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UNICEF praises Armenian progress towards a protective environment for all children

YEREVAN, 13 April 2005 - UNICEF has hailed Armenia’s ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour.  Both were signed by President Kocharyan today after being cleared by the Armenian National Assembly on 21 March 2005. 

“The ratification of these two international instruments paves the way for the implementation of the country’s ten-year National Plan of Action for Children. It is a key step in ensuring a “protective environment” for Armenia’s children,” says Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative in Armenia. 

The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict raises the minimum age for direct participation in hostilities to 18 years from the minimum age of 15 years specified in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.  It also raises the age of mandatory recruitment to the armed forces from 15 to 18 and the minimum age for voluntary recruitment to 15 years. 

”Hundreds of thousands of children are being exploited in conflicts throughout the world,” says Yett.  “Through the ratification of this protocol, Armenia pledges to ensure that children in this country will never have to face the prospect of actively participating in hostilities, consequently spending the rest of their lives scarred by conflict.”

The Optional Protocol on Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict has been ratified by 89 countries, including Armenia.

ILO Convention 182 calls on the parties to the Convention to take immediate actions to remove all children below 18 from labour that is detrimental to their health and dignity.

UNICEF estimates that 250 million children worldwide are engaged in child labour. Many are working in horrific conditions, working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides and working with dangerous machinery.

“They are everywhere, but they are invisible,” says Yett. “They are toiling as domestic servants in homes, labouring behind the walls of workshops and kneeling in the mud of the world's fields.

“Child labour reinforces a cruel cycle of deprivation. On one hand it is symptomatic of widespread poverty. On the other hand, because child labour usually keeps children out of school, in poor health and exposes them to psychological and physical abuse, it reinforces this poverty by keeping yet another generation from fulfilling its potential.”

The new labour code of Armenia adopted earlier this year is largely consistent with ILO Convention 182 and other international instruments regulating child labor. 

“UNICEF is working with the Government of Armenia to ensure that all children have access to quality education,” says Yett. “But we also need to work actively at community level so that children and parents see school as a better immediate option than work.” 

Armenia is the 154th country to ratify ILO Convention 182.

On 19 March 2005 the Government of Armenia ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.


UNICEF established its presence in Armenia in 1994. UNICEF is mandated by the United Nations General Assembly to advocate for the protection of children’s rights, to help meet their basic needs and to expand their opportunities to meet their full potential.

For further information, please contact:
Emil Sahakyan, Communication Officer, UNICEF Armenia
Tel: (374 1) 523-546, 566497,580-174
E-mail: esahakyan@unicef.org





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