|Red Hand Day|
Red Hand Day logo
|Official name||International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers|
|Next time||12 February 2020|
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|Movement to end the use of child soldiers|
On Red Hand Day or the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers,February 12 each year, pleas are made to political leaders and events are staged around the world to draw attention to child soldiers: children under the age of 18 who participate in military organizations of all kinds. The aim of Red Hand Day is to call for action to stop this practice, and for support for children affected by it.
February 12 is the 43rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 322 days remaining until the end of the year.
The Paris Principles define a child associated with an armed force or group as:
The Free Children from War Conference was a conference co-hosted by the French government and UNICEF on 5–6 February 2007 in Paris, France. The goal of the conference was to bring together countries, non-governmental organizations, and international organizations to discuss the issue of child soldiers. The 59 involved countries signed the Paris Principles and Paris Commitments, which update the Cape Town Principles and outline a practical approach to preventing the use of child soldiers and the reintegration of current child soldiers. The Principles define a child associated with an armed force or armed group as:
... any person below 18 years of age who is or who has been recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies or for sexual purposes. It does not only refer to a child who is taking or has taken a direct part in hostilities..
...any person below 18 years of age who is or who has been recruited or used by an armed force or armed group in any capacity, including but not limited to children, boys and girls, used as fighters, cooks, porters, messengers, spies or for sexual purposes. The document is approved by the United Nations General Assembly. It does not only refer to a child who is taking or has taken a direct part in hostilities.
Due to the widespread military use of children in areas where armed conflict and insecurity prevent access by UN officials and other third parties, it is difficult to estimate how many children are affected.In 2017 Child Soldiers International estimated that several tens of thousands of children, possibly more than 100,000, were in state- and non-state military organizations around the world, and in 2018 the organization reported that children were being used to participate in at least 18 armed conflicts.
Child Soldiers International, formerly the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, is a UK-based non-governmental organization that works to prevent the recruitment, use and exploitation of children by armed forces and groups.
As of 2017 [update] , the UN list of countries where children are known to be used in armed conflict Situations on the agenda of the Security Council includes: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq, Israel and State of Palestine, Lebanon, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Yemen, Colombia, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand. Child Soldiers International produces a world map showing where children are members of military organizations around the world.
Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in South and Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and in the far northeast, China. Its territory covers 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi) and much of it is covered by the Hindu Kush mountain range, which experiences very cold winters. The north consists of fertile plains, whilst the south-west consists of deserts where temperatures can get very hot in summers. Kabul serves as the capital and its largest city.
The Central African Republic is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Chad to the north, Sudan to the northeast, South Sudan to the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south, the Republic of the Congo to the southwest and Cameroon to the west. The CAR covers a land area of about 620,000 square kilometres (240,000 sq mi) and had an estimated population of around 4.6 million as of 2016.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, the DRC, DROC, Congo-Kinshasa, or simply the Congo, is a country located in Central Africa. It is sometimes anachronistically referred to by its former name of Zaire, which was its official name between 1971 and 1997. It is, by area, the largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa, the second-largest in all of Africa, and the 11th-largest in the world. With a population of over 78 million, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is the most populated officially Francophone country, the fourth-most-populated country in Africa, and the 16th-most-populated country in the world.
Since 2008 Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire have been removed from the UN list of countries where children are used in hostilities.Once children have been released from military service, they typically need support to rejoin their communities. The rehabilitation and reintegration of child soldiers is an important part of a peace process but is expensive and requires the participation of whole communities.
Sierra Leone, officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, informally Salone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa. It has a tropical climate, with a diverse environment ranging from savanna to rainforests. The country has a total area of 71,740 km2 (27,699 sq mi) and a population of 7,075,641 as of the 2015 census. Sierra Leone is a constitutional republic with a directly elected president and a unicameral legislature. Sierra Leone has a dominant unitary central government. The president is the head of state and the head of government. The country's capital and largest city is Freetown. Sierra Leone is made up of five administrative regions: the Northern Province, North West Province, Eastern Province, Southern Province and the Western Area. These regions are subdivided into sixteen districts.
