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"The question of children and armed conflict is an integral part of the United Nations' core responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security, for the advancement of human rights and for sustainable human development."

Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a speech to the Security Council, 26 July 2000

Vital Statistics

  • The number of children under the age of 18 who have been coerced or induced to take up arms as child soldiers is generally thought to be in the range of 300,000.
  • Most soldiers under 15 are to be found in non-governmental military organizations.
  • Most child soldiers under 18 have been recruited into Governmental armed forces.
  • The youngest child soldiers are about 7 years old.
  • An optional protocol prohibiting the recruitment or use of children as soldiers was completed and opened for signature and ratification by all States in June 2000.
  • Over 50 countries currently recruit children under age 18 into their armed forces.