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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 5, 2000


            United Nations Protocols on Child Soldiers and
     the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography

President Clinton today signed two historic agreements advancing international efforts to eliminate abuses committed against the world's children. The United States is among the first signatories to these United Nations protocols, which prohibit the forcible recruitment of children for use in armed conflict and protect children from slavery, prostitution and pornography.

The Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict and on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography were adopted by the UN General Assembly on May 25, following several years of negotiations. The United States played an active role in negotiating both Protocols over the past several years. The Administration intends to submit both Protocols to the United States Senate for advice and consent later this month and will continue to work with the Senate to achieve speedy ratification of these two Protocols.

Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict.

In many parts of the world, children as young as seven or eight years old tote guns and ammunition and are deeply engaged in armed conflict, including:

The Protocol raises international standards in the effort to end the forced recruitment of children into armed conflict, gives governments additional tools to pressure violators and promotes rehabilitation to help reintegrate child soldiers into civilian life. Specifically, this Protocol:

The Departments of State and Defense were deeply involved in the international negotiation leading to the adoption of the Protocol, which would require the United States to take all feasible measures to ensure that 17-year olds do not take a direct part in hostilities. The Secretary of Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Service Chiefs carefully considered whether the U.S. military could undertake such an obligation and concluded we could do so while fully protecting our military recruitment and readiness requirements.

On June 8, the U.S. Senate adopted a resolution calling for ratification of this Protocol as quickly as possible.

Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

This Protocol is a significant advance in efforts to strengthen law enforcement action against those responsible for sexual abuse of children, with strong provisions that:

This Protocol supplements other U.S. efforts in the international arena and builds on the adoption last year of the International Labor Organization's Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention. That Convention, which the United States has ratified, calls for immediate and effective measures to stamp out exploitation of children for prostitution, pornography and other abuses.

Both Protocols are stand-alone international agreements open to all States without the need to be part of the underlying international agreement, the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Signature and ratification of these two Protocols do not create any obligations in relation to the underlying Convention or to any other international agreement to which the United States is not a party.