Who are child soldiers?

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The internationally agreed definition for a child associated with an armed force or armed group (child soldier) is 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, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies or for sexual purposes. It does not only refer to a child who is taking or has taken a direct part in hostilities.

(Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups, 2007.)

A child soldier is anyone under the age of 18 who has been recruited or used in hostilities by state armed forces or non-state armed groups.

Since 2000, the participation of child soldiers has been reported in most armed conflicts and in almost every region of the world. Although there are no exact figures, and numbers continually change, tens of thousands of children under the age of 18 continue to serve in

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