Minister Cowen approves ratification of Optional Protocol to U.N. Convention on Rights of the Child
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen, T.D. has announced that the Government has approved the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.
The optional protocol prohibits the compulsory recruitment by States of persons below 18 years of age in their armed forces and States are also required to take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces under 18 years of age do not take part in hostilities.
Minister Cowen said "Ratification of this important protocol signifies our commitment to take all efforts to stop the involvement of children in armed conflict and to bring pressure to end the use of children as soldiers worldwide".
The Minister also added that "the plight and suffering of so many children in situations of armed conflict throughout the world is a cause of shame and we must back all efforts to strengthen international standards for the protection and promotion of children's rights. It is vital that world leaders, who have been willing to bear the expense of militarisation, do not shrink from the costs of peace, demobilisation and reconciliation. Child participation in armed conflict is not inevitable. The culture of impunity that surrounds the use of children as soldiers needs to be tackled.@
Note for Editors
The Irish Government attaches great importance to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which is central to the protection and promotion of children=s rights on a global level. The issue of child soldiers is of particular concern and Ireland has strongly supported international efforts to stop the use of child soldiers. In particular, Ireland has actively supported the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
Ireland has joined an informal group known as the Friends of the Special Representative, which includes eleven other EU member States and the EU Commission as well as Canada, Japan, Malaysia, India and Kenya. The aim of the Group of Friends is to support the work of the Special Representative and to promote measures for the protection of children in armed conflict. The Taoiseach signed the Optional Protocol at the Millennium Summit in New York in 2000.
Ratification of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict signifies Ireland's commitment to take all efforts to stop the involvement of children in armed conflict and to bring pressure to end the use of children as soldiers worldwide.