Friday 14 October 2011
Statement by H.E. Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See, before the Third Committee of the 66th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Item 65 (a, b): "Promotion and protection of the rights of children", 14 October 2011
Statement by H.E. Archbishop Francis ChullikattApostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See66th session of the United Nations General Assembly Before the Third Committeeon Item 65 (a, b):Promotion and protection of the rights of childrenNew York, 14 October 2011Mr. Chairman,Over the years the international community has made significant strides in the promotion and protection of the rights of children. Yet a great deal more needs to be done to end violence against children so that each and every child can be born and grow up in a healthy, family environment with the basic necessities of life.Mr. Chairman,Tragically, in the world today many children and adolescents continue to be the victims of grave violations around the globe especially in situations of conflict. Moreover, the changing nature of conflict adds to the seriousness of the concern.The Report of the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict (A/66/256) has drawn attention to the fact that over the course of this past year an increasing number of children are used by armed groups for the purpose of carrying or even wearing explosives, that children are at greater risk during the course of military operations because of new instruments of war and the absence of clear battlefields and identifiable opponents and that an increasing number of children are arrested and detained for alleged association with armed groups,  at times being kept in conditions which do not meet the minimum standards set out in international legal instruments.Mr. Chairman,Member States must work to strengthen policies and practices that ensure the prevention of violations against and abuse of all children; that end impunity and prosecute and punish those who commit grave violations against children during armed conflict; that adopt and implement tactical directives and standard operating procedures to minimize civilian casualties and destruction of civilian installations; that apply standards of juvenile justice and safeguards of due process when bringing children to trial,  that avoid prolonged administrative or pretrial detention of children, and that introduce non-judicial, restorative accountability mechanisms that take the best interests of  children into consideration and promote their reintegration into their families and communities.On this occasion my delegation reaffirms the importance of universal ratification of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which can go a long way toward ending the victimization of children and the impunity of perpetrators of such crimes against them.Given the often forced nature of the association of children with armed groups, my delegation looks forward to the working paper which the Office of the Special Representative is finalizing to explore the issue of the responsibility and accountability of children who have committed criminal acts during armed conflict and the alternatives that can be used to assist them in reintegrating into the community and society. In this regard, my delegation stresses first and foremost that children should be treated primarily as victims, not as perpetrators.Mr. Chairman,Another area of serious concern in the world today regards the continued tragedy of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. My delegation takes this opportunity to reaffirm that Member States must take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form so as to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse (cf., Convention on the Rights of the Child, Articles 34-36). In this regard, my delegation also calls for universal ratification of the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography as a concrete step for the protection of children everywhere.Mr. Chairman,The Report of the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (A/66/228) has pointed out that prevention is one of the main ways to safeguard children and combat all forms of violence perpetrated against them, including exploitation.Because of the multifaceted complexity of the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, preventing the victimization of children requires the adoption of effective preventive measures that are developed in the framework of a comprehensive child rights system and involve all relevant stakeholders, including children, their parents,  family and community.Mr. Chairman,With regard to the guiding principles for prevention enumerated by the Special Rapporteur, my delegation strongly agrees that preventive measures should form the core component of national child protection systems and should be anchored in child rights laws and policies.My delegation agrees that preventive measures should address critical socio-economic factors by ensuring that all children are immediately registered for free at birth; that food, housing, education and health care are provided for children at risk and their families; that mothers are provided with support, offering alternative care services and assistance within child protection systems, and that all preventive measures are known, available and accessible to the most vulnerable and marginalized children.Education and awareness-raising are important elements of preventive measures. In this regard, parents and the family play an essential role, for it is from their parents and within the family where children first learn ethical values. The school has an important role to play as well. In this regard, my delegation cannot stress enough the essential,  indispensible and primary role of parents regarding the education of the children, including in the area of human sexuality. States have a solemn responsibility and obligation to respect and protect this important role of parents (cf. CRC, Articles 3, 5, 14, 18) so that children can develop and mature in a healthy environment, being formed with a profound respect for themselves and for others, and can be protected from the increasing challenges and threats to their overall wellbeing.    Children, before and after birth, must always be provided by States with that special protection and care to enable them to develop physically, mentally, spiritually and socially in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity (cf., Declaration of the Rights of the Child, Principle 2). Through the development of sound laws and policies, States can make  even greater strides in fostering the protection and promotion of the rights of all children everywhere.Mr. Chairman,With violence continuing to compromise the rights of millions of children throughout the world, States have an ongoing solemn responsibility to protect those who are among the most vulnerable in society. With concerted efforts being made at all levels, governments can make significant progress in moving toward a day when the rights of all children everywhere will be fully protected.Thank you, Mr. Chairman.