On 21 February, on the occasion of the international “Protect Children from War” conference organized jointly with UNICEF, France will host 120 delegations representing states, international organizations and civil society. The French President will open the conference.
It will be co-chaired by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF. Ms Leila Zerrougui, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflicts, will also take part.
The initiative builds on the “Free Children from War” conference held in Paris in 2007. It led to the adoption of the Paris Principles and Commitments, aimed at protecting children from recruitment by armed forces or groups. Those principles and commitments received the support of 105 states. Ten years later, France intends to broaden the international mobilization.
The participants will present a progress report on the situation of children in armed conflicts, recall existing standards in order to promote their implementation and identify possible ways forward.
The conference provides an opportunity to register states’ voluntary commitments on the issue, particularly the endorsement of the Paris Principles and Commitments by new countries.