New York, 17 June 2013 – All Government forces included on the Secretary-General’s list for recruitment and use of children are in the process of making their armies child-free.
“One of the key objectives of my mandate, the end of recruitment and use of children by armed forces, is finally within reach,” said Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict as she presented the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict to the Security Council.
Important progress has been achieved in the past 18 months. There are eight Government armies listed for the recruitment and use of children and six of them have already committed to making their armies child-free. In 2012, South Sudan, Myanmar, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo signed action plans with the United Nations. The previous year, Afghanistan and Chad made similar commitments. Discussions initiated with the Governments of Yemen and Sudan are expected to lead to action plans in the near future.
Action plans signed with the United Nations are roadmaps to end and prevent violations against children. They allow the United Nations to support Governments or armed groups in identifying and releasing children present in the ranks of their armed forces. They also include trainings for military personnel as well as the development of programmes to reintegrate former child soldiers and prevent future recruitment.
During her presentation to the Security Council, the Special Representative announced that she intends to launch an initiative supported by the Secretary-General and the UN system to ensure that no children are associated with Government armed forces in armed conflict by 2016.
“The objective is to galvanize efforts of concerned Governments, the international community and the UN system to turn the page on recruitment and use of children by Government armed forces in the next 3 years,” added Leila Zerrougui. “This is an unprecedented initiative, and an ambitious one.”
New conflicts emerged or deepened in the past months and children continued to pay a heavy toll. The annual report of the Secretary-General covers 22 country situations where children are victims of conflict-related violence, among them Syria, the Central African Republic and Mali, which is included in the report for the first time. The “list of shame” of the Secretary-General includes 55 armed forces and groups.
Despite the progress accomplished with Government forces and a number of Non-State armed groups, again this year, the majority of parties listed in the annual report are Non-State armed groups. The Special Representative is convinced that concerted efforts to make Government forces in armed conflict child-free will create a momentum leading to increased focus on non-state actors.
“Children in armed conflict need to know that they will receive the necessary protection,” the Special Representative told the United Nations Security Council. “Perpetrators also need to receive the strongest signal from the Council and the world that their crimes will not go unpunished. I call on the Council to continue to unite in this endeavour.”
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Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
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