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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2002 > December
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
December 23, 2002


Ratification of Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child

The United States Senate unanimously granted its advice and consent and President Bush signed the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. These are another example of the commitment of the United States to the protection of children and to working with the international community to end abuses and recognize universal human rights norms. The instruments of ratification were deposited at the United Nations this morning, December 23, 2002, and the United States has become a State Party to the Optional Protocols.

The first Optional Protocol, on the involvement of children in armed conflict, inter alia, confirms that the minimum age is 18 years for compulsory recruitment into a State Party’s armed forces. In addition, States Parties must take “all feasible measures” to ensure that members of their armed forces who are under 18 years old do not take a “direct part” in hostilities. The Protocol also promotes international cooperation in the rehabilitation and social integration of persons who are victims of acts contrary to the provisions of the protocol.

The second Optional Protocol, on the sale of children, child pornography, and child prostitution, is the first instrument of international law to define these terms legally. It is a giant step forward in our efforts to combat trafficking for forced commercial sexual exploitation. The Protocol requires States Parties to protect children up to the age of 18 by treating the actions of exploiters as criminal acts that merit serious punishment. In the global arena, the Optional Protocol promotes international law enforcement cooperation.

Over 300,000 girls and boys are used in government or rebel forces in over 30 armed conflicts in the world. They serve as soldiers, runners, guards, sex slaves and spies. An estimated one million children are currently trafficked for coerced sexual exploitation or labor. At the least, these children face interrupted or total suspension of education. Often, they live with fear, pain, and degradation – or don’t survive at all.

Child victims of armed conflict and commercial sexual exploitation desperately need the world’s attention. The United States advocates the widest possible acceptance and ratification of these historic protocols so that they speak for the entire world community.

 

Released on December 23, 2002

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