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Afghanistan: Steps Toward Ending Use of Children in the Military

(Aug. 6, 2014) According to a United Nations report, Afghanistan has endorsed a 15-article “Road Map Toward Compliance” for protecting children from military recruitment. This step follows the January 30, 2011, agreement between Afghanistan and the U.N., which was a commitment to protect children affected by war and prevent their recruitment into the armed forces. The new plan is supported by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF). (UN Welcomes Afghanistan’s Recommitment to End Recruitment of Child Soldiers, UN NEWS CENTRE (Aug. 1, 2014); Afghanistan Signs Pact with UN to Prevent Recruitment of Child Soldiers, UN NEWS CENTRE (Jan. 30, 2011).)

Ján Kubiš, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan, said that the “measures outlined in the Road Map will, if fully implemented, serve to ensure accountability.” (UN Welcomes Afghanistan’s Recommitment to End Recruitment of Child Soldiers, supra.) The plan includes having screening procedures for the security forces, including both the national and the local police. A system will be established to investigate, prosecute, and take action to discipline anyone responsible for persons under the age of 18 being added to security forces. In addition, all peace and reconciliation efforts with any armed groups in the country will include provisions on the re-integration into society of members of the groups that are under the age of 18. (Id.)

Leila Zerrougui, the U.N. Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, said that the Road Map “will make a real difference in the lives of Afghan children.” (Id.) Together with UNICEF, Zerrougui has recently launched a global campaign known as “‘Children, Not Soldiers,” designed to stop the recruitment of children by government security forces by 2016. (UN Unveils Global Campaign to End Use of Child Soldiers in Government Forces by 2016, UN NEWS CENTRE (Mar. 6, 2014).)

When the campaign was announced, eight governments were criticized for recruitment of children for armed groups, and six of the governments, including that of Afghanistan, have signed action plans with the United Nations. The other five are Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, Myanmar, and Somalia. The remaining two nations, Sudan and Yemen, are in discussions on the subject with the United Nations. (Id.)