The United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Leila Zerrougui, today welcomed as “an important step” the commitment by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) to stop the recruitment and use of children under 18.

“This is an important step to protect the children of Colombia and to bring the FARC-EP’s recruitment practices in line with national and international law. I look forward to seeing this commitment implemented through command orders disseminated widely within the ranks of the FARC-EP,” Ms. Zerrougui said.

The commitment was expressed during the Special Representative’s second visit to Havana, Cuba from 30 October to 3 November to discuss the fate of children affected by the armed conflict with the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP – the two negotiating parties to the Colombian peace talks.

The group also declared their willingness to release children under 15 present in their ranks, according to a press release issued by her Office. Both parties stated they were ready to prepare for the children’s reintegration into society.

Today, she “reminded the negotiating parties that international standards and the best interest of the child must be the guiding principles to ensure that the reintegration services offered truly address the needs of the children released, including girls, orphans or those coming from Afro and indigenous communities.”

“I am looking forward to seeing the first children released as soon as possible and confirm that the UN stands ready to support the separation and reintegration of all children under 18 present in the ranks of the FARC-EP,” Ms. Zerrougui said.

The envoy said she is pleased that the issue of children is at the heart of the peace process and hopes that the negotiations will bring about a brighter future for all children in Colombia.

Source: UN News Center and Office of the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict