The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on Friday calling on all 189-member states of the United Nations to sign an agreement banning the use of child soldiers.
The resolution is the latest in a series of council decisions aimed at improving the protection of children in armed conflict.
It also emphasized the responsibility of all states to exclude from amnesty arrangements anyone responsible for grave crimes against children.
It called for measures against the illicit trade in natural resources such as diamonds, "which can prolong armed conflict and intensify its impact on children."
Passed as Resolution 1314, it urged all members "to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict."
So far, eight countries have signed the protocol, which was passed by the UN General Assembly on May 25th, and only one, Canada, has ratified it.
The protocol, which seeks to raise the legal age of recruitment, is one of 25 international treaties, which UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has asked world leaders to sign during next month's Millennium Summit.
More than 160 heads of state and government are scheduled to speak at the three-day summit, which starts September 6th, and the United Nations has said it will arrange special treaty signing facilities.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's special representative for children and armed conflict, Olara Otunnu, hailed the new resolution as "a powerful tool and action plan for our work."
He said "its significance lies in the fact that that it builds on last years landmark Resolution 1261 by embracing an impressive array of specific, targeted and new measures for the protection of children in conflict."
Resolution 1261, passed on August 25 last year, said the protection of children in situations of conflict was a matter affecting international peace and security and a legitimate preoccupation for the Security Council - UNITED NATIONS (AFP)
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