Thursday, February 14, 2008

Human Rights Update: UN General Secretary Reports that the Number of Entities Using Child Soldiers has Increased

Image: Child Soldier in Democratic Republic of Congo, BBC

Fifty-eight armed groups in 13 countries, including Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Nepal, still recruit and use child soldiers, whose plight is "grave and entirely unacceptable", the UN has said.
Undersecretary-General Radhika Coomaraswamy told the UN Security Council yesterday that in many of countries, there have also been incidents of killing or maiming children, attacking schools or hospitals, raping girls, abducting children and denying humanitarian groups access to youngsters.
She noted that there were 16 "persistent violators" who have been on the un list for five years, and urged the Security Council to "move from words toward effective action" by taking concrete and targeted measures against these offenders.
Zee News (India), 2-13-08

Human Rights Update: UN General Secretary Reports that the Number of Entities Using Child Soldiers has Increased

By Richard Power

The use of child soldiers is a crime against humanity, and those leaders who engage in this savagery must be vigorously pursued and prosecuted under international law.

Of course, as I have already noted, the oft-quoted "conventional wisdom" that there are 250,000-300,000 child soldiers globally does not take into account the millions of children dragooned into armed gangs in the world's mega-slums. Nor does this figure of 57 "armed groups or forces identified as using child soldiers" factor in the tens of thousands of armed gangs.

Either way, the numbers are tragic and the impact on the lives of the children is horrific. When will the great nations and major corporations cease arming and underwriting those surrogates who resort to such evil?

According to the new Secretary General’s annual report on Children and Armed Conflict, the number of armed groups and forces identified as using children has climbed from 40 in 2006 to 57 in 2007.
This increase hides a complex reality. On the one hand it indicates better monitoring and reporting of violations and an improved ability to identify parties responsible for recruiting children. ...
On the other hand it also reflects a deterioration of the situations in Chad and Sudan, as well as renewed fighting in Afghanistan and Central African Republic, where children are now being recruited.
The rise in the number of groups identified as using child soldiers has reinforced the importance of the Optional Protocol and having international legal instruments and improved monitoring and reporting mechanisms in place to combat this scourge.
But the news is not all bad. Over the past six years, there have been a number of positive developments in addressing this situation. There are now 119 States parties to the Optional Protocol. Furthermore, since February 2007, 66 Governments have subscribed to the Paris Commitments to protect children from unlawful recruitment or use by armed forces or armed groups.
UNICEF, 2-12-08

For more on the international dimension of this problem, here are some resources:

Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers

Amnesty International - Child Soldiers

Human Rights Watch -- Child Soldiers

For more on the domestic US dimension of this problem (e.g., South Central), drive across town.

Some Related Posts

Child Soldiers: Planetary Problem Persists, Burma Now Worst Case; Meanwhile, in the World's Mega-Slums, Millions More Go Uncounted & Unacknowledged

Human Rights Update (6-26-07) -- A Victory for Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone, But What About the Child Soldiers in the Streets of the USA?

UN Millennium Goals Update 5-30-07: In the Struggle to Empower Women & Children -- Very Good News, Very Bad News, & A Dose of Reality

Hard Rain Journal 4-21-07: Human Rights Update -- In War and Poverty, Children Forsaken on a Planetary Scale

Hard Rain Journal 12-4-06: Human Rights Update -- Unless You Protect Women, Children and Indigenous Peoples, You Cannot Achieve Real Security

Words of Power #17: Harry Potter and the Night Commuters

Words of Power #3: Gangstas = Child Soldiers Without A Country

Richard Power's Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available now! Click here for more information.

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