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International Child Soldier Day (February 12, 2014)

On the occasion of International Child Soldier Day, France would like to reaffirm its commitment to the protection of children in armed conflict.

Despite the international community’s commitment, there are still almost 300,000 child soldiers around the world, notably in Syria, the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Mobilization efforts to combat this scourge, which, according to the Statute of the International Criminal Court, constitutes a war crime, must continue.

The protection of children in armed conflict is a priority of our diplomatic action. We are mobilized in support of the universal ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Together with UNICEF, France also organized the Paris Conference in 2007 that led to the adoption of the “Principles and Commitments to combat the unlawful recruitment or use of children by armed groups.”

On the ground, France is involved in improving the protection and the sustainable reintegration of child soldiers. We have been conducting a program in the Great Lakes region and in Central Africa since 2008 that has reached 13,000 children, including 2,000 child soldiers. In Mali and the Central African Republic, French forces are extending their full cooperation to UNICEF in order to ensure the demobilization and reintegration of children recruited by armed groups.

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