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29 April 2009 - Security Council: children and armed conflict - Stakeout by M. François Zimeray, Ambassador of France for Human Rights

(translation:) This is a very important meeting today, where the issue of child soldiers was emphasized by the very presence of the Secretary General. We have argued forcefully that there will be no progress, deterrence, without strong and targeted sanctions. We reaffirmed our support for the International Criminal Court, its procedures and work. We also advocated that the working group also deal with the issue of sexual violence, which is obviously a very important dimension of the abuse suffered by children in armed conflict.

In the various reports of the committee, one of the countries named as recruiting child soldiers is Chad. In terms of France’s foreign policy, how do you implement the importance of the child soldiers issue with countries with which you have historical relations ?

Chad is a country with whom we have a strong and old dialogue, and the fact that we have a dialogue makes it easier to raise this issue. There is no dead angle in our vision, it is a universal combat, and there is no reason not to mention this in our relation with Chad. This is at the very heart of all our exchanges and all our efforts to promote human rights in Chad, as well as in the other countries of the region.

Some have been saying that children are now being recruited into armed conflicts not between nations or rebel groups and governments, but between drug gangs and governements, between drug gangs and other drug gangs. Does France believe that that issue should be dealt with under the agenda of children and armed conflict by the UN ?

This is a very important dimension as well, which exists not only in Africa, but also in Latin America, in Asia. The borderline between official child soldiers and children involved in private armies is very thin, and it is definitely part of a dimension of the problem which has to be dealt with./.



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