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Child soldiers - Global report 2008

  2. 2. Girl soldiers and others gathered at aCommunist Party of Nepal (Maoist) eventin Tila, Rolpa district, Nepal.Cover photo © Marcus Bleasdale 2005The Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers was formed in May 1998 by leading non-governmental organizations to end the recruitment and use of child soldiers, both boysand girls, to secure their demobilization, and to promote their reintegration into theircommunities. It works to achieve this through advocacy and public education, researchand monitoring, and network development and capacity building.The Coalition’s Steering Committee members are: Amnesty International, Defence forChildren International, Human Rights Watch, International Federation Terre des Hommes,International Save the Children Alliance, Jesuit Refugee Service, and the Quaker UnitedNations Office – Geneva. The Coalition has regional representatives in Africa, theAmericas, Asia and the Middle East and national networks in about 30 countries. TheCoalition unites local, national and international organizations, as well as youth, expertsand concerned individuals from every region of the world. COALIT ION TO STO P T H E U S E O F C H I L D S O L D I E R S
  3. 3. ChildSoldiersGlobalReport2008This report covers the period fromApril 2004 to October 2007.
  4. 4. Countries/situations where children were recruited
  5. 5. or used in hostilities – April 2004 to October 2007
  6. 6. First published in 2008 byCoalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers9 Marshalsea Road (4th floor)London SE1 1EPUnited© Coalition to Stop the Use of Child SoldiersISBN 978-0-9541624-5-0Original language: EnglishText and cover design: www.intertype.comPrinted in the United Kingdom by Bell and Bain
  7. 7. ContentsWorld Map 2 the Grenadines, St Kitts  Guinea  156Acknowledgements 7 & Nevis, St Lucia  86 Guinea-Bissau  159Preface 9 Central African  Guyana  161Introduction 12 Republic  88 Haiti  162Afghanistan  40 Chad  91 Holy See  165Albania  43 Chile   95 Honduras  166Algeria  44 China  97 Hungary  167Andorra  45 Colombia  99 Iceland  168Angola  46 Comoros   106 India  169Antigua and Barbuda  48 Congo, Democratic  Indonesia  173Argentina  49 Republic of the  106 Iran  176Armenia  51 Congo, Republic of  113 Iraq  178Australia  52 Costa Rica  115 Ireland  181Austria  54 Côte d’Ivoire  116 Israel   184Azerbaijan  56 Croatia   122 Italy  188Bahamas   57 Cuba   124 Jamaica  189Bahrain  58 Cyprus  125 Japan  191Bangladesh  58 Czech Republic  127 Jordan  192Barbados  61 Denmark  128 Kazakhstan  194Belarus  62 Djibouti   129 Kenya  196Belgium  63 Dominican Republic  130 Korea, Democratic People’s Belize  64 Ecuador  131 Republic of  198Benin  65 Egypt  134 Korea, Republic of  200Bhutan  66 El Salvador  135 Kuwait  201Bolivia   67 Equatorial Guinea  136 Kyrgyzstan  202Bosnia-Herzegovina  70 Eritrea  137 Laos  204Botswana  71 Estonia  140 Latvia  206Brazil  72 Ethiopia  141 Lebanon  207Brunei Darussalam  74 Fiji  144 Lesotho  210Bulgaria  75 Finland  145 Liberia  211Burkina faso  76 France  146 Libya  217Burundi  77 Gabon  147 Liechtenstein  218Cambodia  81 Gambia  148 Lithuania  219Cameroon  84 Georgia  149 Luxembourg  221Canada  84 Germany  151 Macedonia   222Cape Verde  86 Ghana  152 Madagascar  223Caribbean (Dominica,  Greece  153 Malawi  224 Grenada, St Vincent &  Guatemala  154 Malaysia  225CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008
  8. 8. Maldives 226 Qatar 282 Ukraine 351Mali 227 Romania 283 United Arab Emirates 353Malta 228 Russian Federation 284 United Kingdom 354Mauritania 229 Rwanda 288 United States ofMauritius 230 San Marino 290 America 358Mexico 231 Sao Tome and Uruguay 362Moldova 233 Principe 291 Uzbekistan 363Monaco 235 Saudi Arabia 292 Venezuela 366Mongolia 236 Senegal 293 Viet Nam 368Montenegro 237 Serbia 294 Yemen 370Morocco and Western Seychelles 295 Zambia 371 Sahara 238 Sierra Leone 297 Zimbabwe 372Mozambique 239 Singapore 302 Summary of selectedMyanmar 240 Slovakia 303 internationalNamibia 245 Slovenia 303 treaties 375Nepal 246 Solomon Islands 304 Optional Protocol 378Netherlands 250 Somalia 305 UN Resolution 1612 383New Zealand 251 South Africa 308 Child soldiers 2008:Nicaragua 252 Spain 310 data summary 389Niger 253 Sri Lanka 311 Methodology, termsNigeria 255 Sudan 315 and definitions 410Norway 257 Suriname 321 Glossary and explanatoryOccupied Palestinian Swaziland 322 notes 413 Territory 258 Sweden 323Oman 262 Switzerland 324Pacific Islands (Cook Is, Syria 326 Kiribati, Marchall Is, Taiwan 328 Micronesia, Nauru, Tajikistan 329 Niue, Palau, Samoa, Tanzania 331 Tuvalu, Vanuatu) 263 Thailand 333Pakistan 266 Timor-Leste 335Panama 268 Togo 337Papua New Guinea 269 Tonga 339Paraguay 271 Trinidad and Tobago 340Peru 274 Tunisia 341Philippines 276 Turkey 342Poland 280 Turkmenistan 344Portugal 281 Uganda 345
  9. 9. AcknowledgementsThis report covers the period from April data summary chart which appears at the2004 to October 2007. It contains detailed end of the report.information on child soldier recruitment I would also like to thank editorsand use in 197 countries. Where relevant, Maggie Maloney, Sarah Pennington andinformation is provided on disarmament, Philippa Youngman; and Maggie Maloneydemobilization and reintegration programs, and Philippa Youngman for copy-editingand on justice and accountability measures the report. Country entries were researchedto address the problem. and drafted by a team of consultants. They The project and the research were co- were Daniel Alberman, Lana Baydas, Emmaordinated by consultant Donna Guest. The Blower, Marisé Castro, Alison Dilworth,introduction was written by Coalition staff Mary Durran, Marjorie Farquharson,member Lucia Withers, with contributions Sara Hamood, Catherine Hunter, Stevefrom Victoria Forbes Adam and Brian Kibble, Don Lieber, Sarah Maguire,Phillips. Coalition staff members Enrique Anoushka Marashilian, Roland Marchal,Restoy, Lucia Withers and Heloise Ruaudel Ingrid Massagé, Matthew Naumann, Joshand consultant Laura Fine reviewed and Ounsted, Sandrine Perrot, Brian Phillips,revised draft entries for Africa, Asia and Hugh Poulton, Claudia Ricca, Kerry Smith-the Middle East; Martin Nagler and intern Jeffreys and Lars Waldorf.Chantal Scholten compiled large quantities Coalition members in Colombia,of data to support the process. Regional France, Italy, Philippines, Spain and thestaff Dee Brillenburg Wurth, Emma De Vise United States researched and drafted theirand Ryan Silverio provided information, country entries. Information was providedcomments and reviews on entries for by national coalition members and partnerswest Africa, the Great Lakes and south- in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Democraticeast Asia respectively. Ryan Silverio also Republic of the Congo, Ecuador, Indonesia,researched and drafted a number of entries. Israel, Lebanon, Occupied PalestinianCarissa Lopez and Heloise Ruaudel were Territory, Thailand, Uganda, the Unitedresponsible for the cover design and States and Venezuela.photographs respectively, and Enrique I am grateful to staff at the Office ofRestoy co-ordinated the translations. the Special Representative of the Secretary-Invaluable administrative support, General for children and armed conflict, tofundraising and financial management UN staff in relevant peacekeeping missions,were provided throughout by Coalition staff and to UNICEF in New York and in fieldmembers Andrew Lowton, Carissa Lopez offices around the world. They providedand Carol Steel. A special debt of gratitude invaluable information, commentary andis owed to Ratna Jhaveri, who spent many support throughout the duration of thishours revising and updating numerous project. Thanks are due in particular tocomplex entries as well as compiling the staff working on Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti,
  10. 10. Iceland, Indonesia, Mongolia, Myanmar, time and expertise to the project, toNepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri James and Sonia Nesbitt and to numerousLanka, Thailand and Zimbabwe. other organizations and individuals who I would like to thank Salvatore Sagues supported the research and productionand Sara Dezaley for French translations, process.the Permanent Peace Movement for Arabic The governments of Canada, France,translations and Blue Box for Spanish Ireland, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway,translations. I thank Martyn Partridge and Sweden and Switzerland provided financialFrancis McInally at Intertype for their invalu- support. Oakdale Trust, the Allan and Nestaable support during the production process, Ferguson Charitable Trust and the Tidesand Beatriz Bellorin and Ian Wren for their Foundation also supported this project.photographic expertise. Their continued support for the work of We are grateful for the long-standing the Child Soldiers Coalition is greatlysupport of Coalition Steering Committee appreciated.members Jo Becker, Rachel and Derek This report is dedicated to childBrett and Martin Macpherson. Thanks are soldiers and their children.additionally owed to Robert Freer, DavidBuchbinder, Linda Dowdney, Francesca Dr Victoria Forbes AdamPizzutelli, Halya Senyk and Maisy DirectorWeicherding, who generously donated London April 20088 CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008
