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UN: Speed Ratification of Children's Rights Treaties

On 10th Anniversary, Renewed Action Needed to End Sexual Exploitation, Use of Child Soldiers


Governments should act quickly to ensure universal ratification of
key international treaties protecting children from use in war and from
sexual exploitation, Human Rights Watch said today. May 25, 2010, is
the 10th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations General
Assembly of two treaties prohibiting the use of child soldiers, the
sale of children and child prostitution and pornography.

The treaties - both optional protocols to the Convention on the
Rights of the Child - have won wide support, but 44 countries have yet
to ratify either protocol. The optional protocol on the involvement of
children in armed conflict has been ratified by 132 countries, and the
optional protocol on the sale of children, child pornography, and child
prostitution has been ratified by 137 states.

"The children's rights treaties have helped to reduce the number of
child soldiers and protect children from sexual exploitation," said Jo
Becker, children's rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.
"Countries that have not ratified them should do so quickly so that no
child will be without these basic protections."

A group of 12 international human rights, humanitarian, and child
rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty
International, Save the Children International, and World Vision sent
joint letters today to the UN ambassadors of countries that have not
yet ratified one or both protocols, urging them to do so as soon as
possible in order to strengthen an "unequivocal norm" against the use
of child soldiers, and the sale and sexual exploitation of children.

In 2000, children were being used or had been used recently as
soldiers in an estimated 36 armed conflicts, according to the
Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers. A new report issued
Friday by the UN secretary-general, found that child soldiers are
actively participating in armed conflict in only 16 countries. While
the decline is in part due to a smaller number of conflicts, it also
reflects a change in laws and practices. Some countries have
demobilized children from their armed forces, adopted national
legislation to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment, or
changed policies to prohibit the deployment of children into

Some countries also have taken legal and other measures to prevent
the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. They
have criminalized such acts, taken tougher measures to punish
offenders, established specialized law enforcement units to deal with
sexual exploitation of children, and ensured that child victims are
rehabilitated and reintegrated in society.

"It's remarkable that nearly two-thirds of the world's countries
have ratified the children's rights protocols in just a decade,"
Becker said. "However, the remaining countries should act to make
clear their commitment to abolish these terrible forms of child

Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leading independent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights. By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we give voice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Our rigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy build intense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30 years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moral groundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice and security to people around the world.