Politics 14:55 06/07/2023 Armenia

UN has distinct responsibility to protect children in Artsakh, Armenian envoy says

The United Nations has a distinct responsibility to prevent grave violations and to safeguard the physical security of children in all parts of the world, including in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh), Armenia’s Permanent Representative to the UN Mher Margaryan said in his remarks at the UN Security Council open debate on "Children and Armed Conflict" held on Wednesday. His full statement is provided below.

"Mr. President,

We thank the Presidency of the United Kingdom for convening the open debate on the theme of children and armed conflict. We appreciate the comprehensive presentations of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Virginia Gamba, the Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF and civil society briefer.

Armenia emphasizes the critical importance of upholding the goals, objectives and principles enshrined in the Safe School declaration, the Paris Principles and the Vancouver Principles to promote and protect the rights of all children, in particular, those residing in conflict areas, and to prevent grave violations of children’s rights.

The Secretary-General’s report on “Children and armed conflict” reveals a growing number of challenges faced by children, as multidimensional conflicts, including across regions, continued to have an adverse impact on the lives of civilians for the reporting period of 2022. The report demonstrates that the monitoring and verification of grave violations remains extremely challenging, including owing to access constraints, which results in the underreporting of such violations.

Underreporting is a major challenge that can lead to bias and inadequate response, enabling the perpetration of further violations, including in our own region. In September 2022, Azerbaijan conducted an armed attack against the territorial integrity of Armenia, exposing a number of villages and towns deep inside Armenia to massive shelling by heavy artillery and UAVs. Azerbaijan’s premediated criminal actions violated the right to education of 25,000 children from the Gegharkunik, Vayots Dzor and Syunik provinces.

In Nagorno-Karabakh, since 12 December 2022, the civilian population have become victim of an inhumane blockade by Azerbaijan, the imposition of which has severely affected the rights and livelihoods of those most vulnerable, the children. As we speak, the ongoing blockade of the Lachin Corridor, in violation of the existing legal obligations and the order of International Court of Justice, continues to endanger the lives of innocent people in Nagorno-Karabakh.

For almost 7 months, families with children have been suffering from critical shortages of essential goods, including food, fuel and medical supplies. The humanitarian situation is further exacerbated by complete disruption of gas and electricity. 118 schools had to suspend their activities due to weather conditions, depriving 20,000 children of their right to education, including early education, with pre-schools no longer operational due to food insecurities, affecting more than 6,800 children. Provision of health services has been severely disrupted, with acute lack of antibiotics and other types of medications leaving children susceptible to otherwise easily treatable diseases, while hundreds of newborns are experiencing nutritional problems exacerbated by the ongoing shortage of infant formula.

On 22 February, the International Court of Justice issued an Order on the indication of a provisional measure demanding that Azerbaijan “shall take all measures at its disposal to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin corridor in both directions”. To this date, Azerbaijan has failed to ensure compliance with the legally binding Order of the Court.

Mr. President,

Azerbaijan’s denial of safe and unimpeded humanitarian access of the UN agencies to Nagorno-Karabakh undermines comprehensive assessment of the humanitarian, protection, early recovery needs and human rights situation of the population, to ensure the protection of the rights of children and their access to inclusive and quality education, healthcare and social services.

As the leading advocate of the United Nations for the protection of children affected by armed conflict, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General has a central role to play in raising awareness on the need to increase efforts to protect children, whose inalienable rights are under brutal attack. The intentional disruption of the Lachin Corridor, which has left 30,000 children and their families besieged, constitutes a violation of a massive scope and gravity, and we call on the Special Representative to use her important mandate to monitor the situation and to take efforts for humanitarian access in order to avoid further deterioration of the conditions affecting the lives of the children in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The United Nations and its humanitarian arm (OCHA), as well as the SRSG for children and armed conflict and this very Council have a distinct responsibility to prevent grave violations and to safeguard the physical security of children, whose rights and safety must be respected and protected at all times, in all parts of the world, including in Nagorno-Karabakh.

I thank you."

Source Panorama.am
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