Minister O'Donnell attends special ceremony in New York on stopping the use of child soldiers.
The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Liz O'Donnell TD, attended a special ceremony in New York today to highlight the plight of children in situations of armed conflict. The ceremony organised by UNICEF and the NGO, Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, marked the occasion of the signing of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict by Governments during this Millennium Summit.
Speaking from New York where she is attending the UN Millennium Summit, Minister O'Donnell said " I am happy that Ireland was one of the first countries to sign this important protocol which 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".
Minister O'Donnell signed a commemorative book and laid flowers at a special memorial wall to children killed, wounded, abducted or missing as child soldiers in various parts of the world. She continued "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. Stigmatising those who recruit and use children is a vital first step".
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 ensure that members of their armed forces under 18 years of age do not take part in hostilities.Top