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      Press Release No: UNIS/DSG/41
    Release Date: 28 July 2000
     Deputy Secretary-General, Addressing Security Council Debate on Children
    In Armed Conflict, Calls Plight of War-affected Children Unacceptable

    NEW YORK, 27 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of Deputy Secretary-General Louise Fréchette's opening remarks, delivered yesterday, to the Security Council debate on children and armed conflict:

    Let me first thank you, Madam President, for convening this open debate of the Security Council on children and armed conflict.  

    The problem which brings us here today is one of the most disturbing human security issues facing the international community.  It is also a great challenge to the United Nations, one which is close to the heart of the Secretary-General.  He therefore deeply regrets being unable to attend this important debate which he intended to open personally, and he has asked me to convey his appreciation and full support for this timely initiative.

    Almost a year ago, the Security Council adopted resolution 1261, which places the issue of children and armed conflict on the peace and security agenda.  This resolution has strengthened the advocacy work of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and of the United Nations Childrens' Fund (UNICEF).  It has also enhanced the United Nations ability to implement programmes on the ground in affected countries.  

    It is time to reflect on the progress we have made and to examine how best to move forward with the protection of children in war-torn nations.  

    The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which focuses on the involvement of children in armed conflict, has finally been adopted and is now open for signature and ratification by Member States.  Child protection advisers are deployed in Sierra Leone and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Despite these positive developments, the task ahead is still enormous.  Children in many corners of the world -- in Sierra Leone, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Angola, in Sri Lanka or in East Timor, to name but a few -- continue to be killed, maimed, sexually abused, recruited into armed forces and deprived of life-saving humanitarian assistance. 

    The Secretary-General's report, which you are about to consider, contains a comprehensive review of issues related to the protection of the rights of children affected by armed conflicts, and a series of specific and targeted recommendations for action.  Olara Otunnu and Carol Bellamy -- who, between them, spearhead the work of the United Nations system in protecting children in conflict -- will brief you in much greater detail.    

    The abuse of children in armed conflict -- as everywhere -- is unacceptable.  We can and we must do much more to make our world safer for all of them.  

    I am confident that today's debate on this most pressing issue will be fruitful and that you will show the necessary political leadership in the fight against those who exploit children.  This is a cause which concerns all of us, for children represent the hope and the future of our world.

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