  11. 11. PrefaceChild soldiers. Two simple words. But they impressive and unprecedented number ofdescribe a world of atrocities committed international instruments are in place toagainst children and sometimes by children. support efforts to “stop the use of childCommitted in many different countries soldiers”. They testify to an emerging globaland often hidden from the public eye. We consensus on this damaging practice. Theknow how devastating these experiences Optional Protocol on the involvement ofare for children – thanks to the courage children in armed conflict has been ratifiedand determination of those who have by 120 states; special war crime tribunalsspoken out and called on the international and the International Criminal Court arecommunity to take action on their behalf. becoming a more important means for This Global Report, the third produced bringing the perpetrators of crimes againstby the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child children to justice. The Security CouncilSoldiers, elaborates on progress over the has established a working group to closelypast four years, confirming for example, monitor developments in states where childthat tens of thousands of child soldiers soldiers are used and the UN has devotedhave been demobilized during this period. substantial resources to this problem.But as this meticulously documented Most recently, the Paris Principles andreport shows, tens of thousands more Guidelines on children associated withhave remained in or been newly recruited armed forces and armed groups have beenand used in armed conflicts – primarily by endorsed by 66 governments – they havenon-state armed groups, but also by some pledged to work for the release of all childnational armies. Governments have failed to soldiers from fighting forces, and to supportprevent the use of children by proxy forces programs which genuinely address theand child soldiers who have escaped or complex needs of returning child soldiers.been captured have been used as spies or In short, a rich body of internationalsources of intelligence rather than provided instruments exists. Our challenge is towith rehabilitation and reintegration ensure they are used to maximum Numerous governments persist in This will involve well-coordinated and multi-recruiting under-18 year olds into national faceted actions by a wide range of actors,armies, exposing them to military discipline, the exertion of pressure where it is needed,hazardous activity, bullying, abuse and and sustained funding for programs topossible deployment to war zones. assist returning child soldiers and other There is an urgent need to increase war-affected children. Ultimately, successall our efforts to prevent and eradicate the will depend on addressing root causes andrecruitment and use of children in armed building societies where the rights andconflict. dignity of all children are upheld. The Global Report 2008 shows Last but not least, organizationsthat achieving this goal is far from easy. like the Coalition to Stop the Use of ChildNevertheless, there is reason for hope. An Soldiers have played a vital role in theCHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008
  12. 12. global movement to definitively end child This Global Report is an importantsoldiering. For ten years the Coalition has record of progress made and the manyserved as an independent global monitor obstacles yet to be overcome. May it inspirefor child soldiers; they have tirelessly us all to renew our efforts so that one day inadvocated for the right of all children to the near future we can shout: “Children areprotection from military exploitation; and free from involvement in war at last!”they have substantially contributed to thepolicy and human rights agenda regardingchild soldiers. Their partnerships with Professor Jaap E. Doekgrassroots organizations working with and Chairpersonfor children in conflict zones have greatly Committee on the Rights of the Childenriched all our knowledge of the realities 2001 to 2007on the ground, and the challenges to be metif we are to achieve our goals.10 CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008
  13. 13. © Private source 2004Ethnic Wa child soldier in the ceasefire group, the United Wa State Army, at a Wa regioncheckpoint, Shan State, northern MyanmarCHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008 11
  14. 14. INTRODUCTIONChild soldiers: progress,but too littleWe feel different because of the way other children look at us; it seemsas if we are not children born from this land. They view us as though wecome from a different place.You cannot be completely happy with all these wounds – both in yourbody and in your mind.1Four years is a long time in a child’s life. trend is more the result of conflicts endingMuch can happen that will touch the rest of than the impact of initiatives to end childtheir lives for good or for ill. Some children soldier recruitment and use. Indeed, wheremay live their lives in situations of peace armed conflict does exist, child soldiersand security. For countless others war will almost certainly be involved. Thecontinues to be all too real. Over this aspect majority of these children are in non-stateof the adult world they have little say and armed groups, but the record of someno control. governments is also little improved. Four years is sufficient for substantial The figures for conflict do notdevelopments in the life of a global reveal the whole picture. The militarymovement. The last Global Report was recruitment of children (under-18s) andpublished by the Coalition to Stop the Use their use in hostilities is a much largerof Child Soldiers (Coalition) in November phenomenon, that still takes place in one2004; since then the movement to end the form or another in at least 86 countriesuse of child soldiers has seen continued and territories worldwide. This includesprogress towards a universal consensus unlawful recruitment by armed groups,against their use in hostilities, witnessed by forcible recruitment by government forces,the fact that over three-quarters of states recruitment or use of children into militiashave now signed, ratified or acceded to the or other groups associated with armedOptional Protocol to the Convention on the forces, their use as spies, as well as legalRights of the Child on the involvement of recruitment into peacetime armies.children in armed conflict. The findings make it clear that, despite On the ground, the consensus would the high level of international attention onappear to be reflected most clearly by the issue, the impact of that attention isa decrease in the number of conflicts in yet to be felt by many children who are, orwhich children are directly involved – from are at risk of becoming, child soldiers. They27 in 2004 to 17 by the end of 2007. The have reinforced the fact that a complexCoalition’s research for this Global Report range of co-ordinated responses by multipleshows, however, that that this downward actors are required to achieve the goal12 CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008
  15. 15. of preventing children’s involvement inarmed conflict, obtaining their release and Overviewsupporting successful reintegration. Thiswill involve a more explicit recognition International efforts continueof child soldiers on the agendas of thoseinvolved in a whole range of initiatives, The international framework to protectfrom conflict prevention, peacemaking and children from involvement in armed forcesmediation through to peace-building and and groups has been reinforced and effortslonger-term development. have focused increasingly on field-level Ultimately, if, over the next four years, implementation.the international community is to make The first important steps towardsgood its promise to protect children from establishing individual criminalmilitary exploitation, the level of political responsibility for those who recruit and usewill, the amount of human and financial children in hostilities have been taken. Warresources, the adherence to established crimes charges relating to the conscription,best practice and the quantity as well enlistment and active participation inas the quality of collaborative effort hostilities of children under 15 years oldand imaginative endeavour must all be have been issued by the Internationalmultiplied. Criminal Court (ICC) against members of armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Uganda. A landmark in international justice was forged by the conviction in 2007 by the Special Court for Sierra Leone of four people on charges that included the recruitment and use of children during the civil war. The pursuit of justice has also been furthered by the work of truth commissions in Sierra Leone, Timor- Leste and recently Liberia, all of which have addressed the issue of child soldiers. The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (Optional Protocol) – the most specific prohibition of child soldiers under international law – has now been ratified by 120 states, up from 77 in mid-2004. The United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of the Child began to examine state party reports on the Optional Protocol implementation in January 2005. Their concluding observations are generating an increased momentum towards developing modalities for protecting children from military recruitment and use, as well as providing an insight into further measuresCHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008 13
