3 December 2012

Africa: Five New Countries Endorse the Paris Commitments to End the Use of Children in Conflict

New York — Today, Bolivia, Comoros, Guinea Bissau, Kuwait and Yemen endorsed the 'Paris Commitments' to end the recruitment and use of children by armed forces and groups, bringing the list of endorsers to 105 Member States. http://www.twitter.com/childreninwar

The announcement was made at the United Nations Headquarters, during the 5th anniversary Ministerial Follow-up Forum to the Paris Commitments and Paris Principles, organized by the Government of France, UNICEF and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, in collaboration with the Paris Principles Steering Group.

Five years ago, at the International Conference 'Free Children from War', 59 States - agreeing to spare no effort to end the scourge of unlawful recruitment and use of children - endorsed the Paris Commitments to Protect Children from Unlawful Recruitment or Use by Armed Forces or Armed Groups.

"Today's endorsements exemplify an international consensus and demonstrate the international community's resolve to abolish the inhuman practice of child recruitment," said Francois Zimeray, French Ambassador for Human Rights. "We welcome these Commitments, which recognize that child recruitment is a war crime, prioritize release of children and promote long-term reintegration of children."

Despite growing international efforts to reduce the number of children involved in hostilities, tens of thousands of children are still involved in violent conflicts around the world. Girls and boys are used as combatants, suicide bombers, human shields, porters, sex slaves and more.

The particular focus of today's meeting was on the prevention of child recruitment. Over the past two decades, the international community has responded to the most urgent needs of children affected by armed conflict such as their identification and release. Successful prevention programmes should also address the underlying causes of child recruitment such as poverty, socio-economic inequalities, lack of education opportunities and social norms.

"Children's involvement in armed conflict is detrimental and harmful, not only to the children and to their communities, but to the world at large," said Martin Mogwanja, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. "Now is the time to act urgently and unwaveringly, to ensure children are protected from the impact of war and horror of active hostilities."

Together with legal and policy measures, the screening by the United Nations of children in the ranks of security forces, the strengthening of age verification procedures and the issuance of national identification cards, can prevent unlawful recruitment.

"Ending impunity for those committing serious violations against children is not only a remedy but an important deterrent to prevent child recruitment. In addition, child recruitment must come at a political cost for persistent perpetrators in peace processes," the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Ms. Leila Zerrougui said.

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