Child soldiers a) The nature of the human rights issue A child soldier is a person under the age of 18 who participates, directly or indirectly, in armed conflicts as part of an armed force or group, in either armed and supporting roles. The use of children in armed conflict is considered to be a form of slavery or human trafficking.
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The UN reported 57 armed groups’ worldwide using child soldiers. b) Where the human rights issue occurs. Worldwide conflicts that have involved child soldiers include: * Srilanka * Uganda * Colombia * Myanmar * Iraq * Israel * Palestinian territories * Sudan In Uganda more than 30 000 children have been kidnapped to serve as soldiers and slaves my lord’s resistance army (LRA); the boys are forced to loot and burn villages and to torture and kill neighbours; girls are raped or become sex slaves. c) The legal and non legal responses to child soldiers both include international and domestic responses.
Legal responses: International responses include the Geneva conventions, ‘laws of war’. Which is a series of 4 treaties adopted between 1864 and 1949 to regulate the conduct of armed conflict and attempt to limit its affects. these 4 treaties include; the first Geneva convention (1864) which protects wounded and sick soldiers on land during war, the second Geneva convention (1906) which protects wounded, sick and ship wrecked military personnel at sea during war, the third Geneva convention (1929) which applies to prisoners of ar and the fourth Geneva convention (1949) which affords protection to civilians, including occupied territory. Also, additional protocols to the Geneva conventions includes; the problem of child soldiers being recognised and the minimum age for recruitment or use in armed conflict was set at 15 years for government and non-government parties.
In addition to these conventions include the convention on the rights of the child (1989), the Rome statute of the international criminal court (2002), the worst forms of child labour convention (1999) and the UN Security Council (2004-2005). An example of these legal responses in action is the Thomas lubanga dyilo case where he was accused of conscripting child soldiers to fight in armed conflict in the DRC during 2002 and 2002.
Domestic responses although limited by state sovereignty include the child soldiers accountability act which allowed the US to prosecute individuals domestically who have knowingly recruited or served as child soldiers in or outside the country. Other responses include the amendment of the criminal code act 1995 (cth) where two sections were added to the criminal code to criminalise the use, conscription or enlistment of children as a part of an international or national armed conflict. Non legal responses: International responses include; the United Nations which monitors the use of child soldiers worldwide - the international labour organisation and unicef which play a role in research and studies into the status of the problem, providing recommendations to the UN and to member states and promoting the obligations of the treaties on children in armed conflict - and the coalition to stop the use of child soldiers which compromises many different member organisations with a common purpose of preventing the recruitment and use of children as soldiers, securing the demobilisation of child soldiers and their reintegration into society.
Domestic responses include domestic NGOs, Groups or individuals and the media. Domestic NGOs focus on issues relating to child soldiers, particularly in countries where recruitment of child soldiers is a significant problem. For example red hand day. Groups and individuals assist in the rehabilitation of former child soldiers, by helping to relocate their families, get back into school, provide vocational training and re enter life
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