The recruitment of child soldiers remains a serious problem with tens of thousands of children recruited into conflicts around the world.
EU policy is set out in the Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict, as revised in 2008. These aim to persuade Governments and other actors to fully respect international humanitarian law and human rights law which protects children from armed conflict. The Guidelines commit the EU to address the impact of armed conflict on children and to hold accountable those who recruit child soldiers.
The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1261 on the impact of armed conflict on children in 1999 and since then it has established tools to strengthen child protection and to support international standards, including a systematic and comprehensive monitoring and reporting mechanism.
In December 1996, the UN General Assembly created the mandate of the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict to advocate for the protection and well-being of children affected by armed conflict and to develop best practices to address the recruitment of child soldiers. The UN Secretary-General also issues an annual report on children and armed conflict which examines both trends and specific country situations, listing all armed groups that recruit and use children.
Ireland is a member of the Group of Friends of Children and Armed Conflict at the United Nations in New York, a network of 47 Member States who support the continued focus on Children and Armed Conflict.
Ireland continues to combat the use of child soldiers through our development programme, Irish Aid, with a focus on addressing the socio-economic causes that contribute to this situation, through providing access to education, skills and livelihood opportunities.
Ireland strongly supports the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict and will actively engage in the Children and Armed Conflict Working Group when it assumes membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in January 2021.