25 May 2000, acting without a vote, the United Nations
General Assembly adopted the Optional Protocol to the
Convention on the Rights of the Child on Involvement of
Children in Armed Conflict 2000 prohibiting the use of
children under 18 years in combat.
new protocol establishes 18 as the minimum age for
participation in armed conflict, for any compulsory
recruitment, and for any recruitment or use in armed
conflict by armed groups. It calls on governments to
raise their minimum age for voluntary recruitment, but
regrettably, still allows governmental armed forces to
accept voluntary recruits from the age of 16, subject to
Optional Protocol requires State Parties to take all
feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed
forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not
take a direct part in hostilities, and that such persons
are not compulsorily recruited. States parties shall
raise the minimum age of voluntary recruitment from that
set out in Article 38 of the Convention.
terms of voluntary enlistment, the Optional Protocol
raises the minimum age to at least 16 and includes
specific and verifiable safeguards, including the
provision of reliable proof of age and the informed
consent of both volunteer and parents.
4 states that armed groups that are distinct from the
armed forces of a State should not, under any
circumstances, recruit or use in hostilities persons
under the age of 18 years. State Parties must take all
feasible measures to prevent such recruitment and use,
including the adoption of legal measures necessary to
prohibit and criminalize such practices.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for
Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, welcomed its
momentous step has been taken in the global effort to
eradicate the use of children as soldiers”, he said.
“This outcome is a victory for children exposed to
cynical exploitation in situations of armed conflict.
Now, concrete action must follow — starting with the
speedy signature and ratification by United Nations
Member States of this landmark agreement.”
must now organize more effectively to monitor adherence
by parties in conflict to their commitments and
obligations to protect children, leaning ever more
urgently on armed groups that are abusing children as
combatants right now”, Mr Otunnu said. “The
international community must make it clear that all
warring parties will be held to account if they fail to
comply with this new international standard.”
to other pages dealing with this issue:
on child soldiers
to other conventions dealing with this issue:
Forms of Child Labor Convention 1999
of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General
for Children and Armed Conflict
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