Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome, and my thanks to the European Union, Indonesia and Japan for co-organizing this special event with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.
In 2019, the United Nations verified more than 7,000 cases of children being recruited and exploited by non-State armed groups, some as young as six years old.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and deteriorating socio-economic conditions around the world have further increased the vulnerability of children to recruitment and abuse.
From a teenager recruited online, to a baby born in a zone under terrorist control, the association of children with terrorist and violent extremist groups covers a broad spectrum of situations.
In each case, it represents a serious form of violence against children, with devastating consequences for the victims’ lives and rights.
Through common approaches, we can do more to address this complex challenge, guided by the conviction that upholding public safety and standing up for children’s rights should always go hand in hand.
UNODC has supported over 35 countries in developing rights-based, integrated responses to prevent and counter the association of children with terrorist and violent extremist groups.
In 2019, with support from Japan, we launched the UNODC Roadmap on the Treatment of Children Associated with Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups, to guide justice responses, better protect these children, and enable their reintegration into society.
Today, we are proud to present “STRIVE Juvenile”, a UNODC-European Union initiative putting the Roadmap into practice in Indonesia, Iraq, and Nigeria.
I thank our partners in this project for their trust, and I count on the commitment of all Member States. Together, we can safeguard children from exploitation by terrorists, and build just, peaceful, and inclusive societies.