Chad Adopts Action Plan on Child Soldiers

14/06/2011 - A representative of the UN Secretary-General has hailed Chad's action plan to eliminate the use of child soldiers within the ranks of its security forces.

The United Nations (UN) has commended an action plan developed by the Government of Chad to eliminate the use of child soldiers in the country’s security forces.

“The signature of the action plan reflects the political will and commitment of the Chadian Government to move forward in ending a key grave violation against children,” said Radhika Coomaraswamy, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

The action plan was signed by the Government of Chad and the United Nations in N’djamena, Chad’s capital city. Under the agreement, all children serving in the Chadian National Army and associated security forces will be released.

The deal signed yesterday builds on the N’djamena Declaration, which was signed by Chad and five other countries in June of last year to end this ongoing violation of children’s rights. The other signatories were the Central African Republic, Sudan, Nigeria, Niger and Cameroon.

“A child’s place is with their family, a child’s place is at school,” said Chad’s Minister of Social Action, Ngarbatina Odjimbeye Soukate, at the time – highlighting how the phenomenon of child soldiers can render unattainable many entitlements that children are supposed to enjoy. The right to life, play, education and many other rights are expressly outlined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989.

The potential impact of these agreements would be to help the many children serving in armed groups to be rehabilitated and return to their communities. Chad has already demobilized more than 800 child soldiers from rebel groups.

Still, a February 2011 report by the UN showed that children in Chad continue to be the victims of sexual and gender-based violence and recruitment into armed groups.

As Chad moves forward with the action plan, support will be required in several areas. Fundamentally, the government and UN must cooperate closely to see that the plan is implemented. Secondly, preventative measures must be undertaken to avoid a “revolving door” of child recruitment noted the UN. Thirdly, international commitment must match Chad’s commitment to the process.

In related news, government officials from the Central African Republic (CAR) announced today the signing of a peace deal with Chadian rebels operating out of the CAR.

According to CAR Disarmament Minister, General Xavier-Sylvestre Yangongo, the Popular Front for Reconstruction (FPR) and a mediator from Chad signed the peace accord in Bangui yesterday.

"The FPR has committed itself to making peace,” said the group’s leader, General Abdel Kader Baba Ladde said on a national radio programme.