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UNICEF marks first anniversary of key protocols on child rights

UNICEF marks first anniversary of key protocols on child rights

Marking the first anniversary of the adoption of two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today urged governments to speed up ratification of the pacts to allow them to come into force and become legally binding.

According to the UN agency, a total of 79 countries have signed the Optional Protocol on children in armed conflict and 4 have ratified it, while 72 have signed the Optional Protocol on the sale of children and 3 have ratified it. The total still falls short of the 10 ratifications required for the standards to come into force and be binding on States.

"Although encouraging, this is clearly not enough," UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said in a statement issued today in New York. "It would be a splendid signal of commitment to children if this were to be done prior to the UN Special Session for Children to be held in September in New York."

Every day that the world delays ratifying the protocols, the toll of death and suffering of children from armed conflicts or sexual abuse and exploitation continues to grow, Ms. Bellamy said, stressing that broad ratification of the standards was an important precursor to launching an agenda for children into the next decade and beyond.

The Optional Protocols prohibit children's active participation in hostilities, impose strict limitations on their recruitment into armed forces, and criminalize the sale and illegal adoption of children, as well as child prostitution and pornography.