Statement by H.E. Rabab Fatima, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the United Nations at the UN Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict on 23 June 2020, New York

Mr. President,

I thank you for organizing this virtual Open Debate. We also thank SRSG Ms. Gamba, UNICEF ED Ms. Fore and other briefers for sharing their valuable insights.

We appreciate the efforts of the Council’s Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) and Working Group on CAAC. Participation of children and dialogue with parties to the conflict throughout the conflict cycle hold the key. Reintegration and curbing recruitment can only be sustainable through building social acceptance and awareness and in the broader context of conflict prevention and development. The Security Council should be able to utilize their political outreach vehicles such as PBC, SPMs to create space for MRM to maneuver better. UN system-wide efforts need to be backed by adequate and sustained funding and break the silos across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus. When schools are too dangerous to attend, some innovative, alternative education arrangements such as community-based learning or virtual schooling would be useful. This cannot be more relevant than during this pandemic.

Our peacekeepers in the field are working hard to prevent recruitment of children by parties to conflicts and keeping schools out of harm’s way of military use. As the current President of the Executive Board of the UNICEF, we are also working closely with UNICEF leadership, particularly Ms. Fore, to overcome key challenges to protecting children in armed conflicts. We believe UNICEF can further leverage its comparative advantage of widespread field presence and vast network of partners.

 Mr. President,

We have taken note of the Secretary General’s latest report and its recommendations. The report highlights the grim realities about violations of child rights and protection in many parts of the world. We would like to draw attention of the Council to the Myanmar Chapter which reports “a threefold increase of child casualties” due to intensified fighting in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Notably, 25% of those casualties were caused by explosive remnants of war, improvised explosive devices, and anti-personnel mines. This only signifies Myanmar’s blatant disregard to international humanitarian law and human rights law.

We cannot agree more with the report’s inclusion of Tatmadaw in the list under Section-A. Out of the 1.1 million Rohingyas we are hosting, about 60% are children, and each of them has a story to tell, and there cannot be a stronger proof of Tatmadaw’s wrongdoing. We are, however, dismayed and concerned that Tatmadaw has been delisted as an entity from the category of ‘violation of recruitment and use’. In our views, it can at best be an illusion that Tatmadaw’s violations in this regard have subsided in Rakhine state. Recent reports point to the contrary. It is imperative that the pressure be kept on them. Delisting sends a wrong message. We, therefore, urge to re-list Tatmadaw immediately. We must be extremely careful that our actions are not used to hide or downplay Tatmadaw’s serious crimes or exculpate them from the responsibility of justice and accountability for the Rohingya children.

Meanwhile, along with our humanitarian partners, we have continued our efforts to provide these Rohingya children the protection and assistance they need particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have partnered with UNICEF to introduce the Myanmar curriculum for Rohingya children in the camps. But more than anything else, these children would like to realize their inalienable right to return to their homes. We urge the Council to decisively act in that direction. The international community must not fail them.

I thank you.