Liberia, officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West African coast. It is bordered by Sierra Leone to its northwest, Guinea to its north, Ivory Coast to its east, and the Atlantic Ocean to its south-southwest. It covers an area of 111,369 square kilometers (43,000 sq mi) and has a population of around 4,700,000 people. English is the official language and over 20 indigenous languages are spoken, representing the numerous ethnic groups who make up more than 95% of the population. The country's capital and largest city is Monrovia.
The rehabilitation and reintegration of child soldiers is defined by Child Soldiers International as:
"The process through which children formerly associated with armed forces/groups are supported to return to civilian life and play a valued role in their families and communities"
The Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions (1977, Art. 77.2),the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (2002) all forbid state armed forces and non-state armed groups from using children under the age of 15 directly in armed conflict (technically "hostilities"). This is now recognised as a war crime.
Most states with armed forces are also bound by the higher standards of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC) (2000) and the Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999), which forbid the compulsory recruitment of those under the age of 18.OPAC also requires governments that still recruit children (from age 16) to "take all feasible measures to ensure that persons below the age of 18 do not take a direct part in hostilities". In addition, OPAC forbids non-state armed groups from recruiting children under any circumstances, although the legal force of this is uncertain.
The military use of children has been common throughout history; only in recent decades has the practice met with informed criticism and concerted efforts to end it.A number of international organizations are active against the use of children as soldiers. These organizations include, for example, Amnesty International, Child Soldiers International, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, Terre des hommes, and the United Nations Child Fund (UNICEF).
Since 2002, nations and regional coalitions from around the world have been holding events on February 12, Red Hand Day, to draw attention to the issue and encourage steps to end the use of children for military purposes.The date reflects the entry into force of the OPAC treaty.
For example, in 2008 children and teenagers initiated a campaign to collect as many red hand-prints as possible to present to the United Nations on Red Hand Day.[ citation needed ] The red hands were made on paper, banners and personal messages calling for an end to the use of child-soldiers. 7,000 red hands were collected in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where child recruitment had increased dramatically. Former child soldiers from Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire sent messages pleading for rehabilitation and assistance for former child-soldiers. There were hundreds of events such as marches, petitions, school awareness programs, exhibitions and red hands were delivered to members of local congress and parliaments. Over 250,000 red hands were collected from youths of 101 countries around the world and presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a book at 5 pm on February 12, 2009 in New York City by former child-soldiers from Colombia and Côte d'Ivoire accompanied by young activists from Germany. Ban Ki-moon said it was an impressive effort and the UN is determined to stamp out such abuse.
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Children in the military are children who are associated with military organisations, such as state armed forces and non-state armed groups. Throughout history and in many cultures, children have been involved in military campaigns. For example, thousands of children participated on all sides of the First World War and the Second World War. Children may be trained and used for combat, assigned to support roles such as porters or messengers, or used for tactical advantage as human shields or for political advantage in propaganda.
A civilian is "a person who is not a member of the military or of a police or firefighting force". The term "civilian" is slightly different from a non-combatant under the law of war, as some non-combatants are not civilians. Under international law, civilians in the territories of a party to an armed conflict are entitled to certain privileges under the customary laws of war and international treaties such as the Fourth Geneva Convention. The privileges that they enjoy under international law depends on whether the conflict is an internal one or an international one.
Combatant is the legal status of an individual who has the right to engage in hostilities during an international armed conflict. The legal definition of "combatant" is found at article 43 of Additional Protocol One to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 [AP1]. It states that "Members of the armed forces of a Party to a conflict are combatants, that is to say, they have the right to participate directly in hostilities."
International humanitarian law (IHL) is the law that regulates the conduct of war. It is that branch of international law which seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict by protecting persons who are not participating in hostilities, and by restricting and regulating the means and methods of warfare available to combatants.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (OPAC), also known as the child soldier treaty, is a multilateral treaty whereby states agree to: 1) prohibit the conscription into the military of children under the age of 18; 2) ensure that military recruits are no younger than 16; and 3) prevent recruits aged 16 or 17 from taking a direct part in hostilities. The treaty also forbids non-state armed groups from recruiting anyone under the age of 18 for any purpose.
