Despite global push to end use of child soldiers, reality on the ground for tens of thousands of children remains bleak
Global report released today finds children continue to be used in large numbers
NEW YORK, May 2008 – Children continue to be recruited and used in large numbers by armed groups despite widespread political commitment to end the practice. The findings were released today in the 2008 Child Soldier Global Report issued by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.
Today’s Child Soldier Global Report is the most comprehensive study of its kind. It highlights the need to ensure the demobilization of children is an unequivocal priority for all parties and not and issue to be tied to peace agreements.
According to the recent annual report on Children and Armed Conflict issued by the Secretary General of the United Nations, 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. 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.
However, it also reflects a deterioration of the situations in many countries such as Chad and Sudan, as well as renewed fighting in Afghanistan and Central African Republic.
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.
However, today’s Global Report clearly shows that policies being agreed upon internationally are not filtering down to the ground fast enough and when conflict is present, children continue to be at risk of recruitment.
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