During the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, Minister for Africa James Duddridge and Special Representative, Leila Zerrougui held a Ministerial roundtable on 25 September with several countries. The aim was to identify ways to accelerate progress in ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children in conflict situations by national security forces. The meeting was held in support of the UN campaign, ‘Children Not Soldiers’.
Ministers and Representatives from Afghanistan, Chad, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Yemen, Liberia and Sierra Leone were joined by the Peace and Security Commissioner of the African Union. They shared lessons on ending the recruitment and use of children by government forces in conflict situations and to also help those with UN Action Plans accelerate their implementation.
Minister for Africa James Duddridge said:
It can’t be right that, to this day, children continue to be recruited as soldiers in conflict situations. I am committed to supporting activities to end this shocking practice. Children belong in schools and playgrounds, not on the battlefield.
We encourage the exchange of ideas and expertise between countries that have successfully brought an end to the use of child soldiers and those who are working towards this goal.
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui said:
I am grateful for the United Kingdom’s active engagement to support the campaign. Such exchanges are opportunities for concerned governments to speak about their experiences, learn from each other and advance in the implementation of their action plan. They also serve to keep the campaign’s momentum towards child free national security forces by the end of 2016.
The African Union reiterated its commitment to support the countries concerned by the campaign and to fully implement the action plans they have signed with the United Nations to end and prevent the recruitment of children as well as other grave violations against children.
The seven countries with outstanding action plans pledged to take additional measures to ensure their security forces will be child-free by 2016.
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