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The Use of Children in Armed Conflict

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The Use of Children in Armed Conflict


Bryden Frankish
J Toole
May 11, 2016

The Use of Children in Armed Conflict

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Preface
The use of soldiers in war is common, with men ranging from ages 18 up to their late
60s and 70s as they fight for their countries, but the countries in need of a more expendable
fighter have resorted to the use of children. Children in the use of armed combat, or Child
Soldiers, is a global issue which has been prevalent in the past and the present, and has the
potential to become an even larger issue in the future. It is estimated that within the last 10 years,
over 10 million children have been killed due to war (Garreau). Many of these children who
were killed were either wounded, displaced, orphaned or exploited, but a majority of those killed
were child soldiers. Though, due to the lack of coverage, this issue has remained a mystery to a
large part of the world for a long time, which has allowed the issue to increase in severity over
the years. With proper exposure and the circulation of knowledge on the issue, the use of
children in armed combat would cease, those who have used them would be brought to justice,
and many childrens lives could be preserved.
The term child soldier is mentioned sometimes when talking about armed conflict in third
world countries, but not many people actually associate the word with its true meaning. Many
people really dont know what a child soldier is, which is due to the minimal knowledge on the
topic being shared. The internationally agreed upon definition of a Child Soldier is
A child associated with an armed force or armed group refers to 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, spies or for sexual purposes (Child Recruitment).
Children do sometimes join the armed groups as they may want revenge or want to fight for their
countries, but the majority are involuntarily recruited, usually being forced to join or watch their
loved ones be tortured and killed. Currently, there are reports of up to 250,000 children which are
involved with these armed military groups, and as many as 10 to 30% of them are girls used as
sex slaves, or wives, to the male soldiers (Child Soldiers International). The present use and an
increasing number of Child Soldiers have made it a growing issue in the world today, and could
potentially become an even larger problem in the immediate future.

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The issue of child soldiers is one of global significance due to the amount of countries
which use children in armed conflict, and the location of the children who are affected. In past
studies, the number of armed groups which deployed children in armed conflict grew from 40 in
2006, to 57 in 2007, which is a 42.5% increase (Number of Armed). These groups, for the most
part, are located in developing nations in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, due to their poverty
and deprived ways of life, which gives the children little choice but to join armed groups as a
means to survive. As of January 2011, it has been reported that there are at least 19 countries
which deploy the use of children in armed conflict (Child Soldiers International), and those are
only the ones which are known. With very little new evidence of countries which make use of
child soldiers, it is unknown whether the issue has worsened, but what is known is that it is still
an ongoing issue prevalent in the world today.
With the shown increase in groups which recruit and deploy children in armed conflict,
the global issue of child soldiers has grown into a major concern for countries which not only
house these groups but for countries around the world which oppose them as well. These factors
contribute to the reasons as to why this issue should be deemed an international problem and
should receive more attention to potentially help solve it.

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Table of Contents
Preface ... 2
Summary of Research Methods .... 5
Background ... 6
Expert ... 10
Role of Control 13
Logic of Evil 16
Case Studies
Syria ..... 19
South Sudan ..... 23
Myanmar ...... 26
International Organizations ...... 29
Canadian Connection ....... 32
Solutions .. 34
Bibliography .... 38

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Summary of Research Methods


This report examines the use of children in armed conflict and provides information on
the history of child soldiers in the past and the present. It analyzes the issue and how it affects the
world on an international scale. The aim of this report is to provide a thorough understanding of
the topic and present the magnitude of how hazardous the issue is on the international scale. The
majority of information included in this report is from knowledge acquired through the use of a
variety of research techniques such as informational reports online, newspaper articles,
interviews, statements from international organizations, well-researched news articles, multiple
PDF files from organizations and scholars, and published works of experts pertaining to the
issue. Wikipedia was used as a starting point for research. Whenever possible, the inclusion of
information from trusted organizations like UNICEF, Child Soldiers International, and War
Child, were utilized in this report. Hoping to provide a report free of bias towards any side on the
issue, the inclusion of articles and statements from the groups which utilize children for armed
conflict have been researched so as to ensure that every perspective was represented.

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Background
The use of children in armed conflict, although brutal due to its unorthodox recruitment
and training process, isnt a recent occurrence in society. It has actually been apparent in many
forms throughout history, from the ancient Greeks to the Lords Resistance Army, and still
currently with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
In ancient Greece, it is said that children as young as seven years old were taken from
their homes and mothers by Spartan soldiers (The Spartans). These boys would be trained to be
used on the battlefield as spear carriers, messengers, or even mechanics, leading to them being
thrust into adulthood due to their participation in conflicts. Much like the ancient Greeks, many
children in the last twenty years have been taken from their homes forcefully by militarized
groups and used as child soldiers in armed conflict. In Uganda, children as young as eight have
been kidnapped by the Lords Resistance Army [LRA for short] and forced to either join their
ranks as soldiers or be killed (Mark). As well as the LRAs use of child soldiers, the group which
is known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or more commonly known as ISIS, has been
increasing their use of children in armed conflict by a staggering number. In the past year, there
has been a count of eighty-nine child soldiers which were killed as suicide bombers fighting for
ISIS (Dearden). It is currently unknown how many children are being, or have been, recruited by
ISIS, but it is evident that they are being recruited and trained to fight for them as child soldiers
due to several propaganda videos, evidence through conflict, and direct statements from the
group itself.
The majority of child soldiers in the past and present have been, and still are, recruited
involuntarily through the means of force, but a small percentage of children join the group
voluntarily. This is due to a number of factors such as major poverty, the discrimination they face
from their villages, and the fear imposed on them by the groups themselves (Root Causes). The
global issue which is Child Soldiers has been a part of humanitys history in conflicts and has
recently grown significantly in the past few decades due to more consistent coverage around the
world.
The wars and battles involving the ancient Greeks are classic examples of exemplary
conflict within the history of society. Unfortunately, the exploitation of children to fight for their
armies seem to be overlooked by many as they have influenced how child soldiers are used in

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conflicts presently. Boys as young as seven years old would be taken from their mothers and
forced to train as soldiers, most likely spending the rest of their lives as a soldier for the Spartan
army (The Spartans). Once recruited, the Spartan children would go through a brutal training
process until they were eighteen. Through the brutal training techniques such as learning skills of
survival, being fed very poorly, and even being forced to march everywhere without protective
footwear (Ancient Greek), children were taught what was required of them when it came to
showing pain. They were told a story of a boy who allowed a fox to chew into his stomach
without showing pain, so as not to alert his officer that he had hidden a fox underneath his shirt.
The story concludes with the line This was the Spartan way. (The Spartans). The purpose of
the story was to teach the children to never show pain or weakness, as it was how Spartans
wanted their soldiers to act. The use of this story would place fear within the boys and most
likely have an impact on their mental state, as, ironically, they were forced to never show fear
and always abide by the Spartan way. The recruitment and training techniques used for child
soldiers in todays society seem to be influenced by those used by the Greeks in the past.
A more recent example of childrens use in armed conflict is the Lords Resistance Army,
or LRA, as they kidnap and force children to fight for them. This was achieved by using a variety
of techniques which are commonplace within the manipulation of recruiting children. The LRA
was formed in the early 90s, and since then have adopted a policy which includes forcibly
recruiting and using children within their armed forces as either soldiers, cooks, porters or spies
(The Lords). To abduct these children, the LRA constantly raided villages in central Uganda,
until 2008 during the Juba Peace Talks. Since then, they have been staying close to the border
regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic.
The leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, has complete control over the soldiers, which are mostly
children presently due to his diminishing numbers. It is said that Kony commands the group
with cult-like beliefs the most important being his absolute authority. (The Rebel Group). This
absolute authority which Kony has is imperative to his success of manipulating the children
into fighting for him. The techniques which his commanders continue to use to break the kids
and transform them into killers include:

Brainwashing the children with: deception into thinking that if they escaped, the
communities around would kill them if the LRA didnt first, creating a unique

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identity for the LRA by performing special rituals, fabricating the identity of their
leader, Joseph Kony, into one which is a godly, all powerful being, and finally the

promise of power and wealth to bribe the children into fighting for them
Forcing them to kill their parents, causing them to have no family to escape to
Daily beatings, marching, bullying and starvation to toughen the recruits up
Forcing them to beat and kill soldiers who tried to escape the LRA
(How Joseph Kony).

Even if a child were to escape the clutches of the LRA, the lasting impact of their brutality would
still have an effect on them, physically and mentally. Traumatized, the children would be unable
to reintegrate back into society properly due to their poor mental state. When the children would
return home, some would display violent behaviour which would require them to see specialists
and help them rehabilitate for multiple years (Child Soldiers in Uganda). Norman Okello, a
former child soldier who was abducted by the LRA, had trouble being back with his parents after
escaping. He admitted that The way I behave, it was very rough, even to my parents, says
Norman. Sometimes even my plan was about killing them.(Storr). The brutal techniques the
LRA used to transform the children into killers, along with the lasting impact it had on those who
escaped, has led to thousands of children to become affected (Q&A on Joseph Kony) in a
negative way.
The prevention of children being used in armed conflict has involved the use of
companies and laws which were put in place as a result of this issue. Many companies, such as
Invisible Children and Child Soldiers International, have been created as a means to provide
exposure for the issue, and to help prevent the recruitment of child soldiers. As well, the
implementation of certain laws, like in 2007 with the Paris Principles on the Involvement of
Children in Armed Conflict, have been put in place to prevent the recruitment of children in
armed conflict (Child Recruitment and Use).
The past instances and increase in the use of children in armed conflict are evident in
over 19 countries spanning across the globe. (Child Soldiers International FAQs) {See
Appendix I} The manipulation and exploitation of these minors not only affects the children
themselves, but also those who have to fight against them. The soldiers who see child soldiers in
combat sometimes are hesitant about fighting against children, as they are, for the most part,
forced into the situation (Kaplan). By knowing the magnitude and exploitation of the use of

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children in armed conflict, which has been evident in the past and currently in the present, one
can fully understand how important it is that this issue gains more support from society to help
put a stop to this horrific act.

Expert

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Dr. Peter W. Singer is the author of several award winning books pertaining to the
different aspects of war. He studied at Harvard University and received his Ph.D. in Government,
and has also received his B.A. from Princeton University. He is the founder of his own
technology advisory firm called NeoLuddite, is an accomplished author, and is currently an
editor for Popular Science. Some of his most notable work have been featured in many major
media outlets, such as the Boston Globe, the World Policy Journal, the Los Angeles Times and
the Washington Post. Dr. Singer has spoken at over 70 universities around the world and has
been named as one of the top 100 innovators of the nation by Defense News. As well, Dr. Singer
has written a multitude of articles and an award winning book on the issue of child soldiers and
the atrocities they have faced (Singer Los).
When people associate children with war, they dont realize that they actually play a
much larger role within the conflict itself as a child soldier. Dr. Singer tries to remedy that notion
by educating those in the dark about the issue, and its effects on not only the outcome of the
conflict itself but also on those directly affected by it. He brings light to the issues through his
book, Children at War, and through several articles which explain the history behind children
involved in armed conflict. He has also proposed several solutions to the problem itself, stating
that ending the use of child soldiers is not only a moral obligation but a strategic
mandate.(Singer, Robots).
Dr. Singer has been an advocate for the spread of knowledge on the issue of child soldiers
since 2001 when he published his paper, Caution: Children at War. In the paper, Singer describes
what he believes are the main three factors which lead to children becoming involved in armed
conflict. These factors include pools of potential recruits being created due to war, poverty and
globalizations, innovations in guns which allow children to use them more effectively, and the
low cost of children compared to the normal adult soldier. He goes on and says The ultimate
aim is to foster a dependency that binds children to their armed organization. (Singer, Robots).
Children who have been recruited either voluntarily or involuntarily soon become accustomed to
their new way of life and start to conform to their new leaders, which is dangerous to themselves
and those they affect directly.
Dr. Singer has gathered research of why children seem to follow orders blindly and put
themselves at risk without thinking of the consequences. He connects these choices with a

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central theme present in almost every case, which is fear (Singer Robots). The fear is what binds
children to their armed groups and dictates how they respond to orders given to them by their
commanders. When Singer interviewed a ten year old boy, he learned that the armed groups
which recruited him forced the boy to kill another child soldier as a means to overcome the fear
he felt about killing (Singer Children). This is ironic because by killing the boy and overcoming
the fear, a new fear was awakened within; one which was of his superiors who forced him to
kill.
Dr. Singers personal stance on child soldiers is that There is no moral excuse for
sending children into battle, but the dark reality is that this terrible practice is a regular feature of
modern warfare.(Singer Fighting). He believes it isnt right to send a child to fight in a war, and
also thinks that by letting groups similar to the way Al Qaeda used children, that they further
their influence and grasp on society (Singer Fighting).
With a vast knowledge on the subject of child soldiers, Dr. Singer has some proposed
ideas which pertain to aiding in the end of use of children in armed conflict. For forces which
must engage children on the battlefield, Singer suggests all soldiers should follow a simple set of
five guidelines. They are:

Intelligence; know the strength of opposing force


Force Protection; some children pose risks, meaning all situations must be

handled as if every child is a risk


Engagement; be aware of every situation by firing a warning shot(s) to shock
opposing force, providing escape routes for the affected child, and engaging the

source of power, which is usually the adult figure


Aftermath; those affected may require immediate assistance after conflict
Break the Cycle; provide and support proper rehabilitation for those affected
(Singer Robots)

