Biting the Bullet of War: Are Child Soldiers Worth the Cost?
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Identifying Humanitarian Gaps Child protection in Child Warfare. Biting the Bullet of War: Are Child Soldiers Worth the Cost? Discussions of the pitfalls and obstacles humanitarian organizations face in rehabilitating and reintegrating children soldiers.
Abstract :

Introduction There is a staggering statistic that any one time, more than 300,000 children are actively fighting as soldiers with government armed forces or armed opposition groups worldwide. Almost half of the states engaged in warfare in 2002 were reported to use combatants under the age of 15. Children under the age of 18 are actively participating in hostilities in more than 35 countries worldwide most are between the ages of 14 and 17, but some are as young as sevena (The Inter Agency Planning Consultation on Child Protection in Emergencies, 2006). Debate raged in late 1990s about how to address the growing issue of children being used in conflict. The NGO working group in February 1997 issued a working document commonly known as the Paris Principles but fully titled The Paris Commitments to Protect Children from Unlawful Recruitment or use by Armed Forces or Armed Groups.

The Paris Principles began the discussion in harmonization and creation of standards for groups working with armed children in conflict, and reintegration.The document also sets out an agenda by which the ngo group could advocate for the rights of armed children in conflict. In April 1997, UNICEF and the Group of NGOs organized a conference in Cape Town South Africa. The document that was produced from this meeting has become known as the Cape Town Principles and Best Practices and was as the standard by which groups working with child soldiers or those groups working to prevent recruitment of child soldiers would focus their efforts.
The main thrust of the Cape Town Principles was to encourage governments to: Adopt a minimum age of 18 years should be established for any person participating in hostilities and for recruitment in all forms into any armed force or armed group. Adopt and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, raising the minimum age from 15 to 18 years. (Cape Town Principles) 84 countries have since signed off on the Paris Principles on but other countries have refused. It is important to understand why child soldiers are used and to explore ways in which child recruitment may be curtailed. The phenomenon is, however, very complicated. While some children are abducted and used by a fighting force, others join by choice. Given these realities the questions below may guide our discussion into the world of children in armed conflict.
Questions :
1. What do you perceive are some of the obstacles to effective child soldier reintegration at the community level?
2. What do you think would be effective international mechanisms to reduce the recruitment of child soldiers?
3. Should the issue of children associated with armed groups be given special attention or should the issue be seen simply as underage employment?
4. Examining the DDR process, what modifications would you make and why?
Learning Objectives :
Identifying Gaps a Child protection in Child Warfare Understand the uses of child soldiers for both political and economic gain a Identify critical factors that may foster child soldier reintegration and transition to civilian life. a Identify the added risks that young girls face when they are recruited and then reintegrated into civilian life.