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Geneva Peace Week event : "Building Peace: Protecting Children in Conflict"

5 November 2018
Geneva Peace Week event : "Building Peace: Protecting Children in Conflict"

Remarks by Mr. Michael Møller
United Nations Under-Secretary-General
Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva

Building Peace: Protecting Children in Conflict
Geneva Peace Week

Monday, 5 November 2018 at 10 a.m.
Room XVII, Palais des Nations

Ambassador Muylle, [Mr. Geert Muylle, Belgium]
Ambassador Arenas, [Mr. Ricardo González Arenas, Uruguay]
Ms. Gamba, [Ms. Virginia Gamba, SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict]
Deputy High Commissioner Gilmore,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and privilege to open this event today. My gratitude to the Permanent Missions of Belgium and Uruguay as well as to the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, for kicking off this year’s edition of the Geneva Peace Week with a topic of universal resonance for all of us – children and armed conflict.

This type of event is exactly why we started Geneva Peace Week, here in the City of Peace, where we bring together the richness of different actors for frank discussions on challenging, but pressing realities.

One such reality is that we are failing the most vulnerable members of society – our children.

With more than a billion children growing up in conflict zones, more children than ever before at any point in time now live in conflict areas and protracted crises have resulted in an increase of grave violations against children.

The imperative of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is not to leave anyone behind, and ending the plight of the world’s children affected by conflict is high on the list of priorities of that imperative. We must do more, collectively, to bring these numbers to zero.

But how do we do that?

“Leaving no one behind” requires a concerted effort to tackle inequalities, address the root causes of conflict, and ensure the well-being of every citizen and in particular providing children and youth with the opportunity for a better future.

As active change makers and catalysts for peace and security, children and youth need our support and guidance to direct their energy into promising actions.

“Leaving no one behind” also means promoting and sustaining peace beyond the ceasing of hostilities.

Sustaining peace in order to prevent future conflicts requires more than peacekeeping. It implies an integrated approach fuelled by new partnerships, robust collaboration at all levels and strong political will to put the needs of those who are vulnerable at the top of the agenda.

Our response must be collective and it should be rooted in a shared vision for the future. Central to this vision is the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

As home to over 100 international organizations, 179 representatives of Member States, some 400 NGOs, a dynamic private sector and prominent academic institutions, the Lake Geneva region plays an important role in supporting global, regional and local efforts to drive implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs.

Over 120 of these actors from Geneva and beyond will organize 65 events during this week under the umbrella of the Geneva Peace Week. By synchronizing meetings and events on different topics related to the promotion of peace during one week, the Geneva Peace Week maximizes synergies between organizations in Geneva and elsewhere, with a focus on the crosscutting nature of peace, human rights and development.

This year’s fifth edition will emphasize the urgent need of finding peaceful solutions to the growing risks of violent conflict, building on the lessons from history – especially as we will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice of the First World War in a few days– and will examine the needs for future peacebuilding practice.

To that end, the Geneva Peace Week could not have been launched with a better topic than this morning’s dialogue. When discussing the promotion of peace, human rights and development we should always have the future of our children in mind.

I hope that this focus will help us identify some practical and promising answers to current challenges, and I encourage you to have a look at the many other interesting and innovative events held over the course of the Geneva Peace Week.

Thank you very much.