Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child on the involvement of children in armed conflicts
in PDF Format
Adopted and opened for signature, ratification and
accession by General Assembly resolution A/RES/54/263
of 25 May 2000
entry into force 12 February 2002
The States Parties to the present Protocol,
Encouraged by the overwhelming support for the Convention on the
Rights of the Child, demonstrating the widespread commitment that
exists to strive for the promotion and protection of the rights of
Reaffirming that the rights of children require special
protection, and calling for continuous improvement of the situation
of children without distinction, as well as for their development
and education in conditions of peace and security,
Disturbed by the harmful and widespread impact of armed conflict
on children and the long-term consequences it has for durable peace,
security and development,
Condemning the targeting of children in situations of armed
conflict and direct attacks on objects protected under international
law, including places that generally have a significant presence of
children, such as schools and hospitals,
Noting the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court, in particular, the inclusion therein as a war crime,
of conscripting or enlisting children under the age of 15 years or
using them to participate actively in hostilities in both
international and non-international armed conflicts,
Considering therefore that to strengthen further the
implementation of rights recognized in the Convention on the Rights
of the Child there is a need to increase the protection of children
from involvement in armed conflict,
Noting that article 1 of the Convention on the Rights of the
Child specifies that, for the purposes of that Convention, a child
means every human being below the age of 18 years unless, under the
law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier,
Convinced that an optional protocol to the Convention that raises
the age of possible recruitment of persons into armed forces and
their participation in hostilities will contribute effectively to
the implementation of the principle that the best interests of the
child are to be a primary consideration in all actions concerning
Noting that the twenty-sixth International Conference of the Red
Cross and Red Crescent in December 1995 recommended, inter alia,
that parties to conflict take every feasible step to ensure that
children below the age of 18 years do not take part in hostilities,
Welcoming the unanimous adoption, in June 1999, of International
Labour Organization Convention No. 182 on the Prohibition and
Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child
Labour, which prohibits, inter alia, forced or compulsory
recruitment of children for use in armed conflict,
Condemning with the gravest concern the recruitment, training and
use within and across national borders of children in hostilities by
armed groups distinct from the armed forces of a State, and
recognizing the responsibility of those who recruit, train and use
children in this regard,
Recalling the obligation of each party to an armed conflict to
abide by the provisions of international humanitarian law,
Stressing that the present Protocol is without prejudice to the
purposes and principles contained in the Charter of the United
Nations, including Article 51, and relevant norms of humanitarian
Bearing in mind that conditions of peace and security based on
full respect of the purposes and principles contained in the Charter
and observance of applicable human rights instruments are
indispensable for the full protection of children, in particular
during armed conflicts and foreign occupation,
Recognizing the special needs of those children who are
particularly vulnerable to recruitment or use in hostilities
contrary to the present Protocol owing to their economic or social
status or gender,
Mindful of the necessity of taking into consideration the
economic, social and political root causes of the involvement of
children in armed conflicts,
Convinced of the need to strengthen international cooperation in
the implementation of the present Protocol, as well as the physical
and psychosocial rehabilitation and social reintegration of children
who are victims of armed conflict,
Encouraging the participation of the community and, in
particular, children and child victims in the dissemination of
informational and educational programmes concerning the
implementation of the Protocol,
Have agreed as follows:
States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that
members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18
years do not take a direct part in hostilities.
States Parties shall ensure that persons who have not attained
the age of 18 years are not compulsorily recruited into their armed
1. States Parties shall raise in years the minimum age for the
voluntary recruitment of persons into their national armed forces
from that set out in article 38, paragraph 3, of the Convention on
the Rights of the Child, taking account of the principles contained
in that article and recognizing that under the Convention persons
under the age of 18 years are entitled to special protection.
2. Each State Party shall deposit a binding declaration upon
ratification of or accession to the present Protocol that sets forth
the minimum age at which it will permit voluntary recruitment into
its national armed forces and a description of the safeguards it has
adopted to ensure that such recruitment is not forced or coerced.
3. States Parties that permit voluntary recruitment into their
national armed forces under the age of 18 years shall maintain
safeguards to ensure, as a minimum, that:
(a) Such recruitment is genuinely voluntary;
(b) Such recruitment is carried out with the informed consent of
the person's parents or legal guardians;
(c) Such persons are fully informed of the duties involved in
such military service;
(d) Such persons provide reliable proof of age prior to
acceptance into national military service.
4. Each State Party may strengthen its declaration at any time by
notification to that effect addressed to the Secretary-General of
the United Nations, who shall inform all States Parties. Such
notification shall take effect on the date on which it is received
by the Secretary-General.
5. The requirement to raise the age in paragraph 1 of the present
article does not apply to schools operated by or under the control
of the armed forces of the States Parties, in keeping with articles
28 and 29 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
1. Armed groups that are distinct from the armed forces of a
State should not, under any circumstances, recruit or use in
hostilities persons under the age of 18 years.
2. States Parties shall take all feasible measures to prevent
such recruitment and use, including the adoption of legal measures
necessary to prohibit and criminalize such practices.
3. The application of the present article shall not affect the
legal status of any party to an armed conflict.
Nothing in the present Protocol shall be construed as precluding
provisions in the law of a State Party or in international
instruments and international humanitarian law that are more
conducive to the realization of the rights of the child. Article 6
1. Each State Party shall take all necessary legal,
administrative and other measures to ensure the effective
implementation and enforcement of the provisions of the present
Protocol within its jurisdiction.
2. States Parties undertake to make the principles and provisions
of the present Protocol widely known and promoted by appropriate
means, to adults and children alike.
3. States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that
persons within their jurisdiction recruited or used in hostilities
contrary to the present Protocol are demobilized or otherwise
released from service. States Parties shall, when necessary, accord
to such persons all appropriate assistance for their physical and
psychological recovery and their social reintegration.
1. States Parties shall cooperate in the implementation of the
present Protocol, including in the prevention of any activity
contrary thereto and in the rehabilitation and social reintegration
of persons who are victims of acts contrary thereto, including
through technical cooperation and financial assistance. Such
assistance and cooperation will be undertaken in consultation with
the States Parties concerned and the relevant international
2. States Parties in a position to do so shall provide such
assistance through existing multilateral, bilateral or other
programmes or, inter alia, through a voluntary fund established in
accordance with the rules of the General Assembly.
1. Each State Party shall, within two years following the entry
into force of the present Protocol for that State Party, submit a
report to the Committee on the Rights of the Child providing
comprehensive information on the measures it has taken to implement
the provisions of the Protocol, including the measures taken to
implement the provisions on participation and recruitment.
2. Following the submission of the comprehensive report, each
State Party shall include in the reports it submits to the Committee
on the Rights of the Child, in accordance with article 44 of the
Convention, any further information with respect to the
implementation of the Protocol. Other States Parties to the Protocol
shall submit a report every five years.
3. The Committee on the Rights of the Child may request from
States Parties further information relevant to the implementation of
the present Protocol.
1. The present Protocol is open for signature by any State that
is a party to the Convention or has signed it.
2. The present Protocol is subject to ratification and is open to
accession by any State. Instruments of ratification or accession
shall be deposited with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
3. The Secretary-General, in his capacity as depositary of the
Convention and the Protocol, shall inform all States Parties to the
Convention and all States that have signed the Convention of each
instrument of declaration pursuant to article 3.
1. The present Protocol shall enter into force three months after
the deposit of the tenth instrument of ratification or accession.
2. For each State ratifying the present Protocol or acceding to
it after its entry into force, the Protocol shall enter into force
one month after the date of the deposit of its own instrument of
ratification or accession.
1. Any State Party may denounce the present Protocol at any time
by written notification to the Secretary- General of the United
Nations, who shall thereafter inform the other States Parties to the
Convention and all States that have signed the Convention. The
denunciation shall take effect one year after the date of receipt of
the notification by the Secretary-General. If, however, on the
expiry of that year the denouncing State Party is engaged in armed
conflict, the denunciation shall not take effect before the end of
the armed conflict.
2. Such a denunciation shall not have the effect of releasing the
State Party from its obligations under the present Protocol in
regard to any act that occurs prior to the date on which the
denunciation becomes effective. Nor shall such a denunciation
prejudice in any way the continued consideration of any matter that
is already under consideration by the Committee on the Rights of the
Child prior to the date on which the denunciation becomes effective.
1. Any State Party may propose an amendment and file it with the
Secretary-General of the United Nations. The Secretary-General shall
thereupon communicate the proposed amendment to States Parties with
a request that they indicate whether they favour a conference of
States Parties for the purpose of considering and voting upon the
proposals. In the event that, within four months from the date of
such communication, at least one third of the States Parties favour
such a conference, the Secretary-General shall convene the
conference under the auspices of the United Nations. Any amendment
adopted by a majority of States Parties present and voting at the
conference shall be submitted to the General Assembly of the United
Nations for approval.
2. An amendment adopted in accordance with paragraph 1 of the
present article shall enter into force when it has been approved by
the General Assembly and accepted by a two-thirds majority of States
3. When an amendment enters into force, it shall be binding on
those States Parties that have accepted it, other States Parties
still being bound by the provisions of the present Protocol and any
earlier amendments they have accepted.
1. The present Protocol, of which the Arabic, Chinese, English,
French, Russian and Spanish texts are equally authentic, shall be
deposited in the archives of the United Nations.
2. The Secretary-General of the United Nations shall transmit
certified copies of the present Protocol to all States Parties to
the Convention and all States that have signed the Convention.