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Child Soldiers - an evaluation

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Child Soldiers - A Breakneck Lifeblood The term "Child Soldier" is applied to an image of gun-toting adolescent boys but the reality is quite different. The call for justice to children who are coerced in anyway to join a militia or militaristic regime, is now evocating at the highest international levels with Kofi Annan stating "The question of children and armed conflict is an integral part of the UN's core responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security". A staggering 300,000 (estimated figure) children working across the globe forcibly enslaved in a military or other duties depicted by the children's captors is starting to show the increased liking for using children as objects in the war for land and other resources. Even where the legal minimum age is set at 18, the law is not necessarily a safeguard and this is shown clearly in countries such as Uganda, Afghanistan, Burundi and Somalia where obligatory laws are totally overlooked. How are Children recruited? Most armed opposition groups engage in conflict with children as their main source of fighting strength, this violently digressive act ensuing from global legalities on the issue, is clear from the 5,000 children dead last year, according to a UN estimate. The divergence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) leads observers to describe the situation as Africa's "world war" and with 4 million lives already lost they may not be wrong to do so. ...read more.


Rumours are rife of terrible atrocities being induced on children who have wanted to escape or not volunteered. Roshenara, a 14-year old girl abducted from her native Sri Lanka by the Revolutionary Armed Front said, "I've seen so many things in my life that other wouldn't see in five lifetimes. I've seen women and girls younger than me being raped and being burned alive at a stake. The smell, the smell. That's what gets to me. It makes me want to cry but I can't. It's too dangerous to do so. I have to cry to myself." Life on the front lines of conflict often exposes their heightened inexperience in conflict. Fighting in contact with more developed groups exposes them to vulnerabilities of injury and even death. However, assistance is being called for with social reintegration, demobilisation and rehabilitation movements on the increase and more children being pulled from their extreme poverty as a child soldier. Legislation such as the Optional Protocol and the African Charter are more often than not, neglected. The case of the DRC in the periods between the late 1800's to 1960's was a mixed period of rapid government and colonialism. Often, leaders were instigated at the request of other countries from the north such as the UK and the US. This "chop and change" approach left the emotions of the DRC's people all over the place, resulting in the violence today The Solution? ...read more.


As mentioned before, the Optional Protocol, an obligatory procedure brought into effect as of 25 May 2000 sets the records straight between the rogues and the authorities. It states the compulsory age of which people are allowed to fight, prohibits armed groups who are acting against the laws and requests the states in which the groups operate to account for at least some responsibility and to make sure effort is taken to stop them. Whether these groups or governments take this in or not is a different matter, but at least the minimum requirements are now set and if they disobey then they will be punished. A local man from a town called Banyan in South Eastern DRC said this in response to "Do you think these laws will change anything?" - "Considerable changes can't be made in a short time when the international bodies debate on legal age rather than on the humanitarian crisis that these children have to face everyday of their childhood." And this example of local reaction to recently introduced laws shows how high the opposition is in this desolate part of the world. The social aspect of a country is vital and a successful history of when people who have got together and combined their forces and eliminated the sources of violence that are nourished by the availability of light weapons, ideology, and tolerance of domestic violence have succeeded in their aims and show us their model as we ought to act upon. ...read more.

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