Thursday, August 26, 1999 Published at 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
UN move to protect children from war
An estimated 300,000 children are currently involved in armed conflicts
The United Nations Security Council has called on all countries to do more to protect children in war zones.
The resolution, which was passed after a day-long debate, said:
The council was told that 300,000 children were currently serving as soldiers, guerrilla fighters or in support roles in more than 30 countries, including Sudan, Colombia, Angola, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
"Unfortunately, the development of lighter, more sophisticated weapons has made it easier to send both boys and girls into combat," said the US representative, Nancy Soderberg.
"Children neither start wars nor perpetrate them," said the deputy UK ambassador, Stuart Eldon.
"They should not pay the price for adults' wars."
Higher age limit opposed
The UN's special respresentative for children and armed conflict, Olara Otunnu, appealed for the ratification and worldwide application of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
He also called for the age limit for the recruitment of soldiers to be raised from 15 to 18.
However, the US opposed the move, saying it wanted to retain the ability to recruit for the military from high school.
After the meeting, Mr Otunnu told the BBC he believed the resolution could have a real effect.
"The very fact that the council, which normally only deals with high politics and military aggression, should be engaged in humanitarian and human rights issue... and not just in a statement, but in a formal resolution, that signals the strongest possible message that one could get," he said.