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Child Soldiers

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) European, (b) British and (c) UN regulations prohibit the use of child soldiers in military forces. [93492]

Clare Short: International humanitarian law, as embodied in the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols, prohibits the recruitment or use of children under 15 in armed conflict and provides for the protection of children, particularly those separated from their families. The Statute of the International Criminal Court, to which the UK is a state party and which has been incorporated into national law, makes the recruitment and/or use of children under 15 a war crime.

The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, now enshrined in the Human Rights Act 1998, forbids the use of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment which may include the forcing of children to take part in hostilities.

The UK is a Party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which makes particular provision for the protection of all children under 18 years. It prescribes that the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration, severely restricts the circumstances in which children may be removed from their parents and protects children against arbitrary interference with their privacy and liberty. This Convention, along with International Labour Organisation Convention 182 (which the UK has ratified), prohibits the use of children in the worst forms of labour; and Convention 182 specifically prohibits the forced or compulsory recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.

The UK expects to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict later this year. This provides that states parties must take all feasible measures to ensure that members of their armed forces who have not attained the age of 18 years do not take a direct part in hostilities, and that children under 18 years are not compulsorily recruited into their armed forces. Non-state actors, such as insurgent groups, are prohibited from ever recruiting or using in hostilities children under 18. We take the Protocol seriously. That is why before we ratify, we need to be clear that the detailed procedures and administrative guidelines for the armed forces are finalised. These will give concrete form to our commitment. MOD officials, in consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, are in the final stages of drafting an Explanatory Memorandum which will explain the steps being taken to meet that commitment. As part of the ratification

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process, we will lay the Explanatory Memorandum (EM) before Parliament. This does not require any changes to UK legislation.

The UK has many laws that prohibit the activities usually associated with the use of child soldiers, such as assault, forcing a child to perform illegal acts, deprivation of their liberty and making children take harmful drugs and alcohol.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what (a) discussions she has held and (b) action she has taken jointly with her counterparts in other countries to combat (i) the use of children as soldiers in conflicts and (ii) their recruitment into the armed forces of (A) governments, (B) paramilitary groups, (C) civil militia and (D) non-state armed groups. [93493]

Clare Short: The most effective way of tackling the use of child soldiers is to prevent, reduce and resolve armed conflicts. This is part of the wider issue of the impact of armed conflict on children generally, their families and communities. In addressing this, my Department is working with other UK Government Departments and other governments through appropriate regional mechanisms, the non-governmental community and the multilateral system to this end. UNICEF, with the support of my Department and other governments, works to effect the disarmament, demobilisation and rehabilitation of child soldiers, particularly back into the community and prevent their re-recruitment. Through a multi-year capacity building programme supported by my Department, UNICEF are collecting data on the situation of children affected by armed conflict globally, to better inform policy, guidance and programming on the wide range of issues involved.

My Department has also been supporting the work of the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict, whose work (primarily of advocacy and raising awareness of the issues at all levels) features prominently in the Secretary-General's report of 26 November 2002 to the Security Council on this issue.

Through its representation on the Security Council, the Government have been closely involved in the passing of eight resolutions since August 1999 addressing the issue of child soldiers and other children affected by armed conflict, and are currently involved in negotiations for a further resolution to strengthen the ability of the international community to take action to prevent the recruitment and use of children in armed conflicts. Along with the vast majority of other states, the Government have also ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and is taking steps to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention preventing the use of children in armed conflict.

Europe Development Council

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the abolition of the Europe Development Council. [94563]

Clare Short : I was not in favour of the abolition of the Development Council, which had been useful in promoting reforms of EC development co-operation, in

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adopting a more coherent development policy framework and in pressing the case for an increase in the poverty focus of EC aid. The June 2002 Seville European Council decided to streamline the functioning of the Council in the run-up to enlargement and reduced Council groupings from 16 to 9 and thus abolished the development Council. There are opportunities with the new General Affairs and External Relations Council (GAERC) for more discussions on development at monthly meetings.

I have been working to maintain a strategic approach to development issues as established by the Development Council. In particular, I have been pushing for at least two strategic GAERC meetings per year focusing on development—one forward looking and one to assess progress. I will continue to press hard to ensure development is given due weight in the new configuration and will seek to ensure appropriate UK ministerial attendance to debate development issues.


Mr. McLoughlin: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will list the grants funded by her Department for which individual members of the public and organisations may apply; and if she will make a statement as to (a) the total of such funding in the last financial year, (b) the total number of awards and (c) their administrative costs. [82185]

Clare Short: The numbers and values of grants made in FY 2001–02 by the various DFID funds open to members of the public and organisations in UK are listed as follows. Information on the administrative costs of these funds is not held centrally and could not be gathered without incurring disproportionate cost. The number and value of grants refers to new grants made in the period.

FundNumber of grantsValue (£ million)
Civil Society Challenge Fund6230.2
Renewable Natural Resources Knowledge Strategy4322.6
Engineering Knowledge and Research Programme5413.4
Business Linkages Challenge Fund913.3
Social Science Research428.1
Financial Deepening Challenge Fund76.0
Development Awareness Fund385.5
Education Research Programme461.9
Asia Regional Poverty Fund221.9
Tourism Challenge Fund61.3
Enterprise Development Innovation Fund61.0

In addition, the UK Small Grants Scheme allows UK Heads of Mission to provide funding for small-scale development projects in the countries where they

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work—up to a value of £100,000 per year. As responsibility for their administration is delegated to Heads of Mission, data on the number and value of new grants made in FY 2001–02 are not held centrally and could not be collected without incurring disproportionate cost.

Total expenditure through UK non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in FY 2001–02 was £190.5 million. This included Partnership Programme Agreements with 11 NGOs, which provided funding in support of jointly agreed strategic programmes with NGOs with proven experience and impact, and contracts with NGOs to carry out specific development projects and humanitarian interventions on DFID's behalf.


Mr. Key: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what measures her Department is taking to ensure child participation in the development of policies and programmes on HIV/AIDS is in line with the recent UNICEF report; and if she will make a statement. [93599]

Clare Short: Over half of all new HIV/AIDS infections are in young people (15–24 age group). We believe, therefore, that HIV prevention programmes must give a high priority to informing young people about the risk of HIV/AIDS, and that young people are encouraged to participate in the development of programmes to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS. We support young people's HIV/AIDS prevention through our bilateral programmes and in partnership with UNICEF.

In South Africa, for example, young people have been actively engaged in the review and monitoring of our adolescent sexual health programmes. In Mozambique we have committed £2.6 million over five years to support UNICEF's HIV/AIDS programme for young people. In China, we are currently developing an HIV/AIDS prevention and care programme that includes young people in a range of design activities. In Kenya, we have supported various focus group discussions with young people and trained peer HIV/AIDS educators.

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