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Speech of Ambassador Wang Guangya at the Open Debate of Security Council on "Children and Armed Conflict"
(23 February 2005)


I would first of all like to welcome the President, the Foreign Minister of Benin, a very friendly country, who has come here to personally preside over today's open debate. The Chinese delegation would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his report on the issue of children and armed conflict. We also thank Ambassador Otunnu for his presentation.

Children are the future of the world, and theyrepresent humankind's hopes for tomorrow. However, as the most vulnerable group, they are often adversely affected by armed conflict. All countries and parties have an obligation to try their best to protect children from the harm of armed conflict. In recent years, the United Nations adopted a series of measures to promote the protection of children in armed conflict. It has also achieved positive results in this area. The Security Council has adopted a series of resolutions - namely, resolutions 1261 (1999), 1314 (2000), 1379 (2001), 1460 (2003) and 1539 (2004) - that provide a very important legal framework for the protection of children. Some United Nations peacekeeping operations have also taken the protection of children very seriously, including by appointing child protection advisers and by assisting countries emerging from conflict to give full consideration to the special needs of children as part of their disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programmes. In addition, some of the peace agreements that the United Nations has promoted or participated in contain provisions on the protection of children. And some of the countries concerned have taken active steps to provide legislative safeguards for the protection of children. All of that has, to a certain degree, reduced the harm that armed conflict causes children, and such steps should be affirmed.

But despite that progress in the protection of children in armed conflict, countless children continue to suffer from the effects of such conflict. The situation of encroachment upon children's rights by parties to armed conflicts has not improved a great deal. The international community must make sustained efforts to truly change the situation. In that connection, we agree that, in the context of the maintenance of international peace and security, the Security Council should intensify its efforts to prevent and curb conflicts and actively address the root causes of the phenomenon of child soldiers in order to achieve our goal of protecting children. The United Nations should collect its experience in the area of protecting children during peacekeeping operations and give it special treatment so that future peacekeeping operations can benefit from that experience. At the same time, all parties to armed conflicts should strive to meet their obligations under relevant international law and to respect and safeguard the legitimate rights of children. Post-conflict reconstruction should solve the problem by prioritizing the return of children to their families, schools and communities and by providing sufficient resources to that end.

We appreciate the fact that the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the United Nations Children's Fund, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and other United Nations agencies are playing an active role in protecting children in armed conflict. We agree that coordination and cooperation between the United Nations and the relevant regional organizations and among United Nations agencies should be strengthened. We must adopt an integrated strategy in joining efforts to help countries in conflict to increase their ability to protect children. China will continue to work with the international community in making its due contribution to the protection of children.

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