Child soldiers

Switzerland fights against the recruitment of children into armed groups and armed forces. It is involved in projects aimed at preventing this and reintegrating former child soldiers into society.

The UN estimates that there are around 250,000 children under 18 years of age worldwide who have been recruited into or are associated with regular armed forces and armed opposition groups. Almost 40% of these child soldiers are thought to be girls.

They do not all perform military functions, but they are all put in harm's way. Recruitment continues to be prevalent in around 15 countries, where it has a lasting impact, both on the lives of the children and on society as a whole.

Switzerland works to ensure that children are not recruited by governmental or non-governmental armed forces and that they do not participate directly in hostilities. It is also committed to universal ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, and is endeavouring to ensure that the states which have ratified the protocol are also committed to categorically applying the minimum 18-years-of-age standard.

Switzerland also supports projects aimed at preventing the recruitment of children by parties to a conflict and reintegrating former child soldiers back into society.