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Somalia: Action Plan to Eliminate Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers

(July 12, 2012) On July 3, 2012, the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and the United Nations signed an Action Plan on concrete steps for the Government to take to realize a child-free national army in the country. If the Government fully complies with the plan, the U.N. Secretary-General will remove it from the U.N.'s List of Parties Which Recruit and Use Children in Situations of Armed Conflict. (Press Release, No. 012/2012, United Nations Political Office for Somalia [UNPOS], Somali Transitional Federal Government Signed an Action Plan to End Recruitment and Use of Children (July 3, 2012); Jennie Ryan, Somalia Signs UN-Backed Plan to End Use of Child Soldiers, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (July 4, 2012).)

Chad agreed to a similar plan in late June 2011. (Chad Signs Plan to End Recruitment and Use of Children in National Army andSecurity Forces, NETHERLANDS AID website (June 23, 2011).) There were 21 nations on the U.N. list as of June 13, 2011, including Chad and Somalia. (List of Parties Which Recruit or Use Children in Situations of Armed Conflict and Relevant UN Reports per Country (2000-2011) (June 13, 2011), International Bureau of Children's Rights website.)

Under the Action Plan, the Government commits to:

1) termination of the practice of recruitment and use of children in the Somali national armed forces;

2) reintegration into society, with U.N. support, of all children released from the armed forces;

3) criminalization in national legislation of the recruitment and use of children; and

4) provision to the U.N. of unimpeded access to military installations to verify the presence or absence of children. (Press Release, supra.)

The Minister of Defense and concurrently Deputy Prime Minister of Somalia, Hussein Arab Isse, who signed the Action on behalf of his government, has also pledged to sign a second Action Plan, on the protection of children from being killed and maimed, later this month. (Id.)