Call for Increased Integration of Child Protection in Efforts to Prevent and End Conflicts - SRSG Maalla M'jid briefing to the United Nations Security Council

New York, 13 February 2023– The importance of incorporating child protection considerations into efforts to prevent and end conflicts is at the heart of a United Nations Security Council briefing today, under the Presidency of Malta. 

The briefing comes as the year 2023 marks five years since the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution 2427, which calls upon the international community to integrate child protection in all relevant activities in conflict prevention, conflict and post-conflict situations with the aim of sustaining peace and preventing conflict.

Among the briefers, Security Council members heard the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, as well as Divina, an 18-year-old activist from Cameroon who founded the non-governmental organization “Children for Peace” and presented the views of youth and civil society, including the key role children can play in peacebuilding and the prevention of grave violations which requires an increased involvement of children in decision making.

Addressing the Security Council the Permanent Representative of Malta, H.E. Vanessa Frazier noted that, “Engaging children’s participation in identifying pre-existing risks and vulnerabilities leading to grave violations is an important principle. Their perspectives are crucial for improving understanding about the context in which violations occur, and the impact of conflict and peace processes on them.”

When adopted in July 2018, Resolution 2427 enjoyed a high number of co-sponsors (over 80 governments), emphasizing the common will of the international community to increase focus on prevention rather than only protection and response to conflicts as part of child protection efforts. Focusing on prevention further allows for increased engagement with parties to conflict upstream and for emerging crises to be added promptly as situations of concern to the children and armed conflict agenda, allowing it to act as an early warning tool.

“We have seen progress in the prevention of grave violations against children since the adoption of Resolution 2427 in 2018, including through the development of tools such as the Practical Guidance for Mediators to Protect Children in Situations of Armed Conflict. But efforts must continue, and the children and armed conflict agenda can be used as a positive traction for peace development, addressing root causes of conflict and prevention efforts, including at subregional and regional levels,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba.

Briefers further emphasized that effective prevention requires a strategic, collaborative, and proactive approach at all levels – global, subregional, regional, national, and community levels – to ensure that all the risks and vulnerabilities created by violence and its continuum are addressed and for developing efficient and customized protection strategies for every conflict-affected child. As such, the inclusion of children’s voices in identifying preexisting risks and vulnerabilities leading to grave violations was also stressed during the briefing.  

Prevention of the six grave violations and their interlinked forms of violence is only possible across the conflict continuum  with: early identification of vulnerabilities, access to humanitarian support for all children without discrimination and their participation as actors of change.

“I am confident, as demonstrated by today’s briefing, that you all feel the urgency of addressing the risks and the impact of this continuum of violence prior, during and after conflict, which is the door for prevention. Children who have no role in conflict suffer the most from its consequences. But this is not inevitable. Only through investment in integrated national children protection systems we can ensure effective proactive prevention measures. And children affected by conflict are already taking actions providing peer support, promoting peace and reconciliation and preventing radicalization” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid. 

The briefing further gives an opportunity to Council Members to propose concrete solutions based on best practices on how to better use early warning indicators of the emerging violence against children as these can impact international peace and stability. 

A summary of the briefing will be produced including possible best practices and recommendations.