International standards

Issues > Children in conflict zones > International standards

Provisions in the Convention on the Rights of the Child relate to children in conflict.  Article 38 prohibits states from recruiting any child under the age of 15 to take part in hostilities, and also recognises that humanitarian law should be applied in relation to children in conflict.  Article 39 obliges states to provide appropriate psychological recovery and social reintegration to children affected by a conflict.  The lack of provisions in the Convention on the Rights of the Child allowing for derogation in times of emergency provides for the entire Convention to be applicable in times of conflict.

The Geneva Convention Protocol I chapter II article 77 affords children special protection, outlines rules in relation to evacuation of children, and includes provisions on the use of child soldiers (similar to those in the Convention on the Rights of the Child). 

The recruitment and use of children under the age of 15 in hostilities is included as a war crime in article 8 (b) (xxvi) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.  The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict expands the protection of children from taking part in hostilities to 18 years of age.  Use of children in armed conflicts is further regulated in the Paris Commitments and the supporting Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups.  These have a broader focus than the mere use of children in direct hostilities, to include children under the age of 18 being exploited for a range of tasks in relation to armed groups.

ILO Convention 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour prohibits forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.  It also prohibits work which by its nature or circumstances is likely to harm the health, safety or morals of children, which would include many types of labour related to extraction of natural resources.