Statement Delivered by

His Excellency Dr Ali Naseer Mohamed, Permanent Representative

at the UNSC Open Debate on Children in Armed Conflict

31 October 2017


Thank you Madam President,

I wish to thank the delegation of France, this month’s President of the Security Council, for holding today’s open debate on children and armed conflict. There can be nothing more important and more urgent than holding discussions about, and providing solutions for, the problem of children in armed conflicts.

No child should fight a war, and no child should suffer from war. Anyone who recruits children to fight in conflicts should receive the harshest punishment under the law. The Maldives takes note of the very active role that the Council has played on the issue. In particular, we recognize the crucial role that the Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict can play in protecting the rights of children. Yet, on a daily basis, we witness that boys and girls are being tortured, imprisoned, starved, and sexually abused and killed in conflict situations. In some parts of the world, their homes and schools are destroyed and, in some instances, schools are used for military purposes, thereby depriving thousands of children of access to education.

The Council, in particular the Working Group, should remain most objective in collecting and analysing information about situations involving children in armed conflicts. It should also remain firm in taking action to bring an end to the vile activity of using children as soldiers or even as human shields in conflicts. One important way in which the Council can accelerate its efforts towards such an outcome could be to cultivate values of respect for children. Working with UNICEF and the United Nations Development Programme, the Council can encourage national Governments to take strong action to promote such values at the levels of the individual and society.

In the Maldives, protecting the rights of the child is among the top priority issues for the Government of President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Our actions are guided by the belief that children have a God-given right to be loved, cared for and protected from violence, abuse, neglect and maltreatment. The Maldives has undertaken a number of legislative measures, as well as policy initiatives, to strengthen the child-protection system. In recent months, the Maldives has established a child-protection database, which has strengthened referral mechanisms between the Ministry of Gender and Family and the Maldives police service for the easy exchange of information and, more importantly, to generate real-time disaggregated data.

In addition, the Ministry of Education has launched an information system to closely monitor school attendance, which also ensures that every child is enrolled in accordance with the Government’s no-child-left-behind policy. To further encourage the reporting of incidents of violence, the Government established a child-help line, which is a 24-hour toll-free centre, with a mobile reporting application, through which reports or complaints can be made anonymously. That should help to remove barriers hindering a child from seeking protection, despite our unique geography with a population dispersed across 188 islands. We have also established family- and children-services centres in each of the 19 atolls of the Maldives, which will further help to provide the urgent care needed by any victim.

As the Council is well aware, children and youth have become constant targets for recruitment into conflicts by violent extremist groups. The preferred instrument used for such recruitment is social media. Protecting children from social media assaults is another priority area in which my Government is taking strong measures. That is an area in which the Council can work more closely with the relevant United Nations agencies so as to enable Member States to design and implement policies that can protect children from cyber violence.

Protecting the right of children to live free of violence, abuse or conflict means protecting tomorrow—our shared future. The Maldives stands ready to play its part and to enable the Council to help shape the future of our children and their children through our shared solutions