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27 April 2009 - Communiqué - Children and Armed Conflict: Action by France

There are an estimated 200,000 child soldiers in the world.

In his most recent annual Report on children and armed conflict, published on April 22, the Secretary-General of the United Nations noted that there were serious violations of children’s rights in 20 situations of concern. He names 56 State or non-State parties who have been found guilty of recruiting and using child soldiers, including 14 persistent violators.

While the Security Council is holding a public debate on April 29, France believes that, given the scale of the phenomenon, the time has come to increase efforts to combat the rape and sexual violence endured by children in armed conflict.

Publication of the Machel report in 1996 on "The Impact of Armed Conflict on Children" was a milestone with regard to the international community’s awareness of the issue.

1 - France has made this issue one of its priorities within the Security Council.

Since 1999 the Security Council has adopted 6 thematic resolutions that deal specifically with the fate of children in armed conflict. In particular, resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005), adopted based on France’s initiative, establish a mechanism for monitoring and communicating information on six types of violations against the rights of children and a Security Council working group responsible for monitoring the issue and recommending concrete measures. They call for the parties to conflicts that use children to establish action plans to release them and reintegrate them.

France chaired the Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict from its creation in November 2005 until December 2008 before handing over the chairmanship to Mexico.

France fully supports the United Nations’ actions and, in particular, those of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, whose position was created by the General Assembly in 1997.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, flanked by Bernard Kouchner, Minister for Foreign Affairs of France, talks to news correspondents following the Security Council debate on children and armed conflict.

12 February 2008 - UN Photo/Mark Garten

France considers the NGOs’ contribution to this issue to be essential. The creation in 1998 of the "Coalition to stop the use of child soldiers," then the "

  • Recruiting or using child soldiers
  • Killing or maiming of children
  • Rape and other grave sexual violence against children
  • Abduction of children
  • Attacks against schools or hospitals
  • Denial of humanitarian access for children
  • <br> <br>

    2 - Guidelines for France's action:

    <br> <br>

    - The importance we attribute to the universal implementation of the "[Convention on the Rights of the Child->" class='spip_out' rel='external'>Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict" and its "Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict," as well as their translation into national laws;

    - Reaffirming the importance of the contribution of the International Criminal Court as an instrument to fight against impunity for those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against children, and as an instrument of deterrence with respect to potential violators;

    - Promoting a comprehensive approach to the problem that deals with issues of development, humanitarian conditions, security and human rights, and in which the Security Council, the Secretary General’s Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, UNICEF, agreed to in February 2007. More than 75 States have already signed on to these commitments. They aim in particular to promote best practices developed on the ground to reintegrate the children;

    Follow-up meeting to the Paris conference on children involved in armed forces or armed groups: joint press conference with Ms. Rama Yade, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights, and Mr. Ishmael Beah, former Sierra Leonean child soldier, UNICEF ambassador. (Paris, Quai d’Orsay)

    16 January 2008 - Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs / A. Arraou

    - Support for the reintegration of children within the framework of specific bilateral programs. In its embassies in the Democratic Republic of Congo and [Sudan->, France has created two attaché positions specializing in the issue of children in armed conflict, each with its own budget and regional jurisdiction. It is contributing to the reintegration of 340 children who were released in Burundi in April 2009.

    UN Photo/Myriam Asmani

    Some of the children at the Goma Children Rehabilitation Centre in the DRC. 09 March 2007

    UN Photo/Myriam Asmani

    3 - The international community must still respond to many challenges:

    - In priority, France would like to expand the criteria for adding parties to the United Nations Secretary-General’s list so that they include rape and sexual violence.

    - France believes that the Security Council must be ready to adopt sanctions that target those parties that refuse to cooperate with the United Nations;

    - France would like to work more closely with the main donors (World Bank, etc.) so that their financial planning takes the rehabilitation of the children into account;

    - The next high level meeting of the Follow-up Forum for the Paris Commitments, which will take place in fall 2009 on the sidelines of the General Assembly, should be an opportunity for the international community to increase its efforts even more, particularly with regard to funding. At the first meeting of the forum in 2008, France decided to make an exceptional contribution of more than € 1 million to the programs for the reintegration and social rehabilitation of child soldiers implemented by UNICEF. We hope that other countries will be able to do the same, and that they will announce at the Forum next fall that new funding will be granted to the rehabilitation programs.

    (Updated : April 27, 2009)

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