At a February 2007 ministerial meeting in Paris, Afghanistan and 58 other states endorsed the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups and the Paris Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups. The documents reaffirmed international standards and operational principles for protecting and assisting child soldiers and followed a wide-ranging global consultation jointly sponsored by the French government and UNICEF.[1]

An Action plan was signed on January 30, 2011 by the Government of Afghanistan and the United Nations and witnessed by my Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict for the prevention of underage recruitment by the Afghan National Security Forces, including annexes on sexual violence and killing and maiming in contravention of international humanitarian law. A working group composed of Ministry representatives was established to report on the implementation of the Action Plan. A first compliance report was submitted to the United Nations at the beginning of 2012.[2]

Positive initiatives were taken by individual ministries in moving towards the prevention of recruitment and use of children, and progress was noted in the course of 2011.

Some initiatives in the Action Plan include::

– The Ministry of the Interior trained more than 150 staff of the Afghan National Police on age-assessment procedures and launched a nationwide awareness-raising campaign for the prevention of underage recruitment.

– The Ministry of the Interior also initiated investigations into 19 cases of alleged underage recruitment into the Afghan National Security Forces.

– In the western region, the Afghan National Police established child centers in four provincial recruitment centers, which began systematically documenting and rejecting attempts by children to enlist.

– In compliance with the Action Plan, the Ministries of the Interior and Defense have provided the United Nations with unimpeded access to Afghan National Police and Afghan National Army recruitment and training centers, and the Ministry of Justice to detainees in juvenile rehabilitation centers across the country.

– Both the Ministry of the Interior and the Minister of Defense issued directives to prevent the recruitment and sexual abuse of children in the ranks of the Afghan National Security Forces, specifically stating sanctions for the perpetrators.

– The Government of Afghanistan mapped all the programs and legislation that identified gaps and enhanced implementation of the Action Plan. This effort is welcome as a step towards full compliance with the Action Plan.

However, the lack of regular follow-up with the United Nations on the development of a comprehensive inter ministerial strategy has delayed the full implementation of the Action Plan, despite constructive engagement and initiatives taken by individual ministries.

Go back to Afghanistan

For more information about other countries see Democratic Republic of Congo or Myanmar 


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