The Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) took part in the high-level panel, which the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief) held via videoconference, under the theme “Recruited Children: Victims, not Soldiers”. KSRelief held the panel in celebration of the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, with the participation of Dr. Abdulah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabiaa, KSRelief General Supervisor, and Mr. Fillipo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, in addition to a number of UN organizations’ representatives and a host of experts.
Mr. Mohamed Hedi Shili, Director of the Department of Legal Affairs, and Dr. Ahmad Said Bah, Advisor to ICESCO Director-General (DG) for Partnerships and International Cooperation represented the Organization. Mr. Shili discussed the mechanisms to protect children against the dangers of recruitment, particularly promoting human rights education, integrating the principles of human rights in school curricula, and reintegrating child recruits in society. He listed other mechanisms such as abiding by the Principles of Cape Town and Paris on the protection of child soldiers in armed conflicts, especially with regard to planning for supporting child release and reintegration.
The ICESCO official commended the KSRelief project to rehabilitate child recruits and children impacted by the armed conflict in Yemen, which has benefitted 530 Yemeni children. He also presented a number of programs and projects that can be implemented in partnership between ICESCO and the Center, especially in light of the growing numbers of child recruits around the world, whose number is estimated at 300,000 child soldiers, 80% of them are from the Islamic world and all are between the ages of 7 and 18.
At the close of the panel, the participants issued a number of recommendations reaffirming the significance of the international celebration of the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers to shed light on the phenomenon and support the global community to joint efforts in rehabilitating child soldiers under the umbrella of the Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.
The participants also recommended pooling and orienting joint action to ensure the abidance by the International Human Law and the other relevant international legislations such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols, particularly the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflicts.