UNICEF in Emergencies & Humanitarian Action

Children and armed conflict

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (2000)
The protocol sets 18 as the minimum age for direct participation in hostilities, for recruitment into armed groups, and for compulsory recruitment by governments. States may accept volunteers from the age of 16 but must deposit a binding declaration at the time of ratification or accession, setting out their minimum voluntary recruitment age and outlining certain safeguards for such recruitment.
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict 

Guidelines regarding initial reports of States Parties under article 8(1) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (2001)
Reports should provide information on the measures adopted by the State Party to give effect to the rights set forth in the Optional Protocol and on the progress made in the enjoyment of those rights and should indicate the factors and difficulties, if any, affecting the degree of fulfilment of the obligations under the Optional Protocol.
Guidelines regarding initial reports of States Parties under article 8(1) of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict

Guide to the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed conflict (UNICEF, 2003)
Produced by UNICEF and the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, this publication is an essential guide to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child related to children in armed conflict. It describes the context surrounding its adoption, efforts supporting its objectives, key provisions and the legislative processes involved for signature and ratification or accession.
Guide to the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed conflict [pdf]

Children and Armed Conflict - International Standards for Action (The Human Security Network, UN Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, 2003)
This compendium brings together relevant treaties and instruments on the protection of children affected by armed conflict rendering easier dissemination as well as providing the reference point for a more systematic monitoring and reporting.
Children and Armed Conflict - International Standards for Action [pdf]

 

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/HQ01-0108/Mann
Hands linked, former child soldiers make their way onto the United Nations aeroplane in which they are being evacuated by UNICEF, from a combat zone in southern Sudan.

Security Council Resolutions relating to children affected by armed conflict
1261, S/RES/1261 (1999), 1296, S/R/1296 (2000), 1314, S/R/1314 (2000), 1379, S/R/1379 (2001), 1460, S/R/1460 (2003), 1539 S/R/1539 (2004), 1612, S/R/1612 (2005, pdf).

Report of Graca Machel:  Impact of  Armed Conflict on Children (UN, UNICEF 1996)
This study was undertaken with the support of the United Nations Centre for Human Rights and UNICEF, and is the fruit of extensive and wide-ranging consultations. In the study, the expert proposes the elements of a comprehensive agenda for action by Member States and the international community to improve the protection and care of children in conflict situations, and to prevent these conflicts from occurring.
Report of Graca Machel:  Impact of  Armed Conflict on Children [pdf]

The International Conference on War affected Children: From Words to Action (Winnipieg Conference) (2000)
The International Conference on War-Affected Children was hosted by the Government of Canada from September 10 to 17, 2000, in Winnipeg, Canada. It was the first truly global meeting on war-affected children and brought together a critical mass of individuals and organizations working on the issue of children and armed conflict to create an international plan of action.
The International Conference on War affected Children: From Words to Action [pdf]

Cape Town Principles and Best Practices on the Recruitment of Children into the Armed Forces and on Demobilization and Social Reintegration of Child Soldiers in Africa (UNICEF, 1997)
As part of the effort to deal with the tragic and growing problem of children serving in armed forces, the NGO working group on the Convention of the Rights of the Child and UNICEF conducted a symposium in Cape Town (South Africa) from 27 to 30 April 1997. The purpose of the symposium was to bring together experts and partners to develop strategies for preventing recruitment of children, in particular, for establishing 18 as the minimum age of recruitment, and for demobilizing child soldiers and helping them reintegrate into society. The Cape Town Principles and Best Practices are the result of that symposium. They recommend actions to be taken by governments and communities in affected countries to end this violation of children's rights.
Cape Town Principles and Best Practices [pdf]

 

Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to the Security Council
The present report is submitted pursuant to paragraph 16 of Security Council resolution 1460 (2003). The preparation of the report involved broad consultations within the United Nations at Headquarters and with country teams, peacekeeping missions, regional groups and non-governmental organizations.
A/58/546-S/2003/1053, 2003

Children and Armed Conflict: Report of the Secretary General
This report provides information on compliance and progress in ending the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict, including information on other grave violations and abuses; the action plan for a systematic and comprehensive monitoring and reporting mechanism; incorporation of best practices for disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes; and measures to control illicit subregional and cross-border activities that are harmful to children.
A/59/695-S/2005/72, 2005 [pdf]

Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict to the General Assembly
The present report gives an overview of the agenda for war-affected children, highlights the progress that has been achieved and identifies the principal elements of the “era of application” campaign for the enforcement of existing international child protection norms and standards on the ground.
A/60/150, 2005 [pdf]

 


 

 

General info on child soldiers

Who is a child soldier?

A child soldier is any person under 18 years of age who is part of any kind of regular or irregular armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to cooks, porters, messengers and anyone accompanying such groups, other than family members. The definition includes girls recruited for sexual purposes and for forced marriage. It does not, therefore, only refer to a child who is carrying or has carried arms.

Cape Town Principles and Best Practices on the Recruitment of Children into the Armed Forces and on Demobilization and Social Reintegration of Child Soldiers in Africa (Cape Town, 27-30 April 1997).

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