Through the use of these tactics, soldiers could provide salvation for child soldiers and grant
them access to a much better post-conflict life.
Attacking the issue of child soldiers at the root of the problem is another key factor which
could help abolish the use of children in armed conflict. Dr. Singer believes that by limiting the
potential for recruitment and restraining armed groups access to children, the total number of

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minors which are recruited could encounter a heavy decrease. He deduces that by limiting the
amount of guns given to groups using children, apprehending those in power which allow the
process to continue, eliminating profits which companies gain from groups utilizing child
soldiers, and implementing aid programs to help rehabilitate those affected (Singer Los), the
ongoing issue of child soldiers would come to a halt. Most importantly, Singer believes that the
issue is at the hands of those with the responsibility, which are the governments and militaries of
the countries affected directly. If they realized the severity of the issue and took appropriate
action, Singer thinks the cycle of child soldiers would come to an end (Singer, Peter W. Los).
Dr. Peter W. Singers thorough knowledge of child soldiers has the power to bring light to
an issue cast in the darkness, and he has the ability to provide knowledge of the use of child
soldiers to the world due to his influence on society. The use of children in armed combat is a
tragedy unbeknown to most and is one which should be ended immediately.

Role of Control
Groups and countries which utilize children for armed combat strive for complete control
over not only their actions but their minds as well. They try to achieve this by the means of a

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combination of manipulative techniques. Through the use of brainwashing, merciless killing, and
fear, many armed groups are very accomplished at maintaining the control they have over
children.
A very common technique used by armed groups to maintain control over the children is
brainwashing. As Dr. Lawrence Wilson defines it, Brainwashing is the systematic, and always
violent, but not always conscious, distortion or conditioning of the mind of another person for
selfish or other harmful purposes using operant conditioning. (Wilson). In the case of children
being brainwashed for armed conflict, the victim, which is the child, is often manipulated for
selfish intentions by the perpetrator, which are the armed groups who have control over the child.
A common tactic among armed groups to maintain control is using intimidation and constant
threats. As a way to make the children comply with their demands, the commanders would
threaten the children with death or punishment directly, and if that didnt work, they would move
on and threaten the lives of the childs family (Salinas). These groups usually inflicted violence
on the child, such as beating them senselessly, or even forcing the child to inflict violence on
others. This included their own families and other child soldiers, as a means to distort or
condition their minds into fighting for them.
Through the implementation of techniques such as brainwashing, current radical groups
such as the LRA and ISIS are able to maintain their control over children and force them to
participate in armed conflict. From 1988 to 2004 alone, the LRA have kidnapped over 30,000
kids (Key Statistics), and an estimated total of eighty-nine children under the age of eighteen
have died since the beginning of 2015 as suicide bombers for ISIS (Bloom). Groups such as the
LRA and ISIS are dangerous as they are willing to kidnap and employ children in combat
situations. Similarly, other military groups which use child soldiers are usually located in
impoverished areas torn apart by war. This grants them the opportunity to take advantage of the
situation and oppose the governments they despise by employing children in their ranks. As
Webster University professor, Alexandre J. Vautravers states, It can be argued that paramilitary
or rebel groups will more frequently resort to the use of child soldiers, as these groups are often
active against authoritarian regimes. (Vautravers, Alexandre J.). By utilizing children within
their ranks, radical groups similar to ISIS and the LRA are able to manipulate their soldiers and

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refuse to comply with their governments, putting them in control of not only their situations but
their soldiers as well.
With groups like ISIS and the LRA in control over children and forcing them to
participate in armed conflict, countries with opposed governments located in impoverished
countries need to take action to regain their control over groups which use child soldiers. There
are thousands of child soldiers involved in the conflicts affecting Chad, Central African Republic
[CAR] and Sudan(UNICEF Seeks) stated Marzio Babille, a representative and childs right
activist for the group UNICEF who was stationed in Chad during 2010 and witnessed the
atrocities first hand. The impoverished countries and nations, much like Chad and Sudan, which
are affected by radical groups who employ child soldiers have lost control of the situation and
have allowed the military groups to commit crimes which could be held accountable in front of
the International Criminal Court (UNICEF Seeks). With proper control of the situation and the
implementation of new regulations which prevent the recruitment of children for armed conflict,
countries and governments could help put an end to the issue of child soldiers.
Children who are used for armed conflict has been an issue for countless years, affecting
multiple people and countries around the world. Those affected directly, and indirectly from
child soldiers include the families who lost their children, the government who oppose the
groups which use children, and the soldiers who have to face the children on the battlefield
(Kaplan). These mentioned groups and the countless others are affected by the issue of child
soldiers and have the most invested in preventing the recruitment of children in the future. The
manipulation and exploitation of child soldiers have also rallied the support of dozens of
independent and international organizations which fight for the rights of children from all over
the world, including groups such as War Child, Invisible Children, Child Soldiers International,
and the UN.
According to a report from the UN, 23 parties, eleven of them being government forces
and the other twelve being non-state armed forces, have signed an agreement to follow an action
plan which helps prevent recruitment by implementing security measures, and providing the
opportunity for reintegration back into society for child soldiers (Action Plans). These groups
mentioned are the ones which have been affected by this issue the most, but out of the twentythree groups which signed, only nine have actually followed through on their plan to help

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prevent recruitment, and rehabilitate children who were affected. The countries affected directly
by this issue arent the only ones who should begin to take the issue more seriously, and as
author Peter W. Singer states, The use of child soldiers makes conflicts easier to start, harder to
end and peace agreements more difficult to maintain. (Singer). When fighting against groups
which utilize children as soldiers, countries must realize that not assisting in the resolution of the
issue is only impeding their progress in ending the conflict sooner.
In conclusion, without properly acknowledging the issue of child soldiers, it is evident
that it becomes much more accessible for armed groups to start an unwanted conflict. Those who
wish to avoid conflict and war altogether should be the ones who care the most about the issue of
child soldiers, as it has the potential to assist both those who want to avoid hostilities and those
who are directly affected by child soldiers that are utilized for armed conflict.

