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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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International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression – 4 June

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression is observed on June 4 each year. The purpose of the day is to acknowledge the pain suffered by children throughout the world who are the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse. This day affirms the UN’s commitment to protect the rights of children.

On 19 August 1982, at its emergency special session on the question of Palestine, the General Assembly, appalled at the great number of innocent Palestinian and Lebanese children victims of Israel’s acts of aggression, decided to commemorate June 4 of each year as the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression. According to the United Nations in China, the statistics of child abuse include:

  • More than two million children killed in conflict in the last two decades.
  • About 10 million child refugees cared for by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
  • In the Latin America and in the Caribbean region about 80 thousand children die annually from violence that breaks out within the family.

Child abuse is now in the spotlight of global attention and the UN is working hard to help protect children around the world. One key factor is the process of international negotiation and action centered around the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Source: Text:  Image: Upcoming cars

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 for the Prevention of Child Abuse – 19 November

1716b79cbf339e19c69dc51fea682bef_2961Creating a culture of prevention
Abuse of children and adolescents is a complex international problem that seems to defy simple analysis and easy answers. To understand child abuse and exploitation, and to make an impact on the outcomes of these children, the NICHD is joining the American Psychological Association in marking the World Day for Prevention of Child Abuse on November 19.

The World Day, initiated by the Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF) in 2000, aims to create a culture of prevention around the world by encouraging governments and community/society organizations to play more active roles in protecting children. To focus attention on this difficult problem, the partners in World Day host activities to increase awareness and education about child abuse and violence toward children, to promote respect for the Rights of the Child External Web Site Policy, and to make preventing child abuse a top priority.

Despite the fact that most cultures denounce child abuse, including sexual abuse and exploitation, the WWSF reports that more than 1 million children throughout the world enter the sex trade each year. After modest success with the first World Day in 2000, the WWSF reached out to governments and non-government organizations (NGOs) throughout the world to form the NGO Coalition. In 2001, the NGO Coalition had more than 150 NGO members that united to celebrate World Day, putting words into action to protect the world’s children. Currently, World Day includes an NGO Coalition of more than 700 members, as well as government partners, including federal, state, and local agencies in the United States, committed to creating a culture of prevention for child abuse.

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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