Round table on improving protection of children from involvement in armed conflicts

Geneva Call organization held at “Lancaster Tamar” Hotel in Hazmieh a round table on improving the protection of children from involvement in armed conflicts, in partnership with Permanent Peace Movement and with the support of UNICEF, to focus on the importance of ratifying and implementing the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of children in Armed Conflicts (OPAC).

The meeting was attended by the member of the Committee on Women and Children, MP Shant Janjanian, Director of Permanent Peace Movement, Fadi Abi Allam, Armin Kohli representing Geneva Call, Violet Warnery UNICEF Representative, former Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Childhood Dr. Elie Mikhael, Representative of Minister of Social Affairs, Zahi El Haibi, Director of the International Humanitarian Law and Human rights, Brigadier General Elias Abu Jaoude, and Lieutenant Colonel Iyad Abu Dargham from the Lebanese Army Command.

Members of Kataeb Party, Progressive Socialist Party, Marada Movement, Free Patriotic Movement, Future Movement, Lebanese Forces and Al Azem Movement also partook in the round table.

In the opening speech, Abi Allam said that it was hard to count the number of children who were recruited and used in hostilities, but studies and researches done by the end of the 1990s estimated the number of child soldiers by 300 thousand.

“Undoubtedly, this feature increasingly outspread with the rise in the number of armed conflicts, as children were exploited in around 40 armed conflicts all over the world,” he added.

He said that according to a report issued by UNICEF in 2014, it was the worst year for two successive generations of children in the world, with around 230 million children living in countries and regions affected by armed conflicts, including 15 million suffering directly from this phenomenon in Central African Republic, Iraq, southern Sudan, Palestine, Syria and Ukraine.

He said that Lebanon was affected by this issue, with some Lebanese children recruited and taken to fight outside Lebanon.

He pointed out that the problem was that we lack knowledge concerning the definition of child. According to the Convention on the Rights of Children 1989, “the child is who is under the age of 18,” while militias focus on ages from 15 to 18.

“The debate today intends to reactivate this issue to struggle for the ratification of the Protocol in Lebanon,” he concluded.

MP Janjanian said that the Lebanese government signed on 17/02/2002 decree no. 7887 regarding this issue, but the parliament did not ratify it.

He pointed out that “we should spread awareness in the Lebanese community and raise such awareness on Human Rights.”

“We should ensure a safe environment for children for physical and intellectual growth on one hand, and we should convince all parties before submitting this protocol to the General Committee, on the second hand.”

He added that we gathered altogether today because we believe in this cause.

Al Haibi said that the Higher Council for Children was also interested in the issues of protection of children at the ministry, stressing “the need to intensify communication amongst the parties in order to protect our children.”

Source: National News Agency