Logic of Evil

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To observe through anothers perspective and decipher why they justify their actions or
beliefs; this is the premise behind the logic of evil. In the case of child soldiers, the logic behind
the utilization of children for armed conflict is how the groups justify their actions, or in other
words, the logic behind their evil is why they use child soldiers. Many speculate that groups
which use children in armed conflict are simply evil and must be stopped. But to truly
understand the complexity of the use of child soldiers, one must analyze the thought process
which armed groups forgo to justify why they recruit children and realize how they rationalize
their actions.
Many radical groups which have a strong religious background believe that the use of
children as soldiers is justified because of how they interpret what is said in their religious text.
In the eighth edition of the Dabiq, which is the Islamic States propaganda magazine, it states
that
The Islamic State has taken upon itself to fulfill the Ummah's (the global community of
Muslims) duty toward this generation by preparing it to face the crusaders and their allies
in defense of Islam. ... It has established institutes for these lion cubs to train and hone
their military skills (Paraszczuk)
ISISs beliefs and interpretations of their religion aid them in justifying their use of their lion
cubs, which is how ISIS refers to their child militants, (Paraszczuk) in combat.
Similar to how ISISs religious views warrant their use of child soldiers, Pakistani and
Muslim militants justify their actions of recruiting children because of their religion. They
believe that children are just tools which their gods have given them, and they also thank Allah
for providing them with an unlimited number of children to use for combat. (Franklin). These
may just be different interpretations of several religious texts, but they do provide justification
from the perpetrators perspective, allowing them to continue their actions as if they were
following their gods wishes.
Child soldiers are very beneficial to armed groups as they have several contributing
factors that are desirable, such as their vulnerability and their effectiveness in armed conflict.
Groups sometimes have children voluntarily join as they are in complicated situations where
they are more vulnerable if they arent part of the group. This allows armed groups to gain plenty

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of expendable soldiers, which usually join because it grants them access to food and shelter
(Root Causes). Some Maoist commanders justify their use of these children who volunteer by
saying We cannot stop the children who are impressed with our ideology and interested in our
party activitiesThey have also their own rights and freedom to make their choices. (III.
Recruitment). Stating that the children have their own rights and freedoms completely
contradicts their actions of forcibly recruiting children as they continue to kidnap and force them
into situations with little choice but to do what the groups expect. Furthermore, children are
considered easy targets that can be manipulated to comply with armed groups needs. Some
advantages of child soldiers include their ignorance of the dangers associated with combat, the
smaller portions of food they require, how easy it is to train them and how they can provoke
feelings of insecurity from opposing forces due to their age (Czyz). The justification for using
children in armed conflict comes from a combination of their beliefs and the benefits which
children bring for their cause.
Governments which must face heavy opposition will sometimes call for the need of more
soldiers, resulting in the recruitment and use of children. When South Sudan became independent
from Sudan in 2011, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Party was put in place as their national army.
In August of 2013, the government signed a peace agreement to end their long practice of using
children within their army. But, in December of the same year, they broke that agreement and
began enlisting children once again to expand their forces, which they hoped would help them
win the current conflicts they faced. According to a report from the United Nations Childrens
Fund {UNICEF}, it has been estimated that over 15,000 children may have been used by both
sides of the conflict (McGee). The utilization of these children is rationalized by the
governments vital need to expand their forces, which they believe will help them gain the
advantage over the opposition.
From the perspective of the commanders of troops using child soldiers, sometimes
recruiting children is the only way they can appease their superiors requests due to the high
population of children. When demands need to be met, and the fear of accountability is
practically non-existent, commanders would begin to expand their forces with children. Skye
Wheeler, the South Sudan researcher for Human Rights Watch, states when you get a conflict
(and) commanders are under pressure to recruit large numbers, as well as forcibly recruiting

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thousands of young men and middle aged men, they also take hundreds if not thousands of
children (Why South Sudans). Without the fear of being prosecuted for their actions of
recruiting children, South Sudan commanders have little incentive to stop, due to their need for
the numbers to fill their ranks. As well, with birth rates in South Sudan reaching almost double
the world average in 2013, (Birth Rate) and the poverty headcount in 2010 being just over 50%
(Poverty & Equity), there is a plentiful supply of children which would be easy targets for the
commanders to recruit. Recent estimates by the UN declare that the median age of South Sudan
is 18.7 years old (South Sudan Population), meaning that the country has a very young
population. This all pertains to the issue of the commanders logic, which is that they need to fill
their ranks, and they arent afraid to use children since they make up a large part of the
population.
To understand a situation in which a group or country uses child soldiers, one must look
from the perspective of the perpetrators and realize the logic to the evil they commit. For some,
the reliance on children in armed conflict is too important for their cause, while for others, they
believe the use of child soldiers is an atrocity which must be stopped, no matter the
consequences. The dependence on children by the groups which utilize them for conflict is one
which is unnecessary, and the most logical course of action for them might be to find a more
feasible alternative.

Case Study #1 Syria

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Syria, or officially known as the Syrian Arab Republic, is a country located in


southwestern Asia and in the heart of the Middle East. The Syrian Arab Republic is currently led
by President Bashar Al-Assad. In March of 2011, the Arab Spring caused a violent dispute
between the government and the peaceful protesters, provoking those who opposed the
governments ways to begin organizing rebellion groups against them. This escalated into a full
blown civil war, with many different groups contributing to the complications of the conflict.
The use of children in these armed conflicts has developed into a major issue; despite several
promises to demobilize the child soldiers, many groups still utilize them. Parties within Syria
which recruit and use children is evident on either side of the conflict, including groups such as
the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the People Protection
Units (YPG), Jhabat Al-Nursa (JaN), and Harakat Ahrar ash-Sham al-Islamiyya (Syrian Arab
Republic). In 2014 alone, it is estimated that over 76,000 Syrians were killed due to the civil war,
and of those deaths, 3,501 were children, making up approximately 4% of the casualties
(Gladstone). It is difficult to determine the exact number of children which have been
implemented as soldiers in conflicts in the past and the present, but it is known that the
recruitment and utilization of child soldiers has become commonplace in several groups residing
in Syria.
The Peoples Protection Unit (YPG) is a Kurdish armed group that controls areas in the
north of Syria. It was formed in 2004 during the Qamishli uprising, and has since grown
significantly after the beginning of the Syrian civil war. They are aligned with the rebels in the
Syrian civil war and stand against groups such as ISIS and the Syrian government. Due to the
withdrawal of government forces in 2012, the YPG has been the leading group and most
dominant force located in Kurdish areas. To assist in the fights against ISIS, Al-Nursa, and other
opposing groups, the YPG recruited children under the age of eighteen. Regardless of preventive
measures against the recruitment of children, there still was a number of minors documented
within the ranks of the YPG. It wasnt until June of 2014 that the YPG put forth a greater effort
to end the use of children in their forces. This resulted in the signing of the Deed of
Commitment, which displayed their willingness to abide by international law, such as
demobilizing children utilized for armed conflict. As YPG Deputy General Commander Redur
Xelil stated, We have decided to record all under-18 combatants in our ranks and to demobilize
them. This will be done within a month (Syrian Kurdish Armed Non-State).

