United Nations: Days after the UN Secretary General’s report on Children and Armed Conflict’ mentioned India, New Delhi has expressed concern that the report includes situations that are not situations of armed conflict or threats to maintenance of international peace and security.
The report released last week mentions the situation in India under the category Situations not on the agenda of the Security Council or other situations.
Addressing the UNSC high-level open debate on Children and Armed Conflict on Tuesday, Charge d’affaires at India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Ambassador R Ravindra said, “We must be cautious as attempts to selectively expand the mandate will only politicise its agenda. It would distract us and even divert our attention from real threats to international peace and security and children in armed conflict.
“We also note with concern that despite the Council’s clear mandate, the Secretary General’s report includes situations that are not situations of armed conflict or threats to the maintenance of international peace and security, he said.
In the report, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres welcomed the legal and administrative framework for the protection of children and improved access to child protection services in several Indian states, including Assam and Jammu and Kashmir.
He, however, expresses concern about the risk of child recruitment by armed groups in affected districts.
The UN chief welcomed the ongoing engagement of the Indian government with his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba; the interministerial meeting held in November 2021; and the appointment of a national focal point to identify priority national interventions so as to enhance the protection of children.
“I further welcome the agreement to a joint technical mission to hold interministerial, technical-level meetings with the United Nations during 2022 to identify areas of enhanced cooperation for child protection. This enhanced engagement may lead to the removal of India as a situation of concern from my next report on children and armed conflict, should all practical measures agreed to in such meetings be fully implemented by that date,” the Secretary General said in the report.
In her statement to the Council, Gamba noted that progress has been made regarding analysis, policy development, and partnerships as well as on prevention mechanisms. “In India, for example, prevention has led to a deepening of our already fruitful cooperation with the government on enhancing child protection systems, she said.
Ravindra said that as noted by the Secretary General in his report, the scale and severity of violations perpetrated against children in armed conflict remains on the rise.
It is clear that there remain significant challenges to the effective implementation of this mandate. The international community has the responsibility and, indeed, the obligation, to do its utmost to provide support to children affected by armed conflict without any discrimination, he said.
India voiced appreciation for the engagement of the UN, particularly the office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, with parties engaged in armed conflict, which has resulted in the release of 12,214 children over the last year alone.
National governments have the primary responsibility for protecting the rights of the child as mandated by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Security Council must do all that is possible to support efforts of governments in this regard, Ravindra said, adding that India encourages member states to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.
He said the Convention on the Rights of the Child establishes States parties’ obligations to promote the rehabilitation and social integration of children affected by armed conflict in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect, and dignity of the child.
Close cooperation between the UN and its member states is critical for developing an effective and sustainable policy for repatriation and reintegration of children affected by armed conflict. Member states need to work towards an inclusive approach to provide protection to child victims during the rehabilitation and reintegration process in post-conflict situations, he said. PTI