Statement of Ambassador Dr. Riyad Mansour, Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine to the United Nations, before the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict, 9 July 2018

Mr. President,

I express our appreciation to Sweden for convening this important debate, in line with its principled defense of international law and the protection it avails, especially those most vulnerable, including refugees and migrants, among them children.

I thank the Secretary-General for his report on children and armed conflict, and also thank the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, the Executive Director of UNICEF and the civil society representative for their briefings.

Since the Second World War, the protection of civilians has been considered an utmost priority, with various political commitments made and legal instruments adopted to ensure protection. It is thus difficult to explain the gap that persists more than 70 years later between the clear legal obligations of States as per those instruments and the failure to ensure accountability, which continues to render civilians, including children, extremely vulnerable in situations of armed conflict around the world.

As highlighted by the Secretary-General and the Presidency’s concept note, prevention, protection and accountability are indispensable for saving future generations from the scourge of war. The State of Palestine stresses the need to ensure respect for international humanitarian law, notably the principles of protection, precaution, distinction and proportionality, as well as for human rights and refugee law, as central to the protection of children and all civilians in armed conflict, including those suffering under foreign occupation. We must also underline the importance of international criminal law for holding perpetrators of crimes accountable, providing justice to victims and preventing recurrence of crimes.

Having acceded to the core human rights and IHL conventions and the ICC, the State of Palestine of course also acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Moreover, it has endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration and supports the joint statement made today in this regard. The State of Palestine calls for universal acceptance of all relevant legal instruments and for practical commitments to ensure their full implementation.

Children must be protected from killing and maiming, recruitment, arrest, detention and ill treatment. Deliberate attacks on schools and closures of educational institutions, as well as denial of humanitarian access, must cease. The children of Palestine have been suffering all of these ills for decades, enduring a striking deficit of protection, despite the laws intended to protect all children and despite our repeated calls for protection of the Palestinian civilian population, whose rights are being so grossly violated by the illegal Israeli occupation.

The intentional targeting by Israeli occupying forces of peaceful protesters in the Gaza Strip, including children, killing them or seriously injuring them, the forcible transfer of civilians in Abu Nuwar and Khan Al-Ahmar, affecting most of all Palestinian children, are only the most recent examples in this regard.  Here, we express our hope that the upcoming report of the Secretary-General, pursuant to the General Assembly resolution on “Protection of the Palestinian civilian population”, will include practical recommendations to ensure protection to our people, including children.

Palestine reiterates that all these well-documented Israeli violations and crimes, including as reflected in consecutive reports of the Secretary-General, plead clearly, according to the established criteria, for the inclusion of Israel and its settlers on the list of parties that commit grave violations affecting children in situations of armed conflict. The absence of such inclusion deeply affects the credibility of the list, and makes it vulnerable to criticism of politicization.

Moreover, we repeat our call on the international community to uphold its responsibilities and enforce international law to bring Israel’s violations and occupation to an end in order to advance peace. In this regard, the Secretary-General’s report should have specifically referred to Israel’s prolonged military and colonial occupation, as well as to the ongoing Israeli blockade over the Gaza Strip as underpinning widespread and systematic violations of the UN Charter, IHL and Human rights, including the rules aimed at protecting children. The absence of such explicit reference fails to reflect the reality on the ground and undermines efforts to address the root causes of the conflict and ongoing mass violations of the rights of the Palestinian people.

We do, however, fully recognize the critical role played in Palestine by the UN, its agencies, programmes and funds, including in regards to the protection of children, and extend our appreciation, particularly to UNRWA as it is undergoing one of the most severe crisis in its history, appealing again for urgent support to Agency to continue fulfilling its vital mandate, including for the provision of education, which all agree is central to ensuring the protection, well-being and development of children.

In conclusion, as the situation in Palestine painfully demonstrates the consequences of absence of prevention, protection and accountability, we must stress once more that only ending impunity for violations and crimes against children can preserve their lives, their rights and the future they embody.


Thank you Mr. President.