Ban declares recruitment, use of child soldiers as ‘unacceptable’

12 February 2009

On the occasion of Red Hand Day which seeks to mobilize people worldwide to bring an end to the forced recruitment and use of children as soldiers, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stated that the practice violates human decency and must be eradicated.

On the occasion of Red Hand Day which seeks to mobilize people worldwide to bring an end to the forced recruitment and use of children as soldiers, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stated that the practice violates human decency and must be eradicated.

“The recruitment and use of children in warfare violates international law. It also violates our most basic standards of human decency,” Mr. Ban said at an event marking the Day held at the headquarters of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in New York.

“The entire United Nations system and I are determined to stamp out such abuse,” he stressed.

More than 250,000 “red hands,” which symbolize the global campaign, have been collected in over 100 countries, and youth representatives from around the world presented some of them to the Secretary-General today.

The date of 12 February has special significance since it was seven years ago today that the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict entered into force.

To date, 126 UN Member States have ratified the pact, but “all too often these legal obligations are ignored,” Mr. Ban said.

Despite progress made in changing laws, protecting children and helping those impacted by war, more must be done to tackle the scourge, he added.

“We must not rest until all children who have been recruited or used in violation of international law have been released, and until all children feel safe in their homes, schools and communities, without fear that they will be forced into war.”

Today’s event also heard from UNICEF’s Executive Director Ann Veneman, youth delegates and Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative on children and armed conflict.

 

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