  16. 16. that many governments must take if they Defence Policy (ESDP) operations andare to achieve this goal. mission planning. The African Union (AU) Building on previous actions, the UN renewed its calls for its member states toSecurity Council adopted resolutions 1539 ratify the African Charter on the Rights and(2004) and 1612 (2005) calling for the Welfare of the Child by the end of 2008 andestablishment of a monitoring and reporting to enact relevant implementing legislationmechanism on children and armed conflict. by 2010. The Charter requires state partiesNow set up in around a dozen countries, inter alia to refrain from recruiting childrenthe mechanism is tasked with documenting and to ensure that they do not take directsix categories of grave abuse against part in hostilities.3children, including recruitment and use of On the ground, tens of thousands ofchild soldiers, in the situations of armed child soldiers have been released fromconflict listed in the annexes of the UN armies and armed groups since 2004 asSecretary-General’s regular reports on the long-running conflicts in sub-Saharan Africatopic. A Security Council working group on have ended. A major initiative to gatherchildren and armed conflict was set up in and compile accumulated experience2005 to review reports submitted under from the demobilization, disarmamentthe mechanism and to monitor progress and reintegration (DDR) of child soldiersin the development and implementation around the world culminated in the Parisof time-bound action plans by warring Principles and Guidelines on childrenparties to end their recruitment and use associated with armed forces or armedof child soldiers. The working group has groups (Paris Principles). Endorsed by 66issued conclusions based on the reports, governments at ministerial meetings intransmitted letters and appeals to parties February and October in 2007, includingengaged in violations, and taken a range of many from conflict-affected countries, theother actions on situations where abuses Paris Principles offer guidance on protectingagainst children have been committed. children from recruitment and on providing The first actions by the Security effective assistance to those alreadyCouncil to apply targeted measures against involved with armed groups or forces.individuals specifically for recruiting and The large-scale recruitment andusing children were taken in 2006, when a deployment of children by governmenttravel ban was imposed on an armed group forces in countries such as Burundi, Côteleader in Côte d’Ivoire. A Security Council d’Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia ceased with theresolution the same year sought to subject end of conflicts. More than half of countriesto travel bans and asset freezing leaders worldwide have set the minimum age atin the DRC who recruited or used child which an individual can enter the military,soldiers.2 including for training, at 18. Regional bodies have also continued to In response to international pressurefocus attention on this issue. The European and local initiatives, several armed groupsUnion’s (EU) 2003 Guidelines on children have committed themselves to ending theand armed conflict were given practical recruitment and use of children. Groupsdirection by an implementation strategy in Côte d’Ivoire and Sri Lanka are workingissued in 2006. The same year a checklist with the UN to develop and implementon integration and protection of children time-bound action plans to release childrenwas adopted to ensure that child rights and prevent their recruitment. Ethnic armedand protection concerns are systematically groups in Myanmar have agreed to doaddressed in European Security and likewise.14 CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008
  17. 17. Real protection requires redoubling methods, and the varied environmentsof effort in which they operate militate against generic solutions. Effective strategiesWhile the general direction is positive, the must be multifaceted and context-specific.pace of progress is slow and its impact Above all, they must address root not yet felt by the tens of thousands of Poor governance and its effects, includingchildren in the ranks of fighting forces. The impoverishment, inequality, discriminationinternational framework offers little real and human rights abuses, are all knownprotection for countless others who are at to contribute to the risk that children willrisk of recruitment and use in conflict. be recruited by armed groups. While such The Coalition has documented conditions persist, children will remaininformation on 21 countries or territories vulnerable to involvement in armed forceswhere children were deployed to areas of and groups.conflict between April 2004 and October The number of governments that2007. Within this period conflicts ended in deployed children in combat or othertwo of the 21 – Indonesia and Nepal – and frontline duties in their armed forces hasso too did child soldier use there. Although not significantly decreased since 2004.this is fewer than the preceding four years, Children have been used in armed conflictthe Coalition’s research reveals a number of by government forces in nine situationsdisturbing findings that make it clear that compared with 10 in the previous four-yearthe efforts to date have been insufficient. period. The most notable offender remains The first of these findings is perhaps Myanmar, whose armed forces, engaged inthe most stark. It is this: when armed long-running counter-insurgency operationsconflict breaks out, reignites or intensifies, against a range of ethnic armed groups, arechildren will almost inevitably become believed to contain thousands of children.involved as soldiers. The Central African Children were also reported to haveRepublic, Chad, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan been used in hostilities in Chad, the DRC,(Darfur) are all cases in point. Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. Additionally, Next, efforts to demobilize children Palestinian children were used on severalduring conflict have met with only limited occasions by defence forces in Israel assuccess. Peace remains the main hope human shields. There were reports of childfor securing the release of child soldiers soldier use by Yemeni armed forces infrom armed forces and groups, a fact fighting in 2007. A few under-18s in the UKthat further reinforces the importance of armed forces were sent to Iraq.child protection being integral to peace The flouting of international standardsnegotiations, as well as the need for explicit by governments extends beyond officialprovisions relating to child soldiers in armed forces. Children in at least 14ceasefire and peace agreements. countries have been recruited into auxiliary The impact of efforts to end child forces linked to national armies; into local-soldier recruitment and use by armed level civilian defence groups establishedgroups has been similarly limited. Armed to support counter-insurgency operations;groups in at least 24 countries located in or into militias and armed groups actingevery region of the world were known to as proxies for government forces. In athave recruited under-18s and many have least eight countries children were used asused them in hostilities. Many have proved spies and for other intelligence-gatheringresistant to pressure and persuasion. purposes, placing them at risk of reprisalsTheir widely diverse characters, aims and and ignoring government responsibilitiesCHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008 1
  18. 18. to provide protection and reintegration suffer stigmatization and rejection by theirassistance. families and communities. Universal responsibilities under the Optional Protocol to protect children Governments which used child soldiers against recruitment and to promote the in armed conflict between April 2004 recovery and reintegration of former child and October 2007. soldiers have yet to be fully realized. When Chad former child soldiers flee their country Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) of origin, asylum processes and special Israel measures facilitating their recognition Myanmar as refugees are frequently lacking in Somalia destination countries, as is the provision Sudan Southern Sudan of adequate services for their recovery and Uganda social reintegration. The legal framework to Yemen criminalize the recruitment and use of child Additionally, the United Kingdom soldiers and to establish extraterritorial deployed under-18s to Iraq where they jurisdiction over such crimes is also far from were exposed to risk of hostilities complete. Finally, many state parties have undermined the spirit, if not the letter,Despite growing knowledge of best of the Optional Protocol by continuing topractices for the disarmament, target under-18s for military recruitment.demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of While a number of states have raised thechild soldiers, lessons learned from past age of voluntary military recruitment withinefforts have continued to be overlooked in the past four years, at least 63 countriesthe implementation of official programs. permitted the voluntary recruitment ofIn many DDR processes the needs of child children by their armed forces; 26 weresoldiers were not prioritized and in some known to have under-18s in the ranks.were entirely overlooked. Reintegration Others introduced children, often at a veryprograms were frequently not tailored to young age, to military culture throughtheir specific needs and have suffered from military training in schools, cadet corps andchronic under-funding. various other youth initiatives. The repetition of mistakes has been Placing children’s rights ahead ofacute in relation to girls. The special needs military needs requires far-reaching shiftsand vulnerabilities of girls affected by in values and attitudes. Until it is acceptedarmed conflict have long been recognized, that childhood extends to 18, and that theyet they are not well served by DDR spirit of the Protocol expects more of statesprocesses. The vast majority of girls than just amending the age of conscription,associated with fighting forces do not children will continue to be at risk ofparticipate in official DDR programs and becoming soldiers, especially in times ofare not catered for in post-demobilization Specialized medical care forphysical injury resulting from rape orsexually transmitted diseases is rarelyavailable. Girl mothers and their children,often born of rape, are known to beparticularly vulnerable, but continue to16 CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008
  19. 19. Governments Additionally, there were reports that Palestinian children have been used on several occasions by the Israeli Defenseand Forces as human shields. In the Philippines children were reported to be in paramilitaryinternational units used to support counter-insurgency efforts. In Yemen, there are unconfirmedlaw: a measure reports that untrained children as young as 15 were given weapons and sent to the front against an armed group in earlyof progress 2007. Additionally, a few British under-18s were sent to Iraq as recently as mid-2005. Although most were swiftly removed, theyAlmost two-thirds of the world’s states were, in the meantime, exposed to risk ofhave ratified the Optional Protocol, and hostilities.others have prohibited the recruitmentand use of child soldiers in domestic lawor regulations. However, the gap between State responsibility at arm’s lengthwhat governments say and what they do The responsibility of governments extendsremains wide. beyond their official armed forces to militias and armed groups which they support orChildren sent to war which act as proxy forces. In Sudan, for example, responsibilityA small number of states persist not only for ending the widespread use in hostilitiesin recruiting children but also in exposing of children by the government-backedthem to the physical and psychological Janjaweed militias rests squarely withdangers of combat. Despite repeated the Sudanese authorities. The Sudanesedenials by the government, there is government’s support for armed groupsevidence that Myanmar continues to recruit in Chad and the Chadian government’slarge numbers of children into its armed backing for armed groups in Sudan alsoforces – often forcibly through intimidation, render these governments responsible forcoercion and violence – and to use them in the recruitment and use of child soldiersa range of combat and non-combat roles. In by these groups. The government in SriChad, children were among those rounded Lanka cannot escape responsibility for theup in hasty manpower drives in 2006 and abduction of children by the Karuna Group,deployed to defend the capital against a breakaway group of the Liberation Tigersarmed groups; in Somalia, the Transitional of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) that was linked toFederal Government allegedly recruited government armed forces. Likewise, theand used children during intense fighting government of Côte d’Ivoire is accountablefor control of Mogadishu in late 2006; in for recruitment of children in 2004 and 2005Sudan, children have been used in Darfur by pro-government militias, many of themby the Sudan Armed Forces and in the former child soldiers from Liberia.south of the country by the Sudan People’s Local-level civilian defence groupsLiberation Army (SPLA); and in Uganda, established to support counter-insurgencychildren who escaped from the Lord’s efforts also demand attention. InformallyResistance Army (LRA), or were captured or structured and in some cases unregulatedreleased from it, were pressured to join the by law, such groups include village-levelgovernment defence forces to fight the LRA.CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008 17
  20. 20. self-defence forces in Chad; anti-Maoist periods and subjected to torture or ill-village defence forces in India; self-defence treatment.committees in Peru; civilian volunteer Scores of children, some as youngorganizations and village defence groups as nine, have been detained in Burundiin the Philippines; and local defence on suspicion of collaboration with theunits in Uganda. Often located in remote National Liberation Forces (FNL). Someareas, such groups may escape scrutiny were reportedly severely beaten – oneand accountability for crimes committed, 16-year-old alleged to have been a memberincluding the recruitment and use of of the FNL youth wing was believed to havechildren. been unlawfully killed while in custody. In Israel hundreds of Palestinian children have been held under military provisions; Countries where children were recruited incidents of ill-treatment and torture were and used by paramilitaries, militias, reportedly common. In one case, a 16-year- civilian defence forces or armed groups old boy was held in solitary confinement for linked to, supported by, or acting as 35 days in 2007 and pressured to become proxies for governments. an informant. In the Philippines, detailed Chad Myanmar policies on the treatment of rescued, Colombia Peru captured or surrendered child soldiers Côte d’Ivoire Philippines by the security forces are not always DRC Sri Lanka implemented, and children have been India Sudan detained beyond the officially sanctioned Iran Uganda time-limits and in some cases ill-treated. In Libya both Myanmar and the DRC, child soldiers who have escaped from armed forces have In addition, several thousand children been charged with desertion and sentenced and youth received training in to terms of imprisonment. In the DRC a paramilitary skills in Zimbabwe’s youth few children convicted of military offences militias. remained in prison under sentence of death, in contravention of international law.Child soldiers in detention In Iraq hundreds of children accused of security violations were detained in Multi-In many situations child soldiers associated National Force – Iraq facilities – where therewith armed groups and captured by were reports of abuse – as well as in Iraqi-rungovernment forces have been treated facilities. In its “war on terror”, the Unitedsolely as adversaries rather than as States of America (USA) has designatedchildren. Contrary to the principle that a number of children, some as young aschild soldiers should be treated first and 13, as “enemy combatants” – a status, asforemost as victims in need of support and used by the USA, that is unrecognized inassistance for reintegration, some have international law. Several under-18-year-been detained solely on the basis of their olds were transferred from US custody inalleged association with armed groups, or for Afghanistan to indefinite military detentiondesertion and other military offences while in the US Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay inin armed forces. International standards Cuba. One such individual is Omar Khadr,of juvenile justice and the right to fair trial a Canadian national shot and captured inhave been violated in situations where child a firefight with US forces in Afghanistansoldiers have been detained for prolonged in 2002. He has alleged that he was ill-18 CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008
  21. 21. treated in US custody in Afghanistan and – to promote the development and well-Guantánamo. Six years on he is facing trial being of the child.before a military commission for offences Of the 120 states that have ratified theallegedly committed in 2002 when he was Protocol, almost two thirds have committed15. In its case against him, the prosecution themselves in their declarations to setsuggested that Khadr had become involved the compulsory and minimum voluntarywith al-Qaeda when he was just 10 years old. recruitment ages at 18 or higher. In the past From the start, Omar Khadr and four years the minimum age for voluntaryothers like him should have been treated recruitment into the armed forces hasprimarily as children and as victims. Their been raised to 18 in Chile, Italy, Jordan,treatment should focus on maximizing the the Maldives, Sierra Leone, Slovenia andpotential of the individual for successful South Korea. In Nepal, a law that permittedsocial reintegration. Accountability for any recruitment of under-18s was declared nullcriminal acts that may have been committed and void by the Supreme Court.can be a part of this, but any process to However, a number of states whosethis end must take full account of the age commitment to stopping the use of childof the child at the time of involvement with soldiers is otherwise not in doubt continuean armed group, and not allow the pursuit to assert their need to target 16- andof punishment to blind the prosecuting 17-year-olds for voluntary recruitmentauthorities to the responsibility of others in into their own forces. Some openly insisthis or her predicament. on placing the manpower requirements The use of children – often captured of their armed forces ahead of children’sor escaped from armed forces – as spies or rights. Calls to raise the minimum age ofinformants similarly violates basic human voluntary recruitment to 18 have beenrights principles for the protection of resisted by armed forces in Australia, Newchildren. It also contravenes government Zealand and the United Kingdom, on theobligations to assist in the recovery of child grounds that it would adversely affect thesoldiers and, moreover, exposes children availability of recruits. In the USA, followingto risks of reprisals. Yet this practice is a dramatic fall in the number of under-18sknown to have been carried out by armed joining the military and general recruitmentforces in Burundi, Colombia, the DRC, India, shortfalls, increased enlistment bonusesIndonesia, Israel, Nepal and Uganda during were introduced and minimum educationalthe reporting period. standards for recruits lowered.Recruitment age Government armed forces whichWhile ensuring that under-18s do not take used children as spies, informants ora direct part in hostilities is an essential messengers.component of the pledge to prevent child Burundi Indonesiasoldiering, the Optional Protocol demands Colombia Israelmore. As its Preamble spells out, its goal DRC Nepalis the “continuous improvement of the India Ugandasituation of children without distinction”.This suggests the need for serious reflection Resistance to the spirit of the Optionalon whether the inclusion of under-18s in Protocol in the interests of filling the ranksmilitary forces satisfies the ultimate goal raises questions about the value assignedof the Convention and its Optional Protocol to child protection. Active targeting ofCHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008 1
  22. 22. children – often from deprived backgrounds is to prove durable when put to the test bywith fewer educational or vocational conflict, crisis or emergency.options – undermines official claims that Military values are often inculcated insuch recruitment is genuinely voluntary. the educational and recreational settings Elsewhere, a stated intention to where children’s physical and intellectualrecruit only those above the age of 18 is formation takes place. At one extreme,undermined by the absence of measures to a “military first” policy is reported todetermine the age of recruits. Registration translate into the equivalent of some 12at birth is the right of every child and is weeks annually of drills and other militarythe first of many essential measures that training for North Korean secondary-schoola state must take to build a framework students. But military culture and trainingof protection around children. Low permeate school life elsewhere. Militarybirth registration is most prevalent in training is compulsory for school children inwar-affected and heavily indebted poor countries including China, Fiji, Kyrgyzstan,countries – precisely those countries where the Russian Federation, United Arabchildren are most at risk of recruitment and Emirates and Venezuela. The presence ofuse by armed forces. cadet corps within schools, for example in The risk of inadvertent under-age Antigua and Barbuda, the United Kingdomrecruitment of children because of low and the USA, may also introduce militarismbirth registration rates was noted in into places of development and learning.countries such as Bangladesh, Botswana, The Optional Protocol permits theEthiopia, Guatemala, Guinea, India, Kenya admission of under-18s into schoolsand Zambia. In Paraguay the lack of birth operated by or under the control of theregistration procedures has facilitated the military, but requires them to operate inforced conscription of children as young accordance with Articles 28 and 29 of theas 12 years old. Elsewhere, for example Convention on the Rights of the Afghanistan and Yemen, inadequate Primary or secondary education is providedverification procedures to determine the in military-run schools in countries such asage of new recruits has meant that under- Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Egypt, Honduras,age soldiers were likely to be serving in Israel, Kazakhstan, Nicaragua, Peru, thesecurity forces. Russian Federation, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Viet Nam. In some military schoolsA shift in culture is called for children wear military uniforms, live in military-style barracks and are subject toBy late 2007 the UN Committee on the military discipline. Some offer a standardRights of the Child had examined initial school curriculum, while others provide areports from 28 state parties to the narrow education involving hard physicalOptional Protocol. The examinations have drill and weapons handling. It is true that inrevealed much about the attitudes of these many cases these schools fill gaps in statecountries to childhood and how far a state education and children from poor familiesis willing to go to protect children from particularly can stand to benefit. However,under-age recruitment and involvement in states must not be allowed to sidestepconflict. The Committee’s work shows that their obligation to provide every child withthe implementation of the Protocol requires an education consistent with the aimsmore than changes to legislation. Values enshrined in the Convention.have to be entrenched if legislative progress There is also a variety of youth initiatives which may not sit comfortably20 CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008
  23. 23. with the Optional Protocol. The Committee human rights should be considered outsideon the Rights of the Child suggested that the sphere of moral and legal concernNorway’s voluntary youth program, the – regardless of where those abuses haveHome Guard, could not be regarded as taken place. Building on other humangenuinely conforming to the spirit of the rights treaties, the Optional ProtocolProtocol, despite a range of safeguards requires state parties to commit resources,prohibiting practical military training for energies and political will to a recoveryunder-18s. Youth initiatives elsewhere do and rehabilitation agenda for former childnot even incorporate such safeguards. soldiers and to ensure accountabilityIn Australia, Georgia, Sweden, the USA for those who recruit and use childrenand Uzbekistan, for example, a variety of in hostilities. That agenda encompassespatriot camps, cadet corps and military and responsive and responsible asylumsporting competitions and the like involve procedures, international assistance to andmilitary drills, weapons handling and, in co-operation with countries where childrensome cases, the use of weapons. Such have been active participants in armedactivities cast doubt on claims that these conflict, and the establishment of robustprograms motivate young people to be legal protections against the recruitment ofbetter citizens and make a wholly positive children and their use in hostilities.contribution to youth development. When former child soldiers seek Children attending military schools asylum, the values of global responsibilityor participating in such initiatives are, for are put to the test and many states thethe most part, under no formal obligation world over are found lacking. Problemsto enlist. It is nonetheless apparent that identified by the Committee on the Rightsearly exposure to military life can be of the Child include failure to identifyused to facilitate military recruitment. children who may have been recruited orIn Kazakhstan, for example, of the used in hostilities, failure to recognize thisapproximately 4,000 children studying in form of persecution as a basis for grantingmilitary schools in 2005–6, some 65 per refugee status, absence of systematic datacent went on to join the army. In the USA collection, deficient training of immigrationan estimated 40 per cent of students who officials and other relevant professionals,graduate from high school with two or more and inadequate services. In theseyears in the Junior Reserve Officer Training circumstances former child soldiers can beCorp, open to children from 14 upwards, left without support in a strange country.eventually enlist in the military. Children They are also at risk of forcible return and,from 12 to 15 years old, many of them in countries where children seeking asylumorphans, who enter cadet schools in the are detained, such as Italy and Australia,Russian Federation have no legal means of of detention. State parties, many of themreversing either their decision to attend the in Europe, have been put on notice byschool or the undertaking to do vocational the Committee that progress is expectedmilitary work on graduation. towards developing asylum procedures that are sensitive to former child soldiers andA global responsibility putting in place special measures to assist them.The Optional Protocol embraces values The Committee has also closelyof global responsibility that promote the scrutinized domestic laws that explicitlyuniversality of human rights. Neither prohibit the involvement of under-18s invictim nor perpetrator of serious abuses of hostilities and under-age recruitment,CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008 21
  24. 24. including third-party recruitment of under-18s for military activity. It has given similar Armed groups:scrutiny to laws to establish extraterritorialjurisdiction for crimes of under-agerecruitment and use of child soldiers, confronting theincluding the incorporation into domesticlaw of the relevant provisions of the Rome challengeStatute of the ICC. While many governments have policies While fewer states are recruiting and usingprohibiting the recruitment and use of child soldiers, when it comes to non-statechildren, very few have explicitly prohibited armed groups the news is far less law the violation of these provisions of Despite some examples of progress,the Optional Protocol. Australia, Belgium the bigger picture remains essentiallyand Germany are among a small number unaltered: the recruitment and use ofof countries that have introduced criminal boys and girls by armed groups remainspenalties for individuals who conscript, widespread.enlist or use children under the age of 15 at The uses to which children are put byhome and abroad. In Norway, Sweden and armed groups remained largely unchanged.the USA, such legislation was pending. In In Afghanistan, Burundi, the Central Africanthe case of Norway it was proposed that Republic and Colombia, for example,conscripting or enlisting children under under-18s have been used as combatantsthe age of 18 could be prosecuted as a war and in other front-line duties. Here andcrime – a standard higher than the age limit elsewhere armed groups also employedof 15 contained in the Rome Statute. Where children in a range of support roles fromlegislation exists some states have limited cooking and portering to carrying messagesits application, for example to times of and acting as lookouts and spies. Girls arewar and armed conflict, or