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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs