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Member States commit to greater efforts to release and reintegrate child soldiers

NEW YORK, 29 September 2009 – A number of United Nations Member States added their names to the ‘Paris Commitments’ to protect children from recruitment and use by armed forces or armed groups today, at a Ministerial level meeting at UN Headquarters. The number of States to have endorsed the commitments has increased to 84, the latest being Albania, the Central African Republic, Eritrea, Guinea, Jamaica, Liechtenstein, Panama and Senegal.

The Paris Commitments were adopted in Paris in February 2007, and are an expression of strengthened international resolve to prevent the recruitment of children and highlight the actions governments can and should take to protect children affected by conflict. The Paris Principles are the operational guidelines related to sustainable reintegration of children formerly associated with armed forces and groups.

Tens of thousands of children worldwide are being used in armed conflict by more than 50 parties. Their release and reintegration, as well as the protection of other vulnerable children affected by armed conflict, remains an issue of grave concern to the international community. More resources must be dedicated to long-term reintegration programmes.

“The support to the ‘Paris Principles’ and new endorsements of the ‘Paris Commitments’ show that the international community is mobilized to stop this unbearable phenomenon,” said Mr. Alain Joyandet, French Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie.

Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict explained that the political determination that underlay the ‘Paris Commitments’ strengthened the existing child protection framework. She added that groups that recruited or used children in armed conflict must be held accountable. “Holding perpetrators of such a crime accountable has an important deterrence effect. The stronger the message, the more children will be saved.”

The event also served as an exchange of lessons-learned on the implementation of the ‘Paris Principles’. Mr. Walter A. Füllemann, ICRC Head of Delegation to the United Nations, speaking on behalf of the Paris Principles Steering Group, called for a holistic approach that includes national legislative reforms and successful reintegration of children formerly associated with armed groups and armed forces into their communities as a preventive measure. “Vulnerable children are more exposed to recruitment. We need long term prevention and reintegration programs to better protect them.”

“It is important that all children, whether they have joined an armed group by force or by circumstance, have access to vital assistance to help them reintegrate and lead empowered and productive lives,” said Ann M. Veneman, Executive Director of UNICEF.  “Reintegration for children is a long-term process and can only be successful if it is sustainable, inclusive and community-based.”

For further information: Please visit
or contact:

Stéphane Crouzat, Permanent Mission of France, New York,
Tel + 1 212 702 4923,
E-mail: stephane.crouzat@diplomatie.gouv.fr

Laurence Gérard, Office of the SRSG for Children & Armed Conflict,
Tel + 1 212 963 0984,
E-mail: gerardl@un.org

Rebecca Fordham, UNICEF HQ NY,
Tel + 1 212 326 7162,
E-mail: rfordham@unicef.org





29 September 2009: UNICEF correspondent Amy Bennett reports on the Ministerial meeting on implementation of the Paris Commitments relating to the use of children in armed conflict.
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