Agenda Item 3, Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Representatives of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and Children and Armed Conflict
28th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
As Delivered by Kim D’Auria Vazira
March 11/12, 2015 / Geneva
The United States thanks Special Representatives Marta Santos Pais and Leila Zerrougui for their reports and remarks. Protecting children is a priority for our government, both domestically and abroad.
Violence Against Children
Special Representative Santo Pais’s report highlights that information and communication technologies, or ICTs, enrich the lives of children in multiple ways. However, it can also expose children to harmful material and lead them into violent situations. The balance, the Special Representative notes, is to ensure that children benefit from the potential offered by ICTs and are also protected from harm and violence. We agree, and believe that upholding freedom of expression is integral to achieving this balance. Freedom of expression on the Internet can help foster curiosity, creativity, and innovation among children.
Ms. Santo Pais’s report also discusses the UN Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Children in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice. The United States was pleased to join 43 other Member States as a co-sponsor of these strategies at last year’s Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice in Vienna. These strategies and measures provide a powerful tool to help states develop and implement the necessary legal and policy frameworks for preventing and responding to violence against children.
Criminal acts perpetrated against children or adults through ICTs must be prosecuted. The report on violence against children notes challenges that police and prosecutors face investigating and prosecuting crimes that are facilitated by the Internet. These challenges include the distribution of child pornography and the facilitation of human trafficking. In the Special Rapporteur’s experience, what are the best practices in investigations and prosecutions that can be shared?
Children and Armed Conflict
Special Representative Zerrougui’s report notes the challenges and grave concerns regarding killing, maiming, abduction, sexual abuse, and recruitment and use of children by armed forces or groups. These acts are tragic. The violence that is taking place in many of the countries we are focusing on in this Human Rights Council session – such as Syria, Central African Republic, Yemen, and South Sudan – is also being perpetrated against children. In many cases, state and non-state actors are both culpable.
The United States supports the Children, Not Soldiers campaign, which, one year ago, was launched jointly by the Special Representative and UNICEF. Children, Not Soldiers seeks to end the recruitment and use of children by certain government security forces by the end of 2016. We welcome the Special Representative’s work to develop action plans with state actors, which identify actions and measures to end and prevent violations and abuses against children. We are also interested in the progress the Special Representative is making with non-state armed groups.
Many states are committed to ensuring that children are not unlawfully recruited and used in their armed forces. However, due to factors such as limited birth registration and record keeping, it can be difficult to definitively establish a person’s age. How can states adequately use age verification procedures to prevent the unlawful recruitment and use of children in armed forces?