Number of armed groups or forces using child soldiers increases from 40 to 57
Security Council debates the Secretary Generalís annual report on children and armed conflict
NEW YORK, February 2008 - Coinciding with the sixth anniversary of the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Security Council today held an open debate on the situation of children caught in conflict.
According to the new Secretary Generalís annual report on Children and Armed Conflict, the number of armed groups and forces identified as using children has climbed from 40 in 2006 to 57 in 2007.
This increase hides a complex reality. On the one hand it indicates better monitoring and reporting of violations and an improved ability to identify parties responsible for recruiting children. It also places parties who use children in conflicts under tighter international and domestic scrutiny.
On the other hand it also reflects a deterioration of the situations in Chad and Sudan, as well as renewed fighting in Afghanistan and Central African Republic, where children are now being recruited.
The rise in the number of groups identified as using child soldiers has reinforced the importance of the Optional Protocol and having international legal instruments and improved monitoring and reporting mechanisms in place to combat this scourge.
But the news is not all bad. Over the past six years, there have been a number of positive developments in addressing this situation. There are now 119 States parties to the Optional Protocol. Furthermore, since February 2007, 66 Governments have subscribed to the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups.
In addition, at least three peace agreements with armed forces and groups in Chad, the Central African Republic, and Sudan have reiterated the commitments made in Paris, and in one situation, the Ivory Coast, the recruitment of children has ceased.
Her Royal Highness, The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, issued a statement today noting that, while these developments are encouraging, the reality on the ground for hundreds of thousands of children indicates that collectively we must continue to combat this unacceptable practice.
UNICEF welcomes todayís adoption by the Security Council of the Presidential Statement on children and armed conflict and views it as a further opportunity to reinforce government commitments to protecting children affected by armed conflict.
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