Children in war zones have always witnessed the worst. They run for their lives, with their family, if they are lucky. But if witnessing war isn’t bad enough, many are forced to pick up arms, and fight. Over 30,000 children are known to be recruited to fight, and including children that are not monitored takes that number to almost 200,000. Nearly 40% of these soldiers are girls, and often become “wives” for male soldiers when they are not fighting. Often times, children are often forced to injure or kill a family member. This is to break the bond the child has with his or her family, and leaves the child with no option but to train (War Child). The United Nations has strived for years to end the use of child soldiers, and are working to save them, one child at a time.
Algeria is a nation that has undergone tremendous change since independence. Since gaining freedom from France in 1962, Algeria has worked to reform politically, economically, and socially, and has combatted numerous problems that challenged their success. One of these problems was the high number of child soldiers recruited by the military during the Algerian War of Independence, and by the exiled political party known as the Algerian Islamic Salvation Front (AIS) against the Algerian government. Over 10,000 children under the age of 18 were on the front lines during the Algerian War of Independence, while another 12,000 were recruited to fight with the Islamic Salvation Front. Children are subjected to military recruitment because they are easy to manipulate, and also never truly understand the severity of what they are told to do (“Algeria”). An American journalist secretly visited and AIS camp in 1987 and reported that boys as young as 15, were boasting about the number of people they had killed. He wrote, “Two boys described themselves as assassins. Armed with sawn-off shotguns, they stalk security men in public places, firing at point-blank range and disappearing into the crowd." The UN drafted the Conventions of the Rights of the Child, which stated that no person under 18 could be drafted into the military involuntarily. Algeria signed the document in 1990, and signed into Algerian law in 1993 (“Conventions”). Following the end of the war against the AIS in 2002, Algeria worked to rebuild itself, and help involuntary child soldiers. The government created numerous programs and built small hospitals to treat injured and traumatized children, and eventually take them back home to their families. Due to lack of advanced technology and resources, this process had been slow in years following the civil war. Algerian Leila Zerrogui, appointed as the UN’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict in 2013, stated that “The world must unite in saving the children of our future” (“Human Rights”).
Algeria has been treating children involved in wars, and has been reintroducing them back into society. Another solution to this problem is to disband military groups that recruit children. This solution could be very violent and costly, but is well worth the safety of innocent children (“Child Soldiers”). Initially, the only way to save these children is to treat them, physically and mentally, and take them back home. Overall, Algeria wants to keep children off the battlefield, and at home, where they belong.
"Algeria." The World Factbook. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Oct. 2014.
"Child Soldiers." War Child. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Oct. 2014.
"Conventions on the Rights of the Child." United Nations Treaty Collection. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Oct. 2014.
"Human Rights Council Hears Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict." United Nations Human Rights. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Oct. 2014.
The Kingdom of Cambodia stands against the use of child soldiers. As a nation that has been through a terrible genocide, Cambodia has seen the detrimental effects of handing a child a gun and telling them to shoot. During the reign of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970’s and 1980’s, children found that joining the coalition was the best way to secure food and protection. The rebel groups turned these children into fierce warriors by briefly terrorizing and subjecting them to a period of physical abuse—socializing them to violence. Many of the child soldiers first victims during the genocide were their own parents. Since the death of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge has disintegrated and Cambodia put measures in place to see that society would not face another war in which children were conditioned to fight. In West African countries, however, the use of child soldiers today is much too common, and the techniques used to train these children mirror those used in the Cambodian genocide.
Cambodia has partaken in many international efforts to curb the use of children in battle and protect their rights. Cambodia was the first Asian nation to sign the CAC (Convention against Corruption), which is the first global legally-binding anti-corruption instrument. This international law works to eliminate the corruption found at the state level, in regards to politics, the judiciary, and parties in power. A strong, just legal system at the national level is an important part of ensuring equal rights and protection for children. Although Prime Minister Hun Sen referred to “sacrifices made by countrymen” who have allowed their “children, spouses and relatives” to serve in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, Cambodia holds true to the policy of maintain an army made up of only legal adults. Cambodia ratified the Optimal Protocol, an attachment to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which strengthens the rights given to children and ensures that no one under the age of 18 can participate in the army. Article 48 of Cambodia's 1993 Constitution states that "the State shall protect the rights of the child as stipulated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in particular, the right to life, education, protection during wartime ..."The current legal basis for military recruitment is the 1997 Law on General Statutes for the Military Personnel of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. Article 42 of this law states that all people recruited into the military must be at least 18 years old.
