Child Soldier Resource Library
No amount of cinematic prose or metaphorical ideology can accurately describe the atrocities committed to, and forcibly by, children in conflict zones. It is very easy to gage the situation from a distance, to analyze figures that measure in the hundred thousands, and to declare international emergencies. It requires more empathy, however, to see five, twelve, nineteen year old faces, and measure them by the same standard of “child-soldier.” Behind each of the estimated 300,000 children (under 18) engaged in ongoing conflict around the world, are aspirations, futures, and hobbies–all slashed in the name of violence. As 19 year old Ibrahim who admitted to killing a woman said,
[quote] I am deeply sorry. But you must understand that this was not my endeavor, I was under the command of men with no mercy. I wish I could turn back the time.[/quote]
(Human Rights Watch 2015)
These ‘men with no mercy’10 have imbibed children with propaganda, forced them to kill their loved ones, and subjected them to heinous acts. Girls, comprising of 40% of child soldiers, often face the worst circumstances. Many are forced to engage in sexual acts with their peers and captors, and unable to take part in reintegration efforts as they are made to wed their commanders. This vicious cycle of sex, violence, and often drugs, is perpetrated by an older generation committed to the ruination of peace. It is our duty, then, as citizens of this world, to combat this paradigm. This is why Goldin Institute vows to use grassroots partnerships for the eradication and prevention of child soldiers.
Glossary: Child Soldier International1
Armed conflict: The term armed conflict is used to refer to both international and non-international conflicts of high and low intensity.
Child: A child is any person under 18 years of age. This is consistent with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Article 1), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (Article 2) and International Labour Organization Convention No. 182 on the Worst Forms of Child Labour (Article 2).
Child soldier: A child soldier 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, 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. This definition is consistent with the definition of a “child associated with an armed force or armed group” in the Paris Principles and Guidelines on Children Associated with Armed Forces or Armed Groups.
Recruitment: Refers to the means by which people become (formally or informally) members of armed forces or armed groups.
Enlistment or voluntary recruitment occurs when persons facing no threat or penalty join armed forces or groups of their own free will;
Conscription is compulsory recruitment into armed forces;
Forced recruitment is a form of forced labour: it takes place without the consent of the person joining the armed forces or armed groups. It is achieved mainly through coercion, abduction or under threat of penalty;
Unlawful recruitment refers to the recruitment of children under the age stipulated in international treaties applicable to the armed forces or armed groups.
1. Child Solider International Glossary Terms PDF
2. This UN High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) database named RefWorld helps identify UN articles based on country and issue. This resource is incredibly helpful when researching a specific refugee issue with UN backed data.
3. The European Country of Origin Information Network is an up-to-date database involved in aslyum and refugee cases. This resource has a variety of human rights reports as they relate to child soldiers from a variety of sources such as ReliefWeb, UNHCR, US Department of State, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and more.
4. A concise explanation of child soliders in various armed conflicts around the world via the Council on Foreign Relations.
5. WarChild is a small charity based in North London with a variety of infographics related to child soldier violations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Syria, and Uganda, with adovacy in the UK.
6. Alone & Frightened is a Goldin-Institute backed study of that describes the state of children affected by the brutal war in Northern Uganda between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) against the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF). Through stories of Former Child Soldiers (FCS), a greater understanding is achieved of the atrocities committed against children. Please use your discretion while reading.
7. “I Was a Child Soldier in the Democratic Republic of Congo” by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. This article speaks of child soldier demobilization efforts by UNICEF Lubumbashi.
8. “Voices of Girl Child Soldiers Colombia” by Yvonne E. Keairns, PhD. (2003) This report is part of a larger study which detailed interviews with 23 girl soldiers from four different conflict areas around the world. The study breaks down the combination of circumstances involved in becoming a child soldier, as well as a “day in the life” of a girl in that position.
9. Child Soldiers International published a World Index Map that visualises trends in the military exploitation of children according to three essential criteria: ratification of OPAC (the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict), minimum recruitment age, and use of children in hostilities. Click on any country to see full details of the national legal framework, policies and practices.
10. “Men With No Mercy”: Rapid Support Forces Attacks against Civilians in Darfur, Sudan. This Human Rights Watch Article is an extensive background on the Rapid Support Forces (al-Quwat al-Dam’m al-Sari’ in Arabic, or RSF) which were created in mid-2013 to military defeat rebel armed groups throughout Sudan, but have participated in serious international human rights violations themselves, against civilians. The Human Rights Watch is a great resource for humanitarian issues internationally and often provides solutions that are tied to responsible reporting.