Position Paper for United Nations Children’s Fund
Since its establishment in 1946, the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has worked continuously to ameliorate the situation of children worldwide. Until today, it remains to be the most important advocate for children’s rights. The State of Qatar looks forward to discussing the following topics with other peace-loving nations of the international community and recognizes the importance of promoting these issues in order to achieve peace, health and security for children. The topics before the UNICEF are: Legal Concerns and Safeguards for Children in Transitional Justice; Fighting Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War; and Implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child in Order to Combat Child Exploitation.
I. Legal Concerns and Safeguards for Children in Transitional Justice
Thousands of children are permanently confronted with armed groups and suffer from conflicts dwelling worldwide. Despite various efforts of the international community, children remain the individuals being the most affected by violations during conflict and re-socialization difficulties. In the last two decades the international community has made important steps towards recognizing the special needs of children in transitional justice, for instance A/51/306 and Add. 1 (1996) as well as in A/62/228. The State of Qatar welcomes the discussion on this topic to promote the initiatives taken.
The State of Qatar is eager to contribute to international efforts in dealing with this issue. Qatar has signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (A/44/25, 1989), both Optional Protocols to the CRC (A/54/263), the Worst Form of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182) and underlines the humanitarian significance of the Paris Principles (A/48/134, 1993). Qatar highly recognizes the importance of the work of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, and welcomes the adoption of S/2001/1379 and S/2009/1882, as well as the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanisms for children in need established in S/2005/1612. Qatar appreciates international efforts respecting cultural diversity. Although the topic already receives recognition, the State of Qatar is convinced that UNICEF is able to put it in a brighter spotlight. It is important that universal adherence to international norms is achieved. The progresses should be periodically reviewed by the United Nations and included in the Universal Periodic Review. UNICEF will play an important role in supporting Member States in their reforms and in providing training for the re-socialization personnel involved. In this context, Qatar is deeply honored to host the United Nations Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-Africa and the Arab Region in Doha, which was installed according to A/RES/60/153. In Nepal in January 2010, the United Nations have shown a great potential in developing action plans in cooperation with the parties involved to free children of exploitation and reintegrate them into society.
The State of Qatar believes that justice for children can be promoted by establishing distinct juvenile justice systems on national levels where restorative and preventive approaches are endorsed. Qatar established the Social Rehabilitation Centre in 2005 that helps young people having come into conflict with the law. Children‘s access to justice has to be ensured and can be improved by community-based services for children and families, as this ensures that the needs of the children are best met. The family as the natural basis of society should be strengthened to better protect children in conflict situations and to improve their reintegration into society. Additionally education is an important cornerstone to re-socialization, as it „not only educate[s] the young, but also build[s] nations and provide[s] generations with a common identity“ says H.E. Ambassador Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser. All reintegration and truth-seeking efforts should be in line with the Paris Principles (A/48/134, 1993). Qatar‘s prompt response to emergency assistance as well as to humanitarian needs emanates from its values and culture advocating providing aid for the needy; therefore Qatar looks forward to more international cooperation to help children in need.
II. Fighting Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War
Systematic sexual violence as a weapon of war has become a frequent phenomenon in worldwide war-zones; especially children are often affected. Since the establishment of the UN in 1945, the means of war as well as the parties involved changed dramatically. Unethical parties try to destroy societies by abusing the youngest generation and taking away the outlook of a positive future. The United Nations are advocating the protection of all children through establishing resolutions for instance S/RES/1325 (2000), S/RES/1674 (2006), S/RES/1820 (2008), S/RES/1882 (2009), S/RES/1889 (2009) as well as HRC/RES/7/29 (2008). States wanting to cooperate are granted the possibility of requiring peacekeeping personnel to combat sexual violence as a weapon of war. The State of Qatar looks forward to expanding measures taken by the international community.
