With effect from 5 January 2011, Germany assumed the chair of two important bodies of the United Nations Security Council: the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and the Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee. In addition, Germany will be the Security Council’s lead coordinator on Afghanistan.
Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict
Commitment to the protection of children in situations of armed conflict is a major part of Germany’s human rights policy. One main task of the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict, which was established in 2005, is to draw up a list of state and non-state conflict parties that employ child soldiers or kill, maim or sexually abuse children. The most recent annual report listed 58 such parties in 13 countries.
This “naming and shaming” approach is intended to put pressure on conflict parties to take measures to protect children and demobilize child soldiers. If the parties continue to fail to comply, the mechanism provides for targeted sanctions against them; if they cooperate, they will be removed from the list. It is estimated that around a billion children are affected by armed conflicts worldwide, and that there are 250,000 child soldiers.
One aim under the German chair is to discuss extending the criteria which lead to inclusion on the list to include in particular attacks on schools and hospitals or the refusal to allow humanitarian access to children in conflict zones.
The chair cooperates closely with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy.
Germany hoped to be able to take over as lead for the consideration of the Afghanistan dossier in the Security Council not least because of our tremendous engagement in Afghanistan. This role will involve coordinating the Security Council’s work on Afghanistan but also leading the Council’s negotiations on Afghanistan-related resolutions at expert level. These include the resolutions on the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) as well as the resolution authorizing the ISAF mission under international law. In this connection we can also bring to bear the wealth of experience we have gained as the leading negotiator and sponsor of the annual UN General Assembly resolution on Afghanistan. We want to use this role to support and underpin the peace process in Afghanistan in the United Nations. This goal will also be served by our assumption of the chair of a key body in terms of the Security Council’s work to combat terrorism, the Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee.
Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee
Terrorism violates the elementary values of human coexistence and the rules of the national and international order. The global threat from terrorism can only be countered through international cooperation. The United Nations is the global forum for combating international terrorism: it provides the international legal framework for this with UN agreements and the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy. The Security Council implements concrete measures via three sanctions regimes, including the Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee set up in 1999. This Committee imposes sanctions – travel restrictions, freezing of assets – against members of Al-Qaida and the Taliban.
In assuming the chair of this Committee, Germany will be able over the next two years to help steer and further develop an important instrument in the fight against international terrorism. On the one hand, this means updating and continuing the list. On the other, however, it means increasing transparency and legal protection. Both aspects are important for the acceptance and efficiency of the Committee’s work, because only an effective, convincing sanctions regime can strengthen the United Nations as the most important forum in the fight against international terrorism.
Finally, the Al-Qaida and Taliban Sanctions Committee will also play an important role in the next two years in connection with the intra-Afghan reconciliation process. We will use our term as chair of this Committee to try to bring greater coherence to the Security Council’s policy on Afghanistan.