Statement by Ambassador Gunnar Pálsson Permanent Representative of Iceland
Allow me first of all to thank the organizers of today´s event for their initiative.
The rights of children have long been a priority for Iceland and UNICEF remains one of Iceland’s main partners in the field of development.
Nine years ago, my country was one of the first to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. Therefore, it gives me great satisfaction to be able to endorse on Iceland´s behalf the Paris Commitments and Principles on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups.
Too many children are deprived of their most basic human rights when they are forced to participate in armed conflict. Too many never escape and those who survive are left with scars that never heal completely.
Despite this disheartening state of affairs, there have also been some positive developments. These include the adoption of Security Council resolution 1882, which broadened the scope of issues that the Council can effectively address in its work, as well as the efforts of the Special Representative on Children in Armed Conflict, Ms. Coomaraswamy, in partnership with UNICEF and other UN agencies, which has lead to the release of numerous child soldiers and helped raise awareness about the dire situation confronting children in armed conflicts in different parts of the world.
Today, my Government is pleased to have joined the group of countries that, like Iceland, are determined to improve the situation of vulnerable children.