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Interactive Dialogue with the Special Representative of the
Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
Statement by Australia
13 September 2011
Australia welcomes the report of Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict. Australia welcomes for this opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to a strong and effective international framework to protect the rights and address the situation of children in armed conflict. Australia strongly supports the work of the Human Rights Council in prioritising and defending the rights of children affected by armed conflict. Australia also strongly supports the independence of the Special Representative and the continuation of her mandate.
We welcome the advancements and improvements on the situation of children in armed conflict made in the past year, including progress on the ratification of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
We share the concern of the Special Representative that children continue to be disproportionately affected by armed conflict and have their basic rights violated. This situation is unacceptable. We also share the concern of the Special Representative that the changing nature of armed conflict around the world is creating new challenges for the protection of children.
We are alarmed by the Special Representative’s report that children are increasingly being used as human shields and for intelligence purposes, and that, during armed conflict, children are disproportionately affected by targeted attacks on schools and hospitals.
Australia welcomes Security Council measures to increase the accountability of perpetrators of grave violations committed against children in armed conflict, including the expansion of criteria for the naming of parties in the Secretary-General’s reports on children in armed conflict and increasing consideration by Security Council sanctions committees of perpetrators of grave violations against children.
The promotion of human rights, including the rights of children, is one of the ten development objectives of the Australian Aid Program. A key focus of the aid program is to address the political, social and economic factors that contribute to the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict.
Australia is a strong supporter of specific initiatives that protect the rights and address the situation of children in armed conflict. For example, Australia supports the work of MRM (Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism) globally, which has assisted MRM activities in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, the Palestinian Territories, Philippines and Yemen, and the work of Watchlist to build the capacity of NGO partners to conduct effective monitoring, reporting and response activities on violations against children. We also support the work of Save the Children to respond to the rehabilitation and reintegration needs of former child soldiers in Nepal.