The Government of Iraq, supported by the United Nations, strengthens its commitment to prevent the recruitment and use of children by armed forces
The Government of Iraq through its designated entity, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MoLSA), and the United Nations, signed today an action plan to prevent the recruitment and use of children by the Population Mobilization Forces (PMF).
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BAGHDAD, 30 March 2023 – The Action Plan signed today commits MoLSA and the National Committee for the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) to put in place response and prevention mechanisms within the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) to strengthen the existing child protection framework.
This framework is supported by UNICEF and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) as co-chairs of the CAAC Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting, in cooperation with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict (SRSG-CAAC).
Among other steps to prevent the recruitment and use of children by the PMF, the Action Plan includes measures to strengthen age verification, in addition to awareness-raising campaigns to prevent child recruitment. The plan also supports the adoption of the necessary legislation and administrative measures to prevent the recruitment and use of children and promptly investigate any allegation of recruitment and use of children.
“The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, as representatives of the Government of Iraq, along with the National Committee for the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, would like to express its commitment to implement the plan to serve children exposed to recruitment in armed conflict, in order to ensure Iraq's compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as with the protocols signed by the Iraqi government," said the Minister of Labor and Social Affairs, Ahmed Jassim Al-Asadi. "While we continue to work on implementing the national child protection policy as part of the Government program, we are also supporting the Child Protection Law, pending Parliament ratification."
“The Action Plan reflects the commitment of the Government of Iraq, working in partnership with the United Nations, to ensure the protection of all children affected by conflict in Iraq,” said Claudio Cordone, the Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Electoral Assistance.
“The signing of the Action Plan is a key step on the journey to ensure the protection of children in Iraq and to avoid their recruitment and use by armed forces”, said UNICEF Representative in Iraq, Sheema SenGupta. “UNICEF will continue to support the Government of Iraq on the full implementation of the Action Plan and continue working with all parties for the protection and wellbeing of children in Iraq.”
The Action Plan is a follow-up to the call by the Security Council to parties to the conflict listed in the annex of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict report to strengthen the protection of children and to prepare concrete time-bound Action Plans in close cooperation with the United Nations Country Task Force to halt recruitment and use of children.
All measures listed under this agreement fall under the obligations of Iraq under its national legislation, as well as under International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, notably the Convention on the Rights of the Child (since 1994) and its Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (since 2008) and other commitments.
“I welcome this long awaited and positive outcome of the engagement between the Government of Iraq and the United Nations and stand ready to assist the Government towards its full implementation”, said USG Virginia Gamba, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
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For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.