Red Hand Day

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Red Hand Day
Red Hand Day logo.gif
Red Hand Day logo
Official nameInternational Day against the Use of Child Soldiers
Date February 12
Next time12 February 2019 (2019-02-12)
Frequencyannual

On Red Hand Day or the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, [1] 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. [2]

February 12 is the 43rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 322 days remaining until the end of the year.

Contents

Background

Definition

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." [3]

Current situation

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. [4] 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, [4] and in 2018 the organization reported that children were being used to participate in at least 18 armed conflicts. [5]

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, 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. [6] Child Soldiers International produces a world map showing where children are members of military organizations around the world. [7]

Afghanistan A landlocked south-central Asian country

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.

Central African Republic country in Africa

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.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Country in Central Africa

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. [6] 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. [8]

Sierra Leone republic in West Africa

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 republic in West Africa

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.

Rehabilitation and reintegration of child soldiers

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"

Warsaw's Little Insurgent monument commemorates all child soldiers who fought in World War II and earlier conflicts. Little Insurgent Monument in Warsaw 01.JPG
Warsaw's Little Insurgent monument commemorates all child soldiers who fought in World War II and earlier conflicts.

Child soldiers and the law

Children aged under 15

The Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions (1977, Art. 77.2), [9] 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. [10]

Children aged under 18

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. [11] [12] 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. [13] [14]

Movement to end the military use of children

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. [15] 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).

Red Hand campaign

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. [16] The date reflects the entry into force of the OPAC treaty. [17]

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 5pm 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. [18] [19] [20]

See also

Notes

  1. On International Day, UN demands end to use of child soldiers in conflict, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
  2. About Red Hand Day Red Hand Day website
  3. UNICEF (2007). "Paris Principles: Principles and guidelines on children associated with armed forces or armed groups" (PDF). Retrieved 2018-01-13.
  4. 1 2 Child Soldiers International (2017). "How many children are used for military purposes worldwide?" . Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  5. Child Soldiers International (2018). "Child Soldiers World Index". childsoldiersworldindex.org. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  6. 1 2 United Nations Secretary-General (2017). "Report of the Secretary-General: Children and armed conflict, 2017". www.un.org. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  7. World map, Child Soldiers International
  8. Hope and concern after results UN Report War Child website
  9. International Committee of the Red Cross (1977). "Protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949" (PDF). Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  10. "Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (A/CONF.183/9)" (PDF). 1998. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  11. Child Soldiers International (2017). "International laws and child rights" . Retrieved January 25, 2018.
  12. International Labour Organization. "Ratifications of C182 – Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention, 1999 (No. 182)". www.ilo.org. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  13. Geneva Call (2012). "Engaging nonstate armed groups on the protection of children: Towards strategic complementarity" (PDF). Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  14. Child Soldiers International (2016). "A law unto themselves? Confronting the recruitment of children by armed groups" . Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  15. Eigen, L D (November 3, 2009). "Child Soldiers Are Unfortunately Nothing New". Scriptamus. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  16. Get Involved Archived July 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Red Hand Day website
  17. "Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict". www.ohchr.org. 2000. Retrieved March 22, 2018.
  18. Get Involved Archived July 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine Red Hand Day website
  19. Official Press Release Archived July 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine child-soldiers.org
  20. UN Secretary-General Pledges to “Stamp Out” Use of Child Soldiers Human Rights Watch website

Reference: Child soldiers worldwide

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