International Law

Since 1996, the issue has been placed firmly on the international agenda, beginning with the groundbreaking report of Graça Machel and the establishment of the mandate of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

Since then, a solid body of international legal standards has been elaborated. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court classifies the recruitment of children into fighting forces as a war crime and a crime against humanity. The International Labour Organization’s Convention No. 182 defines child soldiering as one of the worst forms of child labour. The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child outlaws child soldiering, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child established 18 as the minimum age for children’s participation in hostilities.

With that foundation in place, the international community is now shifting its focus from standards setting to an era of application and the provision of real protection. Indeed, we have seen encouraging signs that impunity for crimes against children will no longer be tolerated.

10 May 2002 A World Fit For Children
6 Sep 2000 United Nations Millennium Declaration
25 May 2000 CRC – Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict
25 May 2000 CRC – Optional Protocol on Exploitation
17 Jun 1999 ILO Convention 182
12 Jul 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court
25 Jun 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action
11 Jul 1990 African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
20 Nov 1989 The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
8 Jun 1977 Geneva Convention – Additional Protocol I
8 Jun 1977 Geneva Convention – Additional Protocol II
12 Aug 1949 The Fourth Geneva Convention
10 Dec 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
26 Jun 1945 United Nations Charter