‘Children are particularly vulnerable to violence and abuse in situations of war and conflict. This is one of the most pressing political and humanitarian concerns today, and yet it remains one of the most neglected,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt.
Norway is working to mobilise the international community to make commitments to improve the protection of children affected by war and conflict. Together with UNICEF, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Save the Children International, Norway is therefore hosting an international conference on protecting children in armed conflict in Oslo on 5–6 June 2023.
The conference is also being organised in partnership with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and the African Union.
‘Children are entitled to special protection under international humanitarian law and are to be given priority in humanitarian action. But this is not the reality for many children growing up in conflict situations. They are deeply affected both physically and psychologically. Conflict has a dramatic impact on their lives and their future,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.
The number of children living in conflict areas has doubled over the last 30 years. The UN verified over 266 000 grave violations against children committed by parties to armed conflict between 2005 and 2020.
‘The lack of adequate protection affects more than just the children themselves. It has enormous immediate and long-term impacts on efforts to achieve development, peace and security. Our common future is at stake,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.
Norway is organising the conference to focus political awareness on the effects of armed conflict on children, and children’s special need for protection. The aim is to mobilise resources and increase the political and operational efforts of states, the UN, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and civil society to protect children and young people.
‘We have a shared responsibility to bring about change. Parties to armed conflict must act responsibly and comply with international humanitarian law. Humanitarian efforts must be strengthened. Achieving this will take political will, practical measures and resources,’ said Ms Huitfeldt.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Anniken Huitfeldt is representing Norway as the host of the conference. Minister of International Development Anne Beathe Tvinnereim will also take part, together with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Virginia Gamba, politicians from a wide range of countries, representatives of the African Union and the EU, and representatives of the UN and NGOs.