Open debate on Children and Armed Conflict
(New York, July 17, 2008)
Statement by Ambassador Claudia Blum, Permanent Representative of Colombia
I would like to join the previous speakers in thanking the delegation of Viet Nam for their initiative to convene this debate, as well as for the preparation of the document previously circulated as a contribution to the discussion. I would also like to congratulate His Excellency the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Viet Nam, Mr. Pham Gia Khem, for his work as President of this session.
The open debate format for the briefing on the annual report of the President of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict is very appropriate. It provides an opportunity to express points of view concerning the work of this group, as well as its contributions to the Security Council and other organs of the United Nations System.
The protection of children and the promotion of their rights are priorities for my country. Colombia has ratified the international instruments aimed at putting an end to the recruitment of minors. Also, our legislation establishes obligations for the protection against illicit recruitment of children, and adolescents. We, therefore, accompany all efforts that contribute to that purpose.
The Security Council Working Group has adopted important guidelines to conduct its work, among them, the Terms of Reference and the Toolkit. My Delegation wishes to underline how important it is that these guides and modalities continue to be implemented according to Resolution 1612.
The Security Council established essential principles for the implementation of this resolution. One of them is the priority that it assigns to the situations on the agenda of the Security Council and the different treatment given to situations included in Annex II of the Report of the Secretary General.
A second aspect is that it recognizes the primary role of national governments in the protection of children affected by conflicts. Also, the duty of the United Nations entities to cooperate with governments.
The Council established as well, the principles that govern the management of information in the implementation of the resolution. In addition to being objective, accurate, and reliable, information should be thoroughly verified in close consultation with the governments concerned.
My delegation has taken note with interest of the suggestions contained in the document circulated by the Presidency. Of particular interest is the suggested approach on the protection of children, both from a human rights perspective, and with a focus based on development.
The commitment of my country to fully guarantee the rights of children and all nationals, is part of a Government program based on three pillars. Security based on democracy, investment based on social responsibility, and social cohesion based on prosperity and freedoms.
The democratic security policy, which has allowed to restore security in the territory, guaranteeing the viability of democracy, and the strengthening of the legitimacy of the rule of law, is a fundamental base to strengthen the programs of prevention of recruitment of children and adolescents, and to reinforce the protection of children affected by the actions of illegal armed groups. We have arrived at this stage through the recuperation of the monopoly of the legitimate use of force by the State to confront these groups. Our citizens have lent their trust to these policies, which allows furthering this process in a sustained manner, through the strengthening of investment and social cohesion.
The strategy of the Colombian State concerning children and armed conflict has components of prevention of recruitment, as well as of protection, recuperation, and reintegration. Since 1999 the Colombian Institute for Family Welfare has provided assistance to more than 3.600 children and adolescents who have been separated from illegal armed groups, the resources of the national budget for this program, for the period 2002-2007, were over 14 million US dollars.
The Colombian Institute for Family Welfare promotes the inclusion of concrete actions for the assistance and protection of children and adolescents at the regional levels, within the plans for development prepared by the offices of mayors and governors.
The Office of the Counselor for Women's Equality has integrated the gender perspective in the public policy implemented by the Office of the High Counselor for Social Reintegration, aiming at providing solutions to the impact of recruitment on children separated from illegal groups. Through this social incorporation focus, children and adolescents are supported in gaining back their self-esteem, participation, education, income generation activities, reconstruction of family ties, and health.
As programs are implemented, they generate the need to deploy further coordination and allocation of resources efforts. Especially in the field of training and education of human resources. International cooperation can play a significant role to complement those efforts.
In addition, since the creation of the Intersectorial Commission for the Prevention of the Recruitment and Use of Children, Adolescents and Young Persons, an important effort of diagnose and sensitization at the institutional level is carried out. Several factors that feed the problem have been effectively neutralized. This has entailed an enormous challenge to the country.
It is in this perspective that I would like to reiterate, once again, the resolute willingness of the Government of Colombia to continue to advance in the protection of children affected by the actions of illegal armed groups, strengthen the policies of prevention in this area, and channel with this purpose, the international cooperation efforts.
Thank you very much, Mr. President.