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International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers – 12 February

End Violence Against Children

One in every six children live in conflict zones. Each day these children must navigate extreme risks of violence, psychological trauma, abduction, and abuse.
And thousands of these children are caught in the eye of storm each year, recruited and used as soldiers in armed conflicts across the world. Between 2005 and 2020, more than 93,000 children were recruited and used by armed groups. 8,500 of these cases were reported to authorities in 2020 alone, and the actual number of cases is believed to be much higher.
On 12 February, Red Hand Day is catalysing advocacy efforts from around the world to raise awareness about children recruited for armed conflict. Civil society, governments and international organisations are coming together to demand that children not be used in armed groups or other military units and to promote peace, aid and support for child soldiers.

No child should be a soldier in combat

Children in combat is more than just a child holding a weapon. Those recruited are forced into hardorzous child labour, hired as spies or looters, and forced to kill. Recruited children are often taken in by force, abduction, or even compelled by families for income and food. 

There is risk of abuse and sexual violence, especially for girls. Trafficking of children, particularly for sexual exploitation which disproportionately affects young girls and women, has been found in all conflict areas across the world.

Since 2002, the UN has instated the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict in the Convention of the Rights of the Child. Ratified by 172 countries, it states the commitment that children under the age of 18 should not participate in military organisations of any kind and that recruitment for such purposes must be actively prevented. Yet, the UN’s 2021 report on Children and Armed Conflict notes that at least 15 countries have cases of recruitment and use of children in settings that need humanitarian assistance.


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World Radio Day – 13 February 2023

The theme for the 12th edition of the World Radio Day, to be celebrated on 13 February 2023, is « Radio and Peace« . 

War, as an antonym to peace, signifies an armed conflict between countries or groups within a country, but may also translate into a conflict of media narratives. The narrative can increase tensions or maintain conditions for peace in a given context – for instance weigh in on the rough or smooth conduct of elections, the rejection or integration of returnees, the rise or tempering of nationalistic fervour, etc. In reporting and informing the general public, radio stations shape public opinion and frame a narrative that can influence domestic and international situations and decision-making processes.

Radio can indeed fuel conflict but in reality, professional radio moderates conflict and/or tensions, preventing their escalation or bringing about reconciliation and reconstruction talks. In contexts of distant or immediate tension, relevant programmes and independent news reporting provide the foundation for sustainable democracy and good governance by gathering evidence about what is happening, informing citizens about it in impartial and fact-based terms, explaining what is at stake and brokering dialogue among different groups in society.

“… since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.”

That is the reason why support to independent radio has to be viewed as an integral part of peace and stability. On World Radio Day 2023, UNESCO highlights independent radio as a pillar for conflict prevention and peacebuilding.


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International Day against the Use of Child soldiers – 12 February

Thousands of children are serving as soldiers in armed conflicts around the world. These boys and girls, some as young as 8 years old, serve in government forces and armed opposition groups. They may fight on the front lines, participate in suicide missions, and act as spies, messengers, or lookouts. Girls may be forced into sexual slavery. Many are abducted or recruited by force, while others join out of desperation, believing that armed groups offer their best chance for survival. We are working to prevent the use of child soldiers and to hold accountable the people who send children to fight.

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About child soldiers
In many countries around the world – from Democratic Republic of Congo to Myanmar to Syria – children are being recruited by adults to fight their wars for them. Some child soldiers are used for fighting – they’re forced to take part in wars and conflicts, forced to kill, and commit other acts of violence. Some join ‘voluntarily’, driven by poverty, sense of duty, or circumstance. Children are also used as cooks, porters, messengers, informants or spies.

The law is meant to protect children from this abuse. There is even an international treaty devoted to ending the use of child soldiers. But not all countries in the world have signed on to it – and even those that have don’t always follow its rules. In February 2018, it will have been 18 years since this treaty was adopted. We are going to be marking this 18th anniversary with a big event in New York. In the lead-up to this event, we are asking for students all around the world to show that they stand with us in saying ‘children should be children, not soldiers’.

Source: Text  Image: 123RF Stock Photos

World Day for War Orphans – 6 January

Civilians bear the brunt of the suffering in war. Of the big number of war victims, the most often neglected are children.

Orphans throughout the world face many challenges: Malnutrition, starvation, disease, and decreased social attention. As the most vulnerable population on planet Earth, they have no one to protect them and are most likely to suffer from hunger, disease, and many other problems.