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Despite the Deputy Generals statement and the demobilization of 149 children (Syria:
Kurdish Armed Forces), the continued use of children in YPGs ranks is still prevalent, affecting
the mental state of the children, and those directly involved in the conflict greatly. One year after
signing the Deed of Commitment, there have several reports of children being recruited,
voluntarily and involuntarily by the group. The Human Rights Watch has documented a list
which includes 59 children which were recruited from 2014 to 2015 (Syria: Kurdish Forces
Violating). The YPG later responded to these claims and assured that these were isolated
instances due to recruiters and commanders disobeying orders. However, there is a separate
category which the YPG has implemented within its ranks for non-combatants. This category
allows any child above the age of sixteen to be recruited but not take part in military actions. It is
unknown how many children are currently involved within this category, or the duties which
these children must perform, but it is known that the implementation of these children in the
YPGs ranks is still considered illegal according to the Optional Protocol to the Childrens Rights
Convention on Children and Armed Conflict (Optional Protocol).
On the other side of the conflict, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is a radical
military group which separated from al-Qaeda in 2014 and relies heavily on their interpretation
of the Quran. They currently control a large portion of Syria located in the middle of the
country, and they are led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Due to the groups location and threats
towards those who oppose them, it is difficult to get exact numbers of their forces, but it is
estimated that ISIS has a force of approximately 30,000 - 40,000 soldiers (Islamic State). As a
result of their diminishing numbers because of their participation in conflicts such as the Syrian
civil war, ISIS has begun using child soldiers as a means to fill their ranks and carry out military
actions for the group.
In the past year, the number of children ISIS has utilized for armed conflict has grown by
a staggering amount, and according to a report done by Georgia State University researchers,
On a month-by-month basis, the rate of young people dying in suicide operations rose, from six
in January 2015 to 11 in January 2016. (Dearden). This figure has almost doubled in such a
short amount of time, and from January 2015 to January 2016, 89 children have been used in
ISISs propaganda videos (Bloom). These videos display the children being taught the ways of
the Quran (or ISISs interpretation of it anyways), how to kill and not to fear death. These

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videos were released by the group as a means to display their power and how they have begun
using children in armed conflict, with some videos even displaying children killing men with
guns or using children as suicide bombers. State Department spokesperson John Kirby stated,
Originally, they would rely on children for intelligence streams, getting information ... and then
using them to conduct suicide attacks, which they still do Now we get more reports about
them using children in actual engagements side by side with adult fighters. (Caplan)
Training camps also play a vital role in the use of children for conflict within ISISs
ranks. There have been at least three recorded child training camps in Raqqa alone, where
children would learn how to kill and fight for ISIS on the front lines. As well, hundreds of boys
were taken prisoner in Aleppo, where they were forced to attend indoctrination seminars and
promised salaries, mobile phones, weapons, a martyrs place in paradise and the gift of a wife
upon joining ISIL. (Syrian Arab Republic) These training camps served as an area for the
children to learn obedience and loyalty towards their superiors, and they also brainwashed the
children into thinking that there was no alternative in life but the ways of the Quran.
Children continue to be recruited and used for conflict within the ranks of the rebel
groups in Syria. However, solutions proposed by groups such as the YPG themselves have come
to fruition in the past year. They presented the before mentioned alternative non-combatant
category for sixteen and seventeen-year-olds, which removed the children from the front-lines.
They also have called upon the assistance of the Asayish, which is the Kurdish run police force
involved in the internal regulations of the group, to help cease the recruitment of children by
commanders disobeying orders (Syria: Kurdish Forces Violating). In a letter addressed to the
Human Rights Watch in 2015, the YPG noted that they had punished seven officers for allowing
children to be recruited into their ranks, three of which were expelled and the other four being
demoted (Letter From YPG). The YPG end the letter by asking for help from the free world to
support them and overcome these obstacles by assisting in creating the principles of freedom
and democracy. The solutions which the YPG have implemented may have aided in ending the
use of child soldiers, but the practice will continue into the future until a much more permanent
and sustainable solution if found.
The use of these children in armed conflict is disturbing and in some cases, growing at an
unprecedented rate. The best possible solution for this issue would be to demobilize all children

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involved in conflict immediately, but there is little chance of that happening in the foreseeable
future. ISISs use of children in armed conflict has increased rapidly in the past year, and without
exact figures, it is unknown how many continue to be implemented in their conflicts presently.
Solutions proposed to abolish the use of child soldiers by ISIS are sparse as the groups intentions
do not coincide with the intentions of those which oppose the use of children in armed conflict.
Nevertheless, Charlie Winter, a researcher of ISIS propaganda at Georgia State University,
suggests,
There is no way that we can envisage a post-IS world, unless we can really think
carefully about how we are going to demobilise, disarm and reintegrate these children
into normal life. There aren't really any good precedents for a violent extremist
organisation like IS indoctrinating children on such a wide scale. (Longman)
Child soldiers are a prevalent issue and some may think it is one which only needs to be solved
by demobilizing them. But what they dont realize is that children involved in armed conflicts
have also been affected mentally, and it is important to note that without proper treatment and
rehabilitation, the children will never have another life but one which involves them as a soldier.

Case Study #2 South Sudan

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The Republic of South Sudan is a country located in northeastern Africa and gained its
independence from Sudan in 2011. South Sudan is currently led by President Salva Kiir
Mayardit. The Sudan Peoples Liberation Movement/Army is the party which helped the country
gain its independence, but in late 2013, political infighting and corruption caused by the vice
president attempt of overthrowing the government has caused fighting between the sides loyal to
separate opposing parties. Since then, fighting has increased due to the overthrow and several
other reasons pertaining to inequality, and the conflict became more brutal, with hundreds of
thousands of civilians becoming displaced and about 70 percent of schools being closed
(Montgomery). With the nation in poverty and no food or education for the children, many
quickly became involved in the conflict as soldiers. The two main parties which recruit children
are the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) and the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army In
Opposition (SPLA-IO). As well, the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony also
operates in a large area of South Sudan, but their force has diminished in power in the past few
years and they remain to be unheard from, excluding several cases of children being liberated
from their ranks. UNICEF estimated in 2014 that around 9,000 children were recruited as child
soldiers (South Sudan Child Soldiers), but a more recent report by them states that 14-15,000
children have been involved on either side of the conflict as soldiers (Wheeler). Child soldiers
arent unheard of in South Sudan, as they have been implemented for conflict from several
earlier conflicts dating back to 1983; this practice of using child soldiers involved many rebel
groups, including the SPLA.
The Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) is the official army of South Sudan and has
hundreds of thousands of soldiers split up into different sections from within. In 2002, the UN
released a list of groups which utilize and deploy children as soldiers within their ranks and
asked the groups to implement proper solutions to demobilizing all children from conflict. The
SPLA was included on that list and complied with the UN as they had previously been deploying
a few thousand children for armed conflict. They trained child protection officers and military
officers to assist in preventing children from becoming recruited for conflict. By December of
2013, the SPLA had demobilized 955 children from its ranks and refused the recruitment of 450
children. It was estimated that around 500 children were still serving in the SPLA when the
current conflict began (Why South Sudans). The civil war broke out, and many children were
affected greatly. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were displaced and they lost access to food,

