Zhang Jun (center front), Chinese Permanent Representative to the UN, addresses a Security Council meeting on children and armed conflict at the UN headquarters in New York, on August 2, 2019 (XINHUA)
China opposes and condemns violations of children's rights and interests in armed conflicts and supports the efforts of the United Nations to protect children in armed conflicts, said Zhang Jun, Chinese Permanent Representative to the UN, at an open debate of the UN Security Council on August 2.
Armed conflicts, far from being eliminated, have intensified, resulting in 12,000 children killed or maimed in 2018, a record high number, said Zhang, citing figures in a UN report. "This is a very sad record, which serves as a reminder that we have heavy and arduous responsibility on our shoulders to protect children from the scourge of war, so that they can grow up in safety and security."
Zhang emphasized that peace provides the best protection for children. Therefore, preventing and resolving conflicts is a top priority.
The Security Council, being the primary organ for maintaining international peace and security, should fulfill its duties by using all political means, so as to create a safe environment for children to grow up, he said, adding that the key to implementing the Security Council's decisions lies in the efforts and cooperation of the governments of the countries concerned.
Zhang also said that international efforts should be forged to tackle both the symptoms and the root causes of problems. In the collective endeavor of the international community to resolve conflicts, protection of children should be treated as an integral part of, and given full attention to, in the political negotiations and peace agreements, and while implementing the post-conflict reconstruction and peace-building strategy, priority should be given to children's return to school and society, as well as enhancing the mechanisms for child protection, he added.
"China is ready to work with all parties in this respect, so that children in conflict areas can give up weapons, stay away from war, live a happy and dignified life, and create a bright future for themselves, their countries and the world," Zhang concluded.
The open debate was the first formal meeting of the Security Council that Zhang attended as the permanent representative of China. Zhang presented credentials to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on July 30.
During his debut press briefing, Zhang said that China, as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, will firmly uphold multilateralism, oppose unilateralism and protectionism, and support the UN in playing an important role.
Copyedited by Madhusudan Chaubey
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