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Children’s rights

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Toward a world without child soldiers – Fifth anniversary of the Paris Principles and Commitments (December 3, 2012)

On the occasion of the 5th anniversary, France and UNICEF have taken the initiative to hold a meeting today in New York to review progress on the Paris Commitments, under the chairmanship of Human Rights Ambassador François Zimeray and in the presence of Leila Zerrougui, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

France and the rights of the child

At the international level

France has endorsed all the international instruments protecting and promoting the rights of the child, foremost among them the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, which it signed and ratified in 1990, and the two Optional Protocols, one on the involvement of children in armed conflict (2000) and the other on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (2000). France submitted its fifth periodic report on the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child in September 2012.

France supports the work of UNICEF, to which it contributed some €14 million for 2012. Its support is directed primarily towards maternal and infant health programmes in Africa and Haiti (under the Muskoka G8 commitments), education for girls (Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger) and psychological, social and medical care for girls affected by the conflict in Ivory Coast.

The Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography visited France in November 2011. She commended France’s efforts on preventing and combating the sale and sexual exploitation of children and encouraged the government to adopt a global, integrated approach in order to guarantee the protection, without discrimination of any form, of all actual and potential child victims.

At European level

France played an active part in the adoption of the EU Guidelines on the Rights of the Child (2007) and of the EU Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict (2003, revised in 2008).

It also took part in the launch of the Council of Europe campaign to protect children from exploitation and sexual abuse and was among the first signatories of the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse, which came into force on 1 July 2010.

Protecting child victims of armed conflict

France is especially committed to the protection of children in armed conflict. In 2007, France partnered UNICEF in organising the "Free Children from War" Conference which gave rise to the "Paris Commitments", a political declaration on the protection, liberation and rehabilitation of children involved in armed conflict. To date, 105 States have endorsed the Paris Commitments. France is an active member of the UN Security Council Working Group on Children and Armed Conflict and was instrumental in its creation in 2005. France has also demonstrated its commitment in the form of a €2 million multi-year cooperation programme to improve protection for children in armed conflict in certain regions of Africa.

The "Children in Armed Conflict" programme (€2 million, 2008- 2011)

Between 2008 and 2011, France spearheaded a multi-year cooperation programme to improve the protection of children in armed conflict in Africa’s Great Lakes region (Burundi, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo) and in Central and Eastern Africa (Central African Republic, Sudan Chad). Efforts in these regions centred on three key elements:

1. protecting the child victims of armed conflict and assisting their long-term reintegration into society;

2. preventing and raising awareness of the use of children in armed conflict and reinforcing their rights;

3. reinforcing the ability of local communities and authorities to deal with child victims of armed conflict, primarily through capacity building.

The programmes have produced positive results: thanks to NGO Save the Children, working on component 1 of the programme in the DRC, 18 children were removed from armed forces and groups and placed with temporary foster families; 40 children received psychological, social, medical and nutritional care at transit centres; 24 children were reunited with their family over the first half of 2009 and 20 children received support on vocational training from the second quarter of 2009.

In Burundi, the situation of children involved with the National Liberation Front (FNL) was as follows: 350 children were removed from the FNL and relocated in a transit camp, where they received psychological and social support and medical care and were taught basic literacy skills, AIDS awareness and other skills (conflict management, peaceful cohabitation). The phase of reuniting children with their family and their reintegration into the community (education and vocational training) is just beginning. Finally, in June, the last remaining children involved with the FLN were removed and transferred to the transit camp until they can be reunited with their family.

Updated on : 01.03.13

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