Joint Press Release – Afghanistan Signs Landmark Agreement To Prevent The Recruitment And Use Of Children In The National Security Forces

Kabul, 30 January 2011 – The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan today committed to take further action to protect children affected by armed conflict in Afghanistan by signing an agreement to prevent under-age recruitment into the Afghan National Security Forces as well as other violations committed against children in the context of the conflict. Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Staffan de Mistura, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA, and the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy co-signed the agreement between the Government and the United Nations.“Today we come together to undertake a big step for a better future for the children of Afghanistan. This is not only the responsibility of the Government. The entire community is called upon to work together for the protection of all children in Afghanistan,” said Zalmai Rassoul, Minister of Foreign Affairs.In April 2010 the Afghan National Police (ANP) was listed by the 9th Secretary-General’s Report on Children and Armed Conflict for the recruitment and use of children into their ranks. The Government acted quickly in response and in July 2010 established the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Children and Armed Conflict, comprising of eight Ministries, the head of the National Directorate of Security, and the Presidential Advisor on Education and Health.“Today’s signing of the Action Plan to halt the use and recruitment of children into the Afghan National Security Forces and to address other child rights violations is an important first step to end such practices,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy. “We welcome the signing of this Action Plan which marks a renewed commitment by the Government of Afghanistan to reinforce international standards ending the recruitment and use of children in the security forces,”’ said Peter Crowley, UNICEF Representative.Note to EditorsThe United Nations-led Country Task Force on Children and Armed Conflict monitors violations committed against children including recruitment and use of children, killing and maiming, rape and other forms of sexual violence, attacks against schools and hospitals, abduction and denial of humanitarian access by parties to the conflict. In 2008 this mechanism was personally endorsed by President Karzai who has since remained engaged on the protection of children affected by the conflict. The Steering Committee, together with the UN-led Country Task Force, has developed the Action Plan signed today. The Action Plan sets out various activities that the Government will undertake to address issues such as the strengthening of birth registration and age-verification mechanisms, investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of under-age recruitment and sexual violence. The Government commits to include child-specific provisions in any peace and reconciliation outcomes, including dialogue with armed groups for the immediate release and reintegration of under-18s in their ranks. Link to the 9th Report of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict including its annexes:

http://www.un.org/Docs/journal/asp/ws.asp?m=A/64/742

For further information, please contact:Timothy La Rose,Communications Officer,Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict +1 917 346 3404larose@un.orgMuriel Gschwend,Associate Communications OfficerOffice of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict+1 917 367 3562 gschwend@un.orgWebsite: http://www.un.org/children/conflictTwitter:http://www.twitter.com/childreninwarFlickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/childrenandarmedconflict/