Representatives from about 50 countries will gather in Paris this week to search for ways to demobilize and rehabilitate the world's estimated 250,000 child soldiers.
It is believed that teenagers and children are still being recruited or coerced into serving in conflicts in a dozen countries, many of them in Africa.
"Children are being recruited into unlawfully participating in armed conflicts as soldiers, messengers, spies, porters, cooks or to provide sexual services," Ann Veneman, the head of the United Nations children's agency, UNICEF, said in a statement before the two-day conference, which begins Monday. "This is taking place every day, violating children's rights and compromising their futures."
The conference, sponsored by UNICEF and France's Foreign Ministry, is to focus on strategies to prevent the recruitment of children and help reintegrate former child soldiers into society.