To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, with reference to 2019 Unicef data recording more than 170,000 grave violations against children in war zones since 2010, what steps his Department is taking in co-operation with other countries to improve children’s safety in those areas.
The UK is firmly committed to protecting children in armed conflict. We use our membership as a UN Security Council Permanent Member to prioritise conflict-related child protection issues in Council discussions and ensure that UN operations have the capacity and capability to address them. The UK is the largest single financial contributor to the Office of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Children and Armed Conflict, contributing £800,000 in the last five years. The office works with parties to conflict that are committing grave violations to develop and implement action plans with the UN to (1) verify and release any child soldiers associated with armed groups and forces, (2) prevent re-recruitment and (3) the perpetration of other grave violations. The UK increased our funding for the 2019/20 financial year by a further £450,000 to the SRSG's core mandate and £50,000 for activities relating to the SRSG's Global Coalition for Reintegration.
In 2018, the UK endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration and the Vancouver Principles, both key mechanisms for preventing grave violations against children. We collaborated with Sweden and others to agree Resolution 2427, adopted by the UN Security Council in July 2018, to strengthen protection mechanisms for children in armed conflict. We delivered a joint statement to the Human Rights Council in March 2019, reiterating our strong support for the mandate of the SRSG for Children And Armed Conflict, and called upon States to increase accountability for perpetrators of all six grave violations. Last year, the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UK signed up to the UN Voluntary Global Pledge – for Every Child, Every Right, which called for Member States to reaffirm their commitment to upholding and protecting child rights in the 21st century, and promoted children's perspectives in the development and assessment of strategies and programmes designed to realise their rights.