This conference is the moment for states to step forward on their own laws and policies, and to influence others to do so. The ICRC asks for concrete commitments:
First, accede to the treaties that prohibit the recruitment of children in armed conflict. It is time for these to be universal.
Despite knowing the horror of child recruitment, not all States have acceded to the law that proscribes it:
- the Optional Protocol on Children in Armed Conflict
- the Additional Protocols I and II to the Geneva Conventions
- and the Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Second, meaningfully protect all children who have been recruited by armed forces and armed groups, and significantly step-up efforts for their release and reintegration.
Children who have been recruited should be seen as victims first and foremost. Detention must be a last resort measure – but it is too often the rule.
We call on States to endorse and to take steps to implement the Paris Principles. They provide guidance for the release and reintegration of recruited children into society, to ensure their best interest.
Third, take action – and this means within your militaries – to prevent the enormous consequences of urban warfare on children.
The special protection of children should be specifically addressed in urban warfare doctrine and planning and included in trainings.
Children are more likely to die of the effects of explosive weapons in populated areas and to suffer the consequences of the breakdown of health and education services.
In particular, more States should endorse, and take corresponding steps to implement, the Political Declaration on Strengthening the Protection of Civilians from the Humanitarian Consequences arising from the use of Explosive Weapons in Populated Areas.
Minister, dear colleagues,
Today, more than ever, we can elevate the protection of children in armed conflict as a political priority and ensure it receives the necessary funding.
For this reason, I am grateful to Norway for convening this important conference, and thank you for having given me the opportunity to speak to you today.
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