The respect and promotion of children’s rights is paramount for the sustainable development of all societies. With the promise to leave no child behind, specific attention must especially be devoted to the rights and needs of children in particularly vulnerable contexts, such as those of conflict and displacement. It is every state’s moral duty to put an end to such violations. Hence, to better monitor, prevent, and end attacks on children, the United Nations Security Council identified and condemned in 2017 the following violations against children in times of armed conflict: 1) Killing and maiming of children; 2) Recruitment and use of children by armed forces or armed groups; 3) Attacks on schools or hospitals; 4) Rape or other sexual violence against children; 5) Abduction of children; 6) Denial of humanitarian access to children.
Bearing in mind each state’s responsibility to protect children from such grave violations in contexts of conflict, Italy presented an “open pledge” on the occasion of the 33rd Conference of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent (Geneva, 9-12 December 2019), to guarantee the safety and rights of children in armed conflict and post-conflict scenarios.
While notable progress has been achieved in the past three decades to safeguard children’s rights in the context of armed conflict, considerable challenges remain. According to the latest report submitted to the General Assembly pursuant to Resolution 74/133 on The Rights of the Child (https://bit.ly/3etoZaP), in 2019 alone, about 25,000 children were involved in armed conflicts, many of which were victims of the six grave violations identified by the United Nations.
Furthermore, COVID-19 has led to an exacerbation of children’s exposure in armed conflicts to different forms of violence, as well as further hindering their right to education and to physical and mental health.
This event stipulates an opportunity to increase cooperation between leaders of international human right institutions and ambassadors across the Mediterranean region, in order to reach long-lasting results for the protection of children’s rights, both during and after conflicts, breaking the cycle of violence affecting children.
Opening Remarks and chair
Laura Guercio, Universities Network for Promotion the Rights of Children in Armed Conflicts
Marina Sereni, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Italy
Virginia Gamba, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict
Inger Ashing, CEO, Save the Children International
Veronique Aubert, Co-Chair, Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack (GCPEA)
Fausto Pocar, Honorary President, International Institute of Humanitarian Law
Francesco Rocca, President of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent