HC Deb 23 May 2002 vol 386 cc475-6W
Mr. Stinchcombe

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made regarding the ratification of the optional protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; and what plans the Government have for the deployment of under-18s after its ratification. [58022]

Mr. Ingram

Officials in both the Ministry of Defence and Foreign and Commonwealth Office are working actively towards ratification of the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and we expect to be in a position to ratify soon. This work includes finalising guidelines for the armed forces which are designed to ensure adherence to the protocol's requirement that all feasible measures be taken to avoid direct involvement in hostilities by those under 18 years of age while reflecting the practical position set out in the United Kingdom's declaration on signing, thus maintaining operational effectiveness. As part of the ratification process, an Explanatory Memorandum will be laid before Parliament to explain the significance of the optional protocol and will cover the steps being taken to enable ratification.