to apply only to reported to have been raped and subjectedcrimes committed within the borders of the to other forms of sexual violence andstate against or by its own nationals. The exploitation including by the Revolutionaryenactment of legislation that criminalizes Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), thechild recruitment and use both nationally Armed Forces of the New Forces (FAFN)and extraterritorially is essential in in Côte d’Ivoire, various armed groups inestablishing the legal framework necessary the DRC, and the LRA in northern end impunity for this crime. On occasion, children have been used by Even in states which have yet to militant groups in suicide attacks in Iraq, asbecome parties to the Optional Protocol this well as in the Occupied Palestinian Territoryprogressive standard can be a useful basis until late 2004. This phenomenon has alsofor dialogue about conceptions of childhood recently emerged in both Afghanistan andand why children should not be seen as Pakistan. In situations such as those inacceptable participants in armed conflict Haiti, Kenya and Nigeria, children have beenby either governments or non-state actors. active players in political violence throughIn countries where governments seek to their membership of criminal gangs whosejustify inaction on grounds of inadequate services are intermittently employed byresources, those measures in the Protocol politicians and other actors for politicalmore dependent on political will than cash ends.for their realization can be emphasized.22 CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008
  25. 25. Positive developments government, workshops and advocacy with armed groups conducted by a localAn end to conflicts in Angola, Liberia and non-governmental organization (NGO) hasSierra Leone in the last decade brought a contributed to changing attitudes.halt to the massive recruitment and useof children by armed groups there. Peace Armed groups continue to recruitagreements in Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, the childrenDRC, Nepal and Southern Sudan have alsodelivered significant reductions in such Despite progress, the overall picture isrecruitment, if not in all cases a total end to one of armed groups that have ignoredthe practice. international law and standards, that Peace processes aside, the impact of renege on commitments, are resistant tomeasures aimed at preventing and ending pressure and persuasion, or have so farthe recruitment and use of children by proved to be beyond the reach of efforts toarmed groups has been limited, reaching end the involvement of children in conflictonly a few groups and benefiting relatively and political violence.small numbers of children. While the value The examples are many. The LTTEof such measures is undeniable, it must has repeatedly been condemned for itsbe recognized that more needs to be done recruitment and use of children. Yet as Srito bring about demonstrable change in Lanka descends once again into all-outconflict-affected countries. war, the LTTE is reported to be recruiting The UN-led monitoring and reporting and re-recruiting children, albeit in fewermechanism has significantly increased numbers than previously, despite itsavailable data on abuses against children repeated commitments to end the practice.committed by armed groups, as well as The LRA, notorious for abducting andarmed forces, in selected situations.4 The brutalizing thousands of boys and girlsprinciple of engagement with armed groups during the 22-year-long conflict in northernfor child protection purposes is now widely Uganda, has steadfastly ignored appeals toaccepted and has yielded some positive release children even though peace talksresults. Armed groups in Côte d’Ivoire and are taking place. In the DRC, groups loyalSri Lanka have agreed to UN-sponsored to Laurent Nkunda, a former commanderaction plans to end their recruitment of of the Rwanda-backed Congolese Rally forchild soldiers and to demobilize the children Democracy (RCD-Goma), have continued toalready in their ranks. Two armed groups in deploy children in hostilities against variousMyanmar have committed to end the use of other armed groups. Some of the childrenchild soldiers and another has expressed had been recruited from refugee camps inwillingness to enter into discussions with Rwanda. In Colombia, where peace effortsUNICEF. have stalled, several thousand children At grass-roots level, initiatives remain within the ranks of FARC and theaimed at building awareness of children’s National Liberation Army (ELN) with littlerights among armed groups and the apparent prospect of release.communities that surround them have Other groups operating in little-knowndemonstrated potential to impact on the conflicts have largely escaped internationalpolicy and practices of some groups. A scrutiny and action. In Thailand, forcase in point is in relation to ethnic armed example, the separatist group Nationalgroups in Myanmar, where, although Revolution Front-Coordinate (BRN-C),the work of the UN was impeded by the responsible for much of the spirallingCHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008 23
  26. 26. violence in the southern provinces since The limits of existing approachesearly 2004, is reported to use under-18sin various roles including propaganda Existing strategies have been remarkablyand support for military operations. In effective in establishing a broad consensusIndia, despite a reported increase in child that armed forces are unsuitable places forrecruitment by Maoist groups since 2005, children. But it is clear that many armedand persistent reports of child soldier use groups have not joined this consensus. Tensby armed groups in Jammu and Kashmir and of thousands of children have continuednortheastern states, the issue has to date to be recruited and used by such groups,largely escaped national or international and to be put at risk of death, injury andscrutiny. sexual violence. Thousands more remain at risk of recruitment. Changing this reality requires a critical analysis of the limits of Countries where there were child existing approaches and the development soldiers in non-state armed groups. of strategies to address underlying causes as well as symptoms. Afghanistan Lebanon The international legal framework Bhutan Liberia prohibits the recruitment and use of Burundi Myanmar under-18s by non-state armed groups and Central African Nepal criminalizes the recruitment and use of Republic Nigeria under-15s by state and non-state forces Chad Pakistan alike. This framework should underpin any Colombia Philippines strategy. Indeed, some armed groups have Côte d’Ivoire Somalia proved willing to commit to international DRC Sri Lanka standards and a few have acted on such India Sudan commitments by releasing under-18s and Indonesia Thailand ending further recruitment. The threat of Iraq Uganda prosecution of individuals who recruit and Israel/Occupied use children – far more of a reality in 2008 Palestinian than it was in 2004 – should contribute Territory to awareness among members of armed groups of the potential consequences ofSolutions have proved elusive in relation their criminal groups involved in protracted low-level However, some armed groups andconflicts, where child soldiers have been their leaders appear to attach little valuerecruited and used over many years. Such to international law and display littlegroups include the New People’s Army inclination to adhere to it. The military(NPA) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front imperatives of the group and the political,(MILF) in the Philippines. More challenging economic and social factors that drivestill are numerous irregular groups – often conflicts and cause children to enlist – oftenwith obscure goals and opaque command underpinned by local cultural attitudesstructures – that fragment, fracture and towards the age of majority – can outweighshift alliances and whose activities are legal and moral arguments. And, while it isoften as criminal as they are political. Such premature to assess the future deterrentgroups are characteristic of the conflicts in effect of prosecutions by internationalthe Central African Republic and Chad and courts, members of many armed groupsare appearing in Colombia. will, in all likelihood, continue to regard24 CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008
