the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict aims to protect children from recruitment and use in hostilities.

The Protocol was adopted by the General Assembly on May 25, 2000 and entered into force on February 12, 2002.

The optional protocol is a commitment that:

  • States will not recruit children under the age of 18 into the battlefield.
  • States will not recruit soldiers under the age of 18.
  • States must take all possible measures to prevent such recruitment, including legislation prohibiting and criminalizing the recruitment of children under the age of 18 and involving them in hostilities.
  • States shall demobilize anyone under the age of 18 recruited or used in hostilities and provide physical and psychological rehabilitation services and assist in their social reintegration.
  • Armed groups separate from the armed forces of a country must never recruit or use in hostilities a person under the age of 18.

How many countries have signed or ratified the protocol?

Now, 172 countries have ratified the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict. There are 17 countries that have neither signed nor ratified the protocol and 8 countries that have signed but not yet ratified it.

To see the list of countries, click here.

Secretary-General’s Global Campaign to Achieve Universal Ratification

Logo created for the “Zero Under Eighteen” campaign, to promote universal ratification of the OPAC.

On May 25, 2010, the Secretary-General of the United Nations launched the “Global Campaign for Universal Ratification and Implementation of the Optional Protocols to the CRC”. In addition to the OPAC, the campaign aimed to achieve universal ratification of the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC).

Zero Under 18 Campaign

To further support this campaign, the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict has launched the campaign Zero under 18, to achieve universal ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC). This campaign ended in 2012 and, alongside the awareness-raising carried out as part of the Global Campaign, generated 21 new ratifications for the Optional Protocol.

Work continues to achieve the goal of universal ratification.

Has your country ratified the optional protocol? Find out here.

For any questions regarding the ratification processplease contact the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.