They are too young to vote - but old enough to die for the UK. The United Kingdom is one of the last developed countries in the world to send boys under 18 into armed combat. Several have been killed in recent conflicts. Today, a new UN protocol: (the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict), is being introduced around the world. Raising the minimum recruitment age from 15 to 18, it has already been signed by 94 states and ratified by 14. Mungo Williams, spokesperson from the UK Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, is urging Britain to join. He said:"The UK is falling way behind on international moves by a majority of governments worldwide to set 18 as the minimum age for all forms of military recruitment. Under-18s cannot drink alcohol or vote, nor will any police forces recruit them. It is time we stopped using them as soldiers." 84 MPs recently showed their support, by signing an Early Day Motion urging the Government to adopt the Optional Protocol. Campaigners will be staging a number of events around the country today. For more information, visit: www.unicef.org.uk/news or www.child-soldiers.org The UK Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers membership includes Amnesty International, Anti Slavery International, Aviva, Jesuit Refugee Service, Pax Christi, Peace Pledge Union, Quaker Peace and Social Witness, UNICEF, and World Vision. The International Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers' membership includes many NGOs and human rights organisations.
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