  27. 27. themselves as beyond the reach of child recruitment. Community interventionsinternational justice and remain confident with armed groups have in some casesthat national-level prosecutions are succeeded in obtaining the release ofunlikely. children or reducing levels of recruitment. The public naming of certain armed Wherever possible community involvementgroups in the UN Secretary-General’s should be actively encouraged andregular reports to the Security Council on supported. However, in situations suchchildren and armed conflict has encouraged as Iraq, Sri Lanka and southern Thailand,several groups to renounce the practice and civil society organization and actionco-operate with the UN to prevent it. The are rendered ineffective by insecuritymonitoring and reporting mechanism has and violence. Moreover, where boys areprompted more systematic data collection, considered adults at puberty or wherefocused attention and resources on Islamist doctrine is strong, communityselected situations and created entry points members may not oppose children’sfor dialogue by humanitarian actors. association with armed groups. Undoubtedly more could be achieved. There are no quick or easy solutions.For example, the Security Council could, Armed groups have widely varyingthrough its working group, apply more characters, ideologies, aims, capacities andpressure on parties listed in the annexes to constituencies, and they operate in diverse,the Secretary-General’s report to develop often rapidly changing and frequentlyand implement action plans. It could also insecure environments. Strategies mustbe bolder in its application of measures, take into account that what may beincluding, when appropriate, targeted effective in influencing one group may havemeasures, in particular in relation to little impact on another. Strategies mustthose parties, the majority of which are also reflect the complex web of relations,armed groups, identified in each of the five including regional and international links,annexes so far published. International surrounding such groups. Armed groupscondemnation can have a powerful effect in Chad, the DRC and Sudan, for example,and the threat of sanctions or other enjoy the material or political support oftargeted measures may at least limit the neighbouring governments, some of whichextent of child recruitment. However, are in turn recipients of economic andthe full effect of such measures can only development aid from second governmentsbe achieved when combined with the or donor bodies. Pressure can be exertedconcerted efforts of a whole range of on such governments and donors to usenational and international government what influence they have to encourageand non-government actors working in a compliance with human rights standardsco-ordinated fashion to persuade parties and international humanitarian conflict to end the practice, to monitorand support their implementation of Addressing the root causescommitments and to design and implementpolicies to prevent future recruitment. Efforts to influence the policies and Expectations of the role of behaviour of armed groups should continuecommunities must be similarly qualified. wherever possible and appropriate. DirectCommunities are essential to understanding and indirect engagement, advocacy,why children are recruited and how they targeted measures and prosecutions cancan be protected. Engagement with all have an effect. Greater attention mustcommunities can help build resistance to be paid, however, to questions of whereCHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008 2
  28. 28. children are recruited by armed groups and, Governments and societies that fail tocritically, why. prioritize the promotion and protection of While the conditions facilitating child children’s rights – economic, social andrecruitment persist, as they do in countless cultural, as well as civil and political – sharecountries worldwide, it will remain easy responsibility for driving children into thefor armed groups to exploit children. ranks of armed groups.Many children have few alternatives to, or As with recruitment into armed forces,defences against, joining armed groups. education merits particular attention When hostilities are ongoing, poverty, – schools can be part of the problem as wellsocial dislocation and other environmental as part of the solution. Denied an adequatefactors create conditions of extreme education, school leavers are unequippedvulnerability to recruitment. Children in for employment in the modern world andrefugee camps, the internally displaced, more vulnerable to recruitment by armedchildren separated from their families and groups.children among the rural poor and in urban Schools are convenient sites forslums are at higher risk. Changing conflict recruitment of children, often forced and endynamics may exacerbate the risks. For masse – a deplorable abuse. There is alsoexample, intensified recruitment drives increasing evidence that schools are usedby armed groups have taken place in by armed groups to indoctrinate children,Burundi, Nepal and Southern Sudan prior encourage volunteers and identify suitableto ceasefire and disarmament agreements. candidates for training and recruitment. InProtection strategies should, as a matter both Bangladesh and Pakistan there areof course, target identifiably vulnerable reports that children have been recruitedchildren and respond to changes which may by armed groups from madrasas (Islamicimpact on child recruitment patterns. religious schools). In the case of Pakistan, Action to prevent recruitment should such children have been involved in suicidenot only be triggered by conflict. The attacks both at home and across the borderOptional Protocol requires states to take in Afghanistan. In southern Thailand,all feasible measures to prevent armed schools and mosques are thought to begroups recruiting and using under-18s. The used to indoctrinate children from the agefirst step is to criminalize such practices of six in a version of history and Islam thatin domestic law. Beyond this, durable supports BRN-C’s political and military aimsprotection means changing the conditions and encourages teenage “volunteerism”.that make recruitment possible or virtually Youth summer camps and other out-of-inevitable, as is the case in situations school activities are reportedly organized bysuch as the Central African Republic, Chad armed groups in Lebanon and the Occupiedand Somalia. Ineffective government, the Palestinian Territory, which, while notabsence of legal protections for children necessarily overtly military, can generateand lack of effective institutions to enforce links and loyalties to the armed groups.them, poverty, discrimination, political and The risk of education becoming asocial exclusion, lack of access to education recruitment tool in the hands of armedand vocational training and limited groups is heightened in situations wherelivelihood prospects set the conditions for the public schooling system is inadequate.recruitment. Children are also more likely to In these circumstances, unregulatedbe drawn to armed groups by experiences alternatives offering narrow curricula canof human rights violations or other forms flourish, with, in some cases, sectarian orof violence, including domestic violence. Islamist content. In Indonesia, an innovative26 CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008
  29. 29. approach is being taken to tackle theproblem in Central Sulawesi where the Disarmament,armed Islamist group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI)had significant influence in certain religiousboarding schools. The authorities are demobilizationembarking on an experiment to establisha model religious school to encourage andstudents away from radical schools andreduce their vulnerability to recruitment reintegrationby militant groups.5 While it is too early tojudge its success, and despite questions Several major disarmament, demobilizationover the transparency and equity of the and reintegration (DDR) programs for adultsprogram, this type of approach merits and children have drawn to a close in the pastconsideration. four years, resulting in the release of tens of While governments have primary thousands of children. Many thousands moreresponsibility for ensuring child protection have escaped, been captured or have foundand preventing their recruitment into their own way home. Efforts have continuedarmed groups, it should be a priority for all to release children from fighting forces andthose engaged in human rights protection, to support their reintegration in countrieshumanitarian work, development, conflict such as Afghanistan, Colombia and Sri Lanka,prevention and post-conflict peace-building. where hostilities are ongoing. New DDRIt should feature explicitly in the mandates initiatives for children have been established,of all involved. It is only through collective including in the Central African Republicendeavour that robust and durable barriers and Chad. Overall, however, DDR efforts arewill be erected that effectively protect inadequate, and many children have failed tochildren from being recruited into armed receive the assistance needed to successfullygroups. return to their families and communities. The majority of DDR programs in the last decade have been carried out in sub-Saharan Africa with support from peacekeeping operations. From these and other experiences, a wealth of knowledge exists on the identity of girls and boys in fighting forces, and their needs and priorities when returning to civilian life. While the Paris Principles encapsulate much that has been learned over recent years about how to achieve successful DDR for children, this knowledge has yet to be fully applied. Demobilization during conflict Demobilization of child soldiers during conflict presents the greatest of challenges. Despite the best efforts of UN agencies, NGOs and others, large-scale releases ofCHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008 27