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water and education. This resulted in children being recruited forcibly and voluntarily by armed
groups. In 2014, there were reports of 617 children being recruited, where the majority, 310
children, were recruited by the SPLA while 108 children were recruited by the SPLA-IO (South
Sudan). Also in 2014, the government of South Sudan signed a peace agreement with the SPLA,
which brought light to the massive use of child soldiers by the group to the government. This
ended up with the group releasing 1,755 soldiers from their ranks. Currently, the SPLA continues
to wage war against the opposition, and although it is unknown how many children are still
utilized by the SPLA, it is known that they continue their use of child soldiers.
The Sudan Peoples Liberation Army In Opposition (SPLA-IO) is a party which
separated from the SPLA after the government incident in 2013. They are led by former Vice
President Riek Machar and they are currently one of the main oppositions to the SPLA in the
conflict of South Sudan. Being a fairly new group in a young country, the SPLA-IO doesnt have
much information on their military, but according to several reports, including ones from
UNICEF and the UN, they do utilize children in their ranks. Upon hearing the accusations that
they recruit children, the SPLA-IO dismissed the allegations. The spokesperson for the SPLA-IO
took to the press and stated,
Since December 15, 2013 when the war broke out in Juba, South Sudan government had
lost 75% of its national army to rebellion in Jonglei, Unity and Upper NileThis forced
government to make force recruitment on children and bring in Ugandan army in order to
narrow the gaps (Tekle).
Allegations which the SPLA-IO also became furious about were from a 65 page report titled We
Can Die Too and it was released by the Human Rights Watch in late 2015. Included in the report
are interviews with 101 former child soldiers, and they state the atrocities groups such as the
SPLA-IO and the SPLA have committed against children. These atrocities involve using children
as soldiers, sex slaves and bodyguards/servants (Wheeler).
To end the use of child soldiers by groups in South Sudan would certainly come from the
end of the conflict, but with the civil war becoming much larger and deadlier, only a few
solutions have appeared to help demobilize as many children from conflicts as possible. The
SPLA and the SPLA-IO have already made steps to preventing the recruitment of children, but as
the conflict worsens, these implementations begin to have a wavering effect. Before the conflict

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began, South Sudan trained 1,000 child protection officers and 33,000 military officers which
helped prevent children becoming recruited. As well, the commanders were ordered to follow the
process and not prevent child recruitment or face sanction (Why South Sudans). The UN have
launched the campaign Children, Not Soldiers as a means to prevent child soldiers being utilized
in conflicts. This campaign was used as a means to provide education to children, raise
awareness of the issue, and assist in releasing children involved in armed conflict from groups.
As a result of these implementations, the UN received reports of 74 boys prevented from being
recruited to the SPLA-IO (The Crisis in South Sudan). With the situation worsening in South
Sudan, its difficult to end the utilization of children for armed conflict, but with the assistance of
South Sudanese groups, no matter their affiliation with one another, and outside organizations, it
has been made possible to demobilize children from their ranks whilst preventing more children
from being recruited as soldiers.

Case Study #3 Myanmar

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Myanmar, or also known as Burma, is a country located in southeastern Asia. Myanmar is


currently led by President Htin Kyaw. For the past decade, the recruitment of children under the
age of eighteen has been prevalent in several groups located in Myanmar, including government
forces themselves. The groups which commit this act include the Democratic Karen Benevolent
Army Brigade 5 (DKBA-5), Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Karen National Liberation
Army (KNU/KNLA), the Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council, the Karenni Army
(KNPP/KA), the Shan State Army South (SSA-S), the United Wa State Army (UWSA), and the
Tatmadaw, which are the official government forces. Due to ongoing conflicts over the past six
decades and the extreme poverty the country faces, children have been drawn into the battles,
voluntarily and forcibly recruited to be utilized for armed conflict. In 2002, it was estimated that
there were as many as 70,000 children involved in armed conflict in Myanmar (Burma: Worlds
Highest). Since then, the Burmese army has grown significantly and the practice of recruiting
children is still apparent. However, the number of children recorded in the ranks of military
groups has diminished and the children which are accepted into the groups are ones which
actively seek out recruitment. Nonetheless, the regional director of UNICEF, Daniel Toole, stated
his concern that the numbers [of underage soldiers] are not large but its still important. No
child should be recruited. (UNICEF: Child Soldier).
The Tatmadaw is the official army of Myanmar, one only for volunteers, but still with
over 400,000 soldiers, making it one of the largest forces with active troops in the world.
Unfortunately, Myanmar is also considered one of the poorest and most underdeveloped
countries in the world by the UN (Least Developed Countries), which means the Tatmadaw is a
viable option for many citizens to escape their poverty. This holds true for children under the age
of eighteen as well, with an incentive such as food and money for those who join and fight. Even
though the Tatmadaw have had policies against the recruitment of children for years, they
continue the practice as it helps replace the high desertion rates they face. Accountability issues
also play a large role in the recruitment of children in the Tatmadaw, with excuses such as
improper verification of age. In the year of 2014, there were 357 cases of child recruitment, with
27 of them being as young as 14 years old (Myanmar). In June of 2012, the government of
Myanmar met with the UN and signed a Joint Action Plan where they committed to demobilizing
all children from armed conflict. This plan has assisted in the demobilization of several child
soldiers, but the practice has continued in the years following the signing.

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The Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA) is the armed military force which merged
with the Karen National Union (KNU) in 2012, which is a political organization in Myanmar.
The KNLA are a small military force with around 7,000 soldiers, and they are led by Saw Johnny
and the KNU. In 2003, the KNLA was placed on the UNs watch list of countries which recruit
and use children in armed conflict (Myanmar Watchlist). Since then, they have continued to be
included on the list for their practice of recruiting and utilizing child soldiers. In 2007, Bah Soh
Gay, a KNLA commander, stated that children under the age of eighteen were free to join their
army and could leave if they wish, but according to several reports from child soldiers used by
the KNLA, they were coerced into joining and punished if they talked about leaving (Child
Soldiers Recruited).
The Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA) is a rebel military group which opposes
the KNU and the KNLA. In 1994, after the KNU would not grant the construction of Buddhist
pagodas, U Thuzana, the leader of the DKBA, tried to convince KNLA soldiers to desert their
group. This led to the DKBA splitting from the KNU, and the DKBA has been a major fighting
opposition against the KNLA and the KNU ever since. The DKBA began to conscript soldiers
from villages to meet the demand of soldiers they needed but didnt care about the age of the
soldiers which the villages sent. A junior DKBA officer told Human Rights Watch that, People
have to take turns sending a recruit, so some parents send boys under 18. They need to fulfill this
obligation. If they dont fulfill it, the DKBA can make lots of trouble for themThey dont care
how old you areThis policy began in 2006. (Heppner). In 2009, a recruitment drive was
started by the DKBA in the hopes to overtake their enemies, the KNU, and the KNLA. This
recruitment was a way for them to prepare for their eventual transformation into the Border
Guard Force for the government, but they werent receiving enough soldiers to beef up their
forces. So the DKBA began to recruit underage soldiers as a means to fill their ranks and train
effective and cheap soldiers who obey every command.
The Kachin Independence Army (KIA) is an armed military wing of the Kachin
Indepencdence Organisation (KIO) which is a political group in northern Myanmar. The leader
of the KIA is currently Zaw Too. The KIA was placed on the UN watch list of countries which
recruit children in 2007, and has been a member of that list since then. Although they deny the
recruitment of children, there has been reports dating back to the 1960s, and still to this day,

