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UN Accuses Five Countries of Recruiting Children as Soldiers

The United Nations Tuesday issued a report naming countries that violate international standards for the protection of war-affected children. This is the first time the U.N. cites offenders by name.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan lists 23 parties in five countries that use or recruit children for military service in violation of international obligations. Mr. Annan says publication of the list must now be followed by systematic monitoring and reporting.

"By naming the parties that continue to recruit or use child soldiers, the international community has demonstrated its willingness to match words with deeds," he said. "Those who violate standards for the protection of children can no longer do so with impunity."

The five nations, all of which are on the U.N. Security Council's watch list, are Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Somalia. But Mr. Annan says the report also names countries not on the Security Council's agenda, including Colombia, Nepal, Sudan, Angola, Kosovo, and Sierra Leone, as violators of children's rights.

The U.N. Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Olara Otunnu, says the report "breaks new ground." But, in addition to monitoring and reporting, the United Nations must take action against violators," he said.

"The most pressing challenge facing us is how to translate the principles, standards and measures that have been put in place into facts on the ground," he added.

Mr. Otunnu recommends including the protection of children in all peace negotiations and rehabilitation programs.

In a meeting with the Security Council, Secretary General Annan said the United Nations has achieved "steady progress in embedding the protection, rights and well-being of children affected by armed conflict" through previous resolutions.

"The three resolutions adopted by this council - the integration of child protection in peacekeeping mandates, the deployment of child protection advisors in selected peace missions, and the development of child protection training in mission areas - all attest to this," said Mr. Annan.

The Security Council is expected to adopt a fourth resolution offering further measures for the protection of children in armed conflict later this week.