UNICEF and the non-governmental organization Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers have developed this Guide to the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict as a contribution to the campaign to prevent and end the use of child soldiers. It is hoped that this publication will be useful for mobilizing national and international efforts in support of that goal.
It describes the context surrounding its adoption, efforts supporting its objectives, key provisions and the legislative processes involved for signature and ratification or accession. The Guide aims to support child rights advocates – including government officials, child protection agencies, humanitarian workers and those involved in national coalitions – in their work to generate momentum and support for ratification and implementation of the Optional Protocol.
The Guide is intended to assist non-governmental organizations, child protection agencies, other child rights advocates and government officials in their efforts to ensure ratification of or accession to the Optional Protocol and the treaty’s full implementation. It is also intended to be useful for UNICEF staff and human rights and humanitarian agencies, in particular, those involved in national coalitions or as partner organizations of the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers.
This publication contains essential information on the Optional Protocol: the context surrounding its adoption, efforts supporting its objectives, its key provisions, the processes for signature and ratification or accession and measures needed for effective implementation. Emphasis is placed on the monitoring and reporting requirements and the role of the Committee on the Rights of the Child. Recommended strategies and concrete actions to promote ratification and implementation of the Optional Protocol are provided. Local, national and regional partners can adapt these strategies and actions for use in awareness-raising, training and advocacy.
The Guide is not intended to provide an exhaustive interpretation of the language of the Optional Protocol, or to explain all the possible legislative steps and measures in great detail. Rather, it is meant to be a practical tool.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict represents a leap forward in international law to protect children from the harmful effects of recruitment and use in hostilities.