24 January 2000

Secretary-General Welcomes Agreement on Draft Optional Protocol to Convention on Rights of Child

NEW YORK, 21 January (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General warmly welcomes the conclusion of the Working Group on the Draft Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on involvement of children in armed conflicts. The Draft Protocol, which was agreed in Geneva today, represents a most significant step towards eliminating any role for children in warfare by raising the age for both military conscription and participation in combat from 15 to 18.

The fruit of six years of deliberation, which member States and non-governmental organizations have played positive and constructive roles, the Draft Protocol, when it enters into force, will be a highly effective instrument for the protection of children in armed conflicts. With its early adoption the world has taken a step forward to eliminating the scourge of child soldiers.

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