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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs