News / Africa

UN Campaigns To End Recruitment of Child Soldiers

FILE - U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, June 2005.
FILE - U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, June 2005.
Lisa Schlein
The United Nations is launching a campaign to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers by 2016.  It says eight governments on a Security Council list of child recruiters have agreed to sign an "action plan" to end these violations and to prevent them from occurring in the future.
 
The United Nations has a list of 55 parties that recruit child soldiers.  Among them are 46 non-state actors and eight governments, including those of Afghanistan, Burma, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen.
 
The U.N. special representative for children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, is spearheading this campaign jointly with the U.N. Children’s Fund.  She says the outlook is promising because nations are unanimous that using children to fight in war is unacceptable and must end.
 
“No government in the world is telling us, 'I have the right to recruit children to send them to fight.  It is not your business.'  No one is telling us this," said Zerrougui. "Out of the eight listed, six already signed the action plan with the United Nations and the two remaining are in the process of finalizing their action plan.”
 
Yemen and Sudan have yet to sign the agreement, but say they are committed to stop the use of child soldiers.  They presently are in negotiations with the United Nations to make this happen.  
 
The U.N. Action Plan obliges governments to ban their military from drafting and using child soldiers.  It promises to release children from service and to reintegrate them into civilian life.

It also calls upon states to criminalize this practice and ensure that no child under 18 is drafted.
 
In the presentation of her annual report to the U.N. Human Rights Council, Zerrougui spoke about the disproportionate and intolerable impact that conflicts around the world have on children.  She noted armed conflict has intensified in several countries, most notably in Syria, South Sudan, and Central African Republic.  She added that in other countries, thousands of children also are recruited, killed, maimed, raped and kidnapped.  
 
The special representative spent four years serving in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  She says she was deeply affected by the terrible stories boys and girls told her about how they had been abducted, recruited, indoctrinated, and used as sex slaves.    
 
"Not only girls - girls and boys.  That is what happened to them in the bush," Zerrougui said. "They serve as cooks, they serve as porters, they serve as sex slaves and they are also human shields.  That is the reality…You even cannot reintegrate them in their community when they return… because you cut the link with the community and the family.  It is terrible what happens to these children.  That is why we have all to be united and to work and to make sure that these children will not - and never ever be recruited and those who are doing this have to pay a price."
 
Globally, the number of children recruited as soldiers is estimated between 250,000 and 300,000.  
Zerrougui says governments are more aware of the harm done to child soldiers and of the shame attached to their recruitment.  She says governments do not want to remain on the list of recruiters.  They want to make sure their ranks are free of children.  

And this, she says, is what gives her hope that the "Children, Not Soldiers" campaign can ultimately succeed.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs