka and its assistance to other countries including Haiti, Libya and Mali.

The European Union condemned violence, harassment, intimidation, reprisals or threats thereof to civil society and human rights defenders, he said.  Noting that Council members should uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, he urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo to cooperate with the international expert group, and Burundi to do likewise with the Commission of Inquiry.  The European Union welcomed the Council’s establishment of an Independent International Fact‑Finding Mission to Myanmar, as well as the extensions of the Special Rapporteur mandates addressing human rights in Myanmar, Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea and Belarus, as well as the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay) said that during its membership on the Council, his country had worked to promote productive dialogue and championed several initiatives to benefit all people.  Paraguay had pursued initiatives to strengthen monitoring of implementation to accomplish the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  He underscored the importance of appropriate national rights protection mechanisms and assistance from the United Nations to promote and protect human rights of all people.  Rights must be enjoyed in a just and equitable fashion, he said, underscoring the need to strengthen the Council through the provision of necessary resources.

MOHAMED MOUSSA (Egypt), associating himself with the African Group, said the Council could only work effectively if its efforts were applied in the context of genuine inter‑Governmental dialogue.  The Council’s mandate was outlined by the General Assembly and he expressed concern over efforts to alter its mission.  There was a need to streamline the Council’s work and he affirmed the interdependence of all rights, including the right to development, which must be pursued on equal footing.  He welcomed the appointment of the Special Rapporteur on the right to development.

MEJIA VELEZ (Colombia) insisted that efforts were needed to streamline the number of resolutions considered by the Council.  The body helped to advance respect for all rights, notably by strengthening the structures that protected those rights.  Still, colossal challenges remained, she said, welcoming the start of the third universal periodic review cycle.  The review process could foster global cooperation on human rights issues, she noted, commending implementation of recommendations made during the review cycles.  Pointing to Colombia’s recent peace agreement, she expressed the need to promote human rights in rural areas and support gender‑specific approaches.

Ms. HAILE (Eritrea), associating herself with the African Group, underscored the importance of ensuring the Human Rights Council was not used as a tool for political purposes, noting that it had been established to address the manipulation and double standards characterizing the Commission on Human Rights.  Eritrea rejected the practice of “naming and shaming” and of imposing mandates that did not enjoy the support of the concerned country.  It was unfortunate that the Council continued to be embroiled in a regional conflict, she said, singling out the universal periodic review as the appropriate forum for discussions.  Human rights were interrelated and indivisible, but some countries continued to ignore economic, social and cultural rights in favour of civil and political rights.

JUN SAITO (Japan) said his country had been promoting and protecting human rights in the Asia‑Pacific region, sponsoring country‑specific resolutions in the Human Rights Council.  The international community should render the Council more effective and efficient, and it was worth considering a review of the schedules, frequencies and procedures of the human rights mechanisms as a whole, he said.  As Special Procedures were essential functions, a review of them by a third party could be helpful to improving their quality and efficiency.  Indeed, the Council was becoming ever more important and should keep updating itself.

ALI MAAN (Iraq) said his country’s Constitution ensured all people were equal under the law.  As the international war on terror persisted, Iraq understood the consequences of terror and vowed to remain at the forefront of the fight.  Social problems like poverty and injustice were at the root of negative phenomena across the world, he said, urging efforts to “dry up” sources of terror.  He called for implementation of programmes that countered exclusion and enhanced human rights in all countries as a means to spread a culture of acceptance.

AMJAD QASSEM AGHA (Syria) expressed opposition to the Council President’s report and in particular to sections referring to Syria.  The report threatened the credibility of the Council and universal periodic review, he said, condemning efforts to politicize human rights issues.  Noting that the President had gone beyond his mandate, he said the Council had failed to identify Syria’s efforts to combat terror, as well as the negative effects resulting from unilateral measures imposed against it by certain Member States.  The President also had failed to condemn violence in Yemen caused by Saudi Arabia, he said, objecting to selectivity in addressing human rights.

Mr. GAUMAKWE (Botswana), associating himself with the African Group, said the Council’s work load continued to grow, threating efforts to mitigate rights violations.  The increased scope of the agenda called for reflection on how to effectively use resources.  Botswana had held multi‑stakeholder consultations in drafting human rights legislation and was drafting a bill to transform the Ombudsman’s office into a hybrid national human rights institution.  The universal periodic review and national efforts had strengthened the bridge between the State and civil society, he assured, stressing that holistic approaches were vital to preventing rights violations.

Ms. BROOKS (United States) said the Council’s credibility had been damaged by the presence of members with poor human rights records and hostility to its primary mission, as evidenced by the election of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Reform of its agenda was needed.  All States must work to strengthen the Council through positive action in New York and Geneva, she said, underscoring that civil society must be able to engage with the United Nations without fear of retaliation.  The United States was appalled by direct threats of retaliation, including by Human Rights Council members; Special Procedures had also reported on reprisals.  The international community must do more to put end to such threats.  The Council must be a voice for people fighting for human rights, and as such, must have members committed to human rights.

CASTILLO SANTANA (Cuba) said the Human Rights Council had been established out of a need to tackle double standards and political manipulation, all traits characterizing the defunct Commission.  Yet, the trend to impose selectivity and double standards was concerning; cooperation and respectful dialogue should steer the Council’s work.  Special Procedures mandate‑holders should also observe the Code of Conduct.  As long as an unjust and exclusive international economic order persisted, along with unilateral coercive measures and blockades, the Council must demand the end to those practices.

Ms. KHALVANDI (Iran) affirmed her country’s commitment to constructive dialogue on human rights issues in the Human Rights Council.  Yet, the Council was being exploited for political purposes, and politicization was eroding the benefits of the universal periodic review.  Stressing that the Council had been developed to ensure impartiality, she said country‑specific resolutions only fomented confrontation.  They diverted resources that could be used to promote human rights and she disassociated herself with sections of the Council report referring to Iran.  She underscored the role of the Council in confronting discrimination and terrorism, and urged it to raise awareness of the destructive power of terrorists and their supporters.

ZOUBIR BENARBIA (Algeria), associating himself with the African Group, expressed support for the Council’s mandate.  Emphasizing that it should be carried out in line with the principles of cooperation and dialogue free from politicization and double standards, he said Algeria had presented its third universal periodic review in 2017, and voiced support for that mechanism’s neutral and cooperative approach to reviewing countries’ human rights situations.  Because economic rights were as important as political and civil rights, he stressed that the Council should consider questions regarding the right to food, the effects of foreign debt and the impact of unilateral coercive measures.

ALEX AJAYI (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group, underlined his country’s role — as the largest democracy in Africa — in formulating key international human rights policies and agendas.  Noting that Nigeria was a State party to such instruments, and that it had recently been re-elected to the Council for the 2018‑2020 term, he cited the 1996 creation of a National Human Rights Commission to monitor compliance with Government obligations.  In addition, Nigeria had put in place a national action plan on human rights and a national consultative forum to articulate the means of fulfilling recommendations adopted by the Government during various review cycles of the Council’s machinery.

Mr. HASBUN (El Salvador) said human rights were a state policy for his country and a pillar of its foreign policy.  El Salvador had ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Optional Protocol on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child pertaining to Communications Procedures.  It also had reformed the family code to prohibit child marriage.  As a Human Rights Council member, El Salvador had championed the rights of migrant children and adolescents, presenting a resolution adopted by consensus on that subject.  While a subsidiary organ of the Assembly, the Council had its own remit, reflected in the fact that civil society was involved in its work.

Ms. GINTERE (Latvia), associating herself with the European Union, said the international community must ensure the Council was able to respond to challenges in an effective and timely manner, noting that her country had served as a member for the past three years, advocating for gender equality and freedom of expression both online and offline.  It was heartening that the number of standing invitations to Special Procedures had increased, and she pressed all States to ensure genuine cooperation with them.  The Council faced a growing workload, challenging its ability to respond to crises.  Latvia supported initiatives aiming to strengthen its effectiveness, emphasizing that Member States must not only criticize the Council but renew their political will.

MAYANK JOSHI (India) said difficulties stemming from diverging priorities had emerged regarding the Council’s agenda.  Pointing to calls for reform, he said contradictory approaches to promoting human rights were being used.  The Council’s expanding work and proliferation of special procedures created unclear priorities.  Country‑specific procedures were largely counterproductive, he said, pointing to the universal review as a success, one he attributed to the cooperative spirit of the process.  Naming and shaming would not improve human rights, he assured, calling for a more representative Council.

IHOR YAREMENKO (Ukraine) said a main responsibility of the Council was the timely response to gross rights violations.  Greater attention must be paid to the development of conceptual approaches to abuses such as crimes against humanity and genocide.  He commended the Council’s special procedures and universal periodic review, saying they promoted protection of rights across the world.  The cooperation of all relevant human rights actors was needed to ensure that review processes were transparent and that States were accountable for their actions.  Expressing appreciation for the Council’s contributions in addressing the situation in the occupied Crimean peninsula, he said Russian‑backed terrorists were conducting a war against the people of Ukraine and called for an impartial assessment of all rights violations.

MAYANK JOSHI (India) said difficulties stemming from diverging priorities had emerged regarding the Council’s agenda.  Pointing to calls for reform, he said contradictory approaches to promoting human rights were being used.  The Council’s expanding work and proliferation of special procedures created unclear priorities.  Country‑specific procedures were largely counterproductive, he said, pointing to the universal review as a success, one he attributed to the cooperative spirit of the process.  Naming and shaming would not improve human rights, he assured, calling for a more representative Council.

YAO SHAOJUN (China) said the Human Rights Council had the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights, and as such, should serve as an effective platform for constructive dialogue.  The Council faced multiple challenges, including confrontation and politicization of its work, he said, adding that different types of human rights were not being promoted in a balanced manner.  Noting that some special procedures were going beyond their terms of reference, he underscored the need to enhance the Council’s credibility and urged it carry out its work according to its mandate.

Ms. MOUFLIH (Morocco), associating herself with the African Group, said the Council had become the principal United Nations body in charge of human rights, and had made technical assistance one of the foundations of its work.  Special procedures played an important role, providing the Council with expertise on thematic issues.  The international community had an obligation to protect the Council from being used for other reasons.  The increasing importance of human rights required an active Human Rights Council with increased visibility, she said, yet there had been few references to its work in the media.  The Council should adopt a media strategy to increase the visibility of its work.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the allegation of the European Union’s delegate, stressing that non‑interference in the internal affairs of other countries should be strictly observed.  He also rejected the Council’s resolutions because the body was completely politicized and had no relevance to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The most serious rights violations were being committed in European countries.  The European Union should focus on its own deplorable human rights situations, rather than on non‑existent issues in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

News

Human Rights Council President Urges Governments to Protect Fundamental Freedoms in Word, Deed, as Third Committee Considers Report of Geneva-Based Body

The President of Human Rights Council urged Governments to ensure that efforts to protect fundamental freedoms existed “not just in words, but in practice”, as he presented his annual report to the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, Cultural) today.

Joaquín Alexander Maza Martelli (El Salvador), who had addressed the General Assembly plenary earlier in the day, said the Council had adopted 114 resolutions, presidential statements and decisions, 80 of them without a vote.

The situation in Myanmar deserved special attention, he said.  The Council had created an independent fact‑finding mission to examine alleged human rights violations by military and security forces, particularly in Rakhine State, extending its mandate to September 2018 when its final report would be considered.

Turning to Syria, he said the Council had held interactive dialogues with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry, and extended that body’s mandate for another year.

More broadly, he said the Council had established a new special procedures mandate ‑ the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members — and created a joint task force to bridge the gap between the Council’s workload and resources.  He also informed delegates he had received reports of threats against those who had cooperated with the Council.  Any such intimidation was unacceptable.

In the ensuing debate, speakers described potential areas for the Council’s reform, with Eritrea’s delegate, on behalf of the African Group, stressing that the body should never be used as a tool for political purposes.  He also rejected the Council’s practice of “naming and shaming” and imposing mandates that did not enjoy the support of the concerned country.

The representative of the European Union said there was potential to strengthen dialogue between the Human Rights Council and the Security Council.  The Human Rights Council’s mandate must be carried out so that early warning could become early action, he said, calling the independent special procedures mandate‑holders the world’s “eyes and ears”, attentive to emerging crises.

Earlier in the day, the Third Committee concluded its debate on refugees, with speakers from host countries highlighting the challenges of sheltering large numbers of displaced people.  The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania said his country had welcomed more than 318,000 refugees from Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo.  He called for international support for local integration of the refugees.  Sudan’s delegate said the inflow of refugees into her country was mixed with illegal migrants who had been trafficked, while Uganda’s delegate called for international support, as assisting refugees had over‑stretched its meagre resources.

Ukraine’s delegate, meanwhile, said 1.6 million people had been internally displaced from Russian‑occupied areas of Ukraine.  Similarly, Georgia’s delegate said the ethnic Georgian population in occupied regions faced an imminent threat of expulsion.  The representative of Russian Federation, exercising the right of reply, objected to baseless accusations against her country.  South Ossetia and Abkhazia were independent States and the Russian Federation had never controlled those territories.  Further, citizens were fleeing Ukraine due to crimes by ultranationalists and Ukrainian authorities.  The Russian Federation had offered voluntary donations to the High Commissioner for Refugees to manage the situation in eastern Ukraine, she added.

Also speaking in the discussion on refugees were representatives of Pakistan, China, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Argentina, Serbia, Republic of Korea, South Africa, Thailand, Botswana, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Ethiopia, Zambia, Nigeria and Mali, as well as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Also speaking in the debate on the Human Rights Council report were representatives of Paraguay, Egypt, Colombia, Eritrea, Japan, Iraq, Syria, Botswana, United States, Cuba, Iran, Algeria, Nigeria, El Salvador, Latvia, India, China and Morocco.

The representatives of Algeria, Ukraine, Georgia, Morocco and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea also spoke in exercise of the right of reply.

The Third Committee will reconvene at 3 p.m. on Monday, 6 November, to continue its work.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

The Third Committee met today to continue its debate on questions relating to refugees, returnees and displaced persons.  (For more information, please see Press Release GA/SHC/4216).

NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan) commended the adoption of the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants but stressed that more must be done to find solutions to the refugee crisis.  Pakistan had sheltered millions of Afghan refugees in the past four decades, providing them with education, health care and jobs.  While the Prime Minister had said that they would not be repatriated forcibly, host countries had largely been taken for granted and their national resources stretched to cater to refugee needs.  He called for equal burden sharing and establishing long‑term solutions to address the root causes of displacement.

ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia) said the ethnic Georgian population living in occupied regions faced an imminent threat of expulsion.  Harsh restrictions had been imposed on education in the native Georgian language and Georgian classes had been prohibited in the Gali district and Tskhinvali region.  Further, the closure of entry and exit points across the occupation line by Russian occupation forces had also severely restricted the freedom of movement of local residents.  Those occupation forces had demolished the homes of internally displaced people from Georgia in the occupied Tskhinvali region.  She said talks on humanitarian issues in occupied regions, and on displaced people from Georgia, had been politicized by the Russian Federation.

YAO SHAOJUN (China) said it was crucial to focus on both the symptoms and root causes of the refugee problem.  Root causes, such as social instability and imbalance in development, should be addressed by stepping up assistance for development.  There was also a need to resolve disputes through dialogue.  The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) should summarize its experience and practices of pilot projects for implementing the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and use the information for the formulation of the Global Compact for Refugees.  Negotiations of the Global Compact must be driven by Member States and should be advanced gradually.  She called on UNHCR to maintain its objectivity and neutrality and avoid interfering in internal affairs of countries and politicizing refugee protection mechanisms.

Ms. ALFASSAM (Kuwait) said the displacement crisis had worsened in recent years, threatening international stability.  Noting the High Commissioner’s focus on addressing its causes, she called on all States to cooperate in relevant efforts.  Pointing to the New York Declaration as a cornerstone to improve the living conditions of refugees and migrants, she said Kuwait was providing assistance through pledging conferences, contributing more than $2 million to assist refugees in the Middle East and elsewhere.  The situation of refugees without official documents was a priority, she said, and relevant documentation was being issued to those in Kuwait.

SAMAR SUKKAR (Jordan) said those fleeing conflict and entering Jordan had reached 2.8 million, with a majority being Syrian nationals.  Those circumstances had severely stressed public services, impacting Jordan’s development trajectory.  The Government was pursuing long‑term plans to address the refugee crisis and had established a single national framework to address the matter.  Syrian refugees without required documentation had been allowed to enrol in school, and some 200 schools now operated double shifts to allow for the attendance of refugee children.  Health services were also being provided, including gender‑sensitive attention to women and girls.  The protracted nature of the regional crisis had pushed Jordan’s assistance capacity to its limits, she said, stressing the importance of burden sharing.

MARWAN FRANCIS (Lebanon) expressed deep concern over the protracted situation of forced migration and stressed that the crisis should not become “the new normal”.  The international community must work together, he said, noting that burden and responsibility sharing were fundamental to addressing forced migration.  The causes of the crisis must also be tackled, and assistance must account for the specific context of each situation.  The return of refugees to their homes also must be a priority, he affirmed, adding that Lebanon hosted 1.2 million Syrian refugees and 400,000 Palestinian refugees.  The mass influx was straining limited assistance capabilities, he said, commending the High Commissioner’s efforts to engage with development partners.

GABRIELA MARTINIC (Argentina) called the adoption of the New York Declaration a step in the right direction, noting that while her country was committed to sheltering Syrian refugees, there was a need to establish sustainable regional and international solutions.  In November, Argentina would host two subregional meetings on implementation of the Brazil Declaration and Plan of Action to address displacement trends.  While no country was free from the impact of refugee movements, developing countries had been most affected and there was a need to identify institutional frameworks that would help them both better address refugee needs, and particularly, the rights of women, children, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and disabled refugees.

MARINA IVANOVI Ć (Serbia) said increasing numbers of refugees in his country had strained its accommodation capacities.  The large influx had also led to growing xenophobia and intolerance.  Serbia had offered refugees and migrants accommodation, food and health protection.  Its experience dated to the 1990s when thousands of people from the former Yugoslavia had fled to Serbia.  The country had also sheltered 200,000 internally displaced people from Kosovo and Metohija since 1999.  The regional housing programme for refugees, implemented by four countries in cooperation with the European Commission, UNHCR, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), was an example of partnership between host countries, countries of origin and international partners.

Ms. HWANG (Republic of Korea) said the global refugee crisis had overwhelmed humanitarian responses.  However, the New York Declaration was reason to be optimistic and the recent pledging conference for Myanmar was a timely event.  Calling for durable solutions to the crisis, she urged humanitarian actors to address the causes of displacement and redouble efforts to strengthen partnerships with the private sector and development agencies.  Underlining the principle of non‑refoulement, she said no country could cope with the refugee crisis alone.  Republic of Korea was the first country in Asia to adopt an independent refugee law and was implementing a pilot resettlement programme for refugees.

HARRISON W. MSEKE (United Republic of Tanzania), associating himself with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), drew attention to the challenges facing host nations as they tried to implement the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework.  A poor country, United Republic of Tanzania had nevertheless met its obligations, welcoming more than 318,000 refugees from Burundi and Democratic Republic of the Congo.  As part of the pilot roll‑out of the Framework, it would focus on admission and rights, emergency response, inclusion and self‑reliance, local integration of new citizens, third‑country options and voluntary repatriation and reintegration.  To the latter point, the Government would establish group processing for Congolese refugees, while ensuring that returns to Burundi were conducted in line with the principles of voluntary repatriation.  He requested international support for the local integration of 1,972 Burundian refugees who had been granted citizenship, referring to a concept note outlining proposed projects for the Kigoma region, which hosted the most refugees.

IHOR YAREMENKO (Ukraine) said his country had faced numerous humanitarian challenges due to the Russian aggression.  Some 1.6 million people had been internally displaced from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, while many others lacked basic water and sanitation services. The humanitarian response plan was underfunded and while Ukraine was grateful for support from the High Commissioner’s Office, humanitarian aid into the country had been blocked by local authorities backed by the Russian Government.  Such human rights violations against ethnic Ukrainians had forced many to flee their homes.

LESETLA ANDREAS TEFFO (South Africa), associating himself with the Southern African Development Community (SADC), said that his country continued to “open our ports of entry to refugees and asylum seekers,” giving them the right of access to education, healthcare, jobs, legal aid and access to courts.  Voicing concern about the consequences of refugee outflows which continued to fall disproportionately on developing countries, he said that international cooperation in sharing the burden of hosting refugees had become critical in addressing such challenges.  In that regard, the momentum gained towards the elaboration of the Global Compact for Refugees through discussions on the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework was encouraging.  One of its key outcomes had been to ease the pressure through burden sharing; thus, the Framework should ensure adequate, predictable and equitable sharing of such burdens aimed at drastically easing the pressure on hosts.  Underlining that the establishment of development funding mechanisms should be mindful of those principles, he voiced his strong support for close cooperation and joint planning between humanitarian and development actors.

SUPATTRA AUEAREE (Thailand) said the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Compact on Migration were complementary, expressing support for the Framework.  In turn, that Framework would generate inputs for the international community to draft the Global Compact on Refugees, on track for adoption in September 2018.  Reviewing Thailand’s efforts, she cited efforts by her Government and Myanmar to facilitate the voluntary return of 71 displaced persons from Myanmar.  Thailand supported UNHCR’s “#Ibelong” campaign to end statelessness by 2024, and had implemented measures which would enable around 80,000 children born in Thailand to apply for Thai nationality.  The Cabinet also had finalized and implemented a screening system for undocumented immigrants and refugees, to address the problem of mixed migration.

PHOLOGO GAUMAKWE (Botswana), associating himself with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Group, said Africa continued to account for a large number of refugees, internally displaced persons and asylum seekers.  Displacement had resulted from protracted conflict, he said, adding that the global refugee crisis was a stark reminder of the need to assume collective responsibility for the provision of humanitarian response.  Noting that Botswana was host to 3,500 refugees, he said the repatriation process must be re‑engineered to reduce turnaround times for those wishing to return home.  Stressing the need for long‑term solutions, he said financial assistance was central to addressing the crisis.

LALA MEHDIYEVA (Azerbaijan) said that addressing the needs of displaced persons required the resolution of armed conflict, adding that attention to the issue of internally displaced persons was far from sufficient.  Armenian aggression had resulted in large‑scale displacement in her country.  Azerbaijan was making progress in providing assistance to displaced persons, she said, adding that several United Nations agencies had reported positively on the matter.  She underlined that approaches to alleviate the plight of internally displaced persons would be incomplete if they did not place repatriation as their priority.

OMAR KADIRI (Morocco) said the global humanitarian crisis was spreading, with Africa particularly affected by displacement.  He commended the efforts of sub‑Saharan States that had welcomed refugees and urged that assistance be given to them.  Several States were profiting from the refugee populations they hosted, which was the case in Algeria.  Refugees in Algeria had been stripped of their humanitarian rights, with camps in Tindouf falling victim to fraud.  Humanitarian aid was being diverted from refugee camps, he said, asking for a re‑evaluation of assistance being provided to refugees in the region.  Algeria could not continue to use refugees as a means to enrich itself, he affirmed.

HAILESELASSIE SUBBA GEBRU (Ethiopia) voiced concern that the High Commissioner’s budget was underfunded, citing a 75 per cent funding gap in the refugee response plan for Ethiopia.  Also concerning were the protection challenges related to human trafficking and smuggling, sexual and gender‑based violence and forced recruitment.  Assistance must go beyond repatriation, efforts which would require better collaboration between humanitarian and development actors in countries of origin.  He encouraged the expansion of resettlement opportunities as a means of international protection, stressing that partnership should remain the cornerstone of UNHCR’s approach.  International refugee protection should be guided by principle of burden and responsibility sharing, and support provided for least developed countries, which were hosts to the largest numbers of refugees.

HELLEN CHIFWAILA (Zambia) said her country hosted 57,000 refugees.  Since August, it had received some 3,360 Congolese refugees fleeing clashes between the forces of their Government and militia groups.  Noting that Zambia was ready to work with partners to provide assistance, she said the Government had introduced a law outlining provisions for the establishment of a refugee fund and refugee settlements.  Zambia was also considering the possibility of relaxing the encampment policy, in turn allowing refugees to engage in employment and achieve self‑reliance.  Around 20,406 refugees lived outside the settlements, she said, noting that the Government was providing education to refugee children in settlements.

ALEX AJAYI (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group, said all States must promote the rights of refugees, migrants and displaced persons, and expressed concern over the welfare of refugees around the world.  The advent of Boko Haram’s insurgency had led to the establishment of camps for internally displaced persons across Nigeria, which were ensuring access to life‑saving social services.  Displaced children were being granted access to education, with safe school initiatives in place.  Nigeria was carrying out a policy of civilian protection to better protect the population from armed conflict, he said.

DIZERY SALIM, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), recalled that the Uganda Red Cross had participated in drafting the terms of reference for the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework Secretariat.  While local actors had a strong understanding of circumstances, politics and culture relevant to the provision of refugee protection and assistance, global actors could do more to provide a quality, sustainable and principled response.  “There are times when we treat them as contractors instead of partners,” she said, and it was essential to boost their institutional capacity and provide core funding.  A good legal framework could strengthen the role of local actors and Governments alike.  IFRC had worked for more than a decade in more than 100 countries to strengthen domestic legal frameworks to facilitate responses to large‑scale emergencies.  On refugee resilience, she said participatory assessments should include host communities, which were often vulnerable themselves and whose generosity should not be taken for granted.

MOUSSA DOLLO (Mali) said his country was emerging from a socio‑political crisis which had forced thousands of citizens to flee their homes.  Mali attached great importance to refugee crises, and had introduced both a national policy and action plan to address the needs of internally displaced persons.  It also had worked with neighbouring countries, including Burkina Faso, Niger and Mauritania, to facilitate the return of Malian refugees.  With the Government working to establish peace and reconciliation in Mali, a tripartite agreement had resulted in 70,000 Malian citizens returning from Burkina Faso.  He thanked neighbouring countries for their help in sheltering Malian refugees.

KATHLEEN HAGAN, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), said that, despite meaningful progress, millions of people continued to be displaced by armed conflict and other violence, many within their own countries.  More must be done to prevent such circumstances and support both displaced people and their hosts.  He highlighted the need to better respond to displacement in cities, welcoming that Special Rapporteur Jimenez‑Damary had focused on enhancing the participation of displaced people in decisions affecting them.  States should mark the twentieth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement by drawing on good practices in addressing the needs of internally displaced people.

Ms. MUKHTAR (Sudan) said the geographic location and cultural heritage of her country had attracted refugees for years.  Sudan was committed to addressing the needs of refugees but faced challenges, as their inflow was mixed with illegal migrants who had been trafficked.  As such, the Government had enacted a law against human trafficking.  But Sudan had received little international assistance to deal with the refugee crisis.  The Government had provided the best treatment possible and would continue to provide refugees with health care, security and education, while working to facilitate their return.

KINTU NYAGO (Uganda) said the large influx of refugees from South Sudan and other countries into Uganda led to the hosting of a solidarity summit on the matter earlier this year.  Assisting refugees was over‑stretching the Government’s meagre resources, he said, adding that a grassroots‑based assistance programme was being implemented with help from the World Bank and United Nations.  Termed the “Uganda Model”, that programme faced land‑management and service‑access challenges, he said, urging the international community to provide support to ensure the approach accomplished long‑term solutions.

Right of Reply

The representative of Russian Federation, exercising the right of reply in response to her counterparts from Georgia and Ukraine, objected to baseless accusations against her country.  South Ossetia and Abkhazia were independent States and the Russian Federation had never controlled those territories, she said, adding that Georgia had ignored the needs of those forcibly displaced.  Further, the reason citizens were fleeing Ukraine was due to crimes committed by ultranationalists and Ukrainian authorities who had started a conflict in the country’s eastern regions.  The Russian Federation did not control republics and there were no Russian forces there.  It had offered voluntary donations to UNHCR to manage the situation in eastern Ukraine, she said, adding that the republic of Crimea was a subject of the Russian Federation in accordance with international law.

The representative of Algeria said to Morocco’s delegate on the question of refugees that Algeria was a host country for refugees.  There was no issue around Algeria’s calling into question any resolution adopted by the United Nations, he said.  It was Morocco that was “slithering away,” creating delays each time.  Algeria had been constant in its defence of self‑determination.  Morocco claimed innocence in the context of human rights, but in Western Sahara, its record was clear and confirmed, he said.  Morocco was an occupying power, not an administering power.  From the standpoint of international law, the territory was described in various United Nations resolutions.

The representative of Ukraine reminded the representative of the Russian Federation that in 2014, the latter had deployed so‑called “green men” to the territory of Crimea, and that an unlawful referendum had been held on the territory.  In 2014 the Russian Federation had fuelled war in Ukraine and now was proud of helping refugees from Ukraine.  Citing a Russian proverb, he said “no matter how many times you are going to say halva, it is not going to be any sweeter.”

The representative of Georgia said in response that the Russian Federation had misled the international community and undermined the rights of persons internally displaced from the occupied territories of Georgia.  Further, the Russian Federation had not complied with the United Nations Charter or resolutions on Georgia, and its violations had been noted by an international fact‑finding mission.  The Russian Federation bore responsibility for resolving the issue of internally displaced persons and improving the human rights situation in Ukraine.

The representative of Morocco, in response to Algeria’s delegate, said the latter country had demonstrated complete disregard for and ignorance of international law.  Algeria’s claim that Morocco had occupied the Sahara was false because the territory had always belonged to Morocco.

The representative of Algeria, responding to Morocco’s delegate, said the latter country had illegally occupied Western Sahara and Algeria was not alone in voicing that opinion.  The right to self‑determination should be exercised in accordance with international law and Algeria stood by that position.

The representative of Morocco, responding to Algeria’s delegate, said the people of the Sahara had pledged allegiance to Morocco.  Algeria sought to create a territorial problem because of its “hegemonic designs”.  Yet it had only highlighted the importance of self‑determination in the context of the Sahara, not in the context of other countries.

Human Rights Council Report

JOAQUÍN ALEXANDER MAZA MARTELLI (El Salvador), President of the Human Rights Council, presented the body’s annual report (document A/72/53), outlining its activities, resolutions, decisions and presidential statements adopted at its regular session, as well as its special session in December 2016.  Over the year, the Council had adopted 114 resolutions, presidential statements and decisions, 80 of them without a vote.  By the end of 2017, it would have reviewed 28 States’ human rights obligations under its universal periodic review.  Once again, the Council had seen greater participation by small island developing States and least developed countries, thanks to the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund that had supported 27 delegates and fellows from 26 countries.

He said the situation in Myanmar deserved special attention and the Council had created an independent fact‑finding mission to examine alleged human rights violations by military and security forces, particularly in Rakhine State, extending its mandate to September 2018 when its final report would be considered.  On the situation in Syria, he said interactive dialogues with the Independent International Commission of Inquiry had been held and the Commission’s mandate had been extended for another year.  He went on to describe other efforts related to South Sudan, Burundi, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Libya, Georgia and Yemen.

In 2017, the Council had established a new mandate, namely the Special Rapporteur on the elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members, and decided against extending the mandates of the Independent Experts on Côte d’Ivoire and Haiti.  He said 118 Member States and 1 Observer State had extended a standing invitation to thematic special procedures, but he expressed concern that a few States had decided not to cooperate with the Council’s mechanisms.  Calling on all States to provide full cooperation, he stressed it was also essential that civil society actors and national human rights bodies be provided with a safe space for their voices to be heard.

The Council had adopted several resolutions, with recommendations made to the General Assembly, he said, notably regarding Syria and the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  It had requested the Assembly to submit the reports and oral updates of the respective commissions of inquiry on the situations in Eritrea and Burundi.  To bridge the gap between the Council’s workload and resources allocated to it, a joint task force had been established, which had suggested measures to help save time.  He also said he had received reports of threats against those who had cooperated with the Council, emphasizing that any such intimidation was unacceptable.  He urged the international community to ensure that efforts to protect human rights existed “not just in words, but in practice”.

When the floor opened, the representative of Colombia asked how United Nations reform proposed by the Secretary‑General accounted for human rights issues.

The representative of Spain said the Human Rights Council was the primary specialized body for human rights in the United Nations system, adding more work was needed to improve coordination between the relevant agencies in New York and Geneva.  She said resources had fallen short of meeting the Council’s needs for 2018 and suggested streamlining upcoming meetings.

The representative of Japan said the Council must be subject to constant review to better meet the needs of people worldwide.  The General Assembly should pay attention to reviews of the Council and asked what priority areas had been identified in that regard.

The representative of Eritrea asked what the Human Rights Council was doing to ensure attention was being given to all rights issues, especially with regards to financing.

The representative of Hungary, associating himself with the European Union, said the Council constituted the best universal framework to protect basic rights.  Noting the needs of vulnerable groups, he called for the de‑politicization of its work.

The representative of Latvia stressed the importance of strengthening ties between the Council and the General Assembly.  Referencing reprisals against people cooperating with United Nations human rights agencies, she asked what could be done to ensure Organization‑wide action to mitigate reprisals.

The representative of Switzerland said civil society played a pivotal role in strengthening rights and asked what obstacles had been encountered in protecting persons cooperating with the Council.  She also asked how the protection of those persons could be strengthened and what working relations should be established among relevant agencies.

The representative of Germany said the United Nations could benefit from closer interaction among its institutions.  Civil society representatives had a clear place in the Council’s work and he asked how those wishing to cooperate with it could effectively be protected from reprisals.

The representative of Austria noted the importance of responding early to emerging crises and said the Council had a broad role to play in the Secretary‑General’s prevention agenda.  He asked how the Council could contribute to those efforts.

The representative of Australia said human rights and prosperity went hand‑in‑hand and committed his Government to enhancing the Council’s effectiveness.  Turning to management reform, he asked how the Council’s work could be streamlined.

The representative of Liechtenstein asked how the Council could strengthen engagement with other relevant agencies.

The representative from the European Union said he valued the independence of the Council’s work and its engagement with civil society.  He asked how the universal periodic review process could be improved, and how Member States could address difficulties in sourcing Council meetings.

The representative of the Republic of Korea expressed concern over reports of intimidation and reprisals against individuals cooperating with United Nations human rights institutions and asked how the Council’s working methods could be improved.

The representative of Norway welcomed the Council’s autonomy and said that combating discrimination promoted stability.  Expressing concern over the Council’s increasing workload, he asked how work could be made more efficient.

The representative of Ireland, associating himself with the European Union, said the Council was performing well, but questions remained regarding the promotion of universal participation in its work.  He asked how Member States and observers could foster a more inclusive Council.

The representative of South Africa said the Council’s status as a subsidiary body of the General Assembly had been maintained in relevant resolutions and attempts to review the Council should only be done through the relevant framework.

The representative of the United Kingdom said the international community must take on abuses wherever they occurred, and called on all countries, particularly new and existing Council members, to cooperate with the Special Procedures.  He asked how the States could best protect civil society space at the Council and, in turn, how the Council could support the mainstreaming of human rights across the United Nations system.

The representative of Bahamas asked for an evaluation of the Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States, and for reflections on what impact small developing countries such as the Bahamas could have on the Council’s work.

The representative of Iraq said human rights reports should be presented in a periodic manner, and asked if the legal framework must be strengthened in the context of pursuing terrorist groups committing war crimes and genocide.  He also wondered how States could be encouraged to improve their interaction with the Council.

The representative of Indonesia asked about strategies for ensuring that genuine dialogue with the Council was sustained.  Human rights were universal, indivisible, interdependent and mutually reinforcing.  They must be treated in a fair and equal manner, and those principles should guide the Council’s work.

The representative of Guatemala acknowledged the importance of strengthening the Human Rights Council, and his country would continue to support its work in the Fifth Committee (Administrative and Budgetary).  He asked how Member States in New York could ensure better coordination between the Third Committee and the Council.

The representative of Argentina said there should be smooth cooperation between New York and Geneva, expressing concern about reported attacks on mandate‑holders and a lack of cooperation with them by Member States.  All States must respect for the Council’s independence.  Argentina urged all to bolster cooperation with Special Procedures, and States to uphold their reporting commitments.

Mr. MARTELLI responded to questions about reform by stressing the importance of information flow.  The international community must consult at the grass‑roots level on how suggested reforms could take place.  Underscoring the importance of implementing resolutions, he said they must reach communities and local governments.  On the issue of resources, he said the Human Rights Council had started to limit speaking time, among other measures.  The universal periodic review was a valuable resource that States could not lose or waste, he said, noting that many countries voluntarily presented midterm reports in advance of deadlines.  Parliaments must be included in human rights work, as they ensured that new international legislation could be transposed into domestic law.

The United Nations human rights system was an admirable one, he said, noting that, in the previous cycle of meetings, 900 interventions had been made by civil society.  Emphasizing the importance of accurate information, he said States must not politicize the Human Rights Council, though the world was politicized; they must work according to universality and respect for the legal framework.  On the links between New York and Geneva, he noted that there were procedures in place that allowed discussion to take place before decisions were taken by the 47 countries voting in the Human Rights Council.  Prioritization remained crucial, but ultimately, complementarity between New York and Geneva existed and must be bolstered.  The goal was to improve decision‑making in a more holistic fashion in a future‑oriented perspective.  Human rights work would never fade from the agenda; it was a process.

AMANUEL GIORGIO (Eritrea), speaking on behalf of the African Group, stressed that the Council’s mandate must be driven by the principles of cooperation and genuine dialogue free from politicization, selectivity and double standards.  The universal periodic review was the pillar of the Council’s work, he said, calling for the adequate funding of mechanisms that would allow States to implement Council recommendations.  Reaffirming the Group’s commitment to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, he commended the Council’s work in the area of practical enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights.  Fulfilling those rights was key to eradicating extreme poverty, he assured.

The African Group prioritized dialogue and international cooperation aimed at assisting States to fulfil human rights obligations, he said.  Meeting those obligations required recognizing that extreme poverty and social exclusion constituted violations of human dignity, he said, voicing concern over the apparent “hierarchy of rights”.  He also expressed concern over attempts to undermine the Third Committee’s mandate by having the Council’s report submitted to the General Assembly without the Committee’s endorsement.  To that end, the African Group would continue to present its annual resolution on the Council’s report, he assured.

CHARLES WHITELEY, European Union delegation, said there was potential to strengthen dialogue between the Human Rights Council and the Security Council.  The Human Rights Council’s mandate to help prevent rights violations must be carried out so that early warning could become early action, he said, calling the independent Special Procedures mandate‑holders the world’s “eyes and ears,” attentive to emerging crises.  Underscoring the importance of the Council’s independence, he strongly opposed any attempts to undermine its institutional position within the United Nations.  In Syria, the Council’s efforts to foster accountability and fight impunity were crucial, he said, also describing its work related to Yemen, Sri Lanka and its assistance to other countries including Haiti, Libya and Mali.

The European Union condemned violence, harassment, intimidation, reprisals or threats thereof to civil society and human rights defenders, he said.  Noting that Council members should uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of human rights, he urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo to cooperate with the international expert group, and Burundi to do likewise with the Commission of Inquiry.  The European Union welcomed the Council’s establishment of an Independent International Fact‑Finding Mission to Myanmar, as well as the extensions of the Special Rapporteur mandates addressing human rights in Myanmar, Iran, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Eritrea and Belarus, as well as the mandate of the Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan.

JULIO CÉSAR ARRIOLA RAMÍREZ (Paraguay) said that during its membership on the Council, his country had worked to promote productive dialogue and championed several initiatives to benefit all people.  Paraguay had pursued initiatives to strengthen monitoring of implementation to accomplish the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  He underscored the importance of appropriate national rights protection mechanisms and assistance from the United Nations to promote and protect human rights of all people.  Rights must be enjoyed in a just and equitable fashion, he said, underscoring the need to strengthen the Council through the provision of necessary resources.

MOHAMED MOUSSA (Egypt), associating himself with the African Group, said the Council could only work effectively if its efforts were applied in the context of genuine inter‑Governmental dialogue.  The Council’s mandate was outlined by the General Assembly and he expressed concern over efforts to alter its mission.  There was a need to streamline the Council’s work and he affirmed the interdependence of all rights, including the right to development, which must be pursued on equal footing.  He welcomed the appointment of the Special Rapporteur on the right to development.

MEJIA VELEZ (Colombia) insisted that efforts were needed to streamline the number of resolutions considered by the Council.  The body helped to advance respect for all rights, notably by strengthening the structures that protected those rights.  Still, colossal challenges remained, she said, welcoming the start of the third universal periodic review cycle.  The review process could foster global cooperation on human rights issues, she noted, commending implementation of recommendations made during the review cycles.  Pointing to Colombia’s recent peace agreement, she expressed the need to promote human rights in rural areas and support gender‑specific approaches.

Ms. HAILE (Eritrea), associating herself with the African Group, underscored the importance of ensuring the Human Rights Council was not used as a tool for political purposes, noting that it had been established to address the manipulation and double standards characterizing the Commission on Human Rights.  Eritrea rejected the practice of “naming and shaming” and of imposing mandates that did not enjoy the support of the concerned country.  It was unfortunate that the Council continued to be embroiled in a regional conflict, she said, singling out the universal periodic review as the appropriate forum for discussions.  Human rights were interrelated and indivisible, but some countries continued to ignore economic, social and cultural rights in favour of civil and political rights.

JUN SAITO (Japan) said his country had been promoting and protecting human rights in the Asia‑Pacific region, sponsoring country‑specific resolutions in the Human Rights Council.  The international community should render the Council more effective and efficient, and it was worth considering a review of the schedules, frequencies and procedures of the human rights mechanisms as a whole, he said.  As Special Procedures were essential functions, a review of them by a third party could be helpful to improving their quality and efficiency.  Indeed, the Council was becoming ever more important and should keep updating itself.

ALI MAAN (Iraq) said his country’s Constitution ensured all people were equal under the law.  As the international war on terror persisted, Iraq understood the consequences of terror and vowed to remain at the forefront of the fight.  Social problems like poverty and injustice were at the root of negative phenomena across the world, he said, urging efforts to “dry up” sources of terror.  He called for implementation of programmes that countered exclusion and enhanced human rights in all countries as a means to spread a culture of acceptance.

AMJAD QASSEM AGHA (Syria) expressed opposition to the Council President’s report and in particular to sections referring to Syria.  The report threatened the credibility of the Council and universal periodic review, he said, condemning efforts to politicize human rights issues.  Noting that the President had gone beyond his mandate, he said the Council had failed to identify Syria’s efforts to combat terror, as well as the negative effects resulting from unilateral measures imposed against it by certain Member States.  The President also had failed to condemn violence in Yemen caused by Saudi Arabia, he said, objecting to selectivity in addressing human rights.

Mr. GAUMAKWE (Botswana), associating himself with the African Group, said the Council’s work load continued to grow, threating efforts to mitigate rights violations.  The increased scope of the agenda called for reflection on how to effectively use resources.  Botswana had held multi‑stakeholder consultations in drafting human rights legislation and was drafting a bill to transform the Ombudsman’s office into a hybrid national human rights institution.  The universal periodic review and national efforts had strengthened the bridge between the State and civil society, he assured, stressing that holistic approaches were vital to preventing rights violations.

Ms. BROOKS (United States) said the Council’s credibility had been damaged by the presence of members with poor human rights records and hostility to its primary mission, as evidenced by the election of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Reform of its agenda was needed.  All States must work to strengthen the Council through positive action in New York and Geneva, she said, underscoring that civil society must be able to engage with the United Nations without fear of retaliation.  The United States was appalled by direct threats of retaliation, including by Human Rights Council members; Special Procedures had also reported on reprisals.  The international community must do more to put end to such threats.  The Council must be a voice for people fighting for human rights, and as such, must have members committed to human rights.

CASTILLO SANTANA (Cuba) said the Human Rights Council had been established out of a need to tackle double standards and political manipulation, all traits characterizing the defunct Commission.  Yet, the trend to impose selectivity and double standards was concerning; cooperation and respectful dialogue should steer the Council’s work.  Special Procedures mandate‑holders should also observe the Code of Conduct.  As long as an unjust and exclusive international economic order persisted, along with unilateral coercive measures and blockades, the Council must demand the end to those practices.

Ms. KHALVANDI (Iran) affirmed her country’s commitment to constructive dialogue on human rights issues in the Human Rights Council.  Yet, the Council was being exploited for political purposes, and politicization was eroding the benefits of the universal periodic review.  Stressing that the Council had been developed to ensure impartiality, she said country‑specific resolutions only fomented confrontation.  They diverted resources that could be used to promote human rights and she disassociated herself with sections of the Council report referring to Iran.  She underscored the role of the Council in confronting discrimination and terrorism, and urged it to raise awareness of the destructive power of terrorists and their supporters.

ZOUBIR BENARBIA (Algeria), associating himself with the African Group, expressed support for the Council’s mandate.  Emphasizing that it should be carried out in line with the principles of cooperation and dialogue free from politicization and double standards, he said Algeria had presented its third universal periodic review in 2017, and voiced support for that mechanism’s neutral and cooperative approach to reviewing countries’ human rights situations.  Because economic rights were as important as political and civil rights, he stressed that the Council should consider questions regarding the right to food, the effects of foreign debt and the impact of unilateral coercive measures.

ALEX AJAYI (Nigeria), associating himself with the African Group, underlined his country’s role — as the largest democracy in Africa — in formulating key international human rights policies and agendas.  Noting that Nigeria was a State party to such instruments, and that it had recently been re-elected to the Council for the 2018‑2020 term, he cited the 1996 creation of a National Human Rights Commission to monitor compliance with Government obligations.  In addition, Nigeria had put in place a national action plan on human rights and a national consultative forum to articulate the means of fulfilling recommendations adopted by the Government during various review cycles of the Council’s machinery.

Mr. HASBUN (El Salvador) said human rights were a state policy for his country and a pillar of its foreign policy.  El Salvador had ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the Optional Protocol on Civil and Political Rights and the Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child pertaining to Communications Procedures.  It also had reformed the family code to prohibit child marriage.  As a Human Rights Council member, El Salvador had championed the rights of migrant children and adolescents, presenting a resolution adopted by consensus on that subject.  While a subsidiary organ of the Assembly, the Council had its own remit, reflected in the fact that civil society was involved in its work.

Ms. GINTERE (Latvia), associating herself with the European Union, said the international community must ensure the Council was able to respond to challenges in an effective and timely manner, noting that her country had served as a member for the past three years, advocating for gender equality and freedom of expression both online and offline.  It was heartening that the number of standing invitations to Special Procedures had increased, and she pressed all States to ensure genuine cooperation with them.  The Council faced a growing workload, challenging its ability to respond to crises.  Latvia supported initiatives aiming to strengthen its effectiveness, emphasizing that Member States must not only criticize the Council but renew their political will.

MAYANK JOSHI (India) said difficulties stemming from diverging priorities had emerged regarding the Council’s agenda.  Pointing to calls for reform, he said contradictory approaches to promoting human rights were being used.  The Council’s expanding work and proliferation of special procedures created unclear priorities.  Country‑specific procedures were largely counterproductive, he said, pointing to the universal review as a success, one he attributed to the cooperative spirit of the process.  Naming and shaming would not improve human rights, he assured, calling for a more representative Council.

IHOR YAREMENKO (Ukraine) said a main responsibility of the Council was the timely response to gross rights violations.  Greater attention must be paid to the development of conceptual approaches to abuses such as crimes against humanity and genocide.  He commended the Council’s special procedures and universal periodic review, saying they promoted protection of rights across the world.  The cooperation of all relevant human rights actors was needed to ensure that review processes were transparent and that States were accountable for their actions.  Expressing appreciation for the Council’s contributions in addressing the situation in the occupied Crimean peninsula, he said Russian‑backed terrorists were conducting a war against the people of Ukraine and called for an impartial assessment of all rights violations.

MAYANK JOSHI (India) said difficulties stemming from diverging priorities had emerged regarding the Council’s agenda.  Pointing to calls for reform, he said contradictory approaches to promoting human rights were being used.  The Council’s expanding work and proliferation of special procedures created unclear priorities.  Country‑specific procedures were largely counterproductive, he said, pointing to the universal review as a success, one he attributed to the cooperative spirit of the process.  Naming and shaming would not improve human rights, he assured, calling for a more representative Council.

YAO SHAOJUN (China) said the Human Rights Council had the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights, and as such, should serve as an effective platform for constructive dialogue.  The Council faced multiple challenges, including confrontation and politicization of its work, he said, adding that different types of human rights were not being promoted in a balanced manner.  Noting that some special procedures were going beyond their terms of reference, he underscored the need to enhance the Council’s credibility and urged it carry out its work according to its mandate.

MAJDOLINE MOUFLIH (Morocco), associating herself with the African Group, said the Council had become the principal United Nations body in charge of human rights, and had made technical assistance one of the foundations of its work.  Special procedures played an important role, providing the Council with expertise on thematic issues.  The international community had an obligation to protect the Council from being used for other reasons.  The increasing importance of human rights required an active Human Rights Council with increased visibility, she said, yet there had been few references to its work in the media.  The Council should adopt a media strategy to increase the visibility of its work.

Right of Reply

The representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea rejected the allegation of the European Union’s delegate, stressing that non‑interference in the internal affairs of other countries should be strictly observed.  He also rejected the Council’s resolutions because the body was completely politicized and had no relevance to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.  The most serious rights violations were being committed in European countries.  The European Union should focus on its own deplorable human rights situations, rather than on non‑existent issues in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

News

Issuing Presidential Statement, Security Council Expresses Deep Concern over Scale, Severity of Violations against Children in Armed Conflict

The Security Council today reiterated its strong condemnation of the recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict, as well as their killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence.

Issuing presidential statement S/PRST/2017/21 at its debate on children and armed conflict, the Council remained deeply concerned over the lack of progress on the ground where parties to conflict continued to violate with impunity the relevant provisions of applicable international law relating to the rights and protection of children.  Furthermore, it expressed grave concern at the scale and severity of the violations committed against children in armed conflict in 2016, which included their use as human shields and suicide bombers.  It also called upon all parties to armed conflict to allow and facilitate safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access to children.

By the text, the Council reiterated its deep concern about attacks, as well as threats, against schools and hospitals, and protected persons in relation to them and urged all parties to armed conflict to refrain from actions that impeded children’s access to education and health services.  It expressed concern at the military use of schools, recognizing that such use may render schools legitimate targets of attack.  The Council urged all parties to armed conflict to respect the civilian character of schools.

The Security Council stressed the primary role of Governments in providing protection and relief to all children affected by armed conflict, and reiterated that all actions undertaken by United Nations entities within the framework of the monitoring and reporting mechanism must be designed to support and supplement, as appropriate, the protection and rehabilitation roles of national Governments.

The Council recognized the vital role that local leaders and civil society networks could play in enhancing community-level protection and rehabilitation, including non-stigmatization, for children affected by armed conflict.

It noted that reference to a situation in the report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict was not a legal determination, within the context of the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols thereto, and that reference to a non-State party did not affect its legal status.

The Council remained gravely concerned by the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law committed by non-State armed groups, including those who committed acts of terrorism, including mass abductions, rape and sexual slavery, particularly targeting girls, and emphasized the importance of accountability for such abuses and violations.

Stressing the need to pay attention to the treatment of children allegedly associated with all non-State armed groups, the Council encouraged Member States to consider non-judicial measures as alternatives to prosecution and detention that focused on the rehabilitation and reintegration for children formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups.  It further recognized the importance of timely and reintegration and rehabilitation assistance to children affected by armed conflict, while ensuring that the specific needs of girls, as well as those with disabilities, were addressed.

Recognizing the crucial role of child protection advisers in United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions, the Council called upon the Secretary-General to ensure that number and roles of such advisers are systematically assessed during the preparation and renewal of each United Nations peacekeeping operation and political mission.  The Council also called for the continued implementation by United Nations peacekeeping operations of the Secretary-General’s zero-tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.

Opening today’s debate, United Nations Secretary‑General António Guterres said that children around the world were suffering enormously and unacceptably in conflict, a source of global shame.  Armed groups forced girls and boys to become suicide bombers.  Children were stigmatized by having been recruited by armed groups, yet they were held criminally responsible for acts they were forced to commit.  Parties to conflict often obstructed life‑saving assistance for children, he said, noting that 2016 had witnessed the most child casualties ever recorded by the United Nations in Afghanistan.

Despite that bleak picture, however, some progress had been possible, he said, but the scale and intensity of some crises required redoubling efforts and taking innovative approaches.  The cross‑border elements of conflict were increasing, requiring the strengthening of engagement with regional and subregional actors.  Additional legal and political commitments to protect children should also be encouraged, he added, appealing to Member States to provide resources.

He noted that, whereas armed groups and armed forces had released thousands of children in 2016, only half of them had been successfully reintegrated into their families and communities.  More needed to be done to provide funding for programmes to offer education, job training, counselling and family reunification, he emphasized.  “If we leave the next generation traumatized, seething with grievances, we betray those we serve and ourselves,” he stressed.

Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, said there were more than 20,000 violations against children documented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) alone during 2016.  Introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report on children and armed conflict (document S/2017/821), she said 2017 had not been much better.

“What we have inflicted upon children in war zones in recent years will be our disgrace,” she continued.  “We must take urgent action to address this use of children as expendable commodities by warring parties.”  The announcement of new commitments to protect children was one source of hope, she said, highlighting the Paris Principles as an important initiative.  Other positive steps included ratifications of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and endorsements of the Safe Schools Declaration.

She went on to say that the report showed there had been tangible progress in diverse situations when political will was applied.  All efforts to protect children in the context of armed extremism must be carried out under international human rights law, she continued, stressing that, under the Paris Principles, all children allegedly associated with armed groups were primarily victims and must be treated as such.  Their separation, demobilization and reintegration would be much more effective than mass detention, she said, appealing for adequate funding of reintegration programmes that had already helped 100,000 children re‑enter society.  To improve response to violations, it would be necessary to prioritize accountability by strengthening justice systems, and ensuring that dedicated and adequately funded child‑protection capacities accompanied United Nations peace operations.  She called for the inclusion of child‑protection provisions in ceasefires and peace agreements.

Mubin Shaikj of the non-governmental organization Child Soldiers Initiative described his own six‑year period of radicalization into extremism as a teenager following a trip into Taliban‑controlled areas of Afghanistan, but he had turned away from that malevolent way of thinking following the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States.

“Around the world, non‑State armed groups, including violent extremists, are using children to sow violence, carry out attacks, build their ranks and prolong their beliefs and agenda into the future,” he said, adding that the recruitment of children was both systematic and intentional.

Whether the indoctrination of children was of a religious or radical nature — or carried out by urban street gangs, bandits or pirates — the challenge was the same, he stressed.  They all robbed children of their innocence and left them to die.  Calling for a holistic approach by Governments, security services, the United Nations, military forces, peacekeepers, corrections personnel and others, he said security sectors must be adequately trained to deal with the problem.

Margot Wallström, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, penholder on children and armed conflict in the Council, called upon Member States that had not yet done so to sign the Paris Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration, saying that the international community must also ensure that its response to State and non‑State armed groups remained in accordance with international law.  She also stressed the need to prioritize the effective reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces or armed groups.  “These children should always be treated as victims,” she added.  It was essential to guarantee children the right to education, particularly girls.

Welcoming progress made, among other things through the signing of action plans by parties to conflict, including non-State groups, regarding the protection of children in armed conflict, speakers urged Member States who had not done so to sign and ratify relevant international treaties.  Most notably that included the Protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Paris Principles and the Safe School Declaration.

While condemning all violations of the rights of children, including recruitment, the use of children as suicide bombers and other atrocities, many speakers stressed the importance of ending impunity for the perpetrators of those crimes.  There should also be no impunity for sexual exploitation and abuse by United Nations workers and peacekeepers.  They urged for inclusion of child protection criteria in peacekeeping mandates and sanctions regime and advocated for sufficient funding and staffing of child protection advisers in United Nations peacekeeping and political missions.

Many speakers pointed out that children released from armed groups should be treated as victims, and not as a threat to security.  Detention should be a last resort, they stressed.  Sufficient funding should be made available for reintegration and education programmes for those children, as well as for unaccompanied displaced and refugee children.  Condemning attacks on schools, they pointed out that military use of those places made them targets for attacks and endangered the lives of children.

Also speaking today were ministers, senior officials and representatives of France, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Ethiopia, Italy, United States, Uruguay, Japan, Bolivia, Senegal, China, Russian Federation, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Belgium, Peru, Germany, Brazil, Columbia, Canada (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict), Turkey, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, Iran, Hungary, Iran, Hungary, Chile, Austria, Luxembourg, Norway, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia, Slovenia, Indonesia, Argentina, Netherlands, Afghanistan, Iraq, Switzerland, Ireland, Philippines, Mexico, Nigeria, Qatar, Estonia (also on behalf of Latvia and Lithuania), United Arab Republic, Georgia, Sudan, Morocco, Bangladesh, Israel, Panama, South Africa, Kuwait, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Pakistan, Portugal, Denmark (on behalf of the Nordic countries), Venezuela, Maldives, Paraguay, Greece, Andorra, Thailand, Botswana, Australia, Ecuador, Bahrain, Azerbaijan, Yemen, Spain and Armenia.

The representatives of Ukraine and Israel took the floor for a second time.

The representatives of the European Union delegation and of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) also spoke, as did observers for the State of Palestine and the Holy See.

The meeting started at 10:05 a.m. and adjourned at 6:21 p.m.

Briefings

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary‑General of the United Nations, said children around the world were suffering enormously and unacceptably in conflict, a source of global shame.  Armed groups forced girls and boys to become suicide bombers.  Children were stigmatized by having been recruited by armed groups, yet they were held criminally responsible for acts they were forced to commit.  Parties to conflict often obstructed life‑saving assistance for children, he said, noting that 2016 had witnessed the most child casualties ever recorded by the United Nations in Afghanistan.  There had been a doubling of verified child‑recruitment cases of in Syria and Somalia, in addition to widespread sexual violence against children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan and elsewhere, he said, adding that tens of millions of children were also uprooted by fighting.

Despite that bleak picture, however, some progress had been possible, he said.  Changes in the reporting process had allowed for deeper engagement with parties to conflict, and the security forces of five Government security forces and four armed groups had put measures in place to better protect children during 2016.  While there was progress, however, the scale and intensity of some crises required redoubling efforts and taking innovative approaches, he said.  The cross‑border elements of conflict were increasing, requiring the strengthening of engagement with regional and subregional actors.  Additional legal and political commitments to protect children should also be encouraged, he added, appealing to Member States to provide resources in support of initiatives.

He noted that, whereas armed groups and armed forces had released thousands of children in 2016, only half of them had been successfully reintegrated into their families and communities.  More must be done to provide funding for programmes to offer education, job training, counselling and family reunification, he emphasized.  A legal framework to protect children in armed conflict was in place, but accountability for crimes and violations of human rights and humanitarian law must be pursued.  “If we leave the next generation traumatized, seething with grievances, we betray those we serve and ourselves,” he stressed.  Calling upon all parties in conflict to work with the United Nations to ensure the protection of the most vulnerable and precious resource, he urged the Council to strongly support that effort in order to build long-term peace, stability and development.

VIRGINIA GAMBA, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, pointed out that she had only assumed that position earlier in 2017, and said developments during her time so far had been extremely worrying, with more than 20,000 violations against children documented by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) alone during 2016.

Introducing the Secretary-General’s latest report on children and armed conflict (document S/2017/821), she said 2017 had not been much better.  The number of children recruited and used by armed groups remained at “startling levels” in Somalia and South, and attacks on schools and hospitals had been conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Child casualties were common in Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen, and in recent months, armed groups and Governments continued to delay and deny them life-saving aid, she said.  Sexual violence against boys and girls was widespread in conflict situations.

“What we have inflicted upon children in war zones in recent years will be our disgrace,” she continued.  “We must take urgent action to address this use of children as expendable commodities by warring parties.”  The announcement of new commitments to protect children was one source of hope, she said, highlighting the Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups (Paris Principles) as an important initiative.  Other positive steps included ratifications of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and endorsements of the Safe Schools Declaration.  “We need to work together to ensure that these political pledges make a practical difference for children on the ground,” she emphasized.

She went on to say that the report showed there had been tangible progress in diverse situations when political will was applied.  In that regard, the Civilian Joint Task force in Nigeria had signed an action plan, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in the Philippines as well as the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo had been delisted, children had been separated from armed cadres in Colombia, and measures had been put in place by the Saudi Arabia‑led coalition in Yemen.  She said her office was helping to strengthen those measures and working with Yemeni and Sudanese authorities to reinforce other mechanisms, open new child‑protection units and provide additional training.  Such examples of cooperation and political engagement should be seen as models, so that best practices could be rolled out in as many places as possible to better protect children, she emphasized.

All efforts to protect children in the context of armed extremism must be carried out under international human rights law, she continued, stressing that, under the Paris Principles, all children allegedly associated with armed groups were primarily victims and must be treated as such.  Their separation, demobilization and reintegration would be much more effective than mass detention, she said, appealing for adequate funding of reintegration programmes that had already helped 100,000 children re‑enter society.  “We must not further victimize children.”  To improve response to violations, it would be necessary to prioritize accountability by strengthening justice systems, enhancing partnerships at all levels, ensuring that dedicated and adequately funded child‑protection capacities accompanied United Nations peace operations, and that peacemaking efforts were reinvigorated.  In that regard, she called for the inclusion of child‑protection provisions in ceasefires and peace agreements.

MUBIN SHAIKH of the non-governmental organization Child Soldiers Initiative described his own six‑year period of radicalization into extremism as a teenager following a trip into Taliban‑controlled areas of Afghanistan.  He said that his radicalization had resulted from “an ideology conflict, poisonous ideology from other teens and a search for meaning and belonging”, but he had turned away from that malevolent way of thinking following the 11 September 2001 attacks in the United States.

“I ended up studying Islam properly and went through a period of de‑radicalization,” he said, adding that he had then joined the Canadian Security Intelligence Service as an undercover operative.  He had also become a member of the Integrated National Security Enforcement Team of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, exploring the ways in which children, teens and adults were exploited by extremists, including such groups as the Taliban, Al-Qaida, Al-Shabaab, Al‑Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Boko Haram.

“Around the world, non‑State armed groups, including violent extremists, are using children to sow violence, carry out attacks, build their ranks and prolong their beliefs and agenda into the future,” he said, adding that the recruitment of children was both systematic and intentional.  The groups realized they could gain from children advantages they could not gain from adults since they were easier to forcibly or coercively recruit and indoctrinate, and they were often viewed with less suspicion by security forces.  Describing the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers as a timely and useful document, he emphasized that “we must respond to this challenge preventatively”.  Indeed, it was far better to ensure that children were never recruited in the first place than to address their disrupted childhood, trauma and indoctrination after the fact, he said.

Whether the indoctrination of children was of a religious or radical nature — or carried out by urban street gangs, bandits or pirates — the challenge was the same, he stressed.  They were all robbing children of their innocence and leaving them to die.  Calling for a holistic approach by Governments, security services, the United Nations, military forces, peacekeepers, corrections personnel and others, he said security sectors in particular must be adequately trained to deal with the problem.  “As with all efforts to counter violent extremism, security sector actors must build mutual trust and respect with affected communities, preventing the marginalization and mistrust that can help fuel recruitment,” he said.  A robust, holistic and collective approach “which puts children’s rights up front” would enable the international community to protect children from harm, prevent violence and create a more peaceful and equitable society.

The Council then issued presidential statement PRST/2017/21.

Statements

JEAN-YVES LE DRIAN, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France and Council President for October, said there was need to move forward to the objective of a world in which children were not victims of armed conflict.  The international community had denounced the recruitment of children by armed forces and groups for more than 20 years, he noted.  France had promoted effective mechanisms to protect children in armed conflict, he said, recalling that 10 years ago, its capital had hosted a conference that had culminated in the adoption of the Paris Principles.  Despite such progress, 230 million children were living under armed conflict, he said, emphasizing that non‑State armed groups and terrorists bore greatest responsibility for violations.

There was a need for prevention based on efforts undertaken to end violent extremism, and also need to raise awareness.  There was also a need to protect schools.  Close cooperation with UNICEF was necessary to ensure the reintegration of children recruited by armed groups, and the deployment of child protection advisers was essential.  The action plans were also an important tool, he said, stressing that everything needed to be done to ensure that the return of children to their families was permanent.  Underlining the indispensable necessity to fight impunity, he said that was the responsibility of States, but pressure musts be brought to bear on those recruiting children and those involved in sexual violence.  The interests of children must prevail, he said, adding that respect for and the strengthening of their rights should be the basis of all commitments.

MARGOT WALLSTRÖM, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, recalled her visit last week to Afghanistan, noting that one in three civilian casualties of the conflict there was a child.  Armed groups in that country continued to recruit children, who also remained at risk of sexual violence, she said.  “We, the international community, have a responsibility”, she said, to “do all in our power to give all children the right to their childhood”.  Whereas there was a unique consensus on the matter within the Council, Sweden had a long tradition of working to strengthen the protection of children, she said, emphasizing that the Council could do more to improve its efforts in that regard.

Calling upon Member States that had not yet done so to sign the Paris Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration, she said the international community must also ensure that its response to State and non‑State armed groups remained in accordance with international law.  She also stressed the need to prioritize the effective reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces or armed groups.  “These children should always be treated as victims,” she added.  It was essential to guarantee children the right to education, particularly girls.  As the penholder on children and armed conflict, Sweden welcomed today’s presidential statement, she said, adding that it strengthened the Council’s stance on many relevant issues.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, expressed deep concern at the information provided in the Secretary‑General’s report.  The international community must redouble efforts to protect children in armed conflict, he said, noting that his country had supported international mechanisms including the Paris Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration.  In his country itself, however, he said that 90 children were killed since the beginning of Russian aggression in the east with many more killed in the downing of the airliner and others maimed by mines.  He regretted that that information did not make its way into the Secretary‑General’s report.  Children displaced by the conflict numbered some 240,000 and there had been forced recruitment of young men and detention of others.  His Government had been working hard to improve the situation of affected children, but in occupied areas in the east, many were deprived of education.  He hoped that the situation would be included in future reports and pledged his country’s continued dedication to the issue.

TARIQ MAHMOOD AHMAD, Minister of State for the Commonwealth and United Nations at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, said that no effort should be spared to protect children.  The report was alarming in that light.  Children should not be imprisoned.  He called for all armed groups who had not done so to put measures in place to protect children and prevent their recruitment, and for all who had put measures in place to fulfil their commitments.  He enumerated his country’s support for education for children in conflict areas, along with other aid targeted to such children.  Condemning sexual abuse by United Nations workers, whether they were peacekeepers or agency staff, he stressed that there must be no more impunity for such abuse.  Acknowledging some progress in child protection as described by the report, he attributed some of the positive developments to the Special Representative’s office, pledging continued support to that office.  He called for greater efforts to ensure that children will be protected and educated no matter where they lived.

TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) said he looked forward to the compilation of best practices on child protection issues, as he was concerned at grave violations, particularly by terrorist groups in recruiting in asymmetric warfare.  The use of children as suicide bombers was a serious matter, as was their forcible displacement.  While welcoming the signing of action plans, he noted with concern issues associated with implementation, including reintegration of children.  He said securing release of children and ensuring their disarmament and reintegration would require sustained support, in particular by child protection advisers.  Parties to armed conflict should treat children who had been used by armed groups as victims.  Internally displaced and refugee children were often unaccompanied and frequently victim of sexual abuse and exploitation and must be treated with care, including education and documentation.  More needed to be done to enhance cooperation between the Council and regional and subregional organizations.  His country had taken various measures to ensure protection of children in areas where Ethiopian troops were deployed, including mechanisms to ensure accountability of any violation committed by its troops.

SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy) said some progress had been achieved, including the signing of 29 action plans, 18 with non‑State armed groups.  There was a need to continue widest addition by States to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  The Paris Principles and the Safe Schools Declaration were initiatives that would make a difference.  Child protection should be included in mandates of peacekeeping missions and child protection advisers should be fully funded and staffed.  Peacekeeping personnel should get specific training on child protection.  States needed to develop measures to ensure that recruitment of children was criminalized and perpetrators were brought to justice.  Preventing and responding to child recruitment was not only a matter of concern of the Council but demanded action by all stakeholders, including non‑governmental organizations.  “By serving the interest of children, we serve the best interest of humanity,” he said.

MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said violations and abuses of international law concerning children were rampant.  Of particular concern was the abuse of children by terrorist groups.  South Sudan remained a major cause of concern, as 17,000 children had been recruited by armed groups, the same number of peacekeepers there, she said.  In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, dozens of armed groups had recruited children and used rape as a weapon of war.  To better help children victims, there was a need to demand that all parties to conflict fulfil all obligations under international law.  When parties failed to comply with their obligations, they should be held accountable.  Atrocities by the regime of Bashar al‑Assad, helped by the Russian Federation, were impossible to calculate and perpetrators of those atrocities should be held accountable.  The United Nations should do more to focus on what happened to children after they were released, she stressed.  Children released by armed groups needed medical and psychological support as well as food, she said, underlining the importance of maintaining the role of child protection officers in field missions.  Progress should be noted, however, including the fact that Governments had signed action plans.

LUIS BERMÚDEZ (Uruguay), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by Canada, said all States should put an end to impunity of perpetrators of crimes committed against children and highlighted in that regard the important role of International Criminal Court.  He also drew attention to the sale of weapons to parties that had been identified as violators and urged for an end to those sales.  He noted that there were still 43 States that had not raised the minimum age of enlistment in armed forces to 18 years.  To defend the right to education was a key factor in post‑conflict situations.  Training of staff in peacekeeping missions was also important, he said, and he expressed concern at staffing cuts in child protection efforts in peacekeeping mandates, particularly regarding information gathering.  Children must be treated as victims when they had been recruited by armed groups and detention should be a last measure.  He welcomed the recent signing of action plans by Mali and Sudan.  He stressed the importance of the monitoring and reporting measures to gather information of serious violations against children.

KORO BESSHO (Japan), associating himself with the statement to be made on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, said that the key to improving the dire situation of children in conflict situations was the use of the monitoring and reporting mechanism.  His country would continue to support the activities of the Special Representative in that regard and of child protection officers in the field.  Japan had adopted the Paris Principles.  Calling for support to affected States to be supported in reintegration of children formerly associated with armed groups, he noted that his country had been doing so in many situations, with employment training included for many.  In general, he reiterated the importance of implementing agreed‑upon frameworks on the ground.  No child should live in fear of attacks.  Together with other partners in the international community, his country would continue its efforts to implement commitments to better the lives of children all over the world.

SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLÍZ (Bolivia), acknowledging the serious effects on children in many conflict situations as described in the report, cited the crimes of Boko Haram as particularly striking, along with incarceration and loss of life among Palestinian minors.  To better protect children, the root causes of conflict must be addressed.  He condemned all abuses against children by armed groups, stressing that there were special protections for them in international law because of their vulnerability.  He also called for all those who had not ratified international instruments to do so.  In addition, he emphasized that tangible actions and rehabilitation programmes must be implemented.  He cited the handling of children’s issues in the Colombian peace agreements as a model to be replicated in other areas.

GORGUI CISS (Senegal), welcoming the work being done by the United Nations to protect children in conflict situations, including actions by the Security Council, said that considerable progress had been made.  It should not obscure the fact that violations against children continued, however, in many current situations.  All actors must redouble their efforts to overcome major challenges, including recruitment by non-State armed groups.  Member States, in addition, must abide by their commitments in the area.  Senegal developed a national strategy regarding protection of children, reintegration of children associated with armed groups and civics education.  Prevention of violations against children and ending impunity were important priorities.  Arguing that better prevention must be based on a reliable early warning system in collaboration with regional partners, he pointed to the Cape Town Principles on protecting children in Africa.

WU HAITAO (China) said that the international community must take concrete measures to protect children, including zero tolerance for terrorism, fighting terrorist outreach online and working with effected countries, who had the primary responsibility to protect the children within their borders.  While respecting those countries’ sovereignty, the United Nations should coordinate with such countries and regional partners to ensure they were protected, fed and educated.  Agencies such as UNICEF, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Bank should also help address the root causes of children’s suffering.  His country would continue to support efforts to shield children from suffering harm because of war.

EVGENY T. ZAGAYNOV (Russian Federation) expressed concern about disrespect for international law in conflict, emphasizing that there could be no excuse for violations of children’s rights.  The Russian Federation was providing humanitarian assistance in Syria, taking the needs of children into account, he said, adding that it had organized the rehabilitation of schools and hospitals, and that Russian doctors were providing medical assistance to children.  Noting that those responsible for the situation of children in Syria preferred not to talk about it, he questioned the change in the format of the documents annexed to the Secretary‑General’s report, in particular, criteria used to determine who would undertake the protection of children and who would not.  International humanitarian law contained standards on the protection of children in armed conflict and there was no need to change international norms, he said.

Emphasizing the importance of enhancing effective implementation, he said the Council’s efforts should focus on approaches approved by the United Nations.  He underlined the integrity and independence of the Special Representative, as well as the need to ensure that the information contained in the report was reliable and without double standards.  In response to the statement by Ukraine’s representative, he said what was happening in that country was openly discriminatory.  For example, a law was being prepared that would bar education in the Russian language to children whose native tongue was Russian, he said, adding that Ukrainian forces had shelled schools, as reflected in reports by United Nations observers.  Everything depended on whether peace could be restored, which could be done through the Minsk Agreement, he said, expressing hope that Ukraine would respect that agreement and implement it.

YERLIK ALI (Kazakhstan) encouraged all Member States to ratify and implement relevant international treaties, and to enact national legislation accordingly.  The United Nations child‑protection capacity on the ground, as well as the capacity to monitor and report grave violations of their rights, must be preserved.  There was also a need for child‑protection criteria in order to establish or renew sanctions committees.  He urged Member States to treat children allegedly associated with non‑State armed groups primarily as victims and use detention as a last resort.  There was a need for adequate resources to ensure children had safe access to education, health care, basic services and trauma counselling.  Every effort must be made to prevent recruitment, large‑scale radicalization and widespread dissemination of terrorism ideology among young people, including by use of the Internet.  It was also important to provide inter‑religious and inter-ethnic education with the goal of forging a national identity based on the shared human value of tolerance in a global civilization.

AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said a radical solution to support child victims of armed conflict had not yet been found.  The Council had provided a legal framework, but it had not been implemented.  He encouraged the Special Representatives to increase dialogue, especially with non-State groups.  Emphasizing that Governments bore primary responsibility for protecting civilians, especially children, he said the Council and the General Assembly were the official institutions for drafting or amending the legal framework of the child‑protection mandate.  Egypt called for addressing the six grave violations identified in the child-protection mandate equally, he said, adding that there was a need to address the root causes of conflicts, notably poverty and under-development.  He called for an end to double standards, pointing out in that regard that the report did not list the ongoing suffering of Palestinian children in areas of Israeli occupation.  Children had a right to education even in times of emergency, he said, underlining that basic education must also be provided to refugee and migrant children.

YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine), replying to the statement of the Russian Federation, said that that latter country was listed as an Occupying Power in Ukraine and was therefore not eligible to pronounce on the situation, at least as long as the country did not return Crimea and make other amends for the situation.

DIDIER REYNDERS (Belgium), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union delegation, deplored the continued suffering of children in armed conflict.  Noting that his country had endorsed the Paris Principles and the Declaration on Safe Schools and hospitals, he said that prevention of recruitment began by keeping places of learning free of danger.  Combatting extreme violence must begin with attacking its roots and be carried out with full respect of human rights.  Underlining the importance of rehabilitating and reintegrating children who had been associated with armed groups, he described various activities co‑sponsored by his country.  He asked that children’s protection be better pursued through peacekeeping mandates.  He pledged his country’s long-term dedication to the issue through the Security Council, especially if elected as a non‑permanent member, and other forums.

GUSTAVO MEZA‑CUADRA (Peru), expressing grave concern at the situation described in the Secretary-General’s report, called on States that had not yet done so to endorse the Paris Principles as his country had done.  The measures were being implemented with respect for the best actions to be taken for each child.  Reintegration of children affected by conflict was a priority.  As a future non‑permanent member of the Council, Peru would continue to ensure that children’s protections remained central in the organ’s work, along with other efforts to ensure human rights.

CHRISTOPH HEUSGEN (Germany), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by the European Union delegation, expressed concern over what he called the unacceptable violations of children’s rights presented in the report.  Extremism must be countered in full compliance with international law to effectively protect children.  The signing and effective implementation of action plans with armed groups was an essential tool to achieve concrete progress.  It was vital to continue to create frameworks and mechanisms to protect children, but their implementation was paramount.  In that context, he urged all parties to end attacks on schools and hospitals and stop the military use of institutions of learning in accordance with international law.  Germany intended to further pursue the matter of children in conflict if elected as a non-permanent member of the Council, and was pursuing efforts to strengthen regional networks in favour of children’s protection.

MAURO VIEIRA (Brazil), associating himself with the statement to be delivered by Norway, said there was now a robust framework to open dialogue with parties to conflict.  Nevertheless, children in armed conflict were deprived of the most fundamental human rights.  He was particularly concerned at the impact of asymmetric attacks by non‑State groups on children.  The full respect of international humanitarian law, human rights and refugee law had to be the cornerstone of all efforts to address the problem.  Dialogue with non‑State armed groups was necessary to address violations, as had happened in Colombia.  Children exploited by armed groups should be recognized as victims.  Detention for reasons of national security impacted thousands of children in armed conflict, he said, and it was outrageous that they were treated as threats to security.  The obligations of States regarding refugees should not been given up in the context of security.  Prevention of conflict remained the most ethical and effective approach in protecting civilians, including children.

MARÍA EMMA MEJÍA VÉLEZ (Colombia) welcomed the fact that the results achieved by her country had been recognized.  She assured the Special Representative that violations against children would not reoccur.  The changing nature of armed conflict represented a challenge to child protection.  Colombia was no stranger to the problem, she said.  More than 20 years ago, it had put in place legislation to prohibit recruitment of those under the age of 18 in its armed forces.  The peace process had placed child victims, included recruited children, at the heart of negotiations.  There were 132 minors who had been separated from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC) and placed under the protection of the State.  A National Reintegration Council had been established which undertook reintegration of children separated from the FARC.  Columbia was focused on ending child recruitment and offering released children other life options, including through education.

MARC-ANDRÉ BLANCHARD (Canada), speaking on behalf of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed conflict, said that he remained deeply concerned about the rise of armed groups employing extreme violence and their recruitment and use of children, including the use of children as suicide bombers.  Violent extremism posed unique child protection challenges.  It should be remembered that children associated with armed groups should be considered as victims first and afforded relevant protections under international humanitarian law.  They should be detained only as a last resort and for the shortest period necessary in full respect of international humanitarian law and applicable international human rights law.

He also welcomed the vital role played by peacekeepers in promoting child protections and welcomed the release of the new Department of Peacekeeping Operations‑Department of Field Services‑Department of Public Information Child Protection Policy to support those efforts.  Troop- and police‑contributing countries should undertake concrete steps to prioritize and further operationalize child protection within peacekeeping in terms of the training and doctrine of their national forces.  Adequate resources were also needed to deliver mission success.  He was concerned that extensive cuts to the staffing and budgets of child protection adviser positions, as well as consolidation efforts, would undermine the Organization’s ability to deliver on the critical child protection mandates put forth by the Security Council.

Speaking in his national capacity, he said that Canada had developed a national doctrine on addressing child soldiers, the first of its kind worldwide.  Canadian Armed Forces Joint Doctrine Note 2017-01 provided strategic guidance to the country’s forces regarding potential encounters and engagement with child soldiers.  It also provided commanders with baseline guidance through which to develop their predeployment training, and operational and mission‑specific considerations.

FERIDUN H. SINIRLIOĞLU (Turkey), shared the concern of the report on the scale and severity of violations against children in conflict, noting the increasing involvement of non‑State actors in such violations, among whom he named ISIL, Boko Haram and PKK/PYD [Kurdish Workers Party/Democratic Union Party], whom he said continued to recruit boys and girls under the age of 15 to carry out terrorist attacks.  The international community must display joint and robust political determination as well as concerted action in addressing the situation.  In that context, Turkey continued to support the well-being of children in vulnerable situations, hosting some 3.3 million displaced by conflict and exerting every effort to meet the education needs of the approximately 835,000 school‑age Syrian children in the country.  He realized its efforts were not meeting all needs; new schools and teachers were urgently needed.  He called once again on the international community to act in conformity with the principle of responsibility and burden-sharing in that regard.

GEORG SPARBER (Liechtenstein), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Children in Armed Conflict, said the erosion of respect for international humanitarian law being seen today had an impact on children.  Voicing support for the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General, as well as for the monitoring mechanism established by Council resolution 1612 (2005) to document grave violations, he said that in the last six months alone more than 500 schools had been attacked worldwide.  Pointing to disturbing related trends, including the use of air strikes against schools and the use of schools for military purposes, he strongly condemned such actions and urged all parties to conflict to respect the principle of distinction and other basic rules of international humanitarian law.  Where they were violated, accountability must be ensured, he said, also endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration and calling on Member States — especially members of the Council — to follow suit.  In addition, he called on States to prosecute those who had been associated with child recruitment and violence against children to end the impunity gap that persisted in many conflict and post-conflict societies.

MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia), associating himself with the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflicts and the group of countries endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, called on Member States to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  He went on to recall the “eerie testimony” of Joy Bishara, who was one of the 276 schoolgirls kidnapped in Chibok, Nigeria, observing that the main purpose of attacks on schools was to spread fear of receiving an education, because education and knowledge were the cornerstones of progress.  On the other hand, lack of education increased the risk of radicalization and the recruitment of children.  “Their place is not on the battlefield, their tools are not bombs and firearms, they should be at their school‑desks, with a pen and a book in their hands,” he emphasized.  He called for holding accountable recruiters, kidnappers, sexual offenders and all other perpetrators for crimes against children in a court of law.

RIYAD H. MANSOUR, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine, said that more than 2,000 Palestinian children had been killed since 2000 by Israeli occupying forces and settlers.  In 2016 alone, 35 Palestinian children were killed and 887 were injured.  Palestinian children, including in East Jerusalem, were subject to mass arbitrary arrest and detention, house arrest, ill‑treatment, sexual abuse, and torture.  The international community must demand the immediate and permanent release of all children from Israeli captivity.  “There can be no justification for detention and abuse of children,” he stressed.  Deliberate attacks on schools and closures of educational institutions, as well as restrictions on humanitarian access continued unabated.  Palestine reiterated that all those well‑documented Israeli crimes called for the inclusion of Israel and its settlers on the list of parties that commit grave violations affecting children in situations of conflict.  The absence of such inclusion deeply affected the credibility of the list, and made it vulnerable to criticism of politicization.  He urged the international community to uphold its responsibility and enforce international law to bring Israel’s violations and occupation to an end.

GHOLAMALI KHOSHROO (Iran) said that the defeat of ISIL (Da’esh) in Syria and Iraq was essential, noting the need to “never forget the inhumane tactic employed by such extremist groups”.  Other terror groups such as Boko Haram and Al‑Shabaab ravaged other parts of the world, terrorizing children.  The targeting of the children of religious and ethnic minority groups, including in Myanmar, was a matter of grave concern.  Meanwhile, live ammunition was frequently used by Israeli forces leading to the killing of 30 Palestinian children in 2017 alone.  The Israeli regime continued to commit thousands of atrocities against Palestinian civilians, including children, who resist the occupation.  “Today, it is only in Palestine that resistance against foreign occupation is called terrorism,” he added.  He urged the world to not forget that 540 Palestinian children were killed in Israel’s invasion of Gaza in 2014.  Israeli denial of humanitarian access to the entire occupied Palestinian people endangered the survival and the well‑being of the latter’s children.  According to the Secretary‑General’s report, the killing and maiming of children remained the most prevalent in Yemen, where 502 children had been killed in the conflict.  Most of the responsibility for that fell on the Saudi led coalition.

KATALIN ANNAMÁRIA BOGYAY (Hungary), associating herself with the Group of Friends of Children in Armed Conflict as well as the statement to be delivered by the European Union delegation, said her country was a party to both the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol.  It had also endorsed the Paris Principles and commitments, she said, strongly condemning the abduction, recruitment, use, abuse, enslavement and trafficking of children, as well as the indiscriminate and targeted attacks by non-State armed groups on civilian infrastructure.  Compliance with international human rights and humanitarian law as well as relevant Council resolutions, was critical, she said, stressing:  “We should put children first.”  Their interests should be taken into account in all counter-terrorism efforts, as well as peace and ceasefire agreements, and they must be treated primarily as victims.  She also called for long‑term assistance in the reintegration of children into societies, awareness raising efforts on the criminality of recruiting children, and initiatives aimed at combating the stigma faced by children previously involved in conflict.

BELEN SAPAG MUÑOZ DE LA PEÑA (Chile), associating herself with the Group of Friends of Children in Armed Conflict as well as the statement to be delivered on behalf of the Human Security Network, called on all parties, Council members and United Nations Member States to adopt measures to prevent violations against children, while respecting humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law.  Noting that those principles were at the heart of the Secretary‑General’s emphasis on prevention, she also voiced support for the Vancouver Principles on Peacekeeping and the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers, and urged other countries to do the same.  Also critical was the need to end impunity and punish the perpetrators of heinous crimes committed against children.  Noting that the amendment to the Secretary‑General’s report divided into two sections the parties that had put in place measures to improve the protection of children and those that had not, she said the results of the application of such measures should be evaluated in the next report, while ensuring transparency and the equal treatment of all perpetrators.

CHARLES WHITELEY, of the European Union delegation, said his bloc was deeply concerned by the use of schools for military purposes.  Such actions placed students and teachers in danger by turning those institutions into a target, hindered access to education, damaged school infrastructure and interrupted classes.  Education was key in preventing recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups, offering safe spaces for children displaced by conflicts.  Stressing the importance of protecting the right to education and providing safe, inclusive and quality classes in conflict, he said the Union had contributed 6 per cent of its 2017 humanitarian budget to education in emergencies, up from 1 per cent in 2015.

