Action needed on child soldiers and human trafficking

Global summit calls for all parliaments to enact legislation

Members of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, representing 164 parliaments around the world, have called for parliaments, especially in countries experiencing armed conflict, to amend legislation to prevent and punish those who recruit children to become child soldiers. Passed at the IPU’s 130th assembly held in Geneva, Switzerland, the resolution focused on the protection of children, particularly migrant children, during conflict.

The IPU urged parliaments to enact specific legislation to protect girls from human trafficking, sexual exploitation and gender-based violence.

Separated or unaccompanied children fleeing illegal recruitment by armed forces by crossing borders should be able to request asylum and not be returned back home where their life would be at risk.

In a lengthy resolution with 37 action points, the IPU also urged governments to consider minors recruited illegally into armed forces and who are accused of crimes under international law to be considered as victims rather than perpetrators and be provided the necessary support.

The Australian delegation to the assembly was led by Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Stephen Parry (Tas), and included Senator Sue Boyce (Qld), Nola Marino (Forrest, WA), Senator Ursula Stephens (NSW) and Senator Lin Thorp (Tas).

In another resolution, the IPU called on member parliaments to commit to a series of actions to make the world nuclear weapons free. Noting the existence of at least 17,000 nuclear weapons that constituted a serious threat to international peace and security, the IPU urged parliaments to ensure those States that have not signed and ratified the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) should so without delay or conditions. MPs also needed to work with their governments to ensure full compliance with the NPT and all commitments made at the 2000 and 2010 NPT Review Conferences.

The resolution also highlighted the importance of securing the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. It called on States to refrain from conducting any nuclear weapon test and recommended that parliaments urge governments to begin negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention.

With growing attention on a new sustainable development agenda to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015, the IPU also expressed deep concern at the mounting risks of disasters worldwide and the need to put in place stronger policies to mitigate their impact.

Noting that poorly planned and unmanaged urbanisation, endemic poverty and weak governance were important drivers of risk, IPU called for all MPs to take immediate action to review existing legislation on reducing risk from disasters.

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