The Paris Principles: Principles and Guidelines on Children associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups

Hundreds of thousands of children are associated with armed forces and armed groups in conflicts around the world. Girls and boys are used in a variety of ways from support roles, such as cooking or portering, to active fighting, laying mines or spying and girls are frequently used for sexual purposes. This recruitment and use of children violates their rights and causes them physical, developmental, emotional, mental, and spiritual harm.

The recruitment and use of children by armed forces and armed groups has been a focus of international attention and has been widely condemned, yet children continue to be involved in adult wars and to become disabled or die in such conflicts. While the release and reintegration into civilian life of many of these children has been supported through interventions and programmes designed to assist them, others have returned home on their own, often to face an uncertain future and a further fight for acceptance from their family and community. Girls in particular are likely to be stigmatized and even rejected by their community if it is known that they have been used by an armed force or armed group and the rejection of their children may be even more severe. Other children are encouraged by their families and communities to participate in armed conflict, despite the danger and harm this involves. Despite their experiences, such children are resilient and can contribute constructively to reconstruction and reconciliation efforts if given appropriate help, support and encouragement.