Girls’ right to education was particularly affected in times of conflict, he said, as their schools were often directly targeted by attacks.  Even when schools operating in situations of armed conflict had high rates of girls’ enrolment in peacetime, some parents prevented girls from attending school due to insecurity or use of the facilities by armed actors.  Girls were also recruited and used by armed forces and groups, with some estimates indicating that as many as 40 per cent of children associated with armed forces or groups were female.  Adding that the bloc strove to ensure that obstacles to girls’ education in emergencies were considered, he said girls should no longer constitute the invisible side of reintegration programmes for children released from armed forces and groups.

PHILIPP CHARWATH (Austria), associating himself with the European Union delegation, the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict and the Human Security Network, said it was vital to further encourage both State and non‑State actors to implement as well as conclude new action plans.  Children allegedly associated with non‑State armed groups were too often perceived as a security threat, rather as victims of grave violations.   Austria supported the global study on children deprived of liberty and its aim to raise awareness for children in detention around the world.  She urged States to sign and comply with the Paris Commitments and the Paris Principles and to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration and the Guidelines for Protecting Schools and Universities from Military Use during Armed Conflict.  It was also essential to improve training of peacekeeping and humanitarian personnel to deal comprehensively with situations involving children.

CHRISTIAN BRAUN (Luxembourg), associating himself with the European Union delegation and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict as well as the statement to be delivered on behalf of those countries endorsing the Safe Schools Declaration, recalled that recent years had seen success in freeing tens of thousands of children recruited by armed groups.  Nevertheless, such grave violations persisted, and there were increasing incidences of child maiming, murder, and their use as human shields or bombs.  “We are counting on all parties” to put in place child protection measures, align themselves with the Paris Principles and adopt the Safe Schools Declaration, he stressed, adding that recruited children must be treated as victims and allowed to realize their human rights.  The needs of children must also be reflected in all peace and ceasefire agreements, and child protection advisers must be provided with adequate resources and allowed to function in an independent manner.  Luxembourg supported the joint UNICEF‑United Nations University research project aimed at developing tools to better guide the actions of Organization staff on the ground as they sought to remove children from violent extremists.

TORE HATTREM (Norway), speaking on behalf of the 35 endorsing States of the Safe Schools Declaration, said that statement represented an intergovernmental political commitment to support the protection and continuation of education in armed conflicts.  Stressing that education was a human right and precondition for development, he said continued access to it also helped protect children from the impacts of armed conflict.  It ensured that no generation was lost and greatly aided a country’s ability to recover from conflict.  Attacks on schools deprived girls and boys of learning opportunities, put them at risk of injury or death and increased the risk of recruitment, forced labour, sexual abuse or forced marriage.

The group was particularly concerned about attacks or threats of them on schools, teachers and students, which were occurring in too many countries, he said.  Endorsing and implementing the Declaration was a positive step towards improving protection of children.  Increasing support for it reflected a growing international consensus that preventing the military use of schools was essential to avoiding disruption to education.  It included commitments to improve reporting and data of attacks on education facilities, provide assistance to victims of attacks and develop “conflict sensitive” approaches to education.  States also committed to investigate allegations of violations to applicable law and prosecute perpetrators, where appropriate.

HECTOR ENRIQUE JAIME CALDERÓN (El Salvador) said that as a country which had emerged from armed conflict, El Salvador was a faithful defender of peace, democracy, and human rights.  He reaffirmed the importance of protecting boys and girls in armed conflict in accordance with international law and various global standards on protecting children.  El Salvador had achieved major progress in areas relating to the development of children, including in the sectors of health, education and protection.  It had launched various campaigns to guarantee the rights of children.  El Salvador also remained committed to the children that suffered from the conflict, recognizing that respect for and ensuring human rights were essential pillars to establish rule of law.  It had made particular effort to investigate cases of disappeared persons and compensate the families of victims. El Salvador had also established the National Commission to Search for Children Who Disappeared during the Internal Armed Conflict.  Until December 2016, the Commission had recorded 295 cases and had concluded investigations in more than a third of those cases.  While the country had seen major achievements in terms of ensuring the children rights, it continued to seek solutions to current and emerging challenges.

ABDALLAH Y. AL-MOUALLIMI (Saudi Arabia), expressing concern that millions of children around the world fell victims to wars for which they bore no responsibility, noted that the Secretary‑General’s report had specifically condemned the Syrian Government for having committed heinous and horrific crimes against children.  While the Government of Israel also committed such offenses — including the arbitrary detention and abuse of children, the destruction of their homes and forced evictions, as well as attacks against hospitals and health care centres — he noted with surprise that that Government had not been listed in the report.  Regarding the war raging in Yemen following the attempted coup by Houthi rebels — which the Council had condemned in its resolution 2216 (2015) — he said the report confirmed the responsibility of the Houthis and their allies to end all violations against children.  Those rebel militias had recruited thousands of children and used them as human shields, also using civilian infrastructure including schools to conceal weapons or as staging grounds for bombings.

Saudi forces respected all rules and principles of international humanitarian and human rights law, he said, adding that they had adopted clear rules of engagement respecting the rules of proportionality and distinction.  Indeed, all operations by coalition forces in Yemen were being consistently reviewed and corrective measure adopted where necessary.  Saudi Arabia had launched a project to reintegrate children previously been recruited by Houthi militias, he said, displaying a photo of children fighting alongside Houthi rebels as well as another one depicting formerly recruited children who were now in school thanks to the Saudi programme.  Rejecting the report’s figures on child victims attributed to the coalition — which had in fact been provided by actors in rebel-dominated areas and had not been independently confirmed — he went on to say that the best way to protect children was to establish environments conducive to lasting peace, end conflicts and bring to an end all illegal occupations.

SWEN DORNIG, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), recalled that the organization had developed practical, field-oriented measures to address violence against children since the subject was first addressed at its 2012 Summit.  Those included standing operating procedures which provided NATO troops with a more robust tool to monitor and report on the six grave violations against children whenever they were encountered in their operations.  Noting that such information could then be shared with the United Nations and inform advocacy and activities to better protect children on the ground, he said NATO had also recently revised and expanded its pre-deployment training on children in armed conflict for its Resolute Support Mission personnel in Afghanistan.  Additionally, it was currently revising its online training course to include recent child protection developments, with the support of the United Nations.

Noting that every third civilian casualty in Afghanistan was a child, and that sexual violence against children continued, he said the latter was particularly problematic in the case of the exploitation of boys through the “bacha bazi” practice.  NATO had sought to integrate child protection into its operations in Afghanistan by establishing the position of a Senior Child Protection Advisor, developing a training course on human rights including children in armed conflict, establishing Child Protection Focal Points in its “Train Assist and Advice Commands” across the country, and continuing its close cooperation and partnership with the United Nations on issues related to child protection.

BERNARDITO CLEOPAS AUZA, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, said the fact that crimes against children in armed conflict remained rampant pointed to a wide gap between provisions already in place and their implementation.  Calling for respect for international law and the Convention of the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, he also drew attention to the disturbing trends of increasing mistreatment of children by non‑State armed groups and increasing attacks on densely populated areas including urban centres, schools, hospitals and others.  Council resolution 2286 (2016) on the obligation to respect and protect medical and humanitarian personnel, their equipment and means of transport in situations of armed conflict must be observed by all parties to conflicts, he stressed, noting that it was the duty of all parties to take concrete measures to safeguard the lives of children.  Governments should treat children as victims rather than combatants and hand them over to civilian child protection actors to provide for their reintegration, he said, also expressing support for the establishment of “long‑term multi‑year mechanisms for the reintegration of recruited and used children”.

DARJA BAVDAŽ KURET (Slovenia), associating herself with the European Union, the Human Security Network, and the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict, stressed that stronger steps must be taken to address accountability and to end impunity for such violations.  Accurate and timely reporting in that respect was crucial to ensuring that perpetrators could be held accountable.  The Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism was a key instrument of the United Nations child protection mandate.  Children in armed conflict must be treated as victims, she said, stressing the need to address their entire well-being and to ensure their development.  Psychological and physical support was needed to rehabilitate children.  Social reintegration, training for preschool, school counsellors and the Mine Risk Education programme had proven essential in strengthening the development of children affected by conflict, she added.

DIAN TRIANSYAH DJANI (Indonesia) said that as one of the Pathfinder Countries in the global effort to protect children from violence, his country believed it was imperative to conduct a comprehensive approach to address the impact of armed conflict on children.  “Ending violence against children cannot be done with silo and sporadic approaches,” he added.  It required a comprehensive social, economic, and political approach within a long-term strategic plan.  Condemning all abuses against children, he urged States engaged in armed conflict to stop violence against children and do everything to prevent their recruitment by armed groups.  Children’s education and reintegration into society must happen simultaneously.  Additionally, reintegration and education programmes must pay particular attention to children separated from their families as well as children with disabilities.  Violence must end against civilians in armed conflict, particularly women and children, he underscored.

MARTÍN GARCÍA MORITÁN (Argentina), associating himself with the endorsing States of the Safe Schools Declaration, said that his country was focused on preventing, avoiding and ending grave violations of children in armed conflict.  In that context, it was vital to place greater pressure on State and non‑State actors to uphold international law.  Child protection must remain a priority in special and peacekeeping missions, he added, emphasizing the need to develop and strengthen capacity in monitoring violations of children’s rights.  Expressing concern for the increasing number of attacks against schools and hospitals, he underscored that education was vital for the full development of human rights.  Pledging full support for the Safe Schools Declaration, he said the agreement ensured the protection of education facilities.  Full international cooperation was necessary to respond to attacks on schools in accordance with international law.

LISE H.J. GREGOIRE-VAN-HAAREN (Netherlands) said the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General on Children and Armed Conflict was key to efforts in assisting children caught up in conflict. The monitoring and reporting mechanism was a powerful instrument for positive change.  If curtailed, by political influence or a shortage of resources, that instrument risked losing its current value.  The reports discussed today were highly dependent on direct presence in the field, as peacekeepers, child protection advisers and civilian personnel made a critical difference on the ground.  Ending the plight of children in armed conflict in Yemen, Syria or South Sudan — and all too many other countries — began with establishing the facts and identifying perpetrators.  Ending the plight of children in armed conflict was impossible if impunity was accepted.

MAHMOUD SAIKAL (Afghanistan) said children suffered tremendously due to war, violence and armed conflict, both worldwide and in his own country, where conflict had been imposed for more than four decades.  Noting that he had just learned of another terrorist attack in Kabul, he said child protection could best be ensured by addressing the root causes of conflict, and called on the Council to play its fundamental role in maintaining international peace and security including by effectively addressing the needs of children in Afghanistan and conflict situations worldwide.  Describing Afghanistan’s efforts to build on its positive relationship with the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General, he outlined several national child protection efforts, including policies to prevent their recruitment.  In 2011, for example, it had adopted a national action plan to end the recruitment of children, establishing 21 child protection units around the country.

Additionally, he said, Afghanistan had ratified a law preventing underage recruitment in November 2014, and its National Defence and Security Forces had enacted a 15‑point roadmap to comply with its relevant international obligations.  Among other similar initiatives, he drew attention to the adoption of guidelines to prevent and respond to instances of child recruitment, adding that since the implementation of those reforms 35 children had been reunited with their families and more than 200 instances of child recruitment had been prevented around the country.  In addition, the country’s Independent Commission on Human Rights was investigating relevant allegations, and laws had been adopted criminalizing various forms of child mistreatment including the practice known as “bacha bazi”.

MOHAMMED HUSSEIN BAHR ALULOOM (Iraq), noting that the Secretary-General’s report had been drafted following broad-based consultations both at Headquarters and on the ground, expressed concern that none of his country’s input — with the exception of some trivial details — had been included.  Iraq had provided responses to all questions posed to it, shedding light on a great deal of information, he said.  While the report had acknowledged that ISIL/Da’esh was the primary driver of child recruitment, and that its violations were not solely perpetrated in Iraq but in Syria, Yemen and other nations, the report had nevertheless dealt with Da’esh as a party to conflict, failing to call it what it was — namely, a “terrorist” and “extremist” organization.  In addition, the report failed to mention the dangerous phenomenon of child victims born as a result of rape committed by such groups.

Noting that the report had cited the recruitment of 57 children by the Popular Mobilization Forces, he expressed concern that the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General had so far been unable to provide his Government with a single name of one of those children, which would have allowed it to investigate those allegations.  Iraq was a party to the Optional Protocol relating to children in armed conflict of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and it had adopted several measures — alongside such partners as the United Kingdom — aimed at the compilation of evidence to prosecute crimes committed against civilians, including children.  Calling on the United Nations to be “professional and specific” regarding the information provided in the Secretary‑General’s report, he said vague information about his country, gathered from “suspect” sources, constituted a serious burden for a country actively engaged in a fight against extremist groups.

OLIVIER MARC ZEHNDER (Switzerland) said that the international community did not know enough about children’s trajectories into and out of non‑State armed groups in contemporary conflicts.  For that reason, Switzerland along with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, UNICEF and Luxembourg had lent its support to a research initiative aimed at producing programmatic guidance to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed groups.  He called on Member States involved in countering violent extremism to carry out their measures in full compliance with international law, namely that their rules of engagement must include all necessary prevention and protective measures.  Children arrested and detained on security-related charges in counter‑terrorism operations must be treated as victims of grave violations rather than as security threats and perpetrators.  He also added that despite United Nations restructuring, ensuring adequate resources for children protection within peacekeeping and political missions must remain a priority.

KATHERINE ZAPPONE, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs of Ireland, associating herself with the European Union delegation, said her country’s humanitarian assistance policy recognized that children were often disproportionately affected by conflict.  Through its child and family agency Tusla, it was assisting young people who had fled conflict in Africa and Asia to restart their lives in Ireland.  As the current chair of the Commission on the Status of Women, her country would embed the women, peace and security agenda across the Commission’s work.  She emphasized the crucial role of civil society in supporting vulnerable and at‑risk children, and Ireland’s support for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in locating children separated from their families amidst conflict.  “Put simply, too often, children bear the brunt of adult conflicts,” she said, adding that Ireland knew only too well the consequences that could flow from not always protecting, valuing and listening to children.  Given its mandate, the Council had a responsibility to ensure it was using its tools and mechanisms effectively to end violations against children, she said.

TEODORO LOPEZ LOCSIN, JR (Philippines) noted the delisting of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front group from the 2016 report on children and armed conflict, as the organization had ceased its recruitment of children.  A total of 1,869 children who were associated with that group’s armed wing were released from combat duty in early 2017, he stated.  Despite pockets of conflict in the country, his Government continued to prioritize the welfare of children and discouraged insurgencies from using them as combatants.  His Government declared schools as “zones of peace” and urged them to adhere to basic curriculum and pedagogy.  Similarly, the Philippine armed forces in 2016 set procedures for monitoring, reporting and responding to violations committed by State and non-State actors.  He welcomed the initiatives of the Special Representative on issues relating to children and armed conflict, but highlighted the brevity of time for States to provide comments and the lack of clarity and details which hampered validation of cases cited in reports.  He expressed hope that nurturing well‑functioning relationships with the Office of the Special Representative would facilitate the issuance of timely, accurate and balanced reports.

Ms. JAQUES (Mexico) said that the best interests of the child must be protected by the United Nations and every one of its Member States and agencies.  “It is painful that we have to recall this,” she emphasized, condemning any activity that undermined the rights of boys and girls.  She called on all States to comply with the fundamental principles of international law, and recognize the particular vulnerability of children in armed conflict.  She condemned all violence and sexual exploitation against children, including in peacekeeping operations.  She called on the Security Council to ensure the protection of children and pledged support to the United Nations campaign “Children, not Soldiers”.  The increased radicalization and recruitment of children by non‑State armed groups was a grave concern.  Special attention must be paid to the root causes of violent extremism.

SAMSON SUNDAY ITEGBOJE (Nigeria) condemned the mass abductions of children by non‑State armed groups, including by Boko Haram and ISIL/Da’esh.  He called for the immediate and unconditional release of abducted children and demanded that parties to armed conflicts cease unlawful attacks and threats of attacks.  For its part, his country had launched a Safe Schools initiative aimed at providing safe and securing learning environments for children.  The proliferation of non‑State armed groups, their operation methods and connection to transnational criminal networks had made it difficult to enforcing legal provisions. Noting that regional and subregional organizations played important roles in addressing the plight of children affected by armed conflict, he urged the United Nations and the African Union to strengthen their “win‑win” collaboration on that issue.  On the subregional level, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had demonstrated its commitment through the adoption of the Accra Declaration on War‑Affected Children, however he encouraged enhanced domestic competencies and capabilities to respond to the needs and vulnerabilities of children in conflict situations.  In response to acts committed by Boko Haram, his Government issued an advisory on their accountability for ongoing violations of domestic laws and international conventions.  Nigeria remained committed to its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.  In that context, Nigeria recently drafted a national policy on civilian protection and harm mitigation.

