The United Nations has called upon all member states to ratify the UN protocols that outlaws the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography, and protect youngsters in armed conflict.
The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says many children are still suffering from abuse and leaders need to do everything to protect children’s rights.
“The sad truth is that too many children in today’s world suffer appalling abuse,” he told a ceremony at the headquarters of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in New York marking the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the two optional protocols strengthening the Convention on the Rights of the Child by providing a moral and legal shield for youngsters vulnerable to prostitution and pornography or caught up in armed conflict.
“Two-thirds of all Member States have endorsed these instruments. On this tenth anniversary of their adoption, I urge all countries to ratify them within the next two years,” Ban said.
UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake said the Optional Protocols “represent a promise made to the world’s most vulnerable children – children born into extreme poverty and despair, children in countries torn apart by conflict and children forced into unimaginable servitude by adults who regard them as commodities.”
The Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict has been ratified by 132 States; 25 States have signed but not ratified it and 36 States have neither signed nor ratified it. “We know from the situation on the ground that much remains to be done. Violence against children in all its forms remains a challenge for societies in the world,” Mr. Ban’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy said.
“There are a multitude of conflicts where children are used as soldiers, spies, human shields or for sexual purposes. Every additional ratification of the Optional Protocol would therefore bring us closer to a world in which no child is participating in hostilities and forced to serve the national military or irregular armies,” Coomaraswamy said
The Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, has been ratified by 137 States; 27 have signed but not ratified and 29 have neither signed nor ratified it.
“The Optional Protocol is an important tool for tearing through the mantle of invisibility surrounding the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography and other forms of sexual exploitation, to mobilize societies and to translate political commitment into effective protection of children from all forms of violence,” Mr. Ban’s Special Representative on Violence against Children Marta Santos Pais said, citing significant law reforms to criminalize such crimes.