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      Press Release No: UNIS/SC/1247 
    Release Date: 27 July 2000
     Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Urges Security Council
    To Implement Specific Measures to Protect War-affected Children

     NEW YORK, 26 July (Office of the Special Representative) -- The Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, has urged the international community to implement a series of specific measures to put pressure on warring parties who abuse children.  The measures included a legal ban on exports of natural resources by warring parties, the exclusion of crimes against children from amnesty agreements and greater support for the world’s internally displaced.

     “The Security Council and other key actors can make a big difference by using their collective weight and influence to lean on parties in conflict”, Mr. Otunnu said.  “In today’s world, no party in conflict is an island unto itself.  The international community should make any assistance to parties in conflict -– be it political, financial, material or military -– contingent on observing standards for protection of children.”

     Mr. Otunnu was addressing an open meeting of the United Nations Security Council, introducing the first report by Secretary-General Kofi Annan on the impact of conflict on children.  The report outlined a number of recommendations to the Security Council.

     “In the context of peace processes, the international community should exclude grave crimes against children from amnesty provisions and legislation and cooperate in the investigation and prosecution of individuals accused of these crimes”, said Mr. Otunnu.

     Mr. Otunnu called on the international corporate sector to develop voluntary codes of conduct regarding illicit trade with warring parties.  He urged Member States to consider executive and legislative measures to discourage corporate actors within their jurisdiction from engaging in commercial activities with parties to armed conflict who are in systematic violation of international standards concerning the protection of children.

     “The Security Council should continue to investigate the linkages between such illicit trade and the war-machines in different parts of the world -– and to consider bans on the exports of natural resources such as gold, diamonds and timber that directly benefit those parties”, Mr. Otunnu added.

     The Special Representative said that, during his visits to war-affected countries, he had been deeply distressed by the conditions of internally displaced people, the vast majority of whom were women and children.

     “Surely the time has come”, he said, “for the international community to develop a more systematic response and framework for providing access, protection and practical support to such internally displaced persons.”

     The Special Representative added that young people had to be involved in activities for the protection of their peers, including programmes for reconciliation, peace consolidation and the establishment of children-to-children networks.  He said that the international community needed to do a lot more to fill gaps in its present mode of response, specifically for those who are particularly vulnerable in the midst and aftermath of conflicts:  girls and adolescents. 

     Mr. Otunnu paid particular tribute to the work of local people and local agencies, which he described as “the mainstay of our efforts on the ground”.  He described the role of international non-governmental organizations as “indispensable” and urged the Security Council to continue to engage non-governmental organizations in constructive dialogue and collaboration.  He appealed to the international community to help strengthen the “woefully thin” capacities of national institutions and local civil society organizations to ensure sustainable initiatives for the protection of children affected by armed conflict.

     In his speech, the Special Representative also drew attention to areas in which significant progress had been made, including a significant rise in the level of public awareness, the adoption of a child protection agenda by international bodies such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Group of Eight, the systematic incorporation of child protection concerns into United Nations peace operations and the placing of children’s concerns onto peace agendas in countries such as Sierra Leone, Colombia and Burundi.

     For more information, contact: Fergus Nicoll, Office of the Special Representative, New York (212) 963-8460; nicoll@un.org.

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