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there are reports of recruitment of children under the age of eighteen. A KIO spokesperson
stated, We already decided on the age limitation for the program and we will not allow those
under 18 years old to serve. (A Dangerous Refuge). This statement conflicts with Child Soldiers
International, as they interviewed children which were recruited by the KIA on six separate
occasions. There has been no evidence of the children being utilized for front line action as of
yet, but they continue to be recruited by the KIA for separate unknown services. The KIA has
stated they will comply with international law and end the practice of recruiting children, but no
action has been taken as of yet to prevent the issue.
With several groups using children for armed conflict, drastic measures must be taken to
abolish the practice, but fortunately, a couple solutions have been provided recently. In 2012, the
UN and the Tatmadaw came together and signed a Joint Action Plan, which is where the
Tatmadaw commits itself to demobilizing all children involved in their military group. In 2014
alone, the Tatmadaw demobilized a total of 389 children (Myanmar). The Tatmadaw also
strengthened their recruitment procedures in 2013, which prevents children from being recruited
even without proper verification of age. For the other groups, there havent been any solutions
put in place other than them denying their use of child soldiers. This issue is also in part the
governments fault as they have limited the access of the country to certain individuals that try to
determine the amount of children being implemented for conflict.

International Organizations

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International organizations play an integral role within the issue of child soldiers, ranging
from raising awareness to the situation, all the way to providing aid and solutions in foreign
countries. These organizations provide indirect and direct relief in the countries which are most
heavily affected. Without the ongoing support and campaigning of these international
organizations, the atrocities committed by many groups would continue, and the violations on
children implemented for conflict would see no justice. The importance of these international
organizations is vital to the demobilization and reintegration of child soldiers, and with their
persistent efforts, the utilization of children for armed conflict has a possibility to come to an
end.
Child Soldiers International is an international non-governmental organization which
advocates for the demobilization of any soldier participating in military recruitment or armed
hostilities under the age of eighteen. Formerly known as the Coalition to Stop the use of Child
Soldiers, Child Soldiers International was formed in 1998 in coalition with several other
organizations such as Amnesty International and the Human Rights Watch, along with several
others. Child Soldiers International also assisted greatly in the formation of the treaty known as
the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed conflict, and they play A key
role in ensuring implementation at every level is played by non-governmental institutions and,
even more crucially, by the involvement of children themselves. (10th Anniversary) As
well, along with UNICEF in 2003, Child Soldiers International published the Guide to the
Option Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which serves as a means to
assist other organizations on the implementation and upholding of the treaty. Finally, the
organization publishes a global report every four years to document the current condition of child
soldiers. The most recent report was released in 2012 under the title Louder than Words. The
report summarizes the past four years and the steps taken to abolish the use of children for armed
conflict. According to the Child Soldiers International, Research for the report shows that child
soldiers have been used in armed conflicts by 20 states since 2010, and that children are at risk of
military use in many more. (Louder Than Words)
War Child International is a joint non-governmental organization of War Child UK, War
Child Holland and War Child Canada. Even though each is an independent organization, they all
collaborate under one vision, which is War Child International. They advocate for the end of use

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of child soldiers worldwide and hope to reintegrate the children affected back into society.
Fundraising events also play a large role as it allows War Child to raise money to fund their
programs, such as building rehabilitation centers in foreign countries, building schools for those
affected, and their TV documentaries which help raise awareness for the issue. With the
continued support and advocacy of the organization, War Child is able to increase the number of
children benefitting from our projects in 11 conflict-affected areas, reaching 3.5 million people,
of whom 1.8 million are children and young people. (History of War Child). War Child has also
received numerous awards for their work, such as the Transparency Award in 2006, 2007 and
2010, the Freedom from Fear Award in 2008, and the Carnegie Wateler Peace Prize in 2012
(History of War Child). The success of War Child International is apparent, and the ongoing
efforts made by the organization has made it very successful in the demobilization of children
affected by armed conflict worldwide.
The United Nations Childrens Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is an intergovernmental
organization which focuses on providing a better way of life for children all across the globe.
The organization formed in 1946 and has been a major player in the protection of children and
the advocacy of child soldiers around the world ever since. They released the Optional Protocol
on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in 2003 and have campaigned from the
beginning about the age limit, stating, the age limit of 18 years should not only apply to
participation in hostilities but also to all forms of recruitment. (Guide to the Optional). From
1998 to 2001, UNICEF was the lead agency for child protection in Sierra Leone and they helped
develop programs which supported girls education and family unification (Guide to the
Optional). UNICEF has also instituted several reintegration programs for children in countries
affected by armed conflict and have been very successful in demobilizing child soldiers. In 2004,
almost 4,000 children were demobilized in 15 provinces across Afghanistan as a result of
UNICEFs efforts. Spokesperson Edward Carwardin said, The success of the child soldier
programme to date is a major achievement and it is a very positive sign that young people in this
country really want to make a positive contribution to the future of their communities.
(UNICEF Helps). Presently, UNICEF continues to provide reports of children which are utilized
for armed conflict, and they uphold their platform of ending the use of Child Soldiers worldwide.
They still provide rehabilitation in countries affected the most by this issue and hope that the use
of child soldiers will see an end in the near future.

The Use of Children in Armed Conflict

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The use of children in armed conflict is considered a global issue, which means its effects
are felt on the international scale. With many countries stepping up to provide support and
solutions to the issue, Canada is one of the leading supporters. They have proposed lasting
solutions to the problem and continue to raise awareness whilst providing aid in many forms.
Their impact on the use of child soldiers has been large and has played an integral part in
demobilizing and rehabilitating children affected by armed conflict.
Canadas efforts can be dated as far back as 2000 when they hosted the International
Conference on War Affected Children in Winnipeg. At this conference, they addressed the rising
issue which was the use of children in armed conflict. They also played a role in the creation and
integration of the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict. Canada
has also contributed over $1.3 million to several projects associated with children and armed
conflict since 2006 (Children and Armed Conflict).
Canada also houses one of the largest non-governmental organizations which campaigns
for childrens rights and the end of the use of child soldiers worldwide. War Child Canada was
founded in North America by Samantha Nutt and Eric Hoskins in 1999. War Child Canada has
worked in Iraq, Afghanistan and on the Thai-Burmese border as they worked towards
demobilizing children from military groups. War Child Canadas locally focused approach
currently reaches over 250,000 people in eight countries (History of War Child). They also have
several fundraising campaigns which help fund their numerous programs that assist in the
rehabilitation and reintegration of children affected by armed conflict. These programs are the
Alicia Keys We Are Here Campaign, the Art of the Guitar, the Body Shop Holiday Campaign,
and the Reclaim Childhood Event (Annual Report 2015).
Although Canada has been working towards the demobilization of child soldiers in
countries affected by the issue, they dont have a perfectly clean record when it comes to the
proper justice of children utilized for armed conflicts, such as the case of former child soldier,
Omar Khadr. They detained Omar for a number of years due to his actions towards an American
soldier when he was still a child soldier himself. In 2002, after becoming involved in a firefight
in Afghanistan which ended with a dead American Soldier, fifteen year old Omar was brought to
America and spent ten years in Guantanamo Bay. He then plead guilty in 2010 and was

