Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict aims to protect children from recruitment and use in hostilities.

The Protocol was adopted by the General Assembly on 25 May 2000 and entered into force on 12 February 2002.

The Optional protocol is a commitment that:

· States will not recruit children under the age of 18 to send them to the battlefield.
· States will not conscript soldiers below the age of 18.
· States should take all possible measures to prevent such recruitment –including legislation to prohibit and criminalize the recruitment of children under 18 and involve them in hostilities.
· States will demobilize anyone under 18 conscripted or used in hostilities and will provide physical, psychological recovery services and help their social reintegration.
· Armed groups distinct from the armed forces of a country should not, under any circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities anyone under 18.

How many Countries have Signed or Ratified the Protocol?

At present, 166 countries have ratified the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. There are 18 countries that have neither signed nor ratified the protocol and 13 countries that have signed but are yet to ratify.

To see the list of countries, click here.

Secretary-General’s Global Campaign to achieve universal ratification 

On 25 May 2010,  the UN Secretary-General launched the “Global Campaign for the universal ratification and implementation of the Optional Protocols to the CRC”. In addition to OPAC, the campaign aimed to achieve universal ratification of the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (OPSC).

Zero under 18 Campaign

To further support this campaign, the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict launched the campaign Zero under 18, to achieve universal ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC). This campaign ended in 2012 and, along with outreach achieved through the Global Campaign, generated 21 new ratifications for the Optional Protocol.

Work continues to reach the objective of universal ratification.

Has your country ratified the Optional protocol? Find out here.

For any questions regarding the ratification process, please contact the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.