While many child soldiers are forced into battle (like the bands formed by Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda), a large percentage of them voluntarily lie about their age in attempts to join the forces for economic reasons. Solution must address the fact that some families turn to this type of payment as a form of income to survive. Another problem with the systems in place right now is that the laws and conventions that have been ratified in the past 20 years are not being enforced and corruption at the federal level is widespread. In 2002 UNICEF reported that DDR (disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration) programs had failed to make adequate provision for children. A former child soldier told UNICEF he had assumed the identity of a dead adult soldier to gain access to the demobilization program. Firstly, a solution must address the issue from the bottom-up by closing the loopholes in the treaties and ensuring that children will be adequately accounted for, enlisted in school, and kept track of. It seems as though a lack of organization is leading to an increase in the use of under aged children in armies. Secondly, the issue must be tackled from the top-down: the United Nations, working together with individual state governments, must work harder to find armies and rebel groups who employ minors and prosecute them. A two-pronged strategy working from both ends will eventually make the world a better, less scary place from children.
Campbell, Charlie. "Life of the Land." Time. Time, 31 Oct. 2013. Web.
"Child Soldiers Worldwide | Human Rights Watch." Child Soldiers Worldwide | Human Rights Watch. N.p., 12 Mar. 2012. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.
Southerland, Dean. "Child Soldiers--Driven by Fear and Hate." Radio Free Asia. N.p., 20 July 2006. Web.
"Sweatshops and Child Labor." Vegan Peace. Vegan Peace, n.d. Web.
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The rise of terrorist and guerilla organizations in the past decades has resulted in horrible human rights abuses. Specifically, the recruitment of children into armed conflicts. As guerilla organizations face rising levels of opposition, they seek to recruit new soldiers. This often leads to the abduction of children into terrorist organizations so they can essentially be brainwashed and turned into mindless soldiers.
Colombia faces a major problem of children in armed conflict. Colombia is the only nation outside of Asia and Africa that is considered to face a major issue of children participating in armed conflicts. Colombia’s children have been forced to fight for paramilitary groups and revolutionary militants in a decades-long Civil War. These groups include the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia. Children are also recruited by drug traffickers, they are then trained to smuggle and defend drug installations from government raids. Aside from being forced to fight, children often face sexual violence or abduction if they refuse to fight for these armed groups.
Colombia has attempted, through multiple means, to eliminate this problem. The main form, obviously, is the campaign to wholly eradicate these armed groups from Colombia, a difficult campaign that has been aided by US Special Forces. While destroying these militants is key to ending the involvement of children in conflict, Colombia has also approved legislation to combat this issue. Colombia has ratified the UN CRC Optional Protocol on Armed Conflict, and has made it illegal for children to “be involved in illicit activities” as well as making the age for military service 18.
Again, Colombia’s crisis of armed conflict, specifically the use of children in such conflicts, is an issue that is of utmost priority. Colombia hopes that any resolution passed while provide aid to countries that require assistance, and will include preventative measures that will bring an end to the use of children in war.
Often, the effect of armed conflict on the everyday lives of civilians, especially children, is daunting. The human rights of children involved in armed conflict is a major concern. Currently, one billion children live in conflict-affected areas, 300 million of which are ages five and under. The task of establishing standards to safeguard the rights of children in armed conflict has been addressed by the United Nations in recent years, but the issue of applying these standards remains. As a result of armed conflict, basic human rights such as the right to an education are affected. It is essential that this committee work together to find an effective solution to this problem for the benefit of all children involved in armed conflict.
The issue of child involvement in armed conflict is extremely prevalent in Ecuador. Due to long-standing armed conflict in Colombia, complications arise that result in effects on not only Colombian civilians, but also civilians of Ecuador. In December 2012, 55,480 refugees were registered by the government of Ecuador, the majority of whom were from Colombia, and 23% of whom were children. These children, in most cases, gave up their education when their families made the choice to flee, while also facing discrimination when they entered and began living in the country. Additionally, in areas such as the northern border of Ecuador, poverty reaches levels as high as 81%, and the lack of opportunities and hostile environment leads many young people to a future of violence. In recent years, the new and dangerous phenomenon of child recruitment by armed groups has emerged. These and many other closely related issues on children in armed conflict are major concerns in the Republic of Ecuador.
Ecuador believes that this committee has the opportunity and ability to begin solving the issue of risks to children in conflict-affected areas. To combat this problem, Ecuador proposes the creation of a program to deter the effects of armed conflict on children, in order to protect their basic human rights. This program would focus on three major areas affected by armed conflict- education, recruitment into armed groups, and psycho-social effects. The program would focus on the expansion and strengthening of educational systems in order to ensure a basic education in all areas, regardless of economic status, gender, or race. The program would also put focus on the elimination of armed group threats near border communities, and would educate about alternatives to a life of violence. Lastly, the program would seek to help in the rehabilitation of communities, refugee children, etc. affected by armed conflicts. These programs would be implemented by individual nations through legislature, but would also be supported by the United Nations and financially supported by the World Bank and NGO's. By implementing a program such as the one suggested, nations could help support children in communities already affected by armed conflict, and prevent further issues in the future.
Throughout the world, children are exposed to the grave violations of armed conflict. These violations include the killing and maiming of children, recruiting children as soldiers, sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals, denial of humanitarian access, and the abduction of children (UN). In Haiti, children participate in gang activity and violent protests that subject them to these horrible violations.
Although the Republic of Haiti is opposed to involving children in armed conflict, minors are still affected by it on a daily basis. Due to the nation’s lack of regular military services, the Haitian government is not directly responsible for the grave violations facing their youth (CIA). After the catastrophic earthquake that took place in 2010, thousands of parentless children turned to gangs in search of food and shelter, but were only greeted with manipulation and forced involvement in armed conflict (Sabourin). The Haitian constitution includes rights protecting families, but not children alone. The constitution also fails to recognize specific laws regarding children on trial, resulting in the incarceration minors (Constitution). Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital, is surrounded by slums, littered with gang activity and plagued with violent protests. In absence of an official government in these slums, gangs hold great amounts of power, allowing children to sell drugs and carry guns (Refworld). Bishop Louis Kebreau of Hinche described gang members as "agitators and interested manipulators.” The children involved lack adequate food, medical services, clean water, and education (IJDH). Working to transport weapons to armed gangs, they are used as spies, messengers, and guards. (Refworld). These children have been involved in complications with the UN Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (also known as MINUSTAH), and Haitian National Police officials. Young girls involved in gang activity are often subject to sexual abuse and exploitation. Children as young as five are raped on a daily basis. Based on statistics reported in 2011, due to the high rate of children born in result of rape, Port-au-Prince needs about 1,000 maternal-care clinics, however, there are only 10 (LATimes). In 2006, nearly 50% of women and girls living in neighbourhoods such as Cité Soleil, had been raped (Refworld). Other instances of grave violations of children include minors being involved in violent protests. In 2008, children were manipulated during protests regarding food shortages (IJDH).
Nations in which children are able to participate in armed conflict are harming their youth, and multiple steps must be taken to ensure their safety. In Haiti and many other nations, attending school is expensive and not accessible to all minors (Sabourin). Implementing a mandatory public education system in all nations could prevent children from participating in gang activity. Schools would provide a safe environment for children, and the opportunity to receive an education, paving the way to success in the future. Increasing police presence in larger cities and their surrounding areas could reduce gang activity, lessening the occurrence of rape and other violations committed against children. Building orphanages and organizing foster homes could also keep minors out of violent situations. This would supply orphans with food, shelter, and clothing, which in Haiti, are things that children had originally seeked from gangs. Nations should also establish maternal health clinics. These clinics would need to be easily accessible to help victims of rape. Clinics could also educate the public on topics such as sexually transmitted diseases and rape. To prevent children from being subject to unfair trial, nations must establish laws and programs regarding the punishment of minors. Even though the Haitian government is opposed to the use of minors in armed conflict, these events occur daily and pose violations against the nation’s children.
