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CHARTERS & TREATIES

Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict

Adopted and offered for signature, ratification and accession by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 263 Fifty-fourth session of 25 May 2000

It entered into force February 23, 2002

The States Parties to this Protocol,

She is encouraged by the overwhelming support for the Convention on the Rights of the Child(1) Which indicates the broad commitment to work to promote and protect children's rights,

Reaffirming that children's rights require special protection, and calling for the continuous improvement of the situation of children without discrimination, as well as their upbringing and education in conditions of peace and security,

Alarmed by the harmful and rampant impact of armed conflicts on children and the long-term consequences of this situation on the sustainability of peace, security and development,

Condemning the targeting of children in situations of armed conflict and direct attacks on targets protected under international law, including places that generally have a large presence of children such as schools and hospitals,

Noting the adoption of the Statute of the International Criminal Court,(2) In particular, their inclusion in the compulsory or voluntary recruitment of children under the age of fifteen or their use to take an active part in hostilities as a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts,

Considering, therefore, that the further promotion of the implementation of the rights recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child requires increased protection of children from participation in armed conflict,

Noting that article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child specifies that, for the purposes of that Convention, a child is defined as every human being under the age of 18 years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority was attained earlier,

Convinced that an optional protocol to the Convention raises the age at which persons can be recruited into the armed forces and take part in hostilities, which will contribute effectively to the implementation of the principle that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration in all actions relating to children,

Noting that the Twenty-sixth International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, held in December 1995, recommended, inter alia, that parties to the conflict take all feasible steps to ensure that children under the age of eighteen years do not take part in hostilities,

Welcoming the unanimous adoption of the International Labor Organization Convention No. 182 Concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor in June 1999, which prohibits, inter alia, the forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict,

Condemning with deep concern the recruitment, training and use of children within and across national borders in hostilities by armed groups distinct from the armed forces of a State, and recognizing the responsibility of those who recruit, train and use children in this regard,

Recalling the obligation of each party in any armed conflict to abide by the provisions of international humanitarian law,

Emphasizing that this Protocol is without prejudice to the purposes and principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations, including Article 51, and relevant standards of humanitarian law,

Bearing in mind that conditions of peace and security based on full respect for the purposes and principles contained in the Charter and adherence to applicable human rights instruments are indispensable conditions for the full protection of children, especially during armed conflicts and foreign occupation,

Recognizing the special needs of these children who are particularly vulnerable to recruitment or use in hostilities in contravention of this Protocol due to their economic or social status or due to their sex,

Not losing sight of the need to take into account the economic, social and political root causes of the participation of children in armed conflict,

Convinced of the need to strengthen international cooperation in the implementation of this Protocol as well as the physical and psychological rehabilitation and social reintegration of children victims of armed conflicts,

Encouraging the participation of society, in particular the participation of children and child victims, in the dissemination of information and educational programs on the implementation of the Protocol,

Have agreed as follows:

Article 1

States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of eighteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities.

Article 2

States Parties shall ensure that persons who have not attained the age of eighteen years are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces.

Article 3

1 - States Parties shall raise the minimum age for volunteering of persons into their national armed forces from the age specified in paragraph 3 of Article 38 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, taking into account the principles contained in that article, and recognizing the right of persons under the age of eighteen to special protection under the Convention.
2 - Each state party shall deposit a binding declaration after ratifying or acceding to this Protocol, which includes the minimum age at which it is permitted to volunteer in its national armed forces and a description of the guarantees it has adopted to prevent such volunteering from being forced or forced.

3 - States Parties that permit volunteering in their national armed forces under the age of eighteen shall adhere to guarantees to ensure that, as a minimum:

(A) That this recruitment was truly voluntary;

(B) That this voluntary recruitment takes place with the informed consent of the parents or legal guardians of the persons;

(C) That these persons obtain full information about the duties involved in this military service;

(D) That such persons provide reliable evidence of their age prior to their admission to national military service.

4 - Each state party may reinforce its declaration at any time by notification for this purpose addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations who informs all the states parties. This notification shall enter into force on the date on which it is received by the Secretary-General.