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transferred to a Canadian prison in 2012 to serve the remainder of his sentence. UNICEFs
Executive Director, Anthony Lake, in response to Omar Khadr being detained, stated,
The recruitment and use of children in hostilities is a war crime, and those who are
responsible the adult recruiters should be prosecuted. The children involved are
victims, acting under coercion. (Statement by UNICEF)
When asked how Prime Minister Stephen Harper felt about Omars predicament, he stated Mr.
Khadr, as we all know, plead guilty to very grave crimes, including murderAt this time our
thoughts and prayers are with the family of Sgt. Christopher Speer. (Mackrael). When Omar
Khadr was asked how he felt about Prime Minister Stephen Harpers opinion, he responded with
Im better than the person he thinks I am. (Mackrael). Canada may not have been the ones to
arrest and prosecute Omar Khadr, but they certainly did play a role in detaining him.
Canada continues to provide support against groups using children for armed conflict,
and through the advocacy for their programming efforts, they hope to provide as much assistance
as possible in the future. Some key areas of major focus for Canadas programming and
advocacy efforts going forward into the future are:

Strengthening the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism teams will provide data
which will help raise international attention to the issue and make parties which commit

the violations accountable for their actions


Accountability of parties who commit grave violations against children in situations
of conflict follow-up on data collected as soon as possible to bring those who commit

the violations to justice


Supporting efforts to expand the Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism to
encompass all grave violations expand the monitoring and reporting mechanisms as a
means to encompass all grave violations (Children and Armed Conflict)

With a strong action plan for the future in place, and a focus on ending the use of child soldiers,
Canada upholds their status of a leading country which advocates for the rights of children and
the demobilization of children utilized for armed conflict. Canada is committed to ending the
use of girls and boys in hostilities and to helping ensure that children affected by armed conflict
around the world are protected. (Children and Armed Conflict)

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Solutions
The use of children in armed conflict is a reoccurring global issue which currently enlists
up to 250,000 children (FAQs). With so many people being affected directly and indirectly by
this issue, many would think it would be considered a top priority to put an end to. There have
been many proposed solutions which have been implemented with some success, but without a
massive push by the global community and support of the solutions on an international scale, the
practice of using child soldiers wont be stopped in the foreseeable future.
According to a report done by UNICEF in 2002, the three key factors to solving the issue
of child soldiers are Prevention, Demobilization, and Reintegration (Child Soldiers: Prevention).
They believe that the heart of the issue is the recruitment of children, so to end the practice, it
should begin at the recruitment stage. Taking away any chance of a child being recruited by a
military group could provide the child a means to dodge becoming involved in armed conflict
altogether. Demobilizing children already involved in armed conflict is the next step if the use of
prevention didnt succeed. To release children being utilized for armed conflict is a request many
organizations have for armed groups which use child soldiers. In some cases, if the groups refuse
to comply, they are placed on lists which reveal them for these violations. The Child Soldier
Prevention Act (CSPA) is a law passed in 2008 which states that any group which doesnt
demobilize the children within their ranks will be placed on a list. As well, Listed countries are
subject to restrictions on security assistance for military training and equipment. (Kozak)
When the children are released, the final step, which is Reintegration, is critical as it
allows the child to return to society without the lingering mental effects of conflict. UNICEF
states Reintegration of child soldiers should emphasize three components: family reunification,
psychosocial support and education, and economic opportunity. (Child Soldiers: Prevention).
These three components are important as they have proved in the past to provide some of the
best results of reintegration into society. It is said that staying with family is whats best for the
child as it allows them to feel safer and more familiar with their surroundings. The psych of the
child also plays an important role as going through major traumas do tend to affect the mental
state of any victim. Education and economic activity are the last part of the reintegration process
as they allow the child to fully immerse themselves back into society. Unfortunately, there are
many obstacles a child faces when it comes to education. These include having to earn an income

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to provide for their families instead, lack of money to pay for school fees or supplies, schools
being destroyed, lack of teachers, children are too old to join with younger children, and the
feeling of shame or resentment due to having to learn with much younger children (Child
Soldiers: Prevention).
There are also several solutions organizations and governments have created to help end
the use of child soldiers, such as: organizations advocating to end the use of child soldiers like
War Child, UNICEF, and Child Soldiers International; many laws put in place to prevent the use
of child soldiers like the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict,
the 2007 Paris Principles, and the Child Soldiers Prevention Act. Although the use of children in
armed conflict continues, more is being done now than ever before to stop the violations the
groups utilizing child soldiers are committing.
Another key role in ending the practice of using children for armed conflict is
accountability. To bring those committing the violations and bring them to justice not only forces
the commanders and recruiters to take responsibility for their actions but also convinces other
groups to not begin using children in the first place. In 2007, the United States passed The Child
Soldiers Accountability Act. This law enable[s] the US to prosecute military commanders who
recruit or use child soldiers under the age of 15, whether committed here or abroad by either US
citizens or non-citizens present in the United States. (In Support). This law is a step forward in
the prevention of child soldiers as it holds all groups accountable for their actions. However,
being held accountable is one thing, answering for your crimes is another. An example of this is
Joseph Kony utilizing children for combat for many years, but then going into hiding and
continuing the practice.
The issue of children being utilized for armed conflict is a complicated one, as there are
many different sides to it. But one thing for certain is the practice violates several international
laws and has negative effects on many people. Therefore, the use of child soldiers shouldnt
continue into the future, but unfortunately, it appears the practice will last as long as no
permanent solutions are put in place. As of this point, no lasting solutions have been
implemented, whether its due to the difficulty to create lasting fixes to the problems in times of
armed conflict, or because some governments and international organizations are unwilling to
provide their concentrated support to finding an indefinite solution. It may be without a lack of

The Use of Children in Armed Conflict

Frankish 36

trying, but without any solutions in place, the use of children in armed conflict remains an issue
on the international scale.

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Frankish 37

APPENDICES
Appendix I

Wagener, Steve. "Children on the Front Line: Nearly 300,000 Used in War Zones Today."
Odyssey Online. Odyssey, 28 Apr. 2015. Web. 6 Mar. 2016.

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