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United Nations celebrates progress in the campaign for the Universal Ratification of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child

New York, 25 May - Since the campaign for universal ratification was launched, two years ago, 20 additional countries have ratified the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, and 15 countries became party to the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.

“We are nearing the goal of universal ratification, strengthening children’s protection from violence and bringing to an end the impunity for incidents of sexual exploitation and abuse,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children, Marta Santos Pais.

“Ratification, followed by a proper implementation and rigorous enforcement, can make a real difference for children caught in conflict and vulnerable to exploitation,” added the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy.

While steady progress is being made, much remains to be done, both United Nations officials stressed.

There are still 46 member states that have not ratified the protocol on child soldiers. “I urge conflict-affected countries to ratify this treaty as a matter of urgency and those in peace and with no standing armies, to follow suit in a symbolic gesture to end the outrageous practice of child recruitment,” SRSG Coomaraswamy said.

“Ratification is a crucial step but only the start of a demanding process of implementation. In our struggle to eliminate sexual exploitation of children there can be no room for complacency,” SRSG Santos Pais added.

The campaign for universal ratification of the Optional Protocols was launched by the Secretary-General in May 2010 and is a United Nations system-wide effort, promoted by the SRSG for Children and Armed Conflict, the SRSG on Violence against Children, UNICEF and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child

The Protocol on the Sale Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography provides guidance for States in their efforts to prohibit and prevent sexual violence and exploitation of children and the prosecution of perpetrators. It also protects children from sale or trafficking for purposes such as forced labour, illegal adoption or organ donation.

Status of ratification

The Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict prohibits and prevents children from taking part in hostilities, urges all States to set their minimum age of conscription at eighteen years. It also prohibits the recruitment by armed groups of children under the age of 18. Children are used in war in multiple functions. They serve as combatants, spies, suicide bombers, human shields, for sexual purposes and more. Status of ratification: http://treaties.un.org/pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11-b&chapter=4&lang=en

For more information, please contact:

Muriel Gschwend
Associate Communications Officer
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
Tel: +1 917 367 3562
Email: gschwend@un.org

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Miguel Caldeira
Communications Specialist
Office of the SRSG on Violence against Children
Tel: +1 212 824 6763
Cell: +1 917 402 8971
Email: mcaldeira@unicef.org

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