Published on - 1/31/2008
UN SECRETARY-GENERAL Ban Ki-moon called on the Security Council in a report issued yesterday to impose sanctions on armies and groups that make use of child soldiers in at least a dozen countries.
Recruitment of children in armed conflicts was happening mainly in African and Asian countries, ranging from Sri Lanka, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda to Myanmar he said in the report.
Those responsible were rebel groups but included government forces in countries like Chad, Somalia and Sudan, Ban said. Some were guilty of killing and sexually abusing children.
The Security Council should consider penalising those responsible by banning arms and military aid and slapping travel and financial restrictions on leaders, Ban said.
Violations against children in conflict should be referred to the International Criminal Court, or ICC, based in The Hague.
The U.N. children's fund UNICEF estimated last year there were some 250,000 child soldiers worldwide. Other experts say information is so hazy that the numbers are impossible to determine.
Ban's report said several precedents had been set over the past year for ending impunity for crimes against children.
These included ICC charges against Congolese factional leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo for conscription of children.
The court also issued arrest warrants for five senior members of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army on charges including using children in combat. But governments â€œmust also promptly commence appropriate national prosecutions for grave crimes against children,â€ Ban said.
He also urged the Security Council to tackle the controversial issue of cluster bombs, calling for a â€œbinding instrument that prohibits the use, development, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.â€
Cluster munitions contain bomblets that can saturate vast areas of land. Used in conflicts from Vietnam to Iraq, they have been blamed for killing and maiming thousands of civilians.
Norway has led an effort to craft a treaty banning the weapons. Campaigning groups say nearly 100 countries support a ban, but munitions-producing nations the United States, China and Russia â€” all with vetoes in the Security Council â€” are resisting.