To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if his Department will assess the merits of the conclusions and recommendations of the report entitled, No Choice: It takes a world to end the use of child soldiers, published by World Vision International in February 2019; and what steps his Department is taking to protect children at risk of recruitment by armed forces and his groups.
The UK government actively engages with civil society organisations, recognising that collaborative engagement can strengthen the protection of children in armed conflict. On 12 February 2019, the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon met four youth participants from World Vision UK's newly launched campaign entitled 'It takes a World...To End Violence Against Children', to discuss their views and recommendations for government action regarding the use of children in armed forces and groups. The UK government recognises the importance of amplifying young people's voices and the powerful impact this can have in raising the profile of the Children and Armed Conflict (CAAC) Agenda. The UK government therefore continues to engage with World Vision on this agenda. An invitation has been extended to World Vision to present at the newly established cross-government Working Group on CAAC.
The UK is an active member of the United Nations Working Group on CAAC, which leads the international response to the issue of child soldiers and child protection. This includes pressing those parties to conflict listed in the UN Secretary-General's annual report on CAAC to enter into concrete action plans with the UN to verify and release any child soldiers associated with armed groups and forces and to prevent re-recruitment. The UK is the largest single financial contributor to the office of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for CAAC, contributing £800,000 in the last five years. We have shown our support for the SRSG's recently launched Global Coalition for Reintegration (GCR) by joining the 'Friends of Reintegration' group, a forum to generate new ideas for supporting reintegration programmes and prevention of re-recruitment for children formerly associated with armed groups. The UK has confirmed it will be increasing its funding to the office of the SRSG for CAAC to £450,000 for the FY19/20 to continue assisting the SRSG with her current mandate and will be giving an additional £50,000 to fund extended activities pertaining to the GCR.