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Nations commit to ending illegal use of child soldiers

[JURIST] About 60 nations pledged Tuesday to refrain from the illegal and unacceptable use of child soldiers in armed conflicts [JURIST report] during the second day of Free Children from War [conference materials], a global conference in Paris. Hosted by the French Foreign Ministry [official website] and UNICEF [official website], the conference adopted the Paris Commitments [text] and formally unveiled the more extensive Paris Principles [text, PDF], which recommend actions in affected countries to end the violation of children's rights. Among the signatories to the Paris Commitments were Sierra Leone, Liberia and Congo, all nations in which child soldiers have taken part in armed conflicts; all 27 nations of the European Union also signed.

According to UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman, the estimated 250,000 children [press release] recruited by armed forces and armed groups are "used as combatants, messengers, spies, porters, cooks, and girls in particular are forced to perform sexual services, depriving them of their rights and their childhood." Experts say that girls comprise up to 40 percent of child recruits and that twelve countries have used child soldiers on a massive scale. In 2005, the UN Security Council [official website] adopted Resolution 1612 [text] authorizing the UN to closely scrutinize and keep track [JURIST report] of all countries and rebel organizations that abuse children in any way or recruit children as soldiers [UN press release]. AP has more.

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