  30. 30. children from armed forces or groups have child recruitment in 2005 to bolster fightingrarely taken place before hostilities end. strength and negotiating power prior to their Difficulties in gaining access and integration into the army of Southern Sudan.lack of security pose major obstacles to These and other difficulties should notreleasing child soldiers during conflict. The prevent efforts to release children from armedmurder in July 2006 of an NGO worker in groups or to deploy international humanthe DRC – killed while seeking the release rights monitors if no other protection is likelyof child soldiers in North Kivu – highlighted to be effective. However, reality dictatesthe risks for human rights defenders. In that an end to conflict will produce the mostChad and Colombia continued fighting has concrete results, reinforcing the urgent needprevented children from returning to their for peaceful settlements and the inclusion offamilies. Many have been forced to remain specific DDR provisions for child soldiers inin transit centres or institutional care for peace agreements. Exemptions from futuremonths after being released. conscription of those who served as children The record suggests that when armed should also be included in such texts.conflict persists, political and militaryimperatives are likely to dictate the ebb Girl soldiers – still excludedand flow of recruitment, but consistentlyapplied pressure can bring about some There is wide recognition of the involvementimprovement. In Sri Lanka, an action plan of girls in fighting forces, in combat andin 2003, the threat of targeted measures non-combat roles and as victims of sexualand ongoing dialogue with the LTTE have slavery, rape and other forms of sexualresulted in reduced rates of recruitment violence. Repeated Security Counciland release of under-18s. Nevertheless, resolutions have highlighted the need torecruitment patterns were at least in part take into account the special needs anddetermined by conflict dynamics and the vulnerabilities of girls affected by armedLTTE’s own training cycles. Difficulties in conflict, including girls involved in fightingverifying the situation of those released forces.6 The importance of considering thehave also persisted. In Chad, where requirements of girls during DDR processesan estimated 7,000 to 10,000 children was explicitly reaffirmed by the Parisremained in armed forces and groups by Principles in 2007.October 2007, an agreement by the Chadian The existence of girl soldiers becamegovernment to release children from the evident in the aftermath of armed conflictsnational army resulted in the release in Angola and Mozambique in the 1990s,of several hundred children. However, and girl soldiers have been present infurther releases have been hampered by virtually every non-international conflictobstructions to UNICEF’s access to most since. Yet figures from national DDRmilitary installations. Recruitment by all programs reflect extraordinarily low figuresfighting forces has continued, fluctuating for girls’ participation, with average levelsaccording to military needs. of between 8 and 15 per cent of those girls. In other situations armed groups In Liberia some 3,000 girl soldiers werehave placed unacceptable conditions on officially demobilized through the formalthe release of children. In the DRC, for DDR process that ended in Novemberexample, Ituri-based armed groups have 2004. However, as many as 8,000 wererefused to release children unless demands excluded or did not register and receivedfor amnesties are met by the government. no subsequent support. A similar situationMilitias associated with the SPLA increased occurred in the DRC, where only 3,000 girls28 CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008
  31. 31. (about 15 per cent of the total number of the demobilization stage, many girls remaingirls estimated to have been involved in outside the orbit of reintegration support.the conflict) were officially demobilized It is recognized that returning girlby the end of 2006 as the national DDR soldiers have multiple needs, includingprogram drew to a close. Thousands of girls specialized medical care for physicalwho returned home informally received no injury resulting from rape or infectionreintegration support. from sexually transmitted diseases and psychosocial support to address the reality Government armed forces known to have of rape and the further trauma of rejection had children in their ranks. by family or community. Returning girls may equally need support over whether Armenia Jordan to leave or remain in relationships formed Australia Luxembourg in the ranks. Girl mothers and babies who Austria Myanmar are born of rape in situations such as the Bangladesh Netherlands DRC, Liberia and Uganda are especially Barbados New Zealand vulnerable to rejection. Bolivia Paraguay The needs of girl soldiers must be Canada Russian Federation seen within broader contexts of entrenched Chad Somalia and complex gender discrimination and Cuba Sudan inequalities. These precede armed conflict, Democratic Uganda facilitate human rights abuses against Republic of the United Kingdom women and girls during hostilities and Congo United States persist in its aftermath. Attention must Germany of America be paid to the fact that some girl soldiers Guatemala Yemen enlist to escape sexual abuse, enforced Ireland marriage or a life of domestic servitude. The context-specific characteristics of genderThe reasons why girls have not participated discrimination, sexual exploitation andin formal DDR processes are complex. Girls abuse require careful analysis to identifyin many conflicts in Africa have been held the particular vulnerabilities of girls and theback, as they perform useful support roles types of discrimination in the communitiesor are regarded as “wives”. The LRA, for to which they return. Awareness of theseexample, has refused to release some 2,000 realities has to be matched by programs towomen and children on the grounds that identify girls through less formal channelsthey are wives and children of fighters. Girls and to support their reintegration withoutthemselves may not wish to be identified returning them to further stigmatization,as child soldiers for fear of rejection by violence or exploitation.families and communities, having beendeemed to have “lost value” through Addressing the needs of childreninvolvement in sexual activity. As a result, during DDRmany have returned to their communitiesinformally with their complex medical, An oft-repeated error has been the failure topsychosocial and economic needs unmet. acknowledge and act on the well-established The military orientation of many DDR fact that many children do not register forprograms – entailing formal registration formal DDR programs. Fearing stigmatization,and identification as part of a fighting force thousands of child soldiers – particularly– itself presents a major obstacle to the girls – choose not to reveal their identity asparticipation of girl soldiers. Overlooked at soldiers by registering for DDR. The problemCHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008 2
  32. 32. can be compounded by local dynamics. In generated by giving children cash packages,Colombia, for example, restrictive criteria for demobilized children were reportedlyaccessing the government-run DDR program provided with cash payments designed forhas effectively excluded many former child adult combatants. NGOs noted communitysoldiers, including many of those discharged resentment of returning child their commanders or who escaped and In Nepal and elsewhere it is necessaryfound their own way home. In the DRC, for all actors involved to examine why agreedanecdotal evidence from 2007 suggests that principles for children’s DDR have continuedsome child soldiers were abandoned en route to be overlooked and to develop mechanismsto demobilization centres by commanders to ensure that this is avoided in future.fearing prosecution for child recruitment.Children who fought across borders are Long-term support for reintegrationespecially vulnerable. For example, of some2,000 Guinean children believed to have The reintegration of child soldiers is abeen involved in armed conflict in Liberia only long-term process which aims to give29 were formally demobilized and repatriated returning child soldiers viable alternativesto Guinea. to involvement in armed conflict and to Experience has additionally shown that help them resume life in the community.the reintegration needs of both girls and Elements of reintegration are wellboys are best served by programs based understood and include family reunificationin communities, which aim to support a (or alternative living arrangements ifwide range of war-affected children. Such reunification is not possible), psychosocialprograms can militate against further support, education, vocational trainingstigmatization and resentment of child and income-generation projects. Yetsoldiers and, by addressing broader needs, sustained funding for long-term support iscontribute more effectively to post-conflict rarely available. Lack of funding combinedrecovery of the children, their families and with poor planning and a tendency tocommunities. This lesson has not, however, privilege demobilization over longer-termbeen consistently applied. reintegration objectives, have continued As peace or ceasefire agreements are to undermine children’s prospects ofnegotiated, the pressure to end hostilities successfully returning to civilian life.and disarm combatants drives the pace and An artificial division of labour andsubstance of DDR planning, and short-term funding between the emergency phase,solutions derived from adult DDR have post-conflict recovery and development canon occasion prevailed over longer-term contribute to failed reintegration. Fundingcommunity-based programs. For example, for national DDR programs has typicallybest-practice principles for children’s DDR been provided for immediate post-conflictwere apparently overlooked in Nepal, demobilization and short-term reintegrationwhere hundreds of child soldiers remained support, normally for a one-year cantonments for over a year after a While child protection agencies havepeace agreement between the government provided localized support for reintegrationand the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) programs beyond the initial DDR process,(Maoist). Community-based programs funding for longer-term support is rarelywere too few and too late to assist all the available on the scale it is needed.children associated with the CPN (Maoist) Inadequate provision for long-termarmed wing. Despite lessons learned from reintegration has been reported fromLiberia and Sudan on the sort of problems Afghanistan, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia30 CHILD SOLDIERS GLOBAL REPORT 2008