Written answers

Thursday, 27 January 2022

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Foreign Conflicts

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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231. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which the international community continues to investigate the use of child soldiers in various conflict zones globally; the actions proposed or taken against the perpetrators; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4181/22]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The recruitment of child soldiers remains a serious problem with tens of thousands of children recruited into conflicts around the world.

The UN Secretary-General issues an annual report on Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) which examines both trends and specific country situations, listing all armed groups that recruit and use children.

In his latest 2021 report, the Secretary-General confirmed twenty-one countries where more than 26,000 grave violations against children were verified. The highest number of these violations concerned the recruitment and use of children as child soldiers. The Secretary-General also pointed to the COVID-19 pandemic as an aggravating factor in the recruitment and use of children as child soldiers since 2020, particularly where their access to education and other key social services has been severely hampered, exposing them to even greater risk of recruitment.

Ireland’s membership of the Security Council offers us an opportunity to play an active role in combating violations against children in conflict situations. The Security Council has established tools to strengthen child protection and to support international standards on CAAC including a comprehensive monitoring and reporting mechanism. Ireland is an active member of the UN Security Council Working Group on CAAC which adopts conclusions on country situations of concern and ensures follow up of the recommendations at country level.

Ireland is also an active member of the Group of Friends of CAAC as well as the Group of Friends of the Reintegration of Child Soldiers. Ireland continues to combat the use of child soldiers through our development programme, with a focus on addressing the socio-economic causes that contribute to this situation, through providing access to education, skills and livelihood opportunities. Ireland is also a signatory to the Safe Schools Declaration which outlines a set of commitments designed to strengthen the protection of education from attack, restrict the use of schools and universities for military purposes and ensure the continuity of education in armed conflict zones.


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