Holy See OKs Optional Protocols on Children´s Rights

Goes Further to Try to Guarantee Protections

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NEW YORK, OCT. 25, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See further signaled its concern for the world´s young by ratifying two optional protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.



The convention was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in May 2000. On Wednesday, Archbishop Renato Martino, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, deposited the instruments of ratification of the two protocols at U.N. headquarters.

An optional protocol to a treaty is an instrument that establishes additional rights and obligations to a treaty. It is of an independent character and subject to independent ratification.

Such protocols enable certain parties of the treaty to establish among themselves a set of obligations which reach further than the general treaty and to which not all parties of the general treaty consent.

The first explicitly prohibits the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography, and calls for legal protection against the sexual exploitation of children, the transfer of their organs, and forced labor.

The Vatican will be the 11th state to ratify this protocol, adding to the required number of 10 ratifications, which allow the protocol to enter into force.

The other protocol refers to the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, an ongoing evil.

In his address at the U.N. headquarters in New York, Archbishop Martino emphasized that "too many of the world´s children are affected by war and conflict every day of their lives. They all bear the physical and psychological scars, which might be the result of direct involvement as combatants and child soldiers, or through abduction, abuse, separation from family, malnutrition and lost educational opportunities."

The protocol on "Children in Armed Conflict" expands the protection of children from recruitment for participation in armed conflict to the age of 18, and reinforces the prohibition of the recruitment of children by armed forces distinct from the state.

The Vatican will be the seventh state to ratify the protocol. Three more states must ratify it before it, too, enters into force.

Archbishop Martino acknowledged that, "while codification is a legal guarantee, it does not give certainty of protection."

"True protection comes from the genuine love, care and concern that each person is called to give in recognizing all children as a precious gift from God," he said.