ALYA AHMED SAIF AL‑THANI (Qatar) said children paid the highest price in armed conflict, adding that violent extremist groups “do not hesitate” to commit grave violations against them.  For its part, Qatar was focusing on developing education programmes at the national and international levels.  It had launched an initiative called “Education Above All” which had facilitated the delivery of high‑quality education to thousands of children.  Qatar had also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations to enhance the potential of young people around the Arab world.  That initiative aimed at protecting them from violent extremism.  Violations afflicting children in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Syria were gravely concerning, she said, stressing that children there paid the highest price.  For its part, Qatar would continue to spare no effort to ensure that children grow up in a safe environment.

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), also speaking on behalf of Latvia and Lithuania and associating himself with the European Union, noted that non‑State armed groups had committed nearly three times as many violations as Government forces in 2016.  Welcoming positive developments outlined in the report, including those achieved through the “Children, not Soldiers” campaign, he nevertheless voiced regret that in some countries such as Syria and Somalia the recruitment of children had more than doubled.  Joining the Secretary‑General in expressing concern over the impact of increasing disrespect for international law on children, he said Member States must uphold their obligations under international human rights law and humanitarian law.

Moreover, he urged States to redouble their pressure on non-State armed groups who recruited children and used them in their ever‑expanding activities across borders.  As impunity was one of the main enablers of such violations, the Council should work to influence both State and non‑State actors in conflict zones to comply with international law, including through the better use of sanctions and referrals to the International Criminal Court of situations where States were unwilling or unable to bring perpetrators to justice domestically.  Among other things, he also underscored the importance of treating children in armed conflict as victims, strengthening child protection programmes and ensuring education in times of crisis.

JAMAL JAMA AHMED ABDULLA AL MUSHARAKH (United Arab Emirates) said “it is our children that suffer the most from violence in our region”.  He underscored that he was troubled by the suffering of children at the hands of non‑State actors who continued to be supported by rogue States.  He also noted with concern that Palestinian children continued to be detained, maimed and killed.  In Yemen, the United Arab Emirates was a member of a coalition to restore stability and protect children from the Houthis.  He condemned the violations carried out by the Iran‑backed Houthi coup, which had caused civil casualties and mass internal displacements.  Meanwhile, the coalition was taking specific measures to address child recruitment by the Houthis.  The United Arab Emirates’ commitment to protect children was comprehensive, he added, noting that his country had established centres for women, displaced children and orphans.  He also emphasized the need to address the use of forced marriage and forced pregnancies by armed groups to terrorize communities.  Women and girls must be protected.

ELENE AGLADZE (Georgia), associating herself with the European Union, urged Member States and humanitarian and development partners to work together to take concrete steps to alleviate the consequences of armed conflict.  With the assistance of UNICEF and other partners, thousands of children had been released from captivity and reintegrated into their communities.  Georgia had prioritized the protection of the rights of children by ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols.  The Government spared no effort to assist children affected by conflicts and forced displacement both in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.  It aimed to guarantee adequate living conditions for them by extending welfare programmes, she said, expressing concern that the human rights of children continued to be violated on a daily basis in both occupied regions of Georgia.  Moreover, in the academic year 2015‑2017, about 4,000 pupils were deprived of the right to be educated in the native Georgian language.  Since last month, education in the native language was banned in schools in Akhalgori, Znauri, and Sinaguri, as part of the Russia Federation’s far‑reaching strategy aimed at eradicating Georgian identity.

OMER DAHAB FADL MOHAMED (Sudan), outlining his Government’s significant efforts to protect children in armed conflict in fulfilment of its regional and international commitments — especially the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its two Optional Protocols and the Paris Commitments and Principles — said it had established military child protection units and had long prohibited the recruitment of minors.  The country had also enacted a 2010 Child Act and trained special prosecutors to address crimes against children, including one specifically dealing with those in Darfur.  Among other things, Sudan had also signed a joint action plan with the United Nations to protect children in armed conflict, under which it had revised its rules for the delivery of assistance to conflict areas. Expressing hope that its implementation would lead to Sudan’s removal from the Secretary‑General’s report on children in armed conflict, he went on to call for the strengthening of action plans with non‑State actors and for efforts to compel them abandon their weapons and negotiate in a transparent manner.  Finally, he commended the recent actions of the coalition in Yemen, aimed at improving precautions against civilian casualties.

OMAR KADIRI (Morocco), noting the suffering of children in conflict zones as well as international efforts to rectify the situation, condemned in the strongest terms all violence against children and their abduction or recruitment by armed groups.  Noting that his country had signed on early to the Optional Protocol and the Paris Principles, he expressed solidarity with Yemen and its quest to restore legitimacy after the Houthi attacks and relieve the situation of children there.  His country, he stated would continue to work to bring about a peaceful solution.  Children were being recruited by the Houthi and used as human shields, but that was not mentioned in the report, he regretted, adding that the humanitarian aid to children being provided by the coalition was not mentioned either.

GOLAM FARUK KHANDAKAR PRINCE (Bangladesh), said children were among the victims suffering the worst of the ongoing Rohingya crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.  Since 25 August, 607,000 people had entered Bangladesh, 60 per cent of which were children and 22,500 of whom had been registered as orphans to date.  “These numbers are huge and are still growing,” he said, emphasizing that behind each statistic was a real child.  All had been born in Myanmar and deserved protection from that State, he said, sharing the story of a 12‑year‑old girl from Rathedaung Township who had witnessed that country’s security forces surrounding her home and shooting into it.  Among those injured had been her 7‑year‑old sister, who she had taken to the hillside and tried to protect, but who had nevertheless died from blood loss in a day’s time.  Meanwhile, Government helicopters had attempted to shoot at them.  “Should we allow this when we have so many commitments to protect our children from violence and armed conflict?” he asked, calling on the Council to take “bold and determined action” in that regard.  More than two months into the Rohingya crisis, the Council must adopt a resolution sending a clear message against violence, impunity and violations of human rights, he stressed, adding that it must not treat the matter as an internal or bilateral issue.

AMIT HEUMANN (Israel), sharing stories and quotes from children living in conflict zones in Syria, Yemen and Nigeria, stressed that “the cries of war‑torn children transcend borders and boundaries”.  Just last week, the world had witnessed horrific images of a Syrian baby suffering from malnutrition fighting to survive.  Such pictures had once again demonstrated the cruelties of the Assad regime and its disposal of human life, he said.  Israel knew such tragedies all too well, and understood what it meant to face enemies that systematically exploited children as weapons of war.  “We live every day with the threat of the next terror attack,” he said, adding that the terrorist organization Hamas, which controlled the Gaza Strip, attempted “by every possible means” to harm the Israeli people.  Its construction of a vast tunnel network was intended to kidnap and kill innocent Israeli children, he said, adding that Hamas also hid rockets in schools and hijacked hospitals while Palestinian incitement led to violence against Israeli civilians.  Calling on the Council to send a message to the Palestinians that “enough is enough”, he added that the United Nations must address its institutionalized bias against Israel, as well as links between its fact‑finding working group and the terrorist‑affiliated group known as “DCI Palestine”.

LAURA ELENA FLORES HERRERA (Panama), speaking on behalf of the Human Security Network, said that it was deeply concerning to learn of the attacks on schools and hospitals.  Such attacks continued to prevent children from realizing their rights.  It was also deeply worrying that children continued to be recruited by all parties to conflict and that they were increasingly being used as human bombs and shields.  The Network was particularly concerned of the continued multiple and aggravated impact of armed conflict on girls.  They faced unimaginable difficulties in conflict, including conflict‑related sexual violence.  It was imperative to ensure and strengthen all efforts aimed at protecting the girl child, she stressed.

“No child chooses to become involved in armed conflict,” she said, adding that in the desperation to survive poverty a child becomes more vulnerable to being recruited into an armed group.  Therefore, addressing the root causes was crucial to ensuring long‑term peace and the achievement of sustainable development.  Children must have access to schools, she added.  In that regard, child protection capacities on the ground were key, as was the monitoring and reporting mechanism of the United Nations child protection mandate.  “The integrity, credibility, impartiality and objectivity of this mechanism cannot be overstated,” she said.

JERRY MATJILA (South Africa) said that his country had been at the forefront of the processes aimed at strengthening commitments to protect children in armed conflict.  The Cape Town principles and best practices on the recruitment of children into armed forces and social reintegration of child soldiers in Africa was indicative of South Africa’s long‑standing support for the process.  At the level of the African Union, its Peace and Security Council had held several open sessions on the theme of children and armed conflict.  The African Union had also called for collective security efforts dealing with the scourges of terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization in Africa.  Regionally, South Africa was focused on contributing to youth development and on the role of young men and women in peacebuilding.

BADER ABDULLAH N. M. ALMUNAYEKH (Kuwait) said the international community must respond to all issues affecting peace and security while respecting international humanitarian and human rights law.  The situation of children in Palestine must be addressed, as they were suffering over decades under Israeli occupation.  Israeli transgressions included the destruction of education and health facilities.  The control of Palestinian mobility had led to an aggravation of human suffering that was affecting children.  He called upon the Council to combat those violations and guarantee protection of the vulnerable Palestinian children.  His country would host an international conference on the suffering the Palestinian child at the hands of the Israeli Defence Forces.  Addressing the chemical attacks in Syria and the situation in Yemen and Myanmar, he said expressing rage was not enough.

ROLANDO CASTRO CORDOBA (Costa Rica), associating himself with those countries supporting the Safe Schools Declaration and the Human Security Network, said all parties to armed conflict had a special obligation to the protection of children, as defined in humanitarian law and human rights law.  States had the primary function to provide protection and assistance to children and should prevent their recruitment by non-State armed groups.  Early warning systems were the most effective ways in that regard.  It was unacceptable that parties to armed conflict interrupted vital services to civilians, he said, stressing that schools must be safe.  There needed to be a unified strategy of monitoring and reporting of violations against the rights of children.  Children recruited by armed group should be considered as victims, he said

KENNEDY MAYONG ONON (Malaysia) said reintegration strategies must take the special needs of girls into account as they were a target of rape and sexual abuse.  Children recruited by armed group must be considered victims, which required an appropriate and community-based reintegration programme.  Many parties listed in the annexes were non‑State armed groups.  There could be no one‑size‑fits‑all approach to those groups and a tailored approach must be designed based on further analysis.  Peace processes should include consultations with non‑State armed groups and have child protection integrated in all aspects of peace agreements.

NABEEL MUNIR (Pakistan), noting the suffering of children due to armed conflict, acknowledged that international action had taken place to help them, but said that grave violations continued and must be stopped.  For that to happen, impunity must be ended through increased judicial capacity for that purpose.  In addition, root causes of conflict must be addressed and protracted conflicts ended politically.  His country had been implementing its commitments under the Convention on the Rights of the Child through domestic legislation and other means.  Supporting the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General, he argued however, that mentions of his country in the report were not within the purview of that document.

CRISTINA MARIA CERQUEIRA PUCARINHO (Portugal), aligning herself with the European Union, reiterated support for the new approach and impartiality of the evidence‑based listing of perpetrators responsible for committing grave violations against children.  He called the information in the report alarming, however.  There had been significant progress in developing a normative framework and a mechanism to monitor, report and respond to grave violations of human rights, but immense challenges continued.  The Security Council must address challenges that were emerging, including protracted conflicts, the prevalence of violent extremism and the proliferation of non‑State armed groups.  As children in armed conflicts required special, ongoing protection, she supported well‑resourced provisions for such protection in all aspects of peacekeeping, along with screening to keep those who had committed violations out of United Nations service.  Reintegration of all children affected by armed conflict, including those who had been recruited, was another important pursuit.  Education must be protected as well.  He called on all who had not done so to endorse the Safe Schools Declaration and sign on to the Optional Protocol of the Convention as well as the Paris Principles.

IB PETERSEN (Denmark), speaking on behalf of the Nordic countries, reiterated their full support for the 2007 Paris commitments and principles while strongly condemning the recruitment and use of children by all parties to conflict.  Stressing that all such children must be considered primarily as victims, he warned that, while ISIL/Da’esh was now losing its territory, the threat posed by the group’s ideology and propaganda remained.  “We will be facing a new generation born in conflict or radicalized as part of it,” he said, calling on Member States to ensure that their rules of engagement in responding to violent extremism accounted for the fact that children could be living in areas under the control of armed groups or used on front lines following their abduction or recruitment.  Urging the international community to take a long‑term perspective on the prevention of child recruitment — including by violent extremist groups — he emphasized that all international, national and local measures must always be in conformity with applicable international law including human rights law and rule of law principles.

Drawing attention to the establishment by Norway and Jordan of a “Group of Friends of Prevention of Violent Extremism” — which sought a balanced implementation of the four pillars of the United Nations Global Counter‑Terrorism Strategy — he underlined the need to strengthen efforts to provide quality education to children, including in times of conflict.  Among other things, he also spotlighted the need to share best practices and increase cooperation among relevant stakeholders; work together with private entities and others to prevent the proliferation of online propaganda for recruitment by violent extremists; include child protection concerns in all efforts to end conflicts; and provide affected children with the attention they needed.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said the human rights of children were severely imperilled by non‑State armed groups and some State armed groups.  Something was rotten in the globalized society, he said.  The best strategy to prevent conflict was by addressing the root causes.  Children grew up surrounded by violence and poverty.  Foreign interventions in the Middle East and Africa had been the main causes of violence.  He therefore demanded the cessation of all foreign interventions and the end of destabilizations of society for geopolitical or economic purposes.  He said the response to terrorist threats often led to more violations of human rights.  He drew attention to the situation of Palestinian children who were detained in an arbitrary way.

AHMED SAREER (Maldives) said that no child should fight a war, adding:  “Anyone who recruits children to fight in conflicts should receive the harshest punishment under the law.”  The Council must remain very objective in collecting and analysing information about conditions of children in armed conflicts.  It must also firmly take action to bring an end to the “vile activity” of using children as soldiers and human shields.  One way the Council could accelerate its efforts toward such an outcome was by cultivating values of respect for children.  By working with UNICEF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Council could encourage national Governments to take strong action in promoting such values both at the individual and society level.  In Maldives, actions to protect children were “guided by the belief that children have a God given right to be loved, cared for, and protected from violence.”  The Government had undertaken several legislative measures as well as policy initiatives to strengthen the child protection system.  In recent months, the Maldives had established a child protection database which allowed for the easy exchange of information.  He also stressed the need to protect children from social media assaults and cyberviolence.

ENRIQUE JOSÉ MARÍA CARRILLO GÓMEZ (Paraguay), affirming that accession to children’s rights instruments should be universal, urged all delegations to sign onto the Optional Protocol of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Rome Statute, related provisions of the Geneva Conventions, the Paris Principles and the Safe School Declaration.  Countries should also abide by all commitments of those instruments.  His country had been working with children affected by the conflict in Colombia with music education as a vehicle.  He said that protection of children’s rights required the expertise of all sectors, and that peacekeeping must include protection of children in mandates.

MARIA THEOFILI (Greece) called for all countries to focus on protecting children by ending weapons sales to groups violating their rights as well as bringing such perpetrators to justice.  Greece aligned itself with countries that had signed onto the Safe Schools Declaration, calling on all others to do so in order to protect schools around the world, and the children who could flourish in them as they are the future.

ELISENDA VIVES BALMAÑA (Andorra), aligning herself with the Group of Friends of Children in Armed Conflict and the supporters of the Safe Schools Declaration, said that despite the grim picture, there was hope seen in the formation of frameworks and action plans.  Her country, having acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, had lobbied for the Optional Protocol and had also signed onto the Safe Schools Declaration.  Children should be protected in educational settings; all countries should sign onto the Declaration.  She called for zero tolerance for sexual abuse of children in conflict and in peacekeeping settings.  Prioritizing education and peace were critical.  “The future of our world depends on our implementing these values”, she said.

VIRACHAI PLASAI (Thailand), associating himself with the Human Security Network, noted that more than 4,000 violations of children’s rights in 2016 had been committed by Government forces.  The best way to address that challenge was to ensure the universality and full and effective implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and all its Optional Protocols.  At the same time, however, there had also been an alarming trend leading to over 11,500 verified violations by non‑State groups.  Underscoring the need to address that problem in collaboration with concerned States, and to carefully account for the unique context of each conflict, he said actors including civil society, the media, academia and Governments should work together to keep pace with the evolving tactics of those groups.  The international community must also continue to address the long‑term impacts on recruited children by formulating adequate plans for their reintegration and rehabilitation.

CHARLES T. NTWAAGAE (Botswana) said the Secretary‑General’s report provided a harrowing account of the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and of the increasing number of children killed and maimed in armed conflict.  Given the gravity of the matter, Botswana applauded the Council for adopting resolution 1612 (2005) on children and armed conflict, and commended it for establishing the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on child soldiers.  He said his country fully supported initiatives to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers, and reaffirmed its support for the mandates of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, the Special Representative on Violence against Children, UNICEF’s “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign and the United Nations zero‑tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse.  He went on to strongly condemn indiscriminate attacks on schools, homes and hospitals, expressing deep concern that such attacks had been on the increase, and emphasized the duty of everyone to secure the future of children and to spare them the agony of conflict.