5 - The requirement to raise the age mentioned in paragraph 1 of this article does not apply to schools run by the armed forces of states parties or under their control in line with Articles 28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Article 4

1 - Armed groups distinct from the armed forces of any state may not under any circumstances recruit or use persons under the age of eighteen in hostilities.
2 - States Parties shall take all feasible measures to prevent such recruitment and use, including the adoption of the necessary legal measures to prohibit and criminalize such practices.

3 - The application of this Article under this Protocol does not affect the legal status of any party to any armed conflict.

Article 5

Nothing in this protocol may be interpreted as excluding provisions contained in the law of a state party or in international instruments and international humanitarian law that are conducive to the greater implementation of children's rights.

Article 6

1 - Each State Party shall take all necessary legal, administrative and other measures to ensure the effective implementation and enforcement of the provisions of the Protocol within its jurisdiction.

2 - States Parties undertake to widely disseminate and promote the principles and provisions of this Protocol, by appropriate means, to adults and children alike.

3 - States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons recruited or used in hostilities within their jurisdiction in contravention of this Protocol are released or otherwise exempt from service. States Parties shall provide these persons with all appropriate assistance, when necessary, for their physical and psychological recovery and for their social reintegration.

Article 7

1 - States Parties shall cooperate in the implementation of this Protocol, including cooperation in preventing any activity contrary to the Protocol and in the rehabilitation and social reintegration of persons who are victims of acts contrary to this Protocol, including through technical cooperation and financial assistance. This assistance and this cooperation shall be undertaken in consultation with the States Parties concerned and the relevant international organizations.

2 - States Parties that are able to provide this assistance shall provide it through the existing multilateral or bilateral programs or other programs, or through other matters including the establishment of a voluntary fund in accordance with the rules of the General Assembly.

Article 8

1- Each State Party shall submit, within two years after the entry into force of this Protocol for it, a report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, providing comprehensive information on the measures it has taken to implement the provisions of the Protocol, including the measures taken to implement the provisions relating to participation and recruitment.

2 - After the comprehensive report has been submitted, each State Party shall include in the reports it submits to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, in accordance with Article 44 of the Convention, any additional information regarding the implementation of the Protocol. Other states parties to the Protocol submit a report every five years.

3 - The Committee on the Rights of the Child may request states parties to provide more information related to the implementation of this Protocol.

Article 9

1 - This Protocol shall be open for signature by any state party to the convention or signatory to it.

2 - This Protocol is subject to ratification or open to accession by any State. Instruments of ratification or accession shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

3 - The Secretary-General, as depositary of the Convention and the Protocol, shall inform all States Parties to the Convention and all States Parties that have signed it of the deposit of each of the instruments of declaration pursuant to Article 3.

Article 10

1 - This Protocol shall enter into force three months after the tenth instrument of ratification or accession has been deposited.

2 - For every state that ratifies this Protocol or accedes to it after its entry into force, this Protocol shall enter into force one month after the date on which it deposited its instrument of ratification or accession.

Article 11

1 - Any state party may withdraw from this protocol at any time by written notification addressed to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, who then informs the other states parties to the convention and all the states that have signed the convention. The denunciation shall take effect one year after the date on which the Secretary-General of the United Nations receives the notification. However, if the withdrawing State party is engaged in an armed conflict at the end of that year, the withdrawal does not enter into force before the end of the armed conflict.

2- This withdrawal shall not exempt the State Party from its obligations under this Protocol in respect of any act occurring prior to the date on which the withdrawal becomes effective. This withdrawal shall in no way prejudice the continued consideration of any matter already under consideration before the Committee prior to the date on which the denunciation becomes effective.

Article 12

1- Any State Party may propose an amendment and deposit it with the Secretary-General of the United Nations. As a result, the Secretary-General informs the States Parties of the proposed amendment, requesting them to inform him of whether they favor a conference of States Parties to consider the proposals and vote on them. If, within four months of the date of this notification, at least one third of the States Parties favor holding such a conference, the Secretary-General will convene it under the auspices of the United Nations. Any amendment adopted by a majority of the States Parties present and voting at the conference shall be submitted to the General Assembly for approval.

2 - The amendment adopted in accordance with paragraph 1 of this Article shall enter into force when it is approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations and accepted by a two-thirds majority of the States Parties.

3 - Whenever the amendment enters into force, it becomes binding on the States Parties that have accepted it, while other States Parties remain bound by the provisions of this Protocol and any previous amendments that they have accepted.

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