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Every country big or small has a role to play in abolishing child recruitment

© UNICEF Sudan/2010/Touzon

10th Anniversary of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict

New York/Khartoum, 15 February 2012: “Ten years ago, the world said no to the forced recruitment of children under the age of 18 and to their participation in hostilities,” the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy said on the 10th anniversary of the entry into force of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.

“So far, almost three-quarters of the world has ratified this important treaty, but for a true universal moral consensus, we need the remaining 49 States to ratify,” SRSG Coomaraswamy said. “Every country, big or small, with or without a standing army, at peace or in conflict, has a role to play in abolishing the inhumane practice of recruiting and using children in war.”

The Optional Protocol prevents children from taking part in hostilities, encourages all States to set their minimum age of conscription at 18 years, and raises awareness of States’ obligation to criminalise recruitment and use of girls and boys. 

Sudan ratified the Optional Protocol in 2005, and has ensured that national laws are consistent with its provisions through the Armed Forces Act 2007 and the Children’s Act 2010, which ban the recruitment of children under the age of 18 in armed forces.

UNICEF has been working with government and non-government actors to strengthen the implementation of the measures prescribed in this legislation. Some of the initiatives include the establishment of a Child Rights Unit within the Sudanese Armed Forces to strengthen its role in protecting children in situations of armed conflict; and working with the National DDR (Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration) Commission to implement a programme that supports the release and reintegration of children associated with armed groups and forces in Sudan.

In an effort to strengthen the international norm against child recruitment, the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict along with UNICEF, the Special Representative on Violence against Children, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights launched in 2010 the universal ratification campaign of the Optional Protocol. Since the launch of the Zero Under 18 Campaign, 16 signatures and ratifications have been made, with Grenada becoming the most recent party to the treaty.

For more information about the campaign:

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For further information, please contact:
Timothy La Rose, Communications Officer, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict, +1 917-346-3404,

Simon Ingram, UNICEF Chief of Communication, Sudan, + 249 156 553 670 x 306, +249 912 177 573,



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