The State of Qatar is endorsing the UN’s zero tolerance policy for sexual exploitation. Qatar signed A/RES/44/25, A/RES/54/263, highly values the instrument of Periodic Reports and is supporting Shari‘a conform resolutions for the protection against sexual violence, highlighting S/RES/1888 (2009). Qatar is committed to coordinating efforts to protect children. Several institutions and laws have been introduced to protect especially children from sexual violence and to assure their best physical and mental development. Among the most important institutions are the National Human Rights Committee and the Qatari Foundation for Child and Women Protection and Qatari Institution for the Protection of Women and Children. The Qatari Penal Code No. 11 of 2004 guarantees personal safety and the right of protection from violence, physical and sexual harm for children. The already mentioned Human Rights Training and Documentation Centre for South-West Asia and the Arab Region in Doha not only educates and raises the awareness on Human Rights but is also concerned with combating Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War.
Education is of utmost importance in the fight against Sexual Violence in conflict-areas. Hereby UNICEF can assist Member States in teaching children about their rights and ensures that children’s protection is taken into account during conflict as well as post-conflict needs assessment. Funding and programming has to be ensured. The State of Qatar is a proponent of the idea of enhancing the cooperation between states, the United Nations and NGOs within the United Nations network. UN Member States have to be supported in their efforts to adapt legislation to international standards and in building capacities to fight sexual violence. Qatar would welcome further international measures to protect children from sexual exploitation.
III. Implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child in Order to Combat Child Exploitation
The Convention of the Rights of the Child (A/44/25) (CRC) was adopted by the General Assembly in 1989, entered into force in 1990 and was signed by 193 states in November 2009. The CRC is the most successful international treaty. In the past 20 years, the treaty raised the awareness of child‘s rights violations and induced a large number of deeper specifying national and international treaties to ameliorate the situation of the child. The State of Qatar would like to stress the presence of its political will and supportive climate for the implementation of the CRC and its Optional Protocols.
As stated, the State of Qatar has signed the CRC (A/44/25), A/54/263, the ILO Convention on the worst Forms of Child Labour No. 182, ILO Convention No. 29 concerning Forced and Compulsory Labour and supports the Paris Principles as a decisive milestone to the reduction of child soldiers. Qatar spares no effort to establish national mechanisms and institutions for ensuring children’s safety as well as guaranteeing their development and protection from all forms of violence and exploitation. The Supreme Council for Family Affairs is the leading body in Qatar entrusted with the implementation of the CRC. Qatar has drafted legislation focusing specifically on the status of children, the recognition of their rights, the guarantee of their freedom and the furtherance of their best interests in all circumstances. Moreover, legislation has been enacted to improve consultation with children. The working method of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs has proven to be effective in ensuring that the interests of children are best met. If required, Qatar would be glad to provide the knowledge and methods of such an innovative institution. Qatar is eager to advertise human and children's rights in the Arab world while paying tribute to the Shari‘a. In this context, Qatar was honored to host a joint Conference for National Human Rights Committees in the Arab World in Doha in 2006 on the dissemination of a human rights culture in the region.
It is the firm opinion of the State of Qatar, that UN-bodies play an important role in forwarding the full implementation of the CRC in order to combat child exploitation by providing crucial help to nations willing to establish child protection facilities through collaboration and assistance. Human rights education is an important basis for ensuring the child‘s rights to be regarded, and should therefore be integrated into national school curricula. In order to monitor the implementation of the CRC, it is of utmost importance to deepen cooperation between NGOs, national governments and international bodies, such as UNICEF or the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Qatar appreciates the work of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, as well as the regular Reports and Monitoring Mechanisms established by resolution S/2005/1612. The information collected should be used to reveal cases of child exploitation and indicate the fields of action for the international community. The vital goals for the next years to improve the situation of children worldwide should be the elimination of preventable diseases and the elimination of poverty, as set in the Millennium Development Goals.
The State of Qatar looks forward to discussing the advancement of the implementation of the CRC, in order to combat the urgent aspects of child exploitation, such as sexual exploitation, child trafficking, child labor, child soldiers, child marriages and violence against children.