HC Deb 18 December 2001 vol 377 c188W
Mr. Cox

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development which countries that allow child soldiers to be used in conflict within their countries receive financial assistance from the UK for aid projects. [22971]

Clare Short

It is difficult to say which countries "allow" the use of soldiers. Where non-state actors use children in armed conflict, this is usually in opposition to the Government of that country. Other countries may state that they do not use children, yet there are reports of children being used.

The UK provides development assistance to countries that are committed to poverty reduction and who will use our assistance effectively. The protection of children caught up in armed conflict is an important aspect of our development assistance programmes, which can include, among other things, working with Governments to improve their human rights record. DFID is contributing, over a three-year period, £3 million to UNICEF to build its capacity to implement programmes which will prevent children becoming involved in, or otherwise being affected by, conflict, and £3 million to the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Children to support his work in reducing the impact of conflict on children, including the involvement of children in armed conflict. The work of these two institutions spans a wide range of countries in Africa, Asia and Europe.

We also encourage the ratification of important international instruments such as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child covering the involvement of children in armed conflict.