International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers
New York, 12 February 2020. On the occasion of the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, Italy reaffirms its firm commitment to ensure the safety and rights of minors, including in situations of conflict. On the 20th Anniversary of the First Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, we reiterate our strong condemnation of the heinous practice of child recruitment in armed conflict – a practice that exposes children to serious risks and grave violations of their fundamental rights, depriving them of their childhood. Italy will continue its international campaign for the safety and rights of children living in conflict areas, with a deep sense of responsibility and commitment. It will do so in the belief that we must keep them far from the battle lines, the dangers and the abuse, and safeguard their right to education.
Despite the progress made over the past thirty years, according to the latest Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, in 2018 there were more than 24,000 grave violations of minors’ fundamental rights in situations of conflict. In particular, there were 933 cases of sexual violence and 1,023 attacks on schools and hospitals, which had a devastating effect on access to education and health services. It is our common responsibility to ensure that the most defenseless, including those living in war-torn areas, can dream and build their own future.
Italy stands on the front line in protecting children who live in situations of armed conflict. At the 33rd International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (Geneva, 9-12 December 2019), Italy made a solemn commitment – to which other Countries can accede – to guarantee the safety and rights of children in conflict situations. Italy’s proposal, in only a few days, gathered a record number of signatures, becoming the most supported commitment of the entire Conference.