In recent decades, the proportion of civilian casualties in armed conflicts has increased dramatically and is now estimated at more than 90 per cent. About half of the victims are children.
An estimated 20 million children have been forced to flee their homes because of conflict and human rights violations and are living as refugees in neighbouring countries or are internally displaced within their own national borders.

More than 2 million children have died as a direct result of armed conflict over the last decade.
More than three times that number, at least 6 million children, have been permanently disabled or seriously injured.
More than 1 million have been orphaned or separated from their families.
Between 8,000 and 10,000 children are killed or maimed by landmines every year.

An estimated 300,000 child soldiers – boys and girls under the age of 18 – are involved in more than 30 conflicts worldwide. Child soldiers are used as combatants, messengers, porters, cooks and to provide sexual services. Some are forcibly recruited or abducted, others are driven to join by poverty, abuse and discrimination, or to seek revenge for violence enacted against themselves and their families.

Sadly, however, they rarely receive the time, attention, and love for optimal social and personal development. Research reveals that children growing up in an orphanage experience emotional, social, and physical handicaps. Without a doubt, the best place for a child to grow up is in a stable family with a loving father and mother.

Source: Text:  Image: Unsplash (free download)


International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers – 12 February

 Child Soldiers are Boys and Girls we Failed to Protect
As we mark the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, tens of thousands of boys and girls are associated with armed forces and groups in conflicts in over 20 countries around the world. “Again this year, the multiplication of conflicts and the brutality of tactics of war have made children extremely vulnerable to recruitment and use,” said Leila Zerrougui, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict.

In the most recent Annual report of the Secretary-General on children and armed conflict, 56 of the 57 parties to conflict identified for grave violations against children are named because they are recruiting and using child soldiers.

Children are sent to the frontlines as combatants, but many are also used in functions that put their lives in danger such as cooks, porters, spies and informants. During their association with armed groups or forces, children are exposed to high levels of violence. They are witnesses, victims or forced to commit acts of brutality. In addition, a majority of girls, but also boys, are victims of rape and sexual violence. When they are captured or arrested for alleged association with armed groups, too often, children are not treated primarily as victims and denied the protection guaranteed by international norms and standards of juvenile justice.

“Children who are released or escape often have a hard time finding their place in society, or can even be rejected by their communities. We must make it our common responsibility to ensure sufficient resources are available for reintegration to provide psychosocial support as well as education and vocational training. This is crucial to their future and to build peaceful societies,” said Leila Zerrougui.

Twenty years of work to protect boys and girls in conflict
In 1996, the mandate of the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict was created following the realization that children were the primary victims of armed conflict.

Twenty years later, the international community’s engagement has resulted in a strong framework and concrete tools to engage with parties to conflict and address the violations committed against children during conflict.

“We still face huge challenges to protect children in times of war, but our work and advocacy has led to an emerging consensus among the world’s nations that boys and girls do not belong in national security forces in conflict or in any armed group,” declared the Special Representative

The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, now ratified by 162 state parties, has played a crucial role to bring about this consensus. Leila Zerrougui invites all Member States who have not yet ratified the Optional protocol to do so as soon as possible.

Children, Not Soldiers
In 2014, the campaign Children, Not Soldiers was launched by the Special Representative and UNICEF to support the last eight states –Afghanistan, Chad, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen- identified by the Secretary-General for the recruitment of children in their security forces.

Source: Text & Image: A child associated with an armed group in South Sudan is released, UNICEF

World Day of Children Soldiers – 12 February

Red Hand Day for Child Soldiersgdw_red_hand_day_logo

12 February every year: Raising awareness of the plight of children forced to serve as soldiers.
Red Hand Day is an annual commemoration drawing attention to the plight of children forced to serve as soldiers in wars and armed conflicts.

The Red Hand symbol has been used all over the world by the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers and many civil society organisations to say no to the recruitment and use of child soldiers.
The Day was initiated in 2002 when the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict came into force on 12 February.
Since then, the number of child soldiers has hardly changed – there are still 250,000 children used in wars as soldiers.

12 February has become a day for national and regional coalitions, NGOs, individuals and interested parties to hold events to highlight the issue of child soldiers.

Source: Text & Image: Think Global, The Independent Education Association