PARIS/GENEVA, 6 February 2007 - Representatives of 58 countries meeting in Paris today committed themselves to putting an end to the unlawful recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts.
The Paris conference, hosted by the Government of France and UNICEF, brought together both countries affected by the use of child soldiers as well as donor nations to tackle the recruitment of children and to harness the political will to confront it.
“What this conference has shown is that there is a great deal of political commitment to ending the unlawful recruitment of children,” said Rima Salah, UNICEF Deputy Executive Director. “What needs to be done now is to harness this commitment and turn it into concrete action on the ground that protects children from recruitment and supports those already recruited to overcome their experiences and reenter their communities.”
Among the commitments endorsed during the conference was for governments to spare no effort to end the unlawful recruitment and use of children by armed forces or groups in all regions of the world, and to ensure that conscription and enlistment procedures for recruitment into armed forces comply with applicable international law.
However, political and legal efforts are not enough on their own to end recruitment. They also need to be accompanied by effective social programmes that tackle the root causes of recruitment.
To address this, the Paris Principles were also unveiled at the conference. The Principles are a detailed set of guidelines for protecting children from recruitment and for providing effective assistance to those already involved with armed groups or forces.
“What we have learned in our years of experience, and what was discussed here in Paris, is that while it is critical to address global legal responses to the issue of child soldiers, these actions must be accompanied by social support for affected children,” Salah said. “Because you will never end recruitment if you do not address the social factors that lead to their recruitment in the first place.”
Governments at the conference also committed themselves to make every effort to uphold and apply the Paris Principles wherever possible in their political, diplomatic, humanitarian and funding roles.
“We are very excited to see so much political commitment to tackling this issue. We know it is a long road ahead of us and it will require long-term commitment and support. But we truly hope this marks the beginning of the end for the use of children in warfare,” Salah said.
About UNICEF UNICEF is on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.