Signature of an Action Plan to prevent the recruitment of children by the Congolese army: Time to implement commitments

LONDON, 5 October 2012 - The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and the United Nations officially committed to ending the recruitment and use of children by Congolese armed forces and security services by signing an Action Plan yesterday, Thursday, 4th October, in Kinshasa.

Child Soldiers International welcomes these commitments which are essential for the protection of children against military exploitation in the DRC. We believe that the immediate identification and demobilization of children currently associated with armed and security forces must be accompanied by measures designed to put in place effective and durable prevention against child recruitment. Therefore, legislative reforms, institution-building activities, and efforts to improve the accountability of members of the armed forces are to be prioritized.

The plan includes a series of commitments on the part of the government and the United Nations to end the recruitment of children into the armed and security forces in the DRC as well as to end sexual violence against children by members of these forces. The plan presents a detailed list of time-bound activities to implement the commitments. It provides for specific measures aimed at:

  • Preventing child recruitment and other grave violations of children's rights perpetrated by the armed forces and security forces;
  • Facilitating regular and independent monitoring of military facilities in order to verify the presence of children;
  • Ensuring the reintegration of children formerly associated with armed and security forces;
  • Obtaining the adherence of non-state armed groups to the principles of the Action Plan;
  • Promptly investigating all allegations of recruitment and sexual violence against children in order to prosecute alleged perpetrators;
  • Supporting the implementation of court decisions on reparations for child victims of violations and affected communities.

Following the signing of the plan, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children and Armed Conflict stated that it would contribute to “the professionalization of the Congolese security forces while ensuring respect for children’s rights.”

We therefore call on the Congolese government and the United Nations to allocate sufficient and adequate time and resources to implement the Action Plan rigorously and comprehensively, including by controlling the effectiveness of measures taken under the plan in the long-term.