New York — The United Nations on Tuesday launched a major campaign for universal adoption of treaty protocols that outlaw the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography, and protect youngsters in armed conflict, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for full ratification by 2012.
"The sad truth is that too many children in today's world suffer appalling abuse," he told a ceremony at the headquarters of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) in New York, marking the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the two optional protocols strengthening the Convention on the Rights of the Child by providing a moral and legal shield for youngsters vulnerable to prostitution and pornography or caught up in armed conflict.
"Two-thirds of all member states have endorsed these instruments. On this tenth anniversary of their adoption, I urge all countries to ratify them within the next two years."
Mr. Ban cited recent advances: the release three months ago by the Maoist army in Nepal, under UN supervision, of more than 2,000 soldiers who had been recruited as children; the UN-assisted freeing of children from the ranks of armed groups In Côte d'Ivoire; the prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of former Congolese militia leader, Thomas Lubanga for war crimes against children.
He noted, too, that fewer and fewer states now permit children to join the armed forces and reiterated his previous calls to the Security Council to consider tough measures on those states and insurgent groups that still recruit children.