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20 Years to Better Protect Children Affected by Conflict

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Foreword by Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations

Twenty years ago, the General Assembly recognized the unique predicament of children caught up in conflict, and created the mandate of my Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC).

Across two decades of advocacy and action by successive Special Representatives, this commitment has yielded results: tens of thousands of children have been released from armed forces and armed groups, thousands of children have received desperately needed services, and accountability for perpetrators has increased.

Equally important is the achievement of a new global consensus among Member States that children should not be recruited and used in conflict, and that they should be protected from all other grave violations.

In 2014, I was pleased to support the “Children, Not Soldiers” campaign launched by my Special Representative and UNICEF, which has since generated noteworthy progress in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere. My annual report on children and armed conflict has also become an important tool to prevent the use of children in the armed forces, and I am pleased to note that all Governments that have been listed in that report have officially engaged with the United Nations towards this end. This is a major achievement and one of the founding objectives of this mandate.

States have the primary responsibility to protect the fundamental rights of the world’s children. I call on Member States, civil society, United Nations entities and everyone who can make a difference to rise to this test and give all children the childhood they deserve.