UN High Commissioner for Human Rights links the publication of the Global Report on Child soldiers to the responsability of governments
"This study draws attention to the continuing widespread abusive exploitation of children through their involvement in armed conflict. I recall vividly what children I met in Sierra Leone told me of their terrible life as child soldiers", Mary Robinson said, " and yet more than 300 000 children, boys and girls under 18, are fighting as soldiers with governmental armed forces and armed groups in more than 30 countries worldwide."
The High Commissioner pointed to the clear responsibility of States : " as we prepare for the Special Session on Children in September, I call on States to give priority to the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 May 2000. Progress in ratification of the Protocol is quite slow despite the encouraging number of States who have signed it", she added.
As of today, 4 States have ratified this Optional Protocol and another 76 have signed it. Six more ratifications are needed for this instrument to enter into force. The Optional Protocol establishes 18 years as the minimum age for direct participation in hostilities, compulsory recruitment in governmental armed forces and any recruitment in armed groups. It also calls on States to raise the minimum age from the 15 years set in 1989 by the Convention on the Rights of the Child for voluntary recruitment in governmental armed forces.