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Today, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defense Didier Reynders invited a group of high-level experts at the Egmont Palace in Brussels to discuss the importance of including child protection issues in peace negotiations. Belgium has played a leading role in this field for years and remains committed as the chair of the UNSC Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) during its mandate in the Security Council in 2019-2020.
These Brussels Consultations are led by Belgium and the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative for Children And Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba. The event welcomes accomplished mediators and child protection experts with experience in all four corners of the world: from South Sudan, Colombia and Nepal to DRC and Yemen, and others. The cruelty of armed conflict affects millions of children and the number of violations against children in conflict situations is permanently increasing. By uniting senior practitioners, listening and exchanging experiences and recommendations, our country is committed to put an end to the plight of children in armed conflict.
Tapping into a wealth of expertise and experience from the field, the group discussions, facilitated by the European Institute of Peace (EIP), will help design specific strategies and concrete actions that can be taken to promote child protection in peace processes and mediation efforts. Child protection measures are often the first measures warring parties can find common ground on and a first tangible step towards peace.
Operational guidance on child protection issues for mediators remains scattered, despite the extensive knowledge available. Today’s initiative will provide important input for the development of operational guidelines for mediators, as asked for by the UN Security Council (UNSC).
Belgium is active on many fronts. Within the UNSC, Belgium will lead the negotiations on how to deal with violations of children's rights in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq and the Central African Republic. Earlier this year, a consensus was reached on this with regard to Syria and Myanmar. The fight against impunity is one of the priorities of Belgian foreign policy.
Belgium also plays a leading role in the fight against violations of children's rights in armed conflicts outside the UN Security Council. Our country makes an important contribution to UNICEF's Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, which collects reliable information on serious violations of children's rights in conflict situations.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Kingdom of Belgium – Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.