France today celebrates the 15th anniversary of the Paris Principles and Commitments adopted on 5 February 2007 at the international conference in Paris, “Free Children from War”, organized with UNICEF. Endorsed on that day by more than 112 States, the Principles aimed in particular to prevent the recruitment and illegal use of child soldiers, free them from the clutches of armed groups, and encourage the fight against impunity for people who have illegally recruited children.
France also played a driving role in the adoption of United Nations Security Council resolutions 1539 (2004) and 1612 (2005), which established a mechanism for monitoring and reporting serious violations committed against children in times of armed conflict. Thanks to this mechanism, the United Nations Secretary-General publishes a yearly report listing parties to armed conflicts who are responsible for serious violations against children (armed groups or regular forces).
Progress has been made since the adoption of the Paris Principles and Commitments, but more than 8,500 child soldiers were still recruited or mobilized in 2020, at a time when the pandemic limited children’s access to education and social services, making them more vulnerable to predatory armed groups. The international community must therefore continue fighting tirelessly against these activities, against sexual violence and against attacks on education in times of armed conflict. In this regard, France calls on those States which have not yet done so to endorse the Paris Principles and Commitments. It also reaffirms its resolute support for the action of Ms Virginia Gamba, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, whose post was created 25 years ago, and for UNICEF’s action.