African Union/European Union on the Use of Child Soldiers

AU-EU joint state­ment on the Inter­na­tion­al Day Against the Use of Child Sol­diers
On 12 Feb­ru­ary, the Inter­na­tion­al Day against the Use of Child Sol­diers, the African Union and the Euro­pean Union joint­ly call for pro­mo­tion of peace, secu­ri­ty and sta­bil­i­ty in Africa and Europe and for the strength­en­ing of efforts at all lev­els to pre­vent con­flicts and pro­tect chil­dren from the effects of war, includ­ing being forced to serve as com­bat­ants, sex slaves or ser­vants.

The AU and the EU wel­come the progress made, includ­ing by the adop­tion of Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion 1882 that expands the trig­gers for the UN Mon­i­tor­ing and Report­ing Mech­a­nism to include two addi­tion­al grave vio­la­tions: killing and maim­ing of chil­dren and rape and oth­er sex­u­al vio­lence against chil­dren. How­ev­er, they remain deeply con­cerned about the sit­u­a­tion of chil­dren affect­ed by armed con­flicts, which con­tin­ue to deprive chil­dren in par­tic­u­lar of access to edu­ca­tion and health ser­vices and of a safe home and com­mu­ni­ty. Grow­ing up in con­flict, chil­dren con­tin­ue to face inde­scrib­able vio­lence, to be recruit­ed to fight, wound­ed or killed, sep­a­rat­ed from their fam­i­lies and emo­tion­al­ly as well as phys­i­cal­ly scarred for life.

The African Char­ter on the Rights and Wel­fare of the Child pro­hibits the recruit­ment or direct par­tic­i­pa­tion in hos­til­i­ties or inter­nal strife of any­one under the age of 18. It calls upon States Par­ties to respect and ensure respect for rules of inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an law applic­a­ble in armed con­flicts which affect the child. It also requests that all nec­es­sary mea­sures should be tak­en to ensure that no child shall take direct part in hos­til­i­ties and refrain in par­tic­u­lar, from recruit­ing any child. States Par­ties to the Char­ter shall, in accor­dance with their oblig­a­tions under inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an law, pro­tect the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion in armed con­flict and shall take all fea­si­ble mea­sures to ensure the pro­tec­tion and care of chil­dren who are affect­ed by armed con­flict. Such rules shall also apply to chil­dren in sit­u­a­tions of inter­nal armed con­flicts, ten­sion and strife. The AU will con­tin­ue its efforts to pro­mote and pro­tect the rights and wel­fare of all African children. 

The EU is com­mit­ted to address­ing the short, medi­um and long term impact of armed con­flict on chil­dren in an effec­tive and com­pre­hen­sive man­ner. More specif­i­cal­ly, the EU pro­motes the imple­men­ta­tion of inter­na­tion­al and region­al human rights norms and human­i­tar­i­an law, the fight against the use of chil­dren in armed forces and armed groups, the reha­bil­i­ta­tion and rein­te­gra­tion of for­mer child sol­diers and end­ing impuni­ty for crimes against chil­dren. In Decem­ber 2010, the EU revised the imple­men­ta­tion strat­e­gy to the EU Guide­lines on Chil­dren and Armed Con­flicts pro­vid­ing for enforced con­crete actions as regard, inter alia, polit­i­cal dia­logue, mon­i­tor­ing and report­ing, train­ing and aware­ness-rais­ing and coop­er­a­tion with oth­er stake­hold­ers to fur­ther advance the EU’s actions in this field.

The AU and the EU sup­port the cam­paign launched in May 2010 by the Office of the Spe­cial Rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the UN Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al for Chil­dren and Armed Con­flict in coop­er­a­tion with oth­er part­ners with the pur­pose of achiev­ing uni­ver­sal rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Option­al Pro­to­col on the Involve­ment of Chil­dren in Armed Con­flict by 2012, and call for all coun­tries to rat­i­fy the Option­al Protocol.

In line with their joint strat­e­gy and action plan, the AU and the EU pro­mote the rights of the child as well as the empow­er­ment of African and Euro­pean young peo­ple, with spe­cial efforts made to assist chil­dren and young peo­ple in con­flict and post-con­flict situations.

The AU and the EU fur­ther­more reaf­firm their full sup­port to the fight against impuni­ty for the recruit­ment and use of child sol­diers and the need to bring per­pe­tra­tors of such crimes to justice. 

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union 

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