DAVID YARDLEY (Australia) said that verified violations were only the “tip of the iceberg”, also stressing:  “This inhumanity must stop.”  He welcomed progress made in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central African Republic and the Philippines.  The accurate and credible listing of perpetrators in the Secretary‑General’s annual report on children in armed conflict was crucial.  Action plans to prevent child recruitment and use had made a significant impact.  As most groups known to recruit children were non‑State armed actors, it was essential to continue efforts to ensure that they conclude action plans.  Child Protection Advisors in peacekeeping missions played a key role in verifying, preventing and ending grave violations.  Former child soldiers must be reintegrated back into society for sustainable peace to take hold.  Working with communities, health workers, policymakers, schools and tertiary institutions would help support the reintegration of children formerly associated with armed groups.  Children must be able to return successfully to civilian life and reach their full human potential.

HELENA YÁNEZ LOZA (Ecuador), associating herself with the group of countries supporting the Safe Schools Declaration, said the situation for children was becoming ever more precarious.  Children were often not given access to services and were recruited and sexually abused.  It was important to protect children and teachers in armed conflict, she said, noting that schools were being used for military purposes.  Her country was a territory of peace and according to its Constitution, girls and boys would be given priority in emergency situations.  Those responsible for committing violations against children should not go unpunished.  She urged that the Special Representative should be given the necessary support.

JAMAL FARES ALROWAIEI (Bahrain) said terrorist groups in Syria, Libya and Somalia had continued attacks against children.  Children were used as human shields and suicide bombers.  As a member of a coalition for Yemen, his country had taken steps to put an end to terrorist groups who received assistance from foreign sources, including the supplying of weapons.  His country wanted to protect civilians, including children, and uphold international humanitarian law.  It was important to review the mechanisms used for their protection.  The data used in that regard must be accurate and documented.  Children in Yemen and Palestine were in danger, he said.  His country continued to work with partners to protect children and to provide humanitarian assistance in cooperation with the United Nations.

YASHAR ALIYEV (Azerbaijan), noting his country’s accession to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol, said that the country strongly supported international efforts to protect children in conflict situations.  Despite progress, much more needed to be done, given the increased brutality of warfare and continued suffering of children.  He stated that the brutal killing of thousands of civilians, including children, had resulted from the continuing aggression by Armenia against his country, which encompassed a scorched earth policy of ethnic cleansing.  His country continued to suffer from massive displacement, due to the brutality of the conflict.  Many schools had been damaged.  Enumerating children killed in his country in 2017 due to fighting, he said that protection of children must be accomplished comprehensively and without selectivity.

KHALED HUSSEIN MOHAMED ALYEMANY (Yemen) said his country had directed all security forces not to recruit children and had cooperated with the United Nations to end the problem and otherwise protect children.  Unfortunately, Houthi and other groups had extensively recruited children.  His country had also joined the Safe Schools Declaration.  Given its extensive cooperation with the United Nations, he denounced the equating of the Government with the armed groups in the Secretary‑General’s report.  The report relied too much on reports by non‑governmental organizations and hospitals controlled by the Houthi militias.  His Government had already objected to the collection of information from such unreliable sources.  He hoped that the efforts of his Government to protect children would be rewarded by the de-listing of the national armed forces and the coalition forces.

Ms. BASSOLS (Spain) said that protection of children was more than just an agenda item; it was a moral responsibility of everyone.  The international community must be unyielding in that area.  The listing process for grave violators of children’s rights was an important mechanism and its credibility must be ensured.  Noting that Spain had signed on to all major international instruments on the topic, she described the country’s activities in support of those instruments.  Spain was also working to support implementation of recent Security Council resolutions on the issue.  Protection of children should be included in a cross‑cutting way in peacekeeping mandates, with appropriate training and resources provided.  In addition, national judicial capacity must be built to combat impunity.  All child victims must have care and reintegration programmes available to them.  She pledged her country’s continued attention to the protection of children in armed conflict.

MHER MARGARYAN (Armenia), associating himself with the statement by Norway and the Safe Schools Declaration, called on others to join the Declaration.  He strongly condemned violations of international humanitarian and human rights law particularly when they concerned the rights of children.  In clear violation of humanitarian law, Azerbaijan had been placing military installations in civilian settlement and was using them as a launch pad for shelling along the line of contact with Nagorno‑Karabakh.  The large‑scale military offensive of Azerbaijan against Nagorno‑Karabakh in April 2016 had caused gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and resulted in the loss of many lives, including children and women.  Citing other examples, he said there had been deliberate attempts by Azerbaijan to derail the peace process through ceasefire violations and incursions across the border between the two countries, which continued to date.  Establishing a mechanism to investigate ceasefire violations would help save the lives of civilians, including children.

The delegate of Israel, responding to the statement by the delegate of Saudi Arabia, said that country — which had been put on the black list as one of the worst violators of children’s rights and was responsible for the killing more over 600 children —  had criticized Israel.  He suggested that the delegate from Saudi Arabia could use his time better by developing a policy that would protect children subjected to cruel attacks in Yemen.

Presidential Statement

The full text of presidential statement PRST/2017/21 reads as follows:

“The Security Council welcomes the enhanced engagement of the Secretary‑General with parties outlined in the 16th report of the Secretary‑General (S/2017/821) on children and armed conflict.

“The Security Council takes note of the 16th report of the Secretary‑General (S/2017/821) on children and armed conflict and the recommendations contained therein and welcomes the positive developments referred to in the report and, reiterates its will to address the continuing challenges in the implementation of its resolutions and presidential statements on children and armed conflict reflected therein.

“The Security Council reiterates its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and, in this connection, its commitment to address the widespread impact of armed conflict on children.

“The Security Council remains convinced that the protection of children in armed conflict should be an important aspect of any comprehensive strategy to resolve conflict and sustain peace and stresses also the importance of adopting a broad strategy of conflict prevention, which addresses the root causes of armed conflict in a comprehensive manner in order to enhance the protection of children on a long‑term basis.

“The Security Council acknowledges that its resolutions, their implementation and the Statements of its President on children and armed conflict as well as the conclusions of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict have generated progress in preventing and responding to violations and abuses committed against children, in particular in the demobilization, rehabilitation and reintegration of thousands of children, the signing of action plans by parties to armed conflict and the delisting of parties to conflict from the Annexes to the Secretary‑General’s annual report.

“The Security Council reiterates further its strong condemnation of all violations of applicable international law involving the recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict as well as their re‑recruitment, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abductions, attacks against schools and hospitals as well as denial of humanitarian access by parties to armed conflict and all other violations of international law, including international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law, committed against children in situations of armed conflict and demands that all relevant parties immediately put an end to such practices and take special measures to protect children.

“The Security Council remains however deeply concerned over the lack of progress on the ground in some situations of concern, where parties to conflict continue to violate with impunity the relevant provisions of applicable international law relating to the rights and protection of children in armed conflict.

“The Security Council expresses grave concern at the scale and severity of the violations and abuses committed against children in 2016, as documented in the report of the Secretary‑General (S/2017/821) on children and armed conflict, which included alarming levels of killing and maiming of children, recruitment and use of children, including by the use of children as human shields and the increasing use of children as suicide bombers, and, in certain situations, denial of humanitarian access to children.

“The Security Council expresses deep concern about the high number of children killed or maimed, including as a direct or indirect result of hostilities between parties to armed conflict and of incidents of indiscriminate attacks against civilian populations, including those involving aerial bombardment, as documented in the report and calls on all parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of distinction and proportionality.

“The Security Council urges parties to conflict to take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population and civilian objects under their control against the effects of attacks in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law.

“The Security Council calls upon all parties to armed conflict to allow and facilitate safe, timely and unhindered humanitarian access to children, respect the exclusively humanitarian nature and impartiality of humanitarian aid and respect the work of all United Nations humanitarian agencies and their humanitarian partners, without distinction.

“The Security Council recalls the importance of ensuring that children continue to have access to basic services during the conflict and post‑conflict periods, including, inter alia, education and health care.

“The Security Council reiterates its deep concern about attacks as well as threats of attacks in contravention of applicable international law against schools and/or hospitals, and protected persons in relation to them as well as the closure of schools and hospitals in situations of armed conflict as a result of attacks and threats of attacks and urges all parties to armed conflict to refrain from actions that impede children’s access to education and to health services.

“The Security Council expresses deep concern at the military use of schools in contravention of applicable international law, recognizing that such use may render schools legitimate targets of attack, thus endangering children’s and teachers’ safety as well as children’s education and in this regard:

(a) Urges all parties to armed conflict to respect the civilian character of schools in accordance with international humanitarian law;

(b) Encourages Member States to consider concrete measures to deter the use of schools by armed forces and armed non‑State groups in contravention of applicable international law;

(c) Urges Member States to ensure that attacks on schools in contravention of international humanitarian law are investigated and those responsible duly prosecuted;

(d) Calls upon United Nations country‑level task forces to enhance the monitoring and reporting on the military use of schools.

“The Security Council stresses the primary role of Governments in providing protection and relief to all children affected by armed conflict, and reiterates that all actions undertaken by United Nations entities within the framework of the monitoring and reporting mechanism must be designed to support and supplement, as appropriate, the protection and rehabilitation roles of national Governments.

“The Security Council recognizes the important roles that local leaders and civil society networks can play in enhancing community‑level protection and rehabilitation, including non-stigmatization, for children affected by armed conflict.

“The Security Council notes that reference to a situation in the report of the Secretary‑General on children and armed conflict is not a legal determination, within the context of the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocols thereto, and that reference to a non‑State party does not affect its legal status.

“The Security Council emphasizes the responsibility of all States to put an end to impunity and to investigate and prosecute those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other egregious crimes including when perpetrated against children and takes notes in this regard of the contribution of the international criminal justice system, ad hoc and mixed tribunals as well as specialized chambers in national tribunals.

“The Security Council recalls that all parties to armed conflict must comply strictly with the obligations applicable to them under international law for the protection of children in armed conflict, including those contained in the Geneva Conventions of 12th August 1949 and the Additional Protocols of 1977 as well as in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocol on the involvement of Children in armed conflict, and  welcomes the steps taken by a number of Member States to make commitments to protect children affected by armed conflict, including through the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.

“The Security Council takes note of on‑going international and regional initiatives on Children and Armed Conflict, including the international conference held in Paris in 2007 and the follow-up conference held in Paris in 2017.

“The Security Council remains gravely concerned by the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law committed by all non‑State armed groups, including those who commit acts of terrorism, including mass abductions, rape and other forms of sexual violence such as sexual slavery, particularly targeting girls, which can cause displacement and affect access to education and healthcare services, and emphasizing the importance of accountability for such abuses and violations.

“The Security Council stresses the need to enhance efforts to prevent the recruitment and use of children by all non‑State armed groups, including those who commit acts of terrorism, and calls for Member States to exchange good practices to this effect.

“The Security Council remains gravely concerned also by the detrimental effects of the illicit transfer, destabilizing accumulation and misuse of small arms and light weapons on children in armed conflict, in particular due to recruitment and use of children by parties to armed conflict, as well as their re-recruitment, killing and maiming, rape and other sexual violence, abductions, attacks on schools and hospitals in violation of international law.

“The Security Council stresses that the best interests of the child as well as the specific needs and vulnerabilities of children should be duly considered when planning and carrying out actions concerning children in situations of armed conflict.

“The Security Council stresses the need to pay particular attention to the treatment of children allegedly associated with all non‑State armed groups, including those who commit acts of terrorism, including through establishing standard operating procedures for the rapid handover of these children to relevant civilian child protection actors.

“The Security Council emphasizes that no child should be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily and calls on all parties to conflict to cease unlawful or arbitrary detention as well as torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment imposed on children during their detention, expresses grave concern at the use of detained children for information gathering purposes, and emphasizes that children who have been recruited in violation of applicable international law by armed forces and armed groups and are accused of having committed crimes during armed conflicts should be treated primarily as victims of violations of international law, and urges Member States to comply with applicable obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and encourages access for civilian child protection actors to children deprived of liberty for association with armed forces and armed groups.

“The Security Council encourages Member States to consider non‑judicial measures as alternatives to prosecution and detention that focus on the rehabilitation and reintegration for children formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups taking into account that deprivation of liberty of children should be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time, as well as to avoid wherever possible the use of pretrial detention for children, and calls on Member States to apply due process for all children detained for association with armed forces and armed groups is respected.

“The Security Council recognizes the importance of providing timely and appropriate reintegration and rehabilitation assistance to children affected by armed conflict, while ensuring that the specific needs of girls as well as children with disabilities are addressed, including access to health care, psychosocial support, and education programmes that contribute to the well‑being of children and to sustainable peace and security.

“The Security Council urges concerned Member States, when undertaking security sector reforms, to mainstream child protection, such as the inclusion of child protection in military training and standard operating procedures, including on the handover of children to relevant civilian child protection actors, the establishment of child protection units in national security forces, and the strengthening of effective age assessment mechanisms to prevent underage recruitment, while stressing in the latter regard the importance of ensuring universal birth registration, including late birth registration which should remain an exception.

“The Security Council underlines the importance of engaging armed forces and armed groups on child protection concerns during peace talks and in the peacebuilding process and calls upon Member States, United Nations entities, the Peacebuilding Commission, and other parties concerned to integrate that child protection provisions, including those relating to the release and reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces or armed groups into all peace negotiations, ceasefire and peace agreements, and in provisions for ceasefire monitoring.

“The Security Council further calls upon Member States, United Nations entities, including the Peacebuilding Commission and other parties concerned to ensure that post‑conflict recovery and reconstruction planning, programs and strategies prioritize issues concerning children affected by armed conflict.

“The Security Council recognizes the role of United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions in the protection of children, particularly the crucial role of child protection advisers in mainstreaming child protection and leading monitoring, prevention and reporting efforts in missions, and in this regard reiterates its decision to continue the inclusion of specific provisions for the protection of children in the mandates of all relevant United Nations peacekeeping operations and political missions, encourages deployment of child protection advisers to such missions, and calls upon the Secretary‑General to ensure that the need for and the number and roles of such advisers are systematically assessed during the preparation and renewal of each United Nations peacekeeping operation and political mission, and that they are speedily recruited, timely deployed, and properly resourced where appointed, and encourages the United Nations Secretariat, including DPKO and DPA, to take into account child protection when briefing the Council on country‑specific situations.

“The Security Council calls for the continued implementation by United Nations peacekeeping operations of the Secretary‑General’s zero‑tolerance policy on sexual exploitation and abuse and to ensure full compliance of their personnel with the United Nations code of conduct, reiterates its request to the Secretary‑General to continue to take all necessary action in this regard and to keep the Security Council informed, and urges troop- and police contributing countries to continue taking appropriate preventive action, such as mandatory pre-deployment child protection training including on sexual exploitation and abuse, and to ensure full accountability in cases of such conduct involving their personnel.

“The Security Council welcomes the continued strengthening of the Monitoring and Reporting mechanism as requested by its resolutions 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009), 1998 (2011), 2143 (2014) and 2225 (2015) and commends the role of UNICEF and other UN entities at the field level in the collection of information on violations and abuses committed against children, in the preparation and implementation of action plans as well as in the implementation of the conclusions of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict. In this regard, the Council further encourages the Secretary‑General to ensure that adequate child protection expertise is available to the Resident Coordinator in situations listed in the annexes of the annual reports of the Secretary‑General on Children and Armed Conflict.

“The Security Council reiterates its request to the Secretary‑General to ensure that, in all his reports on country specific situations, the matter of children and armed conflict is included as a specific aspect of the report, and expresses its intention to give its full attention to the matter of Children and Armed Conflict, including the implementation of relevant Security Council resolutions and of the recommendations of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, when dealing with those situations on its agenda as well as to give specific attention to child protection issues when undertaking its relevant field visits.

“The Security Council recognizes the valuable contribution pertinent regional and subregional organizations and arrangements make for the protection of children affected by armed conflict.  In this regard, the Security Council encourages the continued mainstreaming of child protection into the advocacy, policies, programmes and mission planning of these organizations and arrangements as well as training of personnel and inclusion of child protection staff in their peacekeeping and field operations and establishment, within their secretariats, of child protection mechanisms, including through the appointment of child protection focal points.

“The Security Council stresses the important role of the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Children and Armed Conflict in carrying out her mandate for the protection of children in situations of armed conflict, in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions, as well as the importance of her country visits in facilitating better coordination among United Nations partners at the field level, promoting collaboration between the United Nations and concerned Governments, enhancing dialogue with concerned Governments and parties to an armed conflict, including by negotiating action plans, securing commitments, advocating for appropriate response mechanisms and ensuring attention and follow‑up to the conclusions and recommendations of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict.

“The Security Council encourages the Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Children and Armed Conflict, together with relevant child protection actors, to carry out lessons learned initiatives in order to compile comprehensive best practices on the children and armed conflict mandate, including practical guidance on the integration of child protection issues in peace processes.

“The Security Council stresses the importance of regular and timely consideration of violations and abuses committed against children in armed conflict, in this regard welcomes the sustained activity of its Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and invites the Working Group to make full use of tools within its mandate to promote the protection of children affected by armed conflict, including through increasing engagement with concerned Member States, in light of ongoing discussions on enhancing compliance.

“The Security Council urges all parties concerned, including Member States, United Nations entities, as well as financial institutions to support, as appropriate, bearing in mind national ownership, the development and strengthening of the capacities of national institutions and local civil society networks for advocacy, protection and rehabilitation of children affected by armed conflict, including youth-led organizations, as well as national accountability mechanisms with timely, sustained and adequate resources and funding.

“The Security Council reiterates its determination to ensure respect for and the implementation of its resolutions and presidential statements on children and armed conflict to date, as well as respect for other international commitments and obligations for the protection of children affected by armed conflict.”