'Say no to child soldiers'

The 100th country has now signed a pledge - but China, Russia and Pakistan are among countries who have so far refused to sign on

One hundred countries have now signed up to an international accord vowing to stop children from being forced to fight in armies.

With hundreds of thousands of children said to be involved in armies and militia groups around the world, the five extra signatories for the Paris Commitments over the past week have been hailed as a landmark for the declaration.

   Angola, Armenia, Bosnia, Costa Rica and San Marino signed up during the UN General Assembly, diplomats at a meeting on the accord Monday said.

   The new endorsements and support for action on child soldiers “show that the international community is mobilized to stop this unbearable phenomenon,” said Francois Zimeray, France’s ambassador for Human Rights.

   “The time for warnings has come to an end. We have to take into account what is working and what is not. It’s high time to make justice happen” said the Ambassador.

   The Paris Principles were adopted at a meeting in France in 2007  set out guidelines to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers, protect children affected by conflict, and help reintegrate those who have been forced to fight.

   During 2010, UNICEF and other agencies helped with the release and reintegration of approximately 10,000 children associated with armies or armed groups.

   Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Uganda are all on a UN child soldier blacklist for past or present offences.

   Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN special representative for children  and armed conflict, together with Zimeray and other activists are still looking for new countries to sign the commitments.

   China, Russia and Pakistan are among countries who have so far refused to sign on.

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