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New Countries Endorse the Paris Commitments to End the Use of Child Combatants

September 27, 2010

NEW YORK, 27 September 2010 – New countries today endorsed the ‘Paris Commitments’ to end the use of child soldiers, joining a growing list of States that have pledged to protect children from recruitment and use by armed forces and groups.

Adopted in 2007, the Paris Commitments on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups are a voluntary promise by States to work together to halt child recruitment, support the release of children from armed groups and help reintegrate these children into civilian life.

At today’s high-level meeting in UN Headquarters, the third Ministerial follow-up Forum to the Paris Commitments, Cape Verde, Gabon, Georgia, Iceland, Latvia, New Zeland, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, South Korea, Togo and Uruguay endorsed the Commitments, raising the number of supporting countries from 84 to 95.

“The Paris Commitments are an expression of strengthened international resolve to prevent child recruitment,” said H.E. Mr. Bernard Kouchner, French Minister of Foreign Affairs. “We are pleased to receive new commitments coming from all continents, demonstrating worldwide support for the reintegration of former child soldiers".

Despite growing international efforts to reduce the number of children, thousands of children continue to be recruited by both government forces and armed rebel groups in situations of armed conflict and insecurity.

“The use of children in armed conflict is not only morally reprehensible, but it is a war crime,” said Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict.  “To protect the children of today and tomorrow, we must work collectively to ensure that armed forces and rebel groups cannot continue to get away with this egregious violation.”

Three main objectives of the Ministerial forum are to assess the implementation of the Paris Commitments and the Paris Principles, examine the need for additional funds to support proven prevention and reintegration programmes as well as to monitor compliance by parties to armed conflict, and to review the status of Member States’ endorsements and encourage new governments to sign on.

“The Paris Principles reaffirm our collective commitment to protect the most fundamental right of a child: To be a child,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.  “If we do not succeed in reintegrating these children into their communities and supporting them once they return, we cannot hope to break the cycle of violence.”

The Paris commitments are accompanied by the Paris Principles: operational guidelines designed to help sustainable reintegration into their communities of children formerly associated with armed forces and groups.

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