HL Deb 29 April 1998 vol 589 c27WA
Lord Kennet

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is the present state of negotiations in the United Nations towards an amendment of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to raise the minimum age for recruitment and participation in armed conflict from fifteen to eighteen years; and which governments oppose the amendment. [HL1527]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean

The United Nations Working Group on the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict was unable to reach agreement on the text of the draft protocol at its fourth session from 2 to 10 February 1998. The particular views expressed by delegations in the discussions are set out in the report of the working group, published by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

On 22 April 1998 the UN Commission on Human Rights decided by consensus to encourage the Chairman of the Working Group to conduct broad informal consultations with the aim of promoting an early agreement on the protocol and to produce a report on the consultations by the end of 1998, including, if possible, recommendations on the best way for the formal negotiations to proceed. The Commission has requested the working group to meet in early 1999 to consider the chairman's report and to report to the 55th session of the Commission on Human Rights. The commission has also reaffirmed the aim of finalising the draft optional protocol by the 10th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20 November 1999.