"CENTRAL AMERICA AND CARIBBEAN :: HAITI." Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency, n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2014. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ha.html (CIA)
Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2008 - Haiti, 20 May 2008, http://www.refworld.org/docid/486cb10528.html 09 October 2014 (Refworld)
"General Assembly." Southeast European and Black Sea Studies 7.2 (2007): 331-33. Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. 26 May 2008. Web. 7 Oct. 14. http://www.ijdh.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/statement-by-IED-to-HRC-2008.pdf (IJDH)
Wilkinson, Tracy. "Rape Flourishes in Rubble of Haitian Earthquake." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 04 Feb. 2011. Web. 09 Oct. 2014. http://articles.latimes.com/2011/feb/04/world/la-fg-haiti-women-20110204 (LATimes)
Sabourin, Clement. "Gangs Become Father, Mother to Haiti’s Forlorn Orphans." Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti, n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2014. http://www.ijdh.org/2010/05/topics/housing/gangs-become-father-mother-to-haitis-forlorn-orphans/ (Sabourin)
"The Six Grave Violations | United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict." United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the SecretaryGeneral for Children and Armed Conflict. United Nations, n.d. Web. 09 Oct. 2014. https://childrenandarmedconflict.un.org/effects-of-conflict/six-grave-violations/ (UN)
Luxembourg is one of the world's smallest sovereign states at 999 square miles. The triangle-shaped country borders Germany to the east, France to the south, and Belgium to the west. The most important influence on the nation's cultural traditions is its location between the French and Germanic culture realms.
In Luxembourg, children represent a quarter of the total population. Whilst the country has ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and most of its children have no problems, efforts still need to be made in specific areas concerning minors. There are around 105,000 children under the age of 18 living in Luxembourg. Most of these children have benefitted from the high standard of living of the country.
The issue of children in conflict and the challenges facing them is important to Luxembourg and is something it is dealing with through its daily diplomatic activity, since Luxembourg itself is not involved in a conflict.
The Secretary-General of The UN presents an annual report on children affected by armed conflict, which contains two annexes which list parties guilty of grave violations against children. The first annex concerns armed conflicts on the agenda of the Council, the second concerns those situations of which the Security Council is not actively seized. Initially, the criteria for inclusion in the annexes were limited to parties recruiting and using child soldiers, but they were gradually widened to include since 2011 killing and maiming of children, sexual violence against children, as well as attacks against schools or hospitals. Countries listed in the two annexes are periodically subject to scrutiny in the context of the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism. The Working Group on Children and armed conflict, of which Luxembourg has the presidency since 1st January 2013 for a two-year mandate, was created in 2005 by resolution 1612. This subsidiary body of the Council has the role of examining all situation reports, assessing progress made in the implementation of action plans and making recommendations to the Council on measures to be taken with regard to involved parties. The Working Group can also make any other recommendation it deems necessary for the protection of children in armed conflict, including by making recommendations for mandates of peacekeeping operations.
Luxembourg hopes to come to a conclusion where all countries who are struggling with child rights can seek help from them. All children should live and be educated in safe environments, and not be threatened with the risk of being sent into any armed forces. All children under the age of 18 should have the security to know that they can remain out of any war until they choose to do so.
The Netherlands would like to recognize that the topic of children in the armed forces is a many sided problem. With over 20,000 children involved in armed conflict, according to The Human Rights Watch, the Netherlands is severely alarmed by these increasing numbers. Even children that are not employed into conflict are still forced to live in grotesque and poorly maintained refugee camps. The Netherlands has, essentially, never in their history manipulated or forced children into their military. Having signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Netherlands is adamantly opposed to manipulating children into military forces, along with having child soldiers. This growing problem, although not an issue specifically in the Netherlands, must be addressed by urging countries to establish legislation that mandates a specific age for enlistment in a countries military. Programs and services need to be made available to support former child soldiers, to attempt to resolve emotional, or psychological scarring.
The main issue with children in the armed forces is how children are forced and manipulated into it. To prevent this the Netherlands would like to propose and strongly urge countries to create legislation that establishes a minimum age for enlistment. This age would depend on the country, however would not be any younger than 16 years of age. Any military groups who did not abide by these principles could then be subject to disciplinary action by the U.N. The Netherlands would also like to introduce the creation of disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs. These programs would help to safely remove children from conflict, and reintegrate them into modern society. The disarmament involves the literal and obvious removal of weapons from children’s hands. Demobilization would involve removing large masses of children from the actual conflict, and off the battle field. The final stage of the program, reintegration, would, through NGO funding, provide children with clothes, housing, and psychological and emotional care, to help reintegrate them into society. DDR is a logical, effective, and immediate solution to the problem of children in the armed forces, and would get children off the front lines now.
The Netherlands is strongly against the utilization of children within armed forces and is looking for solutions to prevent them from being involved. The creation of Refugee camps can be used to prevent children from being abducted into armed forces, and to protect them from the emotional trauma of war. The Establishment of nationwide legislation will force countries to mandate a minimum age for recruitment, and hence, prevent children from being in the military. The use of DDR programs can help get children currently involved in armed conflict, out of it. All in all the Netherlands is looking to pave the way for children to have a bright, opportunistic future, by protecting them from the traumas of war.
