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UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs written question – answered on 2nd November 2011.

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Photo of Cathy Jamieson Cathy Jamieson Shadow Minister (Treasury)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what legal advice his Department has received on the Government's interpretative declaration on the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.

Photo of Jeremy Browne Jeremy Browne The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

It is not Government practice to disclose whether they have sought legal advice or the content of any advice obtained. The UK played a full and active role in negotiations leading to the drafting of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The UK signed the Optional Protocol in September 2000 and ratified on 24 June 2003. The Government's understanding of their obligations is clarified by the interpretive declaration they made upon signature and confirmed upon ratification. This made clear that the armed forces would continue to recruit from age 16 but included a clear commitment to take all feasible measures to ensure those who had not yet reached the age of 18 years old did not take a direct part in hostilities. The Government remains fully committed to meeting their obligations under the Protocol and welcomes the steps that have been taken to bestow special safeguards on young people under 18. We believe that our policies on under 18s are robust and compliant with national and international law. We will continue to keep them under review.

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