Monday, February 13, 2012
February 12, 2012 marked the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The United Nations envoy for children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, used the anniversary to call for universal ratification of protocol that outlaws the use of minors to fight wars and encourages States to set 18 years as the minimum age for recruitment. Thus far, 144 States have ratified the treaty.
“Every country, big or small, with or without a standing army, at peace or in conflict, has a role to play in abolishing the inhumane practice of recruiting and using children in war,” said Ms. Coomaraswamy.
In an effort to strengthen international norms against child recruitment, in 2010, Ms. Coomaraswamy jointly with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Special Representative on Violence against Children, and the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights launched the universal ratification campaign of the Optional Protocol.
Since the launch of the ‘Zero under 18 Campaign,’ 16 additional States have signed or ratified the protocol, with Grenada becoming the most recent party to the treaty just last week on February 6.