Pledge to stop recruiting child soldiers made at joint UNICEF-hosted meeting

6 February 2007

Almost 60 countries today committed themselves to putting an end to the unlawful recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts wherever they occur, one of a series of measures known as the Paris Principles, agreed at a two-day conference in France which was co-hosted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Government.

Almost 60 countries today committed themselves to putting an end to the unlawful recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts wherever they occur, one of a series of measures known as the Paris Principles, agreed at a two-day conference in France which was co-hosted by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Government.

Governments also pledged to ensure that conscription and enlistment procedures for recruitment into armed forces comply with applicable international law. However, political and legal efforts are not enough on their own to end recruitment, UNICEF said, highlighting the need for effective social programmes that tackle the root causes of recruitment.

“What this conference has shown is that there is a great deal of political commitment to ending the unlawful recruitment of children,” said UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Rima Salah. “What needs to be done now is to harness this commitment and turn it into concrete action on the ground that protects children from recruitment and supports those already recruited to overcome their experiences and re-enter their communities.”

She said years of experience and the discussions in Paris confirmed that while it is critical to address global legal responses to the issue of child soldiers, these actions must be accompanied by social support for affected children. “Because you will never end recruitment if you do not address the social factors that lead to their recruitment in the first place.”

To address these concerns, the Paris Principles not only offer a detailed set of guidelines for protecting children from recruitment, but also provide effective assistance to those already involved with armed groups or forces.

The representatives from 58 countries attending the conference also committed themselves to making every effort to uphold and apply the Principles wherever possible in their political, diplomatic, humanitarian and funding roles.

“We are very excited to see so much political commitment to tackling this issue,” Ms. Salah said. “We know it is a long road ahead of us and it will require long-term commitment and support. But we truly hope this marks the beginning of the end for the use of children in warfare.”

Speaking on Monday, UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman said that around 250,000 children are involved in conflicts around the world, where they are used as combatants, messengers, spies, porters, cooks “and girls in particular are forced to perform sexual services, depriving them of their rights and their childhood.”

 

♦ Receive daily updates directly in your inbox - Subscribe here to a topic.
♦ Download the UN News app for your iOS or Android devices.