Statements

Thursday 14 October 2010
Statement by H.E. Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, before the Third Committee of the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly on item 64: Promotion and protection of the rights of children, New York, 14 October 2010
Statement by H.E. Archbishop Francis ChullikattApostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See 65th session of theUnited Nations General Assembly Before the Third Committee, on item 64:Promotion and protection of the rights of childrenNew York, 14 October 2010 Mr. Chairman, In marking the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, my delegation takes this opportunity to affirm the value of these Protocols as instruments for preserving the posterity of the human race: children.While no international legal instrument is perfect, the Protocols serve to strengthen further the implementation of the rights of children affirmed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in order to bolster the protection of children and young adolescents below 19 years of age throughout the globe. For this reason, my delegation encourages all States that have not yet done so to join in promoting the legal protection of children and young adolescents by ratifying or acceding to the Optional Protocols and calls for a correct application of these legal instruments which entails respect for the inherent right to life of all children.Mr. Chairman,In the world today children and young adolescents continue to be the victims of grave violations in situations of conflict around the globe and it is deplorable that the climate of impunity with respect to perpetrators seems to increase. The recent report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (A/65/219) highlights the fact that children and young adolescents have become more vulnerable in those situations where new tactics of war are being implemented. This has been called one of the worst kinds of slavery, yet it continues to this day: children - at a tender age when they should be learning how to love and respect their neighbours - are being used as soldiers. Their estimated number runs as high as 250,000 worldwide. These children and young adolescents are forced to kill their neighbors, sometimes even their parents, siblings and friends. This is despicable, but this is also preventable.Some of these deplorable practices include: putting children and young adolescents in the direct line of danger through their use for intelligence-gathering in military operations and for abominable terrorist attacks; the detention of children and young adolescents for alleged association with armed groups or other threats to security, in contravention of international standards for juvenile justice; deliberate attacks against and destruction of educational facilities; the targeting of schoolchildren and adolescents, even for their religious belief; and sexual violence against children and adolescents in situations of conflict. These and other heinous activities point to the need for all parties concerned to make concrete protection commitments and action plans to address such grave violations against the lives of children and adolescents. States need to facilitate necessary dialogue between appropriate parties so that these shocking crimes will cease forever. The international community owes this to all children and young people who suffer such violations of their dignity.The Catholic Church has been a constant partner of the United Nations in combating the use of children as combatants around the world, and through its various structures operating in many conflict zones, she is actively engaged in taking care of the victims of such violence. In 2009 the Holy See along with the community of Sant’Egidio and Caritas Internationalis and other Catholic humanitarian and education organizations hosted an event with Secretary General’s Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict in order to highlight the work Catholic institutions are doing and exchange best practices to address the ongoing scourge of children in armed conflict. At that time Pope Benedict XVI expressed his "deep appreciation" for their commitment to end this horrific crime and their help that has assisted these children return to normal life. He said: "I think of all the children of the world, in particular those who are exposed to fear, abandonment, hunger, abuse, illness, death …"My delegation takes this opportunity to commend the leadership and activities of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.Mr. Chairman,In recent years numerous national, regional and international initiatives have achieved some success in preventing and combating other violations of the dignity of children. Such regional and international efforts demonstrate how concerted commitment for the wellbeing of children can bring about positive results. The Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children points out in her report (A/65/262) the importance of Governments adopting comprehensive strategies on violence prevention and response, enacting strong and effective legislation and facilitating the collection of accurate data and evidence to understand risk factors and inform policy decisions. Regarding the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, the Special Rapporteur also called for an integrated approach by Governments in which laws, policies and services guarantee the protection of child victims and children at risk (A/65/221). Such commitments, as long as they fully respect the best interest of the child and respect for the rights and duties of parents (cf., Convention on the Rights of the Child, Art. 3), can go a long way in reducing and ending violence against children and young adolescents.Mention of the best interest of the child and the role of parents provides my delegation with the opportunity to encourage Governments to affirm and support the family which is where children develop their potential, become aware of their dignity and prepare themselves for the future. Governments have a responsibility to promote and protect the family, which international instruments have consistently affirmed as the basic cell or unit of society and the foundation of society, and to take concrete steps to support parents in their proper role of raising their children.Mr. Chairman,Violence in its many forms affects the life of millions of children and adolescents around the world and has serious, lifelong health impacts on their lives. In a world which for millions of children is marked by the harsh reality of violence, my delegation takes this opportunity to encourage all States to work together, in productive partnership, to bring an end to all forms of violence against children.In this regard, we should not forget the need to provide a word of hope and encouragement to those children and young people whose innocence and human dignity have been wounded by the cruelty of the world of adults. All States, UN agencies, civil society and faith-based interreligious institutions should work together in a more effective partnership to ensure love, care and assistance to those affected by violence and abuse and work to foster a world of hope where these children can pursue their dreams and aspirations of a future free of violence and bloodshed.Over fifty years ago in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child the General Assembly proclaimed that “The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity”. This retains as great importance now as it did then and points to the responsibility of the entire international community to continue its essential work of promoting the dignity and wellbeing of all children and adolescents everywhere. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.