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Armed Conflict (Children)

Volume 589: debated on Wednesday 17 December 2014

7. What steps she is taking to support the UN goal to end the use and recruitment of children in armed conflict by the end of 2016. (906676)

This Government support the work of several UN bodies, including the special representative of the UN Secretary-General for children and armed conflict, and DFID seeks directly to reduce the impact of conflict on children through our humanitarian efforts and work to build stable and peaceful societies.

I welcome the Secretary of State’s answer. She could go further, though, if her Government would commit to the Lucens draft guidelines on the military use of schools, amend our military codes of conduct accordingly, call on other nations to do the same, and issue a clear and unambiguous prohibition against attacks on and military use of schools. Will she commit to that today?

The hon. Lady raises an important point. We take the entire issue extremely seriously. That is why we provide funding for the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General. I am happy to take the points that she has made, which I think reside within the Foreign Office in terms of policy, and get them followed up, and I am happy to meet her on the broader topic because we recognise how importance it is. As she has heard from my answers to other questions, the Department does a huge amount of work supporting children.

It is the most marginalised children, such as those living in conflict-affected areas, who are most at risk of being out of school. Can the Secretary of State tell the House more about the steps that her Department is taking as part of the post-2015 negotiations to push for Governments to ensure that the most marginalised children benefit from the same educational opportunities as their peers?

The hon. Gentleman is right. Whether in terms of children’s prospects of reaching their full potential or the issues of security and stability that investment in education long-term can address, that is a key part of the post-2015 process. I can assure him that we raise these issues strongly in our work to try to make sure that that framework can deliver for everyone on our planet and will leave no one behind.