Perpetrators of grave violations against children should be held accountable, a Chinese envoy said on Tuesday, while calling on the international community to leave no gaps in child protection.
Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the United Nations, made the remarks as he was speaking at a UN Security Council open debate on children and armed conflict.
Citing the "heartbreaking realities" in the UN secretary-general's annual report on children and armed conflict of 2021, Zhang said the fact that young lives were subjected to repeated merciless pains questions the international community's moral conscience and its ability to protect the next generation.
The best way to protect children is to put an end to conflict, he said, noting that the Security Council should strive for cessation of hostilities, work for political solutions, and draw the line when it comes to violence against children and absolutely not allow violent conflict to trample upon children's fundamental rights.
"We must put an end to egregious violations against children," Zhang said. "The international community should leave no gaps in child protection. The country that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child should take immediate action. Perpetrators of grave violations against children should be held accountable."
According to recent media reports, from 2010 to 2011, foreign special forces in Afghanistan had killed civilians indiscriminately, and had gone so far as to carry out killing contests, and some of the victims have been children.
Zhang stressed that such atrocities are shocking and "the perpetrators should and must be severely punished."
It is also disconcerting that in the refugee detention centers on the border of certain country, tens of thousands of refugee children are forced to endure rampant disease, unclean food, and forced separation from their parents. Some of the refugee children have been deported and forced to survive in the midst of violence, poverty and displacement, he said.
All children should be given protection without discrimination, he stated.
"Children associated with ISIS in Iraq and Syria are all victims. We echo the secretary-general's appeal that these children be granted the right to voluntary repatriation," he said.
Zhang pointed out that amid a global food, energy and financial crisis, children in conflict need help more than ever.
Cuts in development aid are tantamount to weakening the protection of children. In Afghanistan, poverty is spreading, hunger is raging, and children are falling into victims. In this difficult times, an individual country's freezing and misappropriation of Afghanistan's overseas assets is depriving Afghanistan children of the hope of survival, he said.
"The reckless imposition of unilateral coercive measures is making children and other most vulnerable groups paying the heaviest price. Such practices should be reversed," he said.
The UN secretary-general's annual report and its listing and de-listing mechanism are indicative of the state of child protection in conflict stricken areas and countries.
"Clear, consistent, and measurable listing criteria should be established. The Security Council working group should adopt the same frequency of deliberations of every country situation on its agenda and the same cycle of issuing country-specific conclusions, and avoid selective attention based on political positions," Zhang said.
He cautioned that if the international community chooses to continue to disregard the legitimate rights of Palestinian and Haitian children, more tragedies may be witnessed before belated justice can be returned to them.