|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Secretary-General Salutes Pledge by States to End Child Military Recruitment,
In Message for Launch of ‘Children, Not Soldiers’ Campaign
Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message as delivered by Leila Zerrougui, his Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, to the launch of the United Nations Global Campaign “Children, Not Soldiers”, in New York today:
I am pleased to extend my full support to the United Nations global campaign “Children, Not Soldiers”, led by my Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund).
All children deserve protection, not exploitation. They belong in school, not armies and fighting groups. Children should be armed with pens and textbooks, not guns. This campaign complements other United Nations efforts, such as my Global Education First Initiative to secure children’s rights and provide dignity, opportunity and a better life.
In 1996, Graça Machel’s landmark report to the General Assembly raised global awareness of the recruitment and use of children by Governments and others engaged in armed conflict. Since then, the Security Council has developed a strong framework for monitoring and acting on the worst violations.
A decade ago, the Council called on parties to conflict to work with the United Nations to prepare “concrete, time-bound action plans to halt recruitment and use of children”. All eight of the Member States currently listed for recruiting and using child soldiers are with us today. I salute their pledge to sign and fulfil action plans to end and prevent the recruitment of children into their armed forces. Our common goal is to ensure that these initiatives succeed. Thousands of children have been released but thousands more remain.
We have come a long way, but we can only realize the promise of this campaign through the full commitment and engagement of the international community. I ask all concerned Governments, regional and non-governmental organizations to work with the United Nations to intensify efforts to meet our goal of zero use of children by any Government forces by 2016. Progress will help fuel further success in reaching the many non-State actors that also continue to recruit children.
Let us keep our eye on the ultimate goal: no child soldiers — ever, anywhere. Let our children be children.
* *** *For information media • not an official record