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Written Answers. - Children's Rights.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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 50. Mr. Spring Information on Dick Spring Zoom on Dick Spring  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  if and when the Government will ratify the UN optional protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10267/02]

[786]

 74. Mrs. Owen Information on Nora Owen Zoom on Nora Owen  asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen  if, when ratifying the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the involvement of children in armed conflict, the Government will commit to a straight-18s policy, which is a policy of non-recruitment and non-participation of all those under the age of 18 in the Defence Forces as called for by UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, in his report to the Security Council of 19 July 2000. [8490/02]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): Information on Brian Cowen Zoom on Brian Cowen I propose to take Questions Nos. 50 and 74 together.

The Irish Government attaches great importance to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which is central to the protection and promotion of children's rights on a global level. The issue of child soldiers is of particular concern and Ireland has strongly supported international efforts to stop the use of child soldiers. In particular, Ireland has actively supported the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

Additionally, Ireland has ratified the ILO Convention on the Worst Forms of Child Labour, in which Article 3 defines “the forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict” as comprising the worst form of child labour.

Ireland has joined an informal group known as the “Friends of the Special Representative”, which includes 11 other EU member States and the EU Commission as well as Canada, Japan, Malaysia, India and Kenya. The aim of the group of friends is to support the work of the special representative and to promote measures for the protection of children in armed conflict.

Ireland has signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. The ratification by Ireland of the optional protocol to the convention is the subject of active and ongoing consideration by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Defence. The main issue requiring attention is the potential implications of the ratification of the optional protocol for recruitment to the Defence Forces.


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