Bärbel Kofler, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement today (12 February) to mark the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers:
The illegal recruitment of children, as well as the deployment of child soldiers continue to be a devastating reality for far too many children in the world.
Even today in 2019, the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the improved protection of children in crisis areas therefore remains one of our principal tasks. Germany is tackling this challenge by earmarking substantial financial resources – as the world’s second largest bilateral humanitarian donor, Germany made available more than 1.5 billion euros in financial support in 2018, some of which is being used to provide humanitarian aid for children.
We will use our membership of the UN Security Council this and next year to further enhance the protection of children in armed conflicts, making us of the mechanisms put in place by the Security Council.
I call on all states to keep up their efforts to prevent the illegal recruitment of minors and to re-integrate former child soldiers, thus ensuring that they can lead normal lives with prospects for the future. It is incumbent on all countries to end the perfidious practice of deploying children as soldiers and not only to meet children’s need for special protection but also make use of young people’s abilities in order to stabilise and advance their societies on a durable basis.
Millions of children around the world are affected by conflict. That is why the UN Secretary-General appointed a Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict. Among other things, she works to ensure that child soldiers can be re-integrated into society and lead normal, civilian lives with a future. State actors from Syria and South Sudan, as well as non-state parties to conflicts from 14 countries are currently on the UN Secretary-General’s List of Shame for recruiting children. Further parties to conflicts are listed when they kill, maim or abduct children, engage in sexual violence against them or attack schools and hospitals. The fact that attacks on schools and hospitals have been established as criteria for inclusion on this List is thanks to a German initiative during Germany’s last stint on the Security Council (2011-2012).
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 20 November 1989 by way of Resolution 44/25 and entered into force on 2 September 1990. It is the UN Convention with the most states parties. Only the United States has failed to ratify the Convention to date. Germany ratified it on 6 March 1992. The Second Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC) prohibits the recruitment of children under the age of 18, thus supplementing the Convention provisions on this point. Germany ratified this Optional Protocol in 2004 and has been working hard since then to ensure its implementation.