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The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict – Towards Universal Ratification

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The changing nature of modern warfare has increasingly exposed children, both boys and girls, to direct involvement in armed conflict. In order to bring this horrible practice to a halt, the international community ten years ago adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, establishing eighteen as the minimum age for compulsory recruitment and participation in hostilities. This article presents an overview of the legislative history, legal framework and key provisions of the Optional Protocol. It also discusses the experience and practices of the International Criminal Court and the issue of children and criminal responsibility. The paper further elaborates on the needs and difficulties of war-affected children for reintegration into their communities, with special attention to psychosocial health and the building of livelihood skills.

Affiliations: 1: Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict


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