Communiqué to end and to prevent the recruitment and use of children
National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces and
the Supreme Military Council of the Free Syrian Army
1. The National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (SOC) and the Supreme Military Command (SMC) of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) are gravely concerned by the recruitment and use of children in the Syrian conflict. The SOC and the FSA have previously expressed their willingness to commit to ending this grave violation in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1612.
2. Accepting that a child associated with an armed force or armed group refers to any person below 18 years of age who is, or who has been, recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children used as fighters, cooks, porters, spies or for sexual purposes.
3. Taking into account that the Optional Protocol on the CRC prohibits the use of children under the age of 18 years. Noting also, that recruiting and using children under the age of 15 years is prohibited under international humanitarian law and may be defined as a war crime under the Geneva Convention.
4. The SOC and the SMC strongly condemn any recruitment and use of children within the ranks of the FSA and will not tolerate such action by any party to the conflict. We are committed to taking all steps necessary to ensure that no child is recruited or used within our forces and to hold all perpetrators accountable.
5. The SOC and the FSA stand ready to engage with the United Nation’s Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict to express our full commitment and to take action and enter into an Action Plan with the United Nations in this regard.
6. In accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005), 1882 (2009), 1998 (2011), 2068 (2012) and 2143(2014) we pledge to:
a. Ensure that command orders are issued to FSA units, that no child is recruited or used, and that any violation of this order will entail disciplinary measures in line with due process and human rights principles;
b. Take any other practical measures as identified in cooperation with the United Nations and the Office of the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict and engage in a dialogue on an Action Plan;
c. Implement accountability measures and ensure timely investigation of all violations, in this regard; and
d. Designate high-level political and military representatives to cooperate with the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children and Armed Conflict and the UN to ensure full implementation of this communiqué.
7. In light of our commitment to do our utmost to protect the children of Syria, the SOC and SMC will undertake its good offices with other opposition groups listed in the Secretary-General’s Annual Report, as relevant.
8. In order to provide maximum protection for Syria’s children, the SOC and SMC hereby express our intention to enter into dialogue with the Special Representative on Children and Armed Conflict to adopt binding measures to put an end to any military use of schools and hospitals in accordance with Security Council Resolution 1998. We have previously called for an immediate demilitarization of schools and hospitals in a Communiqué of April 30, 2014. In accordance with the communiqué we condemn the deliberate targeting of hospitals and schools and their occupation by military forces.
SOC President Hadi al Bahra
SMC Chief of Staff Abdulelah al Bashir