Child Soldiers

 

US: Act to Protect Children in Conflict

Human Rights Watch (HRW) responded to the 2013 United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in an article outlining how to protect child soldiers in conflict areas. HRW is a non-governmental organization that focuses on advocacy and reporting humanitarian issues. HRW recommended that the United States government improve the protection of child soldiers. In 2008, the United States passed the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, limiting assistance to countries using child soldiers. Although this Act advocates towards human protection, the United States still needs to take more action in order to solidify itself as a country actively working towards the opposition of the use of children for militaristic purposes.

“US: Act to Protect Children in Conflict.” Human Rights Watch. 5 February 2013. Web. October 2013. <http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/02/05/us-act-protect-children-conflict>.

 

Hailing release of child soldiers, UN calls on Myanmar to accelerate discharge efforts

In accordance with a United Nations (UN) action plan signed in 2012, Myanmar released 42 child soldiers in early July. Of those that were released, those older than 18 had been recruited into the Tatmadaw – Myanmar’s armed forces. The issue of child soldiers still exists in the Tatmadaw, despite the 2012 UN action plan. The UN is urging Myanmar to free the remaining victims as well. This event signifies a start in the breakdown of the use of child soldiers in national armies and highlights the case study of human protection in Myanmar.

United Nations News Center. “Hailing release of child soldiers, UN calls on Myanmar to accelerate discharge efforts.” United Nations. 8 July 2013. Web. October 2013. <http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=45359>.

 

Child soldiers: understanding the context

This article explains that by eliminating the push and pull factors influencing youth to join armies, the use of child soldiers will ultimately cease to exist. Examples of push factors include traumatization and resource deprivation, while pull factors include immaturity and a desire for adventure. Author Daya Somasundaram argues that the international community can play an influential role by discontinuing its funding to governments and groups that use child soldiers, as noted in the case of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. Ultimately, Somasundaram believes that the best way to protect children from becoming soldiers is to prevent armed conflicts from breaking out in the first place.

Somasundaram, Daya. “Child soldiers: understanding the context.” British Medical Journal. 25 May 2002. Web. October 2013. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1123221/>.

 

Beyond Kony 2012, child soldiers are used in most civil wars

This opinion article argues that the issue of child soldiers is much more complex than placing the blame on a single warlord, as portrayed by the viral Kony 2012 video. The authors explain that the recruitment of child soldiers is most prevalent in civil wars, where 81% of the 109 civil wars between 1987 and 2007 used child soldiers. Militaristic, dictatorial, authoritarian, and non-democratic states are much more likely to use child soldiers following the eruption of violent conflict. The authors argue that the best way to prevent the utilization of child soldiers is to help establish democratic governments in violence-prone countries in order to protect potential child recruits. By providing aid for democratic transitions, the use of child soldiers can be prevented in these countries.

Early, Bryan and Robert Tynes. “Beyond Kony 2012, child soldiers are used in most civil wars.” The Christian Science Monitor. 20 April 2012. Web. October 2013. <http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2012/0420/Beyond-Kony-2012-child-soldiers-are-used-in-most-civil-wars/>.

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