Military recruitment refers to the activity of attracting people to, and selecting them for, military training and employment.
In international relations violent non-state actors (VNSA) are individuals and groups that are wholly or partly independent of state governments and which threaten or use violence to achieve their goals.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1804 was adopted on March 13, 2008, and it concerns the situation in the Great Lakes Region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
United Nations Security Council resolution 1261, adopted unanimously on 25 August 1999, in the first resolution to address the topic, the Council condemned the targeting of children in armed conflict including the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
United Nations Security Council resolution 1460, adopted unanimously on 30 January 2003, after recalling resolutions 1261 (1999), 1265 (1999), 1296 (2000), 1306 (2000), 1308 (2000), 1314 (2000), 1325 (2000) and 1379 (2001), the Council called for the immediate end to the use of child soldiers and endorsed an "era of application" of international norms and standards for the protection of war-affected children.
United Nations Security Council resolution 1539, adopted unanimously on 22 April 2004, after recalling resolutions 1261 (1999), 1308 (2000), 1314 (2000), 1325 (2000), 1379 (2001) and 1460 (2003), the Council condemned the use of child soldiers and asked the Secretary-General to devise a monitoring mechanism.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1998, adopted unanimously on July 12, 2011, after reaffirming resolutions 1261 (1999), 1314 (2000), 1379 (2001), 1460 (2003), 1539 (2004), 1612 (2005) and 1882 (2009) on the protection of children in armed conflict, the Council declared schools and hospitals off limits for both armed groups and military activities, asking the Secretary-General for such crimes to be placed on a list of those committing "grave violations" against children.
During the first and second civil conflicts which took place in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), all sides involved in the war actively recruited or conscripted child soldiers, known locally as Kadogos which is a Swahili term meaning "little ones". It has been estimated that the militia led by Thomas Lubanga Dyilo was 30 percent children. In 2011 it was estimated that 30,000 children were still operating with armed groups. The United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO), released a report in 2013 which stated that between 1 January 2012 and 31 August 2013 up to 1,000 children had been recruited by armed groups, and described the recruitment of child soldiers as "endemic".
Child Soldiers in Africa refers to the military use of children under the age of 18 by national armed forces or other armed groups in Africa. Typically, this classification includes children serving in non-combatant roles, as well as those serving in combatant roles. In 2008, it was estimated that 40 percent of child soldiers worldwide were in Africa, and that the use of child soldiers in armed conflict was increasing faster than any other continent. Additionally, average age of children recruited as soldiers appears to be decreasing. As of 2017, the UN listed that seven out of fourteen countries recruiting and using child soldiers in state forces or armed groups were in Africa: Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan.
In World War II, children frequently fought in both the Allied and Axis forces.
The terrorist group, self-proclaimed Islamic State has committed several fundamental violations of children's rights in the Middle East, particularly in Iraq and Syria The conventions protecting children's rights is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This is the most ratified international human rights treaty in history which established the widely supported view that children and young persons have the same basic general human rights as adults and also specific rights that recognize their special needs. A further two additional protocols were adopted by the UN General Assembly on 25 May 2000 covering the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. In ISIL's rise in the recent years, they have committed various violations of the (CRC) and its protocols, which have been signed and ratified by Iraq and Syria.
As many as 10,000 children were used by armed groups in the armed conflict in the Central African Republic (CAR) between 2012 and 2015, and as of 2016 the problem persists nationwide. The mainly Muslim “Séléka” coalition of armed groups and the predominantly Christian, "Anti-Balaka" militias have both used children in this way; some are as young as eight.
Children in the military are children who are associated with military organizations, such as state armed forces and non-state armed groups. Throughout history and in many cultures, children have been involved in military campaigns. For example, thousands of children participated on all sides of the First World War and the Second World War. Children may be trained and used for combat, assigned to support roles such as porters or messengers, or used for tactical advantage as human shields or for political advantage in propaganda.