Geneva Call welcomes the announcement by the FARC-EP on a raise of the minimum recruitment age
16 February 2015
Geneva Call welcomes the announcement by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FARC-EP) that they will raise the minimum age of incorporation into their forces from 15 to 17. Geneva Call finds this to be a positive first step for the well-being and protection of conflict-affected children in Colombia, and an important gesture in the context of the peace process with the Government and towards the Colombian society and international community.
Geneva Call, amongst other humanitarian and human rights organizations, has been in dialogue with the FARC-EP on the issue of child protection, including the recruitment and the use of children, for more than two years. This dialogue started with the peace process in 2012 and in September 2014 Geneva Call submitted concrete proposals on different humanitarian issues to the FARC-EP, in particular to increase the recruitment age and to demobilize those younger as a first step.
In November 2014 the FARC-EP – as well as the National Liberation Army (ELN) – shared their respective policies on humanitarian issues (through video messages) including minors in the conflict. The videos were shown during Geneva Call’s Third Meeting of Signatories to the Deeds of Commitment.
Geneva Call is pleased to see that the FARC-EP has since then decided to strengthen its policy for the benefit of children affected by the armed conflict. Further steps are needed, especially for the implementation, but this announcement is an important beginning. A next step should be a total prohibition on the use of children under 18 in hostilities. Geneva Call will continue to engage the FARC-EP on improving the protection of children and will accompany any efforts needed to this end.
Considering the impact of the armed conflict on children and youth, the parties should establish a sub-committee with representatives of youth and child specialists, which could mainstream the interests of children and youth in the peace process in a similar way to the gender sub-commission.
Geneva Call takes this opportunity to express its hope that a peace process will be initiated soon with the ELN and that the ELN will also strengthen its policy on child protection, notably on the recruitment and use of children in hostilities.
The publication of the videos does not in any way imply endorsement by Geneva Call or its partners of its content, nor does it purport that the commitments made by armed non-State actors are compliant with International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law.