10 June 2010Six countries in Central Africa have committed to end the recruitment of child soldiers, a move welcomed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as a step forward in giving all young people in the region a better life. Six countries in Central Africa have committed to end the recruitment of child soldiers, a move welcomed by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as a step forward in giving all young people in the region a better life.In the N’Djamena Declaration adopted yesterday, the six – Cameroon, Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR), Niger, Nigeria and Sudan – outlined their commitments to child protection in line with global standards, including those in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.“This is a new beginning in Africa, a firm step towards giving all children in the region the dignity of a childhood they’ve so often been deprived of by decades of conflict. It is now time to translate these powerful words into concrete actions,” said Marzio Babille, UNICEF Representative in Chad.The declaration also seeks to enhance opportunities for children – including in education and employment – once they have left armed groups. In addition, it establishes a committee to monitor implementation of the outcome. It marks the culmination of a three-day event, organized in the Chadian capital by the Government and UNICEF, that brought together government representatives, UN officials, child rights experts and former child soldiers to help find ways to end this terrible scourge.Chad and Sudan have signed and ratified the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, while Cameroon and Nigeria have signed the pact, but have not yet ratified it. Niger and the CAR have neither signed nor ratified.Last month, the UN launched a major campaign for the universal adoption of treaty protocols that outlaw the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography, and protect youngsters in armed conflict, with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling for full ratification by 2012.
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