New York: India has cautioned that the UN should not give “political legitimacy” to non-state actors by bypassing national governments, saying the access to non-state armed groups should be through a cooperation framework between the UN and the concerned government.
“It is important that access of the United Nations to non-state armed groups be through the cooperation framework between the United Nations and the concerned national government,” India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Bhagwant Bishnoi said here on Wednesday.
“We must be cautious that the UN’s actions should not be such as to bypass national governments and give political legitimacy to non-state actors. It is this legitimacy that they seek the most and which may also, to some extent, be a motivating factor,” Bishnoi said.
Participating in a Security Council debate on ‘Children and Armed Conflict’, he said that 2014 was reported to be the worst year as far as children and armed conflict is concerned. He said it is “most distressing” that the pattern continues.
“Children are innocent and they should not be victims of what is not of their making,” he said.
Bishnoi said the real solution lies in achieving durable peace and the UNSC’s actions should focus on achieving this.
He said India notes the need for military operations, including peace operations against non-state armed groups, to integrate child protection issues into their operational planning in order to minimise and prevent child casualties.
“Drafting up such an important mandate would require the Council to have the full cooperation of the host government of the peacekeeping operation, as well as the member states not represented in the Council who are contributing troops for such operations,” he said, adding that it is unfortunate that such consultation is not the practice in the Council.
The concept note circulated for the debate referred to the need to encourage states to adopt legal measures to prohibit and criminalize the use of children under the age of 18.
“We are not clear how this would help. Illegal armed groups operate outside the law. They kill, torture and maim the innocent. It seems most doubtful that those who resort to illegal armed conflict and terrorism would be deterred from recruiting children if they were prohibited from doing so merely by the law,” he said.
Bishnoi further said that the possibility of sanctions and questions of accountability should not lead the international community to be “blind-sided”.
“There are references in the concept note to putting more pressure on non-state armed groups, to holding commanders of such groups accountable for their actions and of raising the normative and political costs for them. We should not end up in a situation of missing the woods for the trees,” he said.
He stressed that the world community should strive to address the broader issue of the economic and social marginalisation that drives millions of children into a childhood that makes them part of the problem rather than tomorrow’s solution.
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