UNICEF is a group made by the United Nations to help children in this world whose main goal is to nurture children for the future. This organization works for all children to get an appropriate education, live in a safe environment, and get immunization from harmful diseases. It was created in 1946 after World War II to help the European children. They were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1965 for its hard work in helping so many children’s lives around the world. This association is in over 190 countries and territories and helping many children till this day.
Topic B: Children in Armed Conflict (Romania)
According to Paris Principles on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in 2007, “A child associated with an armed force or armed group refers to 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, spies, or for sexual purposes.” Around the world there are about 250,000 soldiers, 40 percent of which are girls,that are child soldiers. Rebel groups use children to go against government, but there are some cases where governments even use child soldiers. As said before these children don’t necessarily have to have arms, but can consist of suicide bombers giving up their lives for a harmful cause. Romania’s policy on this stance is that there should be no children in armed conflict. This is supported when H.E. Ambassador Mihnea Ioan Motoc Permanent Representative of Romania to the UN says “We support the potential role of the International Criminal Court in prosecuting and sentencing those guilty of war crimes against children.” Romania wants to take action for the children suffering by being soldiers and get the guilty. They made a law for all citizens that if a citizen of Romania is or over the age of 20 they have mandatory military commitment during peacetime, but if in wartime than 18 years of age is applicable. According to 2008 statistics there is no records of any child soldiers in government forces, but Romania is working internationally agrees with this policy to stop child soldiers.
Resolutions that are being made now for this conflict and one of them, International Humanitarian Law, bans the usage of children under the age of fifteen in any conflict and it is defined as a war crime and make 18 the applicable age to fight. In February 2007, Romania and 58 other countries sponsor the Paris Committees effort from keeping children from being recruited by armed groups and being used in conflict. This document of Paris Principles and Guidelines of Child Soldiers helps list a set of guidelines to protect children. A solution for the future that Romania should consider is becoming more involved than they already are and send help to these countries and work with the United Nations to create programs to educate children and stop these conflicts from happening. The country should work with others like they already are now to stop this from happening from other countries in the Congo Republic and Malaya.
Saudi Arabia believes that it is everyone’s responsibility to defend Islamic law, however it does not believe in using child soldiers (“Child Soldiers Global…”). Saudi Arabia’s law states that to join the armed forces one must be at least 17 years of age (“Military…Obligation”). Saudi Arabia’s only reservations to the Convention on the Rights of the Child are those which interfere with its laws (“Convention…Child”). Even though Saudi Arabia does not believe in the use of child soldiers there are other military groups that do use children in armed conflict.
To prevent children from ever being recruited, Saudi Arabia suggests that the United Nations allocate money to create better educational programs for the children in areas where child recruitment is occurring; there are not many educational opportunities in most of those areas (“Stopping…Soldiers”). If the children who are possible recruits are educated, they have a better possibility for a stable future. If they do not have a possibility for a stable future they are more likely to willingly join the military groups. If they join out of their own will, it makes it even more difficult to get the child soldiers out of armed conflict.
Saudi Arabia supports the use of educational propaganda urging for correct documentation. A major problem with child soldiers is that it is hard to tell the exact age of the children because they do not have precise documentation of their birth certificates and/or their recruitment (Kushkush). If both of these are documented correctly, then there would be less confusion in the ages of soldiers making it easier to sort out which soldiers are still children.
The delegation of Saudi Arabia also recommends that the United Nations advocate for loosened restriction on developed countries’ refugee and immigration laws and regulations. Over 30% of people living in Saudi Arabia are immigrants (“Saudi Arabia”). The simpler it is for the children to get into a safe country, the more likely they are to leave. This could greatly decrease the number child soldiers fighting with military groups. Additionally, there are more educational and economic opportunities in countries that are already developed. This once again could lead to a less violent future for the youths who would otherwise be enlisted in a war.
Another possible solution is to disarm the children. The delegation of Saudi Arabia’s solution is to send in United Nations’ military groups to help the children escape the war. If the children can escape the war and violence then they can start the process of reintegration into society.
Once the children are disarmed, the next goal is to reintegrate the child soldiers back into society (“Stopping…Soldiers”). Saudi Arabia advises that the United Nations send medical personal trained in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental disorders to help with the transition of the children from violence and war back to normal activities. This is a crucial part of helping children in armed conflict because if they are not helped transition back into society, they might never reintegrate. This could lead to them wreaking havoc in society by creating violence and even trying to join another military group while still a child. If the former child soldiers do not get mental help and go back to being child soldiers then it defeats the purpose of all the help previously given to them.
Multiple changes would need to take place to help children in armed conflict. The task is large, but it is also very important. If recruitment of child soldiers is not stopped, disarmament of child soldiers does not occur, and mental help is not given to children trying to reintegrate into society, conditions could worsen. Some of the measures suggested may seem extreme, but the delegation of Saudi Arabia believes that this is the best chance to help children in armed conflict.
Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 – Saudi Arabia. Refworld. Child Soldiers International, 2004. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.
“Convention on the Rights of the Child.” Multilateral Treaties Deposited with the Secretary-General. United Nations Treaty Collection. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.
Kushkush, Isma’il “In South Sudan, a Ghost of Wars Past: Child Soldiers.” The New York Times. 7 Jun. 2014. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.
“Military Service Age and Obligation.” The World Factbook 2013-2014. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2013. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.
“Saudi Arabia.” The World Factbook 2013-2014. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 20 Jun. 2014. 12 Web. Oct. 2014.
“Stopping the Use of Child Soldiers.” The New York Times. 22 Apr. 2002. Web. 12 Oct. 2014.
Everyday hundreds of thousands of children are abducted or forced to become soldiers in armed conflicts in their countries. Their self respect is ripped from them when they are forced to be cooks, spies, and sexual slaves. Not only can the children’s integrity be damaged but their lives are sometimes sacrificed as a use of suicide bombers, human shields, and in regular combat. Twenty-three country situations in 2014 have been reported to have committed crimes against children because of armed conflicts (“Child Recruitment”). These countries include: Colombia, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Libya, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, Yemen, Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Israel, Lebanon, and the Philippines (“Countries Where Children Are Affected”). These countries result to child soldiers because of the low cost and their loyalty. Spain does not believe in the use of child soldiers as it is a violation to the Convention of Rights of the Child in which Spain ratified in November 1990. In the Spanish culture children are greatly protected and cherished. Families spend great amounts of time each day together because it results in healthy a community for children to grow up in. Materialistic items are not as important to families in Spain compared to other cultures because of the value of time spent with loved ones. Spain believes that children captured from their families and sent into war is not only a horrific crime but damaging to their futures. Even after child soldiers are rescued or surrender themselves their conversion back into calm states of society is very challenging, considering the abuse they have encountered.
Organizations such as Invisible Children or the International Rescue Committee help child soldiers return back to their families and provide aid in their recovery from abuse and trauma. Spain believes that by supporting these organizations and spreading the message of the abuse that child soldiers go through will reduce the number of child soldiers used and raise the number of child soldiers rescued. One of the main problems that a child soldier faces is the idea they are led to believe to be true by their captors is that their society will not accept them back. This idea of isolation from their society keeps them from having the strength to escape. Invisible Children fights against this problem by dropping by fliers messages of hope encouraging child soldiers to surrender with instructions to specific locations where they will be safe. Not only are messages of hope and instructions given but they also have pictures of escaped child soldiers with their families or the flier they used to surrender (“Defection Fliers”).
One of the biggest issues is how to protect children from being recruited. A way to compete with this problem is to create an action plan throughout the world. The action plan would contain an agreement to stop the usage of child soldiers by allowing the state to criminalize this action with numerous resources available and determined to stop recruiters.
"Child Recruitment." Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. UN, 2014. Web. 6 Oct. 2014.
"Countries Where Children Are Affected by Armed Conflict." Map. Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict. UN, 2014. Web. 6 Oct. 2014.
The presence and participation of children in armed conflict is one of the most disturbing issues in the modern world. It is against international law for anyone under the age of fifteen to be a soldier and it also violates the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been signed by almost every country. However, it is estimated that over a quarter of a million child soldiers participate in armed conflict today, many directly participating in hostilities. Aside from being potentially deadly, participation of children in military conflicts affects those that do survive it indefinitely. By taking advantage of their young age, those who use child soldiers often abuse and brainwash children in order to force them to do horrific acts.
The United Kingdom, along with almost all industrialized nations, has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child and does not use children in hostilities. However, many developing countries and a multitude of militant groups continue to use children in conflict. Supporting children’s economic and educational opportunities is one possible way to stop children from participating in armed conflict, as is strongly discouraging the use of child soldiers and encouraging countries to make sure that children aren’t participating in combat in various groups in their countries. The aftermath of the use of child soldiers also needs to be addressed. One sure way of making sure that children aren’t fighting is disarming them. By taking their weapons, one can make sure that groups who use children aren’t able to participate in hostilities. Young people who have participated in military activities often find it extremely hard to have a normal live after the conflict has stopped. By supporting reintegration programs, the United Nations could make sure that these children are able to overcome what they have gone through.
The collateral damage of children in conflict zones is destroying the future of humanity. These children do not even get the chance to live out the majority of their lives because of a conflict they probably do not understand yet. Domestic fighting increases not only the child death rate, but interferes with their education, increases poverty, and allows for disease to become more pervasive. Many children are kidnapped, and taken away from their families so that they can fight in the war. In the Syrian Civil war, well over eleven thousand children died from the conflict. As a delegate of Sierra Leone, I fully understand the complications and devastations with children dying from collateral combat. A common difficulty for children is avoiding to step on and trigger landmines. When the landmines do not kill the children, the children are left badly mangled. The leader of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, said "Millions of people in nearly 80 countries still live in fear of landmines and explosive remnants of war, which take an unacceptable toll on lives and limbs, and people's livelihoods."
In 1999, the “Mine-Ban Treaty” was established, and by 2004, 147 countries agreed to its conditions and signed it. Three of the five countries that have not agreed to the treaty are on the security council. The very countries whose goal is to protect people will not endorse something that will dramatically help the welfare of children. How can we put our confidence in the countries that deal with security if they are refuse to help the safety of children? Our goal is to now continue to urge the remaining countries to sign the treaty and educate the children about mines and peace in general. By educating the children about peace, the future will be taken into account and construct a smarter generation. We will not only implement this education during peace, but also on the front lines to help further their knowledge even in the midst of fighting. This schooling will enable children to help stop further conflict in the world and end current conflicts peacefully. These youths can then pass on what they have learned to their kids. Teaching is the best method to create a better environment for peace and prosperity throughout the world.
Current research by developmental psychologists suggests that childhood is the stage in which human development is impacted the most. Multiple factors are at work, including genetics. However, the environment in which a child is brought up has been found to have a large effect on the child’s deportment later in life, with even subtle differences in the way children are raised being a significant contributor. Imagine then, raising a child in what many consider the most hostile environment known to man. While this may seem impossible, the reality of the situation is that children are quickly becoming involved in the armed forces, and not with their consent. As stated in the UNICEF Background Guide “As of 2012, the Human Rights Watch has reported recruitment of child soldiers in at least 14 countries, including Sri Lanka, Colombia, Myanmar, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Sudan, and has estimated that 20,000 to 30,000 child soldiers exist. However, due to the fact that child abductions in foreign countries are very difficult to monitor and control, there are still unaccounted statistics that increase daily.”
Solving the issue of children in armed conflict is one that Slovakia strives to resolve. In doing so, Slovakia has complied with Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989. As stated in the UNICEF Background Guide “The convention asserts that any individual under the age of 18 is forbidden from involuntarily drafting into the military.” Additionally, as noted in the concluding observations on the initial report of Slovakia adopted by the Committee at its sixty-second session from the 14th of January to the 1st of February 2013, Slovakia has welcomed “the establishment of various training programmes and seminars on international humanitarian law and human rights law, including provisions of the Optional Protocol, for members of the armed forces and those serving in the United nations and NATO peace-keeping missions.”
Going forward, Slovakia wishes to set the standard for reducing children’s involvement in armed conflict within its borders. To achieve this, Slovakia plans to heed the recommendations of the committee stated in their concluding observations, including the “drafting of domestic legislation that enables it to exercise extraterritorial jurisdiction over all offences under the Optional Protocol,” and the implementation of “mechanisms to identify at an early stage children among refugees and asylum seekers coming from countries where armed conflicts exist and who may have been involved in armed conflict in order to ensure their protection, recovery and reintegration.” Subsequently, Slovakia wishes to lead the effort in terminating children’s involvement in armed conflict on a global scale, by creating omni-beneficial policies branching from the UN’s discovery that “the most proactive and effective solution for combating the issue of children